It all started with an online record shop. Little did I know at the time that selling records (yes, vinyl records) online was going to be my first introduction to eCommerce. I just wanted to be apart of the music industry, which was my dream. At the time, I was a DJ and producer. And I was the manager of a now defunct online record shop. This was my introduction into ordering and managing inventory, fulfilling orders, providing customer service and marketing.
I was always a hardcore DIY’er. I wanted to be able to do everything myself. And since I needed to promote myself as a DJ/Producer, I needed to build a website. This was before social media was really big so I couldn’t just put together a Facebook Page and call it a day. So I taught myself how to build a website and then ended up going back to school for web development. I also learned to do photography so I could do my own promotional photos as well as graphic design to design album artwork.
look at my awesomely cliche DJ pose
Years later when the music dream started to die down, I started an online wedding invitation store, which I ran for four years. I had success with it as a side hustle and it even got acquired by another online stationery store. During this time, I also sold yoga products on Amazon, which I also recently sold. Because of these two things, I was able to quit my full-time job and start Bex Creative helping others build and grow their online shops while also being able to experiment with new eCommerce opportunities. My point is that with all the skills I acquired over the years, marketing and eCommerce were always the common threads. I thought I was doing it for some other purpose, but what I really enjoyed was the process of creating products, marketing them and growing a business. And I’ve come to realize how much having an online business has changed my life and I want to share that with you. So here are the 5 ways eCommerce has changed my life…
1. Flexibility Over My Time
Having an online store especially one that doesn’t carry inventory gives you the freedom to plan out your days the way you want to and work from wherever you want. This has always been important to me. When I did work a 9-5, my day was very reactive. It was dictated by my inbox or if a manager needed something ASAP. I had to sit in a chair all day in front of my computer in case something happened. I learned this style of work was not productive for me nor was it healthy. Since I’m no longer working a 9 to 5, I’m now able to work when I want and how I want. I now dedicate a few (non-distracted) hours a day towards my main revenue-generating goals each week. Primarily in the mornings when I’m more productive for deeper tasks like writing or consulting. Here’s what my day used to look like:
- Wake up at 7:00, get ready for work.
- Commute into the office around 8:15-8:30. Usually hit traffic. Get irritated from traffic.
- Get into the office around 9-9:15.
- Sit at a desk all day doing unproductive, reactive work like answering emails all day or sitting in meetings where nothing actually gets accomplished.
- Leave work around 5-5:30. Sit in traffic for almost an hour on most days.
- Get home. Work on my side business for a couple of hours.
- Make dinner.
- Work some more.
- Watch a little bit of TV, maybe fit in some yoga and then go to bed.
Nowadays, it looks like this:
- Get up around 7. Take the dogs out and then get ready for the day.
- Spend about hour reading and meditating.
- Go to a coffee shop for a few hours and do some deep work like writing blog posts, work on my website or some client work.
- Have lunch.
- Go to the gym and run some errands.
- Do a little bit more work.
- Make a healthy dinner at home or go out to dinner with friends.
- Do a little more work if I feel like it (sometimes I’m just excited about a current project and want to work on it).1
- Watch a tv show or read.
- Go to bed.
Which would you prefer? Now I’m not saying building up a business doesn’t take time and hard work. If I didn’t put in the hard work initially, I wouldn’t be in the position I am today. Putting in the work upfront, pays off in the end. But I also learned it’s about working smarter, not harder.
2. Financial Freedom
Financial freedom is different for everyone. I am in no way a millionaire but from selling my businesses, I am able to cover my basic needs and then some for awhile while I pursue my dreams. What’s also important to me with financial freedom, is that it’s giving me the time and space I need to figure out my next steps. This is a luxury I’m very grateful for. Whereas before, I was so busy with working my 9-5, then doing more work on my business, I didn’t give myself the mental space to come up with new ideas or create a new design or product. This quickly turns into burnout. By building an eCommerce business (or any business), you’re building an asset that could be sold at some point (if that’s what you wanted to do). The time and money you spend on it is like an investment. If you create something of value, someone else will pay for that value. When I sold my online wedding invitation store, someone wanted to pay money for my catalog of designs and the website I built because it had consistent monthly traffic through my content marketing strategy. These were valuable assets for them to acquire and use in their business. Same with my yoga products business. Someone found value in my Amazon listings because they had a lot of quality reviews and I had built up a brand that they could expand upon. Both are very important when selling on Amazon.
3. Learn New Skills
Just like in my DJ days, I had to learn new skills in order to push my business forward. Most of the skills I learned, I had either acquired over time or didn’t know anything about. When I first started my invitation business, I wasn’t the best at Adobe Illustrator and I didn’t have much experience in print design. Honestly, when I look back at some of my first designs, I cringe. But I didn’t let it stop me from starting. Over the years, I got better and better at Illustrator and just learned things as I went along. I also didn’t know anything about marketing a business. So I devoured as many books, articles and podcasts I could find on the subject. I became better and more comfortable with marketing and selling without feeling sleazy or salesly. It felt really good to see how applying a new marketing tactic resulted in making sales. I now find myself with more skills and experience than when I first started, which I can apply to new business opportunities.
4. Provides a Creative Outlet
I think everyone needs some sort of creative outlet for their soul. You may be thinking “but I’m not a creative person!” But you are. We all are. When I say creative, I don’t mean in the traditional sense like you have to be good at drawing or songwriting or writing a novel. I mean the act of creating something. Maybe you’re really good at coding. When you code an app or website, you just created something. Or say you’re a mechanic, you can recreate an engine on an old car restoring it to it’s former glory. Starting an online shop has allowed me to create products, create a website, create a business, create a marketing plan, etc. All of that gets me really excited and feels good because I satisfied that creative outlet and I never get bored.
5. Open to New Opportunities and Taking Risks
Working in eCommerce for so long, I learned a lot about what products and niches work and which ones don’t. It’s given me the ability to spot new opportunities or to pivot or evolve a product when it’s not quite working. For example, I learned that you can check Google Trends and see if a product or niche you’re going into is steadily trending, on the up or on the decline. This is useful to know if there’s a lot of interest in the niche you are going into.
coffee is always trending amirite??
Another example, in my stationery business, I noticed a lack of customizable guest books. Only ones that already said “Guest Book” on them but couldn’t be customized with the bride and groom’s name or wedding colors. So I put together a few designs and put them up on my Etsy shop. I instantly starting getting tons of sales for these guest books and they continued to grow.
Having my own eCommerce businesses have truly changed it for the better by giving me financial freedom, freedom over my time, I’ve learned new skills and it has helped me achieve my goals and set me on a path to achieve new dreams. If you want a change in your life and are considering starting an eCommerce business, sign up for my FREE 7 Day Mini Course on How to Start an Online Shop. In it, I’ll show you how to pick a product, how to setup a website, what to put on your website, how to market your products and much more.