When I was 10, I spent most of my days talking to strangers on the internet.
You see, I was home-schooled up until 7th grade. Most days, the only people I socialized with in real life were my sisters, my parents, and my dog.
You could say I was socially deprived.
The time was circa 2004. The internet was growing at a rapid pace. We didn’t have fancy platforms like Facebook or Quora to connect with people.
What we did have was forums for every niche you could imagine.
My hobbies were BMX bikes, video games, and AirSoft (like paintball). So, I was constantly browsing the relevant forums, desperately trying to avoid being found out as a 10 year old or having my mom realize I wasn’t using the computer for schoolwork.
Video games were the only one of those hobbies I actually spent significant time doing, and actually had a knack for.
As for BMX and AirSoft, I didn’t have many opportunities to enjoy those hobbies in a great environment like a skate park or a paintball field. I was limited in my experience to my subdivision, for the most part.
This led to a strange fixation on each of these two hobbies. I would read forums about them and shop for parts all day long.
I knew the market price for any part in those markets, new or used, on craigslist, eBay, and the various forums.
I noticed some wide discrepancies in prices across platforms.
Since my $10/week allowance left me only dreaming of owning all the parts I shopped for, I began begging my dad to loan me the money to buy used, custom bikes and AirSoft guns.
Mostly I would buy on Craigslist. Because the platform was limited to such a local market, I learned I could negotiate prices for these complete set-ups quite low. What were the chances someone in town would want the exact set-up they were selling, and used, no less?
So, I would buy a custom bike for $200, for instance. Custom bikes would run you $1,500 brand new.
By taking the bike apart and selling the parts separately on all of the forums and eBay (higher demand means higher prices), I would net about $400 to $600 per bike.
Eventually, I realized I could sell things in these niches without even touching them. There were Chinese counterparts to many of the items in these niches that were almost as good as the American versions, just 1/10th of the price.
I would never stock any inventory. I would just make awesome listings for the products on eBay or my own website that actually did the products justice.
The Chinese parts weren’t actually poor in quality, but the listings on Alibaba made them look awful because they were written in poor English with terrible pictures.
When I received orders on my listings, I would order the products from Alibaba using my customer’s address. I would only have to pay 1/10th of the price I charged my customers.
This is known as drop-shipping. It’s still doable today.
I have a client who does approximately $1.5 million in annual sales, and he drop-ships everything he sells.
He is in a very narrow niche you’ve never heard of. If you are thinking of doing the same, and you can say the same about your niche but the market is still huge, you’re headed in the right direction.
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Zach Pinnell is a Marketing Consultant at PinnellMedia.com. He work with entrepreneurs who have hustled their way to six figures with an amazing product or service.