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This 31 message thread spans 2 pages: 31 ( [1] 2 > >     
Is your site profitable enough for you to run it full-time?
How long did it take to become this profitable?

 9:29 am on Oct 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

I've been running my own ecommerce site in my spare-time for a couple of months now. So far, the profit I'm making from my website is equivilent to about a third of what I make doing my day job.

I'd really like to be able to run it full time, but am trying to gauge how long it's likely to take to reach this level, and the steps I need to take to build my traffic up, and to improve the conversion to sales.

Any thoughts and comments please!



 12:56 pm on Oct 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

This is the holy grail of us all here, one suggestion that I have read.

Set up another two sites and if they convert like your current one. Goodbye day job.


 3:15 pm on Oct 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

I have a couple of sites which are growing slowly, but steadily. My advice would be to go back over your previous months figures and see what kind of increase you are seeing. By doing that you should be able to forecast roughly where you will be in a years time.

Again, I echo what Essex_boy advises. Set up another site selling something similar buut slightly different. Then just wait and see what happens.

Like everyone else on this board I imagine, it would be really good to be generating enough income from your own site to live off it!


 3:19 pm on Oct 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

I'm currently trying to figure that out in setting up a new freelance business. Currently i make almost no money at it, but I've only just started. How long will it take before I can quit my day job?
I'm wondering if there's not going to be a point at which I'd have to spend so much time at it that I'd have to quit my day job, but won't be able to afford to do so. That's my biggest worry so far.

What factors are good progress indicators so you can begin to anticipate what level your business is going to settle at?

Actually, I suppose if i knew that, I wouldn't be sitting here, I'd probably own most of the world already. :D


 3:28 pm on Oct 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

It really depends on your individual circumstances. Since income from online business is so variable, it would have to be substantially more than my present income for me to consider.

The profits from our business matched that of my wife's previous full-time income after 16 months. Now it is twice that.

However, I will not seriously consider quitting my own job until the business generates over US$20,000 profits per month consistently. It will have to be US$30,000 for me to definitely take the plunge.

I am not being greedy, it is just that Hong Kong is so horrendously expensive to live in, and there is little in terms of social security.


 3:36 pm on Oct 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

Yes, I agree Derek. I've got a wife and young baby to look after, so I would actually want to be earning substantially more to actually consider it.

The cool thing is though, that the profits I am making, so far only requires about three hours work per week. In other words, when my order level builds up, I can earn roughly the same in one day that I am currently in one week!


 3:37 pm on Oct 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

What factors are good progress indicators so you can begin to anticipate what level your business is going to settle at?

Hi dragonlady7 ...

I've been a professional webmaster for a while. Like most people I know that do this for a living, I analyse this the other way up.

I start with ...

A goal ... how much do I need to make this year to stay alive?

A higher goal ... how much do I want to make this year?. I generally price up things like holidays, new Ferraris, etc and dream a little before coming up with this figure ...

Then I work out how much work I need to do to raise this cash.

I'm still in business, but I haven't got the Ferrari just yet ;)


 3:42 pm on Oct 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

i'd put it this way.

some people jump others don't, which are you!

being self employed is such a different MINDSET to having a job that it is not really just a matter of when do the incoming $$$s make it worth giving up the day job.


 4:18 pm on Oct 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

I agree that being selfemployed is a ttally difrent mindset.

Im self employed in my day job and earn a minimum of 40% more than the people I work longside of, quite often it can 100% +.

You know what? Not one of them has taken the plunge and gone self employed. we are a breed apart.

Dragon lady, I understand your fears and I have been in thei situation myself, work out how to adminster your business BEFORE it gets big. I didnt and tripped myself up.


 7:44 pm on Oct 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

Have you thought about going part time? That's what I'm planning on doing and I think it is better than just taking the plunge completely, because you get to test the waters a little bit and at the same time still have the security of that paycheck.


 2:48 pm on Oct 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

This could be a chicken and egg situation. If you do not work full-time, your web business may take a very long time, or never attain a full-time income.

One solution would be to get your spouse to work full-time as I am doing but that is still not enough. We have a number of suppliers lined up and could expand our business several times any moment. But there is just simply not enough time at present.


 3:37 pm on Oct 9, 2003 (gmt 0)

My spouse-- well, boyfriend-- already works full-time. I was recently threatened with being laid off and pondered quitting, but determined that I couldn't afford it.
And my problem is that-- if I don't work on the freelance business full-time, it won't ever become full-time, but I can't afford to work on it full-time unless it generates full-time revenue. So, catch-22, and a quandary.
I'm thinking of getting a part-time job, as has been suggested.

I am working on generating a realistic budget of both money and time, so I can set up a timeline and some goals and checkpoints to determine whether this is going to take off or not. I'm also changing my sleeping habits to get up earlier and work on the freelance business *before* work, instead of only working on it when I'm worn-out and unable to focus. (I'd probably be better-behaved at work if I were sleepy and tired anyway. Less inclined to make trouble by giving lip to the boss...)

But I have to get this business going. I have to relocate in four to six months, and it has to be full-time or nearly so by then. So...

Definitely, a rigorous plan. A thorough, realistic budget; a detailed, contingency-enabled timeline, and a rigidly-adhered to (but flexible) schedule that is constantly updated to reflect reality. That's what I need to make this happen.


 4:51 pm on Oct 11, 2003 (gmt 0)

I suppose we have already achieved the first goal. That is for my wife to work full-time, look after our baby at home and earn =more than her previous income. However, the second goal of myself going full-time is not achievable yet.

The problem with an e-business is that there is always a sense of insecurity as you cannot see the visitors as in bricks and mortar store, and you are just left with a list of visitors' statistics. Disasters may happen such as your hosting company or payment processor going down.

Hi <jweighell>, you said that you only need to work 3 hours a week, but yet in another post you said that you do have an online store that sells physical products. I wonder whether these 3 hours include packing and shipping the items? I really can't see how this can be done.

We get around 20 orders a day. We have a full-time and a part-time employee. My wife works fulltime and I work part-time on this. Yet quite often, we end up having to work until 2.00 am. The workload is now so great that our customer service is really deteriorating, and we are holding off our expansion plans at the moment.


 8:39 am on Oct 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

We get around 20 orders a day. We have a full-time and a part-time employee. My wife works fulltime and I work part-time on this. Yet quite often, we end up having to work until 2.00 am. The workload is now so great ...

And you can't afford to pay yourself a full time wage?

derekwong28 ... I really feel for you. Have you considered getting out of this line of business? How are you ever going to expand?


 11:31 am on Oct 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

The way I'm working it is to have a flexible part time job.

I started off with a mon-fri 8-1 job, so in theory i had the afternoon/evening and weekends - but its difficult to be motivated when you've already been up since 7. Then you get home, eat lunch, shower and before you know it, its 4 oclock :o

Now i'm working for one of my clients on a project he's doing. I work when i want. We speak each nite, or first thing in the morning, to arrange whether i'm working that day and my business comes first.

If i have a meeting or other work i plan it when it suits me, then just don't work that day. But this only works becuase of the type of work, and because the employer is understanding - I live in Cornwall and know a number of small business startups - we all appreciate what each other is going through and help each other out.

This week i built a pc and fixed another for a client at almost zero profit - but i get loads of advice, word of mouth trade and moral support from this guy - its a win win situation. Scratch my back and all that.

I've also managed to get several monthly retainers that guaratee my rent and bills. So it comes to it, i just don't go out, and live off bread and cheese :) but its never come to that - touch wood


 2:40 pm on Oct 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

I would clearly want to go fulltime and I suppose I could right now if I were pushed.

However, my present job pays more than US$10,000 per month and it is very stable. Although income from our web business is now approaching this, it is unstable and highly product dependent. The fact that you can't see an actual customer walking in face to face adds to a feeling of insecurity.

With a baby and another one on the way, we have to be extremely careful. Hong Kong is one of the most expensive places to live in the world. Although our income sounds very high, we live frugally in a one bedroom flat and still we have little in terms of savings. I am not exagerating because I have lived in the UK and Canada. I suppose London is getting like this now.


 6:03 pm on Oct 12, 2003 (gmt 0)


could you reduce your costs by living elsewhere, maybe in a different country?

or perhaps contracting out parts of the work to a place with a lower cost base?


 11:05 pm on Oct 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

Yep Englands becoming piggin expensive to the point im thinking of going to New Zealand to live.

$10 K per month would buy you a good lifestyle over here can you relocate?

Then you wouldnt have to worry so much


 6:27 am on Oct 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

on 10k USD a month you could live like a king in canada, or the USA for that matter.


 12:13 pm on Oct 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

Unfortunately, neither our business or my present full-time job can be transferred to another country, but I am working on this.
The prices of everyday necessities are quite reasonable in Hong Kong, what is really expensive are housing and automobiles. For a start, a 30% downpayment is required for property purhases. Since we are expecting another child, I am really feeling the pinch at the moment since we would have to move to larger premises and possibly get a 7-seater.

It was only 1 year ago when we were only making a few hundred dollars per month. This only changed when we carried a new line of products. However, there are at least 20 competitors in Hong Kong selling the same stuff and therefore we just do not feel secure at the moment.


 11:17 am on Oct 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

derekwong28: I guess saying I make a third of my salary is a bit ambiguous seems I didn't say what my salary is! I earn £26k a year (which is reasonable for the area of the UK I live in). This is roughly 43k USD.

At the moment, I get only about an average of 3.5 orders a day (only been going a couple months!). Making about £7 profit on each order. 3.5 * £7 = £24.5 per day. £24.5 * 365 = £8,942.50 per year.

Yes, they are physical products I sell, so I mean that these three hours is day to day running of the site, including processing and packaging orders.


 1:15 pm on Oct 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

jweighell, your figures look very promising and I cannot see any reason why you cannot achieve your goal within 12 months. The figures you quoted are almost identical to those of our business in its first year of operation.

I would suggest that you spend the next few months collecting as much data about your businsess as possible in order to plan your expansion e.g.

1. Conversion rate for various types of traffic
2. Lost/damaged shipment rate
3. Credit card fraud rate
4. Return goods rate
5. Warranty repair rate

If you ship internationally, I would also collect as much data as possible about the shipping times to individual countries and also data concerning likely duties.

Since the prices of you goods are quite low. I would suggest that you try sending them by non-registered ordinary mail that cannot be tracked and see what happens. This will cut down on your time and costs considetably. We do this for most of our orders and the lost order rate had been less than 1%. We found that the vast majority of customers are very honest.

Of course, I would also do my best to build up traffic. I suggest that you spend as much on PPC as possible. I would forget about banners, pop-ups, viral marketing and e-mail.

Finally don't forget to exchange links and build up your PR rank in Google. However, we found that we did not have to do this that often because if your service is good, your customers will link to you on their own accord.

As suggested by others earlier, you may find that you may have to develop more web sites in order to realize your goal.


 4:00 am on Oct 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

Didn't you guys see the Matrix? Take the Red pill already!

The true risk is not being in control of your destiny. Working for someone else is riskier than working for yourself sometimes.

If you have something that is working and making you 1/4 or more of your day job, trust your instincts, you are on to something. Max it out and take the leap.

Make sure you are taking an "educated" risk, be confident that you know what you are doing, have some experience doing it, and have faith that you can grow it to what you need to cover yourself personally. Listen to your friends and family, their support is important and they will hopefully be honest with their true opinions.

Time the transition from employed to being your own boss safely and conservatively. It's all you now! Do or die.

I made the leap 7 years ago and never looked back. The true reward of success is freedom, in every way. Another reward is time, which in my honest opinion, is today’s most valuable personal resource. Risk is part of the game. I am glad I rolled the dice.


 1:42 am on Oct 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

scottperry, I like your optism.

There is no right time to plunge in. The time is always now!


 3:28 am on Oct 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

.....Disasters may happen such as your hosting company or payment processor going down.

Right, and successful people do the 'extra' (and sometimes not so obvious) to limit the chance of these things happening.

Already successful...why not have 2 merchant accounts...2 seperate credit card processors, with the money going into different accounts (and banks).

That way, if one of them has a 'screw up'..it's not going to leave you out in the cold.

After 5 years of this, I can assure you that they all DO make mistakes, and even when it's their fault it can take days to sort out!

$30 bucks a month for a 2nd account may seem like a waste of money - trust me, it isn't.

Have a 'Plan B' for everything (not just a cc processor)...you'll sleep better at night.


 12:29 am on Oct 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

the problem is not the cost of living in england, it is the crappy weather, speed limit on motorways and lack of good food ;-)


 12:33 am on Oct 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

i guess i could even come along with about 1500 pounds per month to quit my job....moving from country to country and working in hotel rooms on my laptop and seeing all kinds of counties. 50 pounds per days should do..

if i had 10 000 dollars per month i would probably be 300 days per year on a carribean cruise ship.


 10:09 pm on Oct 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

i guess i could even come along with about 1500 pounds per month to quit my job....moving from country to country and working in hotel rooms on my laptop and seeing all kinds of counties. 50 pounds per days should do..
if i had 10 000 dollars per month i would probably be 300 days per year on a carribean cruise ship.

It's all rather relative to where you hang your hat. One can rent an OK apartment in Thailand for $60/mo. $100/mo will get one an OK house to rent. To have a baby in a really good hospital with a really good doctor, C section, is about $1000. Pick up a Honda Dream for $900 and you're all set. This is 'on the cheap' stuff. A decent house goes for 15k. "Palace" for $40k.

Meanwhile a 5hr and 35min flight away, in Tokyo a crappy 1 room apartment will cost ya at least $650/mo and 3 months up front.

Here in the Northeast USA my friend just looked at house prices again. $400k to get something good in an average neighborhood. Taxes are crazy.

A 1 bedroom apartment in an average 'burb is $1300-$1800/mo not including utilities.

Meanwhile, down in Florida he can get a beautiful house built by one of the State's top builders according to JD Powers for $150k.

I stickied derekwong28 about this. It also depends a lot on age and responsibilities.

Are you 24 and have little or no debt and no kids or steady girlfriends? Well, everything is pretty easy.

Do you have a wife and kids to think about plus $15k in credit card debt?

Do you need a BMW or will a used Honda suffice?

It's all very...well...relative. :)


 12:30 am on Nov 1, 2003 (gmt 0)

Here is a little known secret to making your part time web work a full time gig. It's pretty simple. Just slack off at work, get fired, collect unemployment for a while and use that money to keep things going while you start up your internet biz :)


 10:54 am on Nov 1, 2003 (gmt 0)

Yeah youcould do that.... But id rather use the web income as a secure fall back rather than having to rely on it 'cos I lost my job on purpose.

One last thing a weeks dole for me is less than a mornings pay....

Not that profitable

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