A few people have emailed me lately asking questions about how much time we spend running our store on a day to day basis and I completely understand why. Running a business can be difficult and time consuming so it’s important to understand what one is getting into before taking the plunge. I even received one email from a reader who asked.
Why would I want to open an ecommerce site as opposed to something much more passive like affiliate marketing or blogging?
First off, I just want to emphasize that no business is truly passive. No matter what, you have to put in a good amount of time and work upfront.
In addition, there’s always some amount of effort involved to maintain your income stream once it has been established. The other thing I want to say is that if your purpose is to make money, blogging is a lousy way to do it.
But what about affiliate marketing? The main difference between opening an ecommerce store as opposed to running a niche affiliate site is that an online store has the potential to make a lot more money upfront in a shorter period of time.
I don’t think that my wife and I could have made 100K within a year by promoting other peoples’ products. We also wanted to create a business that we could cultivate and grow, a business where we had more control over our own destiny.
The disadvantage of running an ecommerce site is that the income is more active in the beginning but later transitions to passive as you hire employees and put your store on autopilot.
The attraction of affiliate marketing is that the income starts out more passive (there are no goods to ship or customer support issues to deal with) and remains passive which is why a lot of people do it.
What Our Schedule Looks Like
With our online store, most of the heavy lifting and late nights were spent getting our business off the ground. Once all of the major kinks were ironed out, everything became much smoother and there is now much less work involved.
In any case, here’s what our typical weekday looks like. I’m only going to talk about the weekdays because we close the store on weekends so we can enjoy family time together.
The beauty of running an online store is that even though we are closed, our servers continue to take orders 24/7.
First off, my wife tries to sleep as late as possible in the morning so she’s well rested enough to take care of the kids for the entire day.
I get up at around 7am to write a blog post or answer emails for MyWifeQuitHerJob.com. I like writing in the mornings because the house is completely quiet.
Sometimes I have up to a full hour to write but it all depends on what time my son and daughter decide to wake up. Sometimes my daughter makes it all the way till 9am.
Sometimes she gets up at 8am. I basically write or revise my articles until I hear her scream “DADDY! MOMMY!!! DAAAAADDDY!!! MOOOOMMY!”.
My son on the other hand is far less demanding. Once he wakes up, I give him his morning bottle which takes about 10 minutes (he’s a fast eater) and then I put him back down to sleep.
My daughter requires more attention so once she’s up, I grab her, play with her for a little bit and give her a glass of milk and breakfast.
By this time my wife wakes up as well and starts getting ready for her day. By 9-9:15am, I’m usually out the door and off to my day job as an electrical engineer.
During The Day
My wife gets to spend time with the kids all day. Most of the correspondence that we receive in regards to the business is via email and she responds to them at her leisure. We also have some hired help come in to pack and process orders so my wife can focus on the kids.
But in general, the days are more or less free for my wife. She might take our kids to the park which is 2 blocks away. Sometimes she takes them out to the mall or reads to them outside. The day is very pleasant for her as long as the kids aren’t in a bad mood:)
I come home for lunch 3-4 days out of the week to eat with the family and to take care of any miscellaneous business correspondence that my wife couldn’t get to in the morning.
This may include rush deliveries, returning phone calls or sending out some emails. Depending on the season, the number of last minute rush orders varies. Typically, it’s not too bad. On some occasions, I have to make a quick trip to the Post Office or Fed Ex.
We always make it a rule that we all have to eat dinner together. Dinner usually begins between 6-6:30pm. After dinner, my wife and I play with the kids for an hour or so and then send them up to my office.
Why the office? It’s because at 7:45pm, we use Skype so the kids can speak to their Grandma. We all talk in front of the webcam until about 8pm which is around the time when both kids get tired and need to go to sleep.
At this point in the night is when things get a little busier. After putting the kids to bed around 8pm is when we take care of the remaining business related tasks.
This sometimes includes packing miscellaneous orders that arrived after hours, printing shipping labels, adding content to the website and/or general business development.
The first thing that my wife does is to go through the days orders and prepares them for shipment. Everything is pretty much automated and each package is weighed and shipping labels are printed.
During peak periods, the amount of shipments can be very large but generally the workload is not too bad. We plan on outsourcing this task to our helpers as soon as we can decouple the shipping operations from our Paypal account.
During this time, I work on ways to expand the business, revise articles on my blog or do miscellaneous tasks that my wife needs me to do. On most nights, we are done by 9:30-10pm and get to bed no later than 11pm.
It’s Not Too Bad
Originally when we had our second child, I thought that we were going to die. But we now have a pretty good system in place that is manageable.
As soon as my daughter starts preschool full time, we will look to continue outsourcing more and more of the business either by hiring more help or finding additional contractors.
The idea is to free up some more time so that we can pursue some of our other business ideas. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I plan on launching my course on how to start an online business sometime in the latter half of the year and I’m pretty excited.
This course will include a full blown lesson plan that teaches all of the ins and outs of starting and running an online store with very little initial cash outlay. In addition to all of this, my wife has been itching to pursue some other business ideas which I’ll be documenting in the future.
Is Running Our Store Passive?
I would definitely say no…but it’s getting there. The good thing is that my wife is able to spend time with both kids from when they wake up until they go to bed.
Although we still have to do some amount of work every night, it’s only for a few hours and the amount of money our online store brings in is more than enough to sustain a comfortable lifestyle.
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Steve Chou is a highly recognized influencer in the ecommerce space and has taught thousands of students how to effectively sell physical products online over at ProfitableOnlineStore.com.
His blog, MyWifeQuitHerJob.com, has been featured in Forbes, Inc, The New York Times, Entrepreneur and MSNBC.
He's also a contributing author for BigCommerce, Klaviyo, ManyChat, Printful, Privy, CXL, Ecommerce Fuel, GlockApps, Privy, Social Media Examiner, Web Designer Depot, Sumo and other leading business publications.
In addition, he runs a popular ecommerce podcast, My Wife Quit Her Job, which is a top 25 marketing show on all of Apple Podcasts.
To stay up to date with all of the latest ecommerce trends, Steve runs a 7 figure ecommerce store, BumblebeeLinens.com, with his wife and puts on an annual ecommerce conference called The Sellers Summit.
Steve carries both a bachelors and a masters degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University. Despite majoring in electrical engineering, he spent a good portion of his graduate education studying entrepreneurship and the mechanics of running small businesses.