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Starting a general store in a competitive niche, looking for overall advice.

I'm in the process of starting a general fitness supply store that doubles as an evidence-based fitness blog. I tried drop shipping by selling another company's products and was easily able to make sales and conversions. But because drop shipping has relatively low profit margins, I decided I'd rather brand my own products and source from Alibaba instead.

My store has been offline and I'm currently using it as a blog where I slowly add articles overtime to get ranked in search engines for SEO while I build an audience on social media and save money to purchase inventory.

I'm looking for advice on what would be the best method of starting out branding my own products and growing into a general store. I was thinking of starting out with one item at a time and slowly growing into a general store. A few major items first and then smaller, cheaper products to start up selling with.

I understand there's a lot of competition in the fitness industry, but it's an industry I'm passionate about and have extensive knowledge in.

I’m not sure if I can post my website link here, so I won’t, but if anyone is willing to check it out and give me some constructive criticism, let me know and I can send the link over. edit, apparently it's allowed: https://www.fit-philosophy.com/

A few additional questions.

What’s the current climate with sourcing from China/Alibaba? Is it a bad time to start because of covid19?

Is it a mistake to start out with only one item or should I save up to buy at least 3-4 items at once? I was thinking of simply leaving my dropship suppliers products on my website but keeping them “out of stock” as I slowly introduce my own products. My traffic will be directed straight to product pages with Google Ads, anyhow.

Any recommendations on choosing which items to start with? I’m assuming it’ll mostly be based around search volume, competition, etc, but maybe there’s something I’m not thinking about in regards to starting a general store.

Any good resources to learn more about the costs and logistics of importing products? When and where do I pay taxes on the imports, for example?

Any other good resources for branding your own products? Most of what I can find is all about drop shipping these days – it’s hard to find anything about starting your own product brand.

Any other tips or suggestions are welcome. I probably missed something.

submitted by /u/Fit-Philosophy
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