I stopped letting my online business take over my life - Here’s how I did it
Imagine this: Waking up after a weekend fully off from work feeling refreshed and bustling with energy to get after the work day on Monday.
You start off the week by hopping off to the gym, hop on the treadmill for a 30 min jog and then into the sauna area for 30 minutes of meditating and relaxing. If you’re late getting to the gym or feel like taking a longer workout or sauna time, you do, because there’s no emergencies at work needing your attention. Then, you head home and dive into work, with just 1 task on your to do list which you’re able to give your all to for the day.
You finish off Monday feeling like you killed the work game and head off to drinks with friends at night. Your mischief at work is managed and no clients or customers need you as you hop on a flight for a little long-weekend break to London.
That’s what my life looks like now but trust me, that scenario was pretty unimaginable to me just over a year ago.
I was the frazzled and stressed online business owner, a slave to my phone, checking emails into all hours and stressing over my never ending list of to do’s. From the customer service, to the service delivery, to the marketing to the bookkeeping, I was doing it all.
I worked evenings, weekends, and while I was always exhausted from my business, I never felt like I could get ahead of the work.
Last year I made some really conscious decisions and put a lot of thought into how I wanted my life to look.
Over the course of a few months, I transformed my business from something that was running me to one that was whipped into shape, more fulfilling, profitable and successful than ever before. All while getting my life back. Woot woot! Killing it.
Today I want to share a few of those decisions with you.
If you’re also ready to take your life back from your business, I hope you either steal a few of my ideas and implement them. Or, if my decisions don’t feel like a right fit for you, I challenge you to take these as inspiration and really think outside the box of how things are traditionally done in your business type and how they could be tweaked to allow you to take your life back.
I stopped letting my online business take over my life - Here’s how I did it
1. Switched over from One on One services to One to Many products
Previously as a web designer, I tweaked the traditional design process to fit my life better. I took on only 1 client at a time and this gave me significantly more freedom and sanity than the average designer.
Even still, with a 1:1 service, I’d never really get ahead and have time off to focus on other projects in my business (eg. starting a podcast!). I worked with a client for 2 weeks, got paid and moved on to the next client. If I wasn’t working, I wasn’t earning, and I wanted that to change.
I also knew that with products, I could get ahead of my work. I wouldn’t always be on the hamster wheel of producing, producing, producing. I could take time to strategize, and work on big projects that don’t have immediate pay off but are beneficial long-term.
It took me about a year to switch over from working with clients and building courses simultaneously to just being able to do courses and not take on anymore 1:1 clients.
Don’t get me wrong, the transition wasn’t a walk in the park, but was absolutely worth it. I took 3 months to build my first online course and one of those months I made a grand total of $0. (Remember what I was saying about not working and therefore not earning when offering services? There’s your proof, haha.)
So if you too are just offering 1:1 services at the moment, I’d like to challenge you to think of in what way you could create a product that also serves your audience, and is available at a more affordable price point, that will be able to generate passive income when you’re resting.
2. Hired out the $15/hr tasks
So often in the past I’d sit down to my day with what felt like 99 million little tasks cluttering up my day. I spent my mornings and sometimes afternoons trying to get through the little tasks and fixing small problems so I could focus on the big work.
Often, I never got around to the big work and it led to a lot of frustration. I spoke with a friend and we discussed the $15/hr tasks and the $50+/hr tasks. He challenged me to figure out what could be done by someone else for $15/hr and get those things off my plate. This wasn’t just business-wise, but life-wise too.
And hire out I did! I hired a cleaner for our apartment, started ordering Hello Fresh weekly to make cooking and grocery shopping less time-consuming, and hired a VA.
I now get to sit down at my desk (or let’s be real, my couch most of the time) and I generally just have 1-3 major tasks happening that day. I get to focus and knock out work efficiently.
(If you head over to my Instagram stories, I share the 1-3 tasks I’m working on that day.)
I finish off my day feeling productive and therefore go into my next day already feeling like a winner. The productive vibes snowball and often I leave my workday with the same excitement as if I had just finished a marathon. (Not that I’ve finished a marathon before, but you know, what I would imagine that feels like 😂.)
3. Picked marketing strategies that didn’t require a lot of equipment or constantly being available
Fight with every algorithm on every social media channel? Spend my day down the social media rabbit hole ‘engaging’ with other people’s profiles by having surface-level convos every day? “Omg, love your laptop cover. Where do I get the same? In loveee!” No thank you.
Carry a lighting set, a DSLR and a bunch of lenses with me to every country I travel to? Nah B, not for me. I travel carry on only most of the time.
Host weekly webinars, meaning finding a super fast internet connection everywhere I travel and never being able to take a few weeks off for vacation? Not my jam either.
When it came to picking a marketing strategy, I chose ones that were actually manageable and suited my ever-moving lifestyle.
Yeah having a baller Instagram would be cool and all, as would a sick YouTube channel, or a community who comes to hang with me on weekly webinars, but I wanted to choose marketing strategies that provided real value and which were easy for me to keep up with consistently.
Blogging requires me and my laptop. I don’t even need internet while writing, just while uploading. A podcast requires me, my laptop and a microphone. That sounds a lot more doable to me.
These two marketing strategies are also ones which I could batch produce and drip out consistently. Meaning I can take weeks or months off, and no one would be the wiser that I’m actually camping at a lake without internet.
Now that’s my kind of marketing strategies!
4. only run course facebook groups for a limited amount of time
One of the decisions I struggled with most when I went to build my courses was how I was going to run Facebook community groups.
I take weeks off to go travel, and I was struggling to figure out how I could provide the level of service I wanted to to my course students (*ahem* - exceptional service that is!) if I wasn’t going to be able to check in daily in a Facebook group to answer questions while off in say Cuba without internet.
What I chose to do was that every time I run a course, I have a bonus of a Facebook community which goes along with it for a month. I make sure I’m going to be fully available to check in on it every day and don’t plan any travels in that time which would conflict with my ability to serve students in those groups.
Both myself and my students love the group, but I was warned by two other designers with courses to NOT offer unlimited access to them. Both designers told me they ended up resenting the groups because they turned into a 24/7 tech support staff and students were always private messaging them with issues and questions that should go through email.
I was in a Facebook group for a program that had limited access for the duration of the program and then ended. It lit a fire under me to get the program work done on time, because I had access to the program educator to ask questions for a limited amount of time. With my students, I really, really don’t want them to buy my course and then let it collect dust and never accomplish the goal which they signed up to achieve.
So I find giving a deadline of the Facebook group ending tends to make students make the course work a priority so they can get feedback and ask questions while the group is active.
Every class of students so far have asked if I’m okay for them to start an alumni group after the course group has ended. I happily encourage them to do so, so they still get to have a community of like-minded go-getters to lean on, but I don’t end up running basically a bunch of mini membership clubs in many different Facebook groups with every new class of students.
So there you have it, there’s 4 strategies on how I tweaked the norm in online business to keep my sanity and run a business that doesn’t run over my life. I hope those sparked some ideas in you on how you might also be able to change your business from one that’s running you, to one that allows you the freedom to love your lifestyle.