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If you’ve considered the idea of starting your own drop shipping business then you’ll likely have come across a video training course called Drop Ship Lifestyle by Anton Kraly, which claims to give you all of the training and guidance necessary to establish, run and expand a successful drop shipping business online.
I should start off by saying I’m not an affiliate for Anton’s training, nor am I going to simply throw in a competitors affiliate link and say his course is sh*t, you should buy Product X. What I am going to do is tell you exactly what you’ll receive if you sign up, what to expect and ultimately why I recommend you don’t buy it.
Drop Ship Lifestyle Review
If you’re still struggling to understand the concept of Drop Shipping then checkout this free course or I’ll cover this briefly and introduce you to the concept of drop shipping. In short, drop shipping is a way for you to sell tangible products that you don’t need to purchase up front, store somewhere and hope they sell to make a healthy profit.
The traditional way of selling goods was via a brick and mortar store or more recently an ecommerce website. The owner would go to a supplier and buy 100 units of Product X,Y and Z and place an order. The supplier would ship them to the owner, and you’d list them online or place them on the shelves.
Drop Shipping allows you to bypass the inventory component and list suppliers products on your website right away. If someone actually purchases something you’ll go to the supplier and have them ship the item/s directly to your customer in discreet packaging. If they don’t sell, you haven’t lost any money, only the time it took to list the products on your site.
Here’s a simple diagram to help explain the process better, sounds pretty interesting right?
Who is Anton?
Anton Kraly was ‘apparently’ stuck in a dead end job in the USA and decided to move to South East Asia, like a lot of people who want to explore the digital nomadic lifestyle, and ultimately start their own online businesses. Anton claims to have found himself introduced to the world of drop shipping through a friend and started to create his own web stores using platforms such as Shopify where you can create a business within a few hours.
After many successful years of selling and drop shipping products remotely, Anton decided to create a course called Drop Ship Lifestyle (Now DSL for short) to share his knowledge with others. Since then it would appear that due to many affiliates getting on board (more on this later) the course has grown in popularity and is now one of the most recommended courses on drop shipping.
One of the biggest promoters of the course is Johnny FD, another digital nomad living in Chang Mai who claims the course inspired him to create his own online businesses too and as such now promotes DSL through his own dedicated affiliate page called the AntonMethod. Johnny use to make around $3,000 per month from drop shipping massage tables and recently sold his business for over $60k.
Why Is Drop Ship Life Style So Popular In Reviews
DSL was originally launched (2012) with an affiliate program whereby affiliate marketers (like myself) would receive 40-50% per referral to Anton’s course. The entry level price of the course was around $250 back then and an affiliate commission of $125 was every marketers dream, especially when they are starting out. If you follow John Chow you’ll know that earning $2,000 commissions is much better and can help you buy nice things quicker.
So a ton of affiliates started promoting the course on the Clickbank network between December 2012 and November 2014 with no idea as to whether it was actually any good or not. I remember seeing reviews and they were all the same, copy and pasted photos from the sales page.
Affiliates were competing for Google Page 1 Results, YouTube videos and any other way to make a quick buck. CPA networks such as Peerfly and Flexoffers were brokering the offer to their thousands of affiliates who were link building and driving traffic anyway they could. You can see below how the offer looked on Flexoffers when they were paying a 50% rev share, around $125 per sale.
So Anton now had a ton of people in the course and was getting so many new signups that he claimed he was now multi millionaire by early 2015 through drop shipping although it’s fairly obvious it was from the 2,500+ members that were now part of the drop ship lifestyle community.
Important: That’s when Anton pulled the plug on all the affiliates that had worked so hard to build his brand and business online. Overnight the affiliate program disappeared without warning and any last commissions were paid out. He would later introduce a new policy, you must be a paying member to promote the course..
So overnight the course was turned into a MLM network, ever heard of MOBE, Wealthy Affiliate or MTTB? Same thing. If you’ve ever searched for a product online to get reviews on, you’ll likely see the writer give it a poor rating with a comparison table with a link to Wealthy Affiliate. While DSL isn’t as popular as Wealthy Affiliate, it’s also a MLM network.
Once you become a paying member of DSL you’re then allowed to promote the course to others. So let’s say you paid over $1,500 to access the course and you want to earn that money back, you can simply refer 6 people to also purchase the course. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with this promotional method but it explains how DSL became so popular and why all the reviews online are so positive. That’s how MLM networks work.
So What Do You Actually Get?
The course has come along way over the last four years and now claims to be in version 5.0 (Updated last: Jan 2017). To be fair the course has grown over the years but is still built on the same framework that was created in 2012, a WordPress site running Optimizepress.
The price however has increased from $250 for the entry level package to an eye watering $2,997 one time payment for the fully fledged done-for-you solution. If you aren’t fussed about the key components of the course then you can get your foot in the door for $1,997 for the original course. Until January 2017 the minimum entry fee was only $997, so the price has jumped a staggering $1,000 in the last few weeks.
It’s worth noting that version 5 was only a new design and to launch a few more videos.
Here is how the course has changed over the last few years.
Version 4 of the course was divided up into four plans although for 99% of entrepreneurs you’ll probably choose 1 of 3 plans. Version 5 got rid of the ability to pick between basic and premium and is now combined together. Let’s take a look at them first and then explore them in detail below.
The basic package comes in at a $997 price point whereas it was about $250 a little over two years ago. The training for the most part in this section hasn’t changed too much and is fairly outdated however the videos have been recreated for version 4.0. To give you an example the supplier research video is similar to the video I watched back in 2014 and is a very ‘basic’ way of finding suppliers. If you can use Excel and Google search, then you can find suppliers yourself.
The basic package includes the full video training course which consists of a ton of videos on introducing drop shipping through to finding suppliers, choosing a platform to build your website on and much more. Several new videos that have been introduced recently include an Adwords for eCommerce course and a eCommerce Design Course which weren’t in version 3.
Anton recommends you stay away from organic search (i.e ranking your own site on Google) in favor of using Google Adwords. If your new to eCommerce and/or marketing this isn’t very smart idea as Google Adwords is very expensive, especially if you pick a competitive niche such as electronics, clothing or beauty products.
Another new introduction is the custom Shopify theme so you can create your own drop ship store right away. Again, given there is over 4,000 other people in the DSL Members Community why would you want to use the same theme for your store as everyone else. Not only will it look unprofessional but you’ll struggle to rank well in Google due to duplicate content in the eyes of the search engines algorithm.
The premium package includes everything mentioned in the basic package with a few extra gems. For an extra $497 you’ll get access to 55 Advanced Training modules, access to the DSLabs, access to private apps and drop shipping software and access to the drop ship lifestyle supplier directory. So what does all this mean exactly?
The Drop Ship Labs section includes checklists, standard operating procedures (SOP’s) and scripts for contacting suppliers. They also include a Shopify app which is designed to automate drop shipping processes but to be honest it doesn’t work all that well.
Again the offerings here are great but using scripts and templates to contact suppliers isn’t going to make you stand out from the crowd. My advice for contacting suppliers is to call them up and find out who you need to speak with. Show some initiative rather than emailing and you’ll go much further in the drop ship world.
The supplier directory is a rather impressive selection of suppliers however for less than $65 I’d recommend you look at Salehoo which offers over 10,000 suppliers around the world rather than the select few in the Drop Ship Lifestyle portal. Comparing the portals, Salehoo is much more detailed with many more suppliers.
The mother of all packages coming in at a whopping $2,997 is the done-for-you package whereby they will setup an entire website for you, so you can focus on learning and building your business. On top of them creating your website, they offer 2 hours of private coaching calls with Anton himself and two tickets to the drop ship lifestyle retreat which is held each year in an exotic location somewhere in Thailand, Vietnam or Laos. In previous years it’s been held in Thailand where digital nomads from all over the world come to network and learn.
I can’t elaborate any further on this package as I didn’t sign up for it. It is worth noting that anyone who has signed up for version 1.0, 2.0, 3.0 of the DSL course automatically got retreat tickets each year for thousands of dollars less. If you want to be part of the retreat you can probably do so without paying $2,997 for the privilege, maybe shoot Anton an email?
What is Version 5 of DSL?
Version 5 has removed the basic package and combined the premium package into the only offer. They have also added a content module on setting up a USA business from overseas section which I mentioned in July 2016 was missing from the course entirely.
The price has been upgraded to $1,997 for the all access package.
The hard sell, introduction of a proper MLM network.
As I mentioned before, Drop Ship Lifestyle has turned into a MLM network, and they are really emphasizing this. The sign up page doesn’t include the price of the course until you get to the second or third sales video. For example checkout step 1 and 2 of the sales videos. Once you get to video 3 you’ll be hit with the price: $1,997.
Throughout the sales videos you’re promised of a robust refund policy such as 30 day money back guarantee but make sure you read the small print very carefully. While the terms and conditions are perfectly reasonable, you effectively have to show you have completed the entire course before requesting a refund. If you can’t show them, you won’t get a refund. This contradicts a 30 day money back guarantee.
Why You Shouldn’t Buy The Course
So I’ve told you everything you need to know about what you’ll get should you sign up, but here are all my reasons why you don’t need to become a member of this course. Again as outlined above these are my personal views and there’s no affiliate links around here. If you’ve already bought the course you may or may not agree with my views.
The course is seriously overpriced for what you get (Update January 2017, it’s now gone up another $1,000). Given the course use to cost $250, $500 and recently $1000 prior to version 4 being released the price is rather steep for most people. If you break everything down into individual modules there are far better resources out there which you can bundle together and still leave yourself with over $1,500 for building your business.
If you are really focused on building a drop shipping business you need to sit down and cost everything out. As Anton points out you won’t become rich overnight and building an ecommerce business is tough. You’re going to need to invest money to make money. Anton claims he started his first business with $29 and turned it into $1.8 million but you should set aside at least $250-$500 startup costs on top of the course cost and that’s doing all the work yourself. Outsourcing and hiring help will add thousands more. A good business plan is vital before investing in this course.
Personally I think the vendors have got a little too big for their boots and have hiked the price right up due to the popularity of the course. I think a price point of $500 for the basic and $1,497 for the done for you package is much more suitable for this course.
The course is built on the basis that you’re going to build your website using Shopify. Should you happen to click on Anton’s affiliate links you’ll send 20% of your monthly Shopify bill direct to their affiliate accounts. The only training they include on setting up your store is with this platform so your tied down to ultimately using them. It would be better if they showed you how to use other platforms such as Woocommerce which is free.
If you haven’t already checked yet, Shopify charge over $300 per year to host you’re store and it’s likely you’ll need the $79 per month plan ($900/year) if your planning on building a larger store. On top of that you’ll need to pay 1-2% transaction fee on every sale, a monthly fee for any third party apps you plan on installing and a credit card merchant fee too.
The default Shopify templates are pretty poor as well so if you want a high quality store it’s likely you’ll need to pay for a premium theme or get help from a web developer. Some of the best sites to use include Themeforest and Templatemonster but this will add another $60-$140 to your startup costs. The combined Shopify costs will add up dramatically on top of the course costs which aren’t explained in the sales pitch.
This part of the course is pretty sub standard and could be improved dramatically. If you look online at negative and neutral reviews of the course everyone seems to be heading the same way. Choosing what to sell is undoubtedly the most important aspect when it comes to building a drop ship business and choosing the wrong niche will ensure your business fails from day one. For example, you’d be a fool to start an electronics business up against Amazon as your cost price will be less than their retail price – I guarantee it.
To Anton’s credit he does offer a niche selection verification whereby he will validate your idea before you get started. Whether this is a good thing or not, I’m not sure. You’ve heard the saying don’t give away trade secrets, so why would you tell someone who owns many drop ship businesses a hot niche you’re thinking of entering, sounds a bit suspicious to me.
No SEO Strategy
As mentioned earlier in this monster review, Anton doesn’t offer any guidance on organic search engine ranking. I’ve read articles where Anton openly states it takes too long to get your products infront of suitable audiences so focus on Adwords rather than SEO. The downside to this is that not everyone has the funds to spend $thousands of dollars promoting their store.
Let’s say you’ve spent $1,997 on the course, $79 on setting up your site and now you need to spend $500 on advertising, how are you going to feel? Chances are, the extra costs weren’t clearly identified in the sales videos? I know the ones I watched definitely didn’t mention anything.
Yes there are free coupons to get started with Google Adwords and yes there is training modules from Anton but the honest fact is that Adwords is tough and inexperienced users will blow their budget within a few hours with no sales and no leads either. Anton simply gives the traffic methods that work for him and SEO isn’t one of them.
The Rest of the Community Got In For Under $500
I brought this up earlier and it’s important to know that 95% of the members currently in the community managed to get in for a fraction of the price you’ll be able to get in for. It was made clear before the course was upgraded that version 1,2,3 members would get lifetime access to version 4 for free. Subsequently Anton lowered the price to $497 days before closing version 3 to increase his cash flow to develop version 4.
So what does that mean for you? Well all current members get free access to the drop ship retreat each year whereas you’ll need to fork out $2,997 to go. Secondly that drop ship supplier section that is in the premium package upwards is accessible by the other 4,000 members already registered and the posts in the DS community are likely to be well outdated by now given the first member joined over 4 years ago.
If you want to get in on the action then just bare in mind most members are no longer using the site as they are either rather successful or found out that drop shipping isn’t as profitable as it once was (most fall into this category).
What if you’re not based in the USA?
One of the major flaws in the course is that Anton doesn’t cover anything regarding starting a drop ship business from overseas or outside the United States. Are you aware of your legal obligations regarding tax and overseas business from your own country? If not you should consider seeking independent advice before starting your drop ship business.
To give you a better understanding, I’m a citizen of New Zealand and have never been to the United States but I have drop ship businesses there. If you’re an international business (i.e. New Zealand) are you aware of how you should structure your business in the United States? Probably not.
Long story short, you need to be a USA entity of some form or another to work with most American drop shippers. Similarly if you want to work with drop shippers in Europe you’ll need to be a registered European business or sole trader with a VAT number. If you’re from a foreign country like me, you’ll know that’s not possible unless you live there.
Anton’s course doesn’t offer any guidance on how you can/should legally setup your drop ship business using USA/European based suppliers. One way is to register an offshore company in a tax haven in the USA, i.e. Wyoming or Delaware where international entities can register USA companies without ever visiting the country. I wrote a full article on the topic here (Enter your email to get the full guide).
Store Coach, a drop ship lifestyle alternative does cover this topic in great detail and at a fraction of the price of DSL. They offer much clearer advice on structuring a drop shipping business for Non USA Citizens. If you do end up buying DSL you won’t know how to set up your business correctly and could be very costly if the IRS comes after you in 5 years time!
Can You Make Money Drop Shipping?
I get asked this question almost once a week and my answer is always the same. Yes and No. Honestly, drop shipping is not the same as it was back in 2010 when it was hot and Amazon was growing at a slower rate. Back then you could compete with the prices Amazon charges and actually make a profit. Now, you can guarantee Amazon has the best price on 95% of products available to buy online. If not Walmart, Best Buy or another giant will be close behind.
Fast forward to 2016 and Amazon is one of the biggest online stores in the world with billions of dollars being spent every month through their site. If a supplier could choose a retailer to work with between yourself and Amazon who are they likely to choose? Amazon right. They will guarantee sales and line of credit to encourage suppliers to work with them.
With the launch of courses such as Drop Ship Lifestyle thousands of people are trying to start businesses in the same niche with the same suppliers, selling the same products at the same prices. Let’s say you find a supplier that offers a daily CSV file of the latest products, you can bet your life a hundred other drop shippers have the same file and are selling the same products.
The only way to make a decent income from drop shipping is to be different and I don’t believe drop ship lifestyle encourages this to it’s users. You need to find products no one else is researching, you need to call the supplier directly and you need to grab yourself a custom CSV file and automatically update your site every day. You need to spend money on developing a unique site, providing high levels of support and an experience your customers won’t forget.
Long story short, you can make money drop shipping, if you do it right.
My Drop Ship Training Alternatives
These suggestions include affiliate links. This is the alternative to the course I recommend you take if you aren’t fussed about joining a community and would rather build a unique drop ship business using various resources.
You might have heard of this site if you’ve read other reviews comparing the two services. The difference between the two is that much of the training is actually free over at Store Coach with further reading available through the paid pro plan. At $49 per month (cancel any time) the course is a fraction of Drop Ship Lifestyle and offers much more reading rather than just video tutorials.
Other things you’ll find in the paid version include to-do lists, resources, advanced tips and tutorials, software to make certain tasks easier and a community forum similar to DSL with direct access to the coaches. The benefits I see over DSL is the niche research section and product sourcing information is far more diverse and helpful.
Next you’ll want to sign up for Salehoo which is a wholesale and drop ship supplier directory which has been around for over 10 years. With over 10,000 resources to checkout in a wide range of countries including the United States, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia and Europe you’ll be able to find drop shippers quickly.
Salehoo provide the contact details and minimum order quantities, setup fees (if any) and much more helpful information on all suppliers in their directory. You can get started for roughly $67 and ignore any upsells they promote to you on signup.
Shopify or Woocommerce
Just like Anton I do think Shopify is a good hosted platform for creating your website especially if you’re new to ecommerce. For around $29 you can get started but do checkout the pricing structure above as the monthly price will fluctuate depending on your sales level.
There are plenty of premium themes you can choose from when installing Shopify but they run around $180 each so I recommend checking out a third party vendor such as TemplateMonster or Themeforest where you can get Shopify themes from $80 – $140.
If you know your way around web hosting and wordpress then I’d recommend building a website using the Woocommerce platform which is a free plugin from Woothemes and is very customizable. For even better customization you can pickup premium plugins on Themeforest for $5-$12 each. You will need to host your own website using reliable hosting.
Both solutions offer credit card processing applications although Shopify is much easier to process credit card payments if you’re from the USA, Canada or the United Kingdom as you can use Shopify’s very own payment processor. If you’re like me and from a country where credit card fraud is still in it’s early days of prevention you’ll need a merchant account with your bank and a service such as Paypal credit cards, Braintree, DPS or 2Checkout. I personally use Braintree payments for all my drop ship websites.
Now you’ve got your store setup and added products you should start to promote your store. There’s tons of free information out there on how best to do this but the best way’s I’ve had success with include:
- Setup a Facebook page, post 3-4 times a week. Buy 300 likes from Fiverr to start your page off.
- Setup Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and post 3-4 times a week.
- Add your website to Google Maps. Use a PO Box if you’re worried about using a home address.
- Guest post on blogs related to your website, offer freebies in exchange for reviews.
- Print business cards or promo vouchers and leave them everywhere you go.
- Start a Facebook ads campaign or Google Adwords simple campaign.
Drop Ship Lifestyle Conclusion
To conclude I have explained in detail what’s covered as part of drop ship lifestyle and why I recommend you don’t sign up. personally I believe the amount of information online that will help you succeed with drop shipping is there and doesn’t need a $1,497 price tag. If you do want training and a complete step-by-step guide, with help and support I would recommend Store Coach due to the reduced price ($49 a month) and additional assistance with operational measures rather than just building your business.
Checkout my other reviews:
- Course Content
- Niche Research
- Help & Guidance
- Formation Advice
Drop Ship Lifestyle is an overpriced course but does pack quite a punch in terms of content. The lack of niche research and business formation advice for international users scored very low. The guidance offered is below average due to the number of members.
Lastly, If you want to see a review of someone who bought the course and is now promoting his affiliate link, watch the video below. You can make your own comparisons from this video.