How exactly to Run an E-Commerce Business As Your Side Hustle With Just 15 Hours weekly

David Linder

David Linder

MSc in Marketing from the University of Salford. Facebook Certified Planning Professional Facebook Certified Buying Professional
13 min read

44 million Americans reportedly have a side hustle.

It appears like just about everybody is looking to obtain a little bit of the gig-economy action.

And it’s no real surprise why.

Running a side-hustle can provide you an unbelievable sense of freedom.

You will probably be your own boss, generate some more income, and focus on projects you’re genuinely passionate about.

Unfortunately, everything does take time.

If you’re not strategic about how exactly you run your e-commerce side hustle, it could feel restricting.

Growing an internet business is not any simple task.

But when you’re attempting to balance it along with a full-time job, it could easily become a great deal to handle.

However, you don’t have to quit your e-commerce dreams at this time.

If you understand steps to make your side hustle do the job, it is possible to achieve full-time results in part-time hours.

In fact, it is possible to run an effective e-commerce business in less than 15 hours weekly.

Here’s how.

1. Work SMART, not hard

If you intend to be a business proprietor, you have become it.

Although you might not be running another Amazon (not yet, anyway), you have to treat your e-commerce business just like a full-blown selling machine.

That means developing a business plan, establishing a timeline, and setting goals – and sticking with all of these.

Let’s focus on the business enterprise plan.

According to the Harvard Business Review, having a small business plan can in fact make you more prone to succeed.

Your e-commerce business plan sets the building blocks for how you’ll run your organization.

It not merely outlines what you’ll sell but how you’ll sell it.

It covers how you’ll ship and deliver your products, what pathways you’ll try promote your items, and how you’ll price each product to enable you to gain a profit.

Take a glance at this exemplory case of a one-page business plan from The $100 Startup.

one page business plan

This easy-to-create business arrange for your e-commerce business forces one to sit back and think about the picture as a whole.

Not only does it offer you a direction to go, nonetheless it lays out how you’re likely to make it happen.

Establishing this roadmap in early stages in your e-commerce business enables you to decrease the time you may spend guessing how to proceed next – meaning it is possible to work better throughout your part-time hours.

You may also make sure that you’re owning a sustainable business, taking a number of the pressure from you as you progress.

To create your e-commerce business plan, you first desire to start with your organization model.

If you’re seeking to run an e-commerce business part-time, you’re likely to desire to consider dropshipping.

Here’s a failure of how Selfstartr describes dropshipping.

Dropshipping may be the least hands-on type of e-commerce, rendering it an ideal option if you’re seeking to reduce the period of time you actually devote to your organization.

dropshipping explanation

With dropshipping, you merely become a middleman between your customer and the supplier.

The customer orders from your own store, you alert the supplier of these order, then your supplier sends the order right to your customer.

This means you don’t need to be worried about inventory or creating products.

Hover, it doesn’t work if you’re seeking to sell unique products. If so, you’ll have to use either private labeling or white labeling.

Here’s how each works.

selfstatr shipping

With private labeling, a factory makes products designed for you. Whenever a customer buys, it’s your responsibility to send that product in their mind.

White labeling is comparable, except that the merchandise aren’t entirely unique. Instead, they just come filled with your branding and logo.

Each of the options can provide you more control of one’s products, however they need a larger time investment – which may be challenging if you’re only investing in part-time hours.

Finally, create some long-term and short-term goals.

Document where you’d prefer to be in a month.

Then twelve months.

Then five years.

Don’t hesitate to believe big when making your targets.

Use the SMART goal method to refine your targets whenever you can.

smart goals with questions

Give yourself payment dates, set metrics you’ll measure your targets by, and explain how you’ll measure each goal.

Sound obvious?

The key to a side hustle gets revenue off the bottom. So you have to set the finish goal or target and work backward.

Only then is it possible to break down your organization plan, timeline, and goals into some actionable items.

Take a glance at the short-term goals you’ve set.

Outline what you’d have to accomplish to create these goals become a reality.

Turn these to their own mini goals. Assign them realistic payment dates and metrics to measure them by.

Then you’ll desire to develop a master calendar.

Here’s an example from INTERNET SEARCH ENGINE Journal.

marketing calendar example

This sort of bird-eye-view look at all you need to perform for another couple of weeks, month, as well as the entire year will help you stay focused and on task.

Using these payment dates, the marketing and posting schedule you’ve established, as well as your business commitments you outlined in your organization plan, you’ll desire to construct what you’re in charge of each day of the month.

Creating a visual such as this can allow one to see not merely what you ought to accomplish that day, but additionally in the times ahead.

It can prevent you from feeling overwhelmed with responsibility while also ensuring you stick to track.

Finally, for every day, you’ll desire to designate a particular time to focus on your e-commerce business tasks.

You can simply add time blocking to any calendar app, such as for example Google Calendar.

add time blocking google calendar

Block out designated chunks of time that you merely use for that day’s side hustle commitments.

Avoid it, turn your phone on USUALLY DO NOT Disturb, and tell your children, spouse, roommates, or friends never to frustrate you.

To assist you to stay focused, benefit from timers.

The Pomodoro Technique is one method to keep centered on the task accessible.

You simply set a 25-minute timer. Provided that that timer is on, you’re working distraction-free on your own to-do list.

Once that times up, you have a short five-minute break.

Then you repeat until your task is completed.

You can set goals for just how many 25-minute sessions you’d prefer to complete every day, ensuring you track enough time you’re actually shelling out for your side-hustle.

This will help you avoid multitasking, which will make it a lot more difficult to obtain things done regularly.

Finally, it is possible to keep an eye on your plan through utilizing a simple CRM. You don’t need Salesforce or any thousand-dollar options initially.

You just need something easy to start tracking your repeatable milestones or activities. Pick something simple that already works together with your present setup.

For example, SalesMate includes a free plugin that may sync everything under Google Apps. Which means you may use Google Sheets to track deliverables, Docs to track notes, then and attach them to individual email contacts for the next Google Calendar meeting.

Nothing falls through the cracks when you’ve brought everything under one house. Particularly if after that you can utilize this foundation to start out automating your recurring tasks.

2. Harness the energy of automation

Unfortunately, you can’t just hit pause on the e-commerce business while you’re away at your entire day job.

Even though you’re not there to help keep an eye onto it, it’s still running.

If you’re not providing some solutions for the customers, you might lose them.

However, using automation tools makes it possible for one to run your e-commerce business while you’re unavailable.

Automation works such as a robotic assistant.

It may take over a few of the tedious, daily tasks you need to perform yet might not have enough time to accomplish.

It may also do the job in the backdrop to market, provide customer care, and monitor shoppers while you’re centered on other tasks – like your full-time job.

Automation is generally found in e-commerce marketing and sales to schedule social media posts, send emails, and also react to customer questions.

You may take advantage of most of these systems with your personal e-commerce business.

Let’s first check out email automation.

Here’s a failure of an automated campaign from Automizy.

automated campaign from automizy

Not only does automation permit you to distribute email blasts to large sets of people at once, but it addittionally enables you to share specific messages based on your user and what actions they perform.

For example, it is possible to send a greetings email once you gain a fresh store lead.

Let’s say you’ve got a pop-up on your own site supplying a discount to users who submit their email.

In our example, this might function as “Fills out Form” box.

Using automation, it is possible to automatically send a welcome message to the customer – even though you’re definately not your laptop.

From this example, you can even see that another steps your campaign takes depends on the way the customer reacts or responds – without you having to manually sign in.

You may also use automation to distribute reminders of an abandoned shopping cart software.

Here’s a good example of an abandoned cart sequence from MailChimp.

abandon cart notification mailchimp

This will help you create a second connection with interested shoppers, upping your likelihood of getting new purchases while you’re away.

Another solution to automate your emails would be to send a post-purchase follow up.

Following up together with your shoppers after they’ve received their purchase will help you keep customers happy while showing you value them.

However, to track and send these messages manually could be incredibly time-consuming.

By automating, it is possible to schedule your follow-up message to obtain feedback or provide customer care without even having to hit a button on your own end.

Email isn’t the only method you can manage automation.

Automation could also be used for the social media platforms.

You desire to be posting on social media several times each day.

However, when you’re busy at a complete time position, it could be difficult to sneak away to obtain a Tweet or Instagram post ready.

Automation enables you to schedule those posts beforehand, which means you don’t have to be worried about them.

Here’s a glance at how Sprout Social, one among the countless social automation tools on the market, enables you to schedule your articles.

sprout social calendar

This calendar view enables you to see what you’ll post, what time it’ll post, and the platforms it’ll be shared on.

Once weekly or every few days, it is possible to craft your social messages, schedule them into your automation tool, and await them to obtain lay out.

But you’ll have to be careful when working with automation on social.

You want your posts to appear like they’re thoughts, blending directly into your audience’s timeline.

If they seem too robotic, in that case your audience will undoubtedly be quick to note, plus they won’t engage.

Take these comments on Instagram, for instance.

bot comments on instagram post

While they could seem innocent enough, these types of low-quality engagements are often powered by way of a bot.

For probably the most part, these comments are fine – however they do involve some potential to truly get you in a few awkward situations.

Evan LePage at Hootsuite tried to utilize Instagram automation to improve his online following but finished up commenting “Damn!” on a bride’s photo – not the very best impression you intend to be giving.

Bot tools that automate likes, comments, and follows may also get you in big trouble with different social platforms.

For example, bots violate Instagram’s terms of use, meaning it might get your account turn off.

Instead, concentrate on creating unique, organic, and personality-packed posts specific to your audience.

Take a glance at these Instagram comments compared.

good instagram post comments

The user 1wanderlustsoul picked something unique in the image, commented onto it, and asked a question.

This sort of real engagement can show your audience that there surely is an individual behind the accounts and you’re ready to become familiar with your visitors and clients.

One final automation tool to cover is chatbots.

When an online shopper decides to buy something, they would like to know just what they’re getting.

This means they’ll probably have a question or two that require to be answered before they grab their charge card.

Unfortunately, if you’re only designed for your e-commerce business a couple of hours each day, this may leave shoppers waiting extended periods of time before they get yourself a response.

By enough time you answer, they’ve shifted to a competitor.

Chatbots will help you solve this issue.

Here’s a good example of a chatbot from HelloFresh.

hellofresh chatbot

A chatbot could be there to answer basic questions, provide feedback, and handle certain requests while you’re away.

Shoppers may use a chatbot to perform purchases, get recommendations, as well as get updates on an open order.

Using a chatbot can help take a few of the pressure of off you.

In HelloFresh’s case, these were in a position to increase incoming messages by 31% and decrease their response time by 32%.

This means more satisfied customers without needing more time from you.

Chatbots may also alert one to if you find a predicament that they’re struggling to handle.

You may then jump into these conversations or return messages to customers who may be searching for a more descriptive response – ensuring everyone gets the info they want.

3. Get your audience to accomplish your marketing for you

Marketing is focused on connecting together with your market.

While there could be list after list or guide after guide of appropriate methods to market your e-commerce business, none of it matters if your market isn’t attending to.

When you’re attempting to run a full-time business in part-time hours, every minute is precious.

This means you can’t spend your time with marketing tactics which are going unnoticed.

However, it is possible to work for this by curating content from your own shoppers.

Take a glance at Aerie’s Instagram page.

Mixed in making use of their professional, branded images, they will have content from their shoppers.

customer content on instagram

Not only does this mean Aerie marketers can save time producing new content, however they also obtain shoppers involved – making the procedure more exciting for them.

They also partner with the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) to greatly help raise awareness about eating disorders.

By supporting an underlying cause, they’re in a position to gain free publicity that may garner a lot more attention from shoppers.

Asking your shoppers showing off making use of your products or items by way of a unique hashtag will help you enhance your online marketing strategy without having to add additional time to production.

You’ll also need to get picky concerning the way you promote your products.

There is not any reason you should be on absolutely every social media platform.

As an e-commerce business, you need to consider that may bring in probably the most traffic which will ultimately convert to sales.

Think about who your market is and where they’re probably to invest their time.

For example, if you’re attempting to attract women between your ages of 18 and 29 in cities, Instagram may be the proper platform for you personally.

sprout social demos 2

However, if your audience is more women between 30 and 49 in suburban areas, Pinterest may be an improved target.

sprout social demographics

Focus your time and efforts on these platforms while ignoring others.

If your audience doesn’t use Twitter, don’t waste your time and effort writing and scheduling tweets. Likewise, if they’re not using Instagram, don’t waste your time and effort.

You desire to focus on obtaining the message before your audience in probably the most efficient way possible.

Another solution to do this has been affiliate and influencer marketing.

Affiliate and influencer marketing are similar, although they work a little differently.

With influencer marketing, you’d pay a high profile, blogger, or another individual with a big following to speak about your products on social or their website.

However, they need to post that this content is sponsored.

Here’s a good example of a sponsored Instagram post from Chris Pratt and Michelob Ultra.

chris pratt sponsored instagram post

This might help build trust and obtain increased traffic to your e-commerce store.

However, internet affiliate marketing functions by allowing other individuals to market your products for a cut of the profit.

Here’s a good example of an affiliate post from blogger My View in Heels.

affiliate post on instagram

For every item they sell, they’d earn money.

This encourages them to push your product, providing you additional marketing channels that you don’t have to work with.

For an e-commerce store owner seeking to grow their business with reduced time investment, creating a joint venture partner program is a good option.

Affiliate programs may also be ideal for smaller store owners.

Because you merely need to purchase each item the affiliate sells, it is possible to maintain a higher ROI and reduce risk.

4. Outsource whenever makes sense

Sometimes, you merely can’t take action all.

And that’s perfectly fine.

You shouldn’t make an effort to take action all – particularly when you have limited time.

Stretching yourself too thin can leave you overworked and stressed as the quality of one’s store suffers.

If you’re struggling to give something your full attention, consider outsourcing.

Hiring a va is one method to take some tasks and responsibilities off your plate.

Here’s a glance at some virtual assistant profiles from Upwork.

virtual assistants on upwork

Outsourcing the tasks you don’t like doing, you’re bad at doing, or you merely don’t have enough time to do will not only save time but boost your important thing.

When deciding what things to outsource, first have a look at the tasks you battle to complete.

If you don’t learn how to write successful social media copy, outsource it.

If you don’t have the skill to take high-quality images of one’s products, outsource it.

If you can’t create product videos in enough time you’ve allotted for the side hustle, outsource it.

Choosing to employ a professional could be more costly than simply carrying it out yourself, nonetheless it can actually assist you to generate higher returns.

With better quality copy, images, videos, or other styles of content, it is possible to attract more shoppers and sell more products.

Take Justin Alexander, bridal collection retailer, for instance.

He thought we would outsource development of his website.

outsourced development of website stats

By hiring developers to focus on his site, he could develop a high-powered page that attracts over 30,000 visitors monthly.

While it could cost additional money initially to outsource a project, additionally, it may enable you to get higher returns on investments.

Not only do you want to have an improved finished product, but you’ll have significantly more personal time and energy to focus on your job, family, or hobbies.


Stop thinking you should hustle merely to have a side hustle.

It’s very possible to get a full-time career, side gig, and social life – you just need to be strategic about the way you go about it.

By using proper planning, automation tools, and scheduling your time and effort appropriately, you can view your e-commerce business remove – even though you’re only in a position to dedicate 15-hours weekly.

What side-hustle tricks perhaps you have found to obtain additional done in less time?

About the writer: Neil Patel may be the cofounder of Neil Patel Digital.

David Linder

David Linder

MSc in Marketing from the University of Salford. Facebook Certified Planning Professional Facebook Certified Buying Professional

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