The 9-5 life isn’t for everyone. Fortunately for you, this guide will cover everything about starting and growing a successful lifestyle business.
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The 9-5 life isn’t for everyone.
So if you’re looking to reclaim your time, a lifestyle business may be for you.
But launching one from scratch can often feel overwhelming, especially if this is your first time ditching a 9-to-5 job for a shot at entrepreneurship.
Fortunately for you, this guide will cover everything you need to know about starting and growing a successful lifestyle business.
Ready to get started and transform your life?
- What’s a Lifestyle Business?
- Lifestyle Business Vs. Startup: What’s The Difference?
- How To Start And Grow a Lifestyle Business
Let’s dig in.
What Is A Lifestyle Business?
A lifestyle business is a freedom-focused business.
It’s a different kind of career where you earn a particular level of income to sustain a lifestyle you want to live.
Typically, solopreneurs run lifestyle businesses. In some cases, these solopreneurs hire freelancers to run some of the operations (Think: a bookkeeper to create financial statements).
Thanks to its flexibility, you can run your lifestyle business anywhere — a cafe, a co-working space, a tropical island, you name it. As long as you have a laptop, reliable WiFi, proven skills, and heaps of passion, anyone can be a lifestyle entrepreneur.
Wondering what type of online businesses you can run as a lifestyle entrepreneur?
There are tons of options. From affiliate marketing and blogging to eCommerce and consulting, these location-independent small businesses are the ticket to achieving the work-life balance you dream of.
Take stay-at-home-mum Amy Anthony, who runs Oh So Spotless, an affiliate blog that teaches readers how to clean and organize their homes.
Source: Oh So Spotless
Amy works alongside a team of freelance writers and editors to create daily content. She earns a commission each time a reader buys a product via her affiliate links.
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Lifestyle Business vs. Startup: What’s The Difference?
The next time someone asks you about the differences between a lifestyle business and startup, don’t panic! Just think back to the main goal.
Startup founders launch startups because they want to solve a problem they’re passionate about. Often, those that are successful eventually sell it and make millions of dollars.
The goal of a lifestyle business is entirely different. Lifestyle entrepreneurs start lifestyle businesses because they want to boost their quality of life or lead a particular lifestyle.
Here’s a chart that shows the other key differences between a lifestyle business and startup:
How To Start And Grow A Lifestyle Business
There’s no better way to learn how to run a lifestyle business than looking at the entrepreneurs who’ve been through it all. When I put out a request on the best tips, 106 lifestyle entrepreneurs responded.
To save you time, I’ve filtered the best tips in nine actionable steps. Let’s dive in!
1. Chat With Your Target Audience
Question: What’s the first thing you should do before launching a lifestyle business?
- Create a marketing plan
- Register your business
- Trick question: It’s none of the above
If you pick C, you’re right.
It’s tempting to ditch the regular 9-to-5 job and immediately start your own business, but doing so runs the risk of creating a product or service that no one wants.
Here’s what you should do first: Figure out if there’s a demand for your business.
Set up interviews with your target audience to identify their struggles and wishes. You’ll get answers that help you create something your customers will open their wallets for.
Here’s a real-life example that illustrates this approach.
Before Jackson Kerchis started Happiness Major, he didn’t create his product right away.
Instead, he interviewed his target audience — over 30 students and 20 college administrators — on issues that they struggled with. After the interviews, he condensed everything he learned and turned them into an in-person event and course.
Source: Happiness Major
When he promoted his event and course to his target customers, he found it much easier to get them on board.
The results speak for themselves: Jackson set up two pilot events for the fall and a one-credit hour spring course.
2. Create A Master Plan (But Don’t Overcomplicate It)
The beauty of running a lifestyle business is that you get to decide… well, just about everything.
But even if you’re in the driver’s seat of your business, it’s always helpful to create a master plan to keep your goals and strategy in check.
As you develop your plan, ask yourself these questions:
- How many hours a day do I want to work?
- How much money do I want to make?
- How will I grow my lifestyle business without hiring full-time employees? (Assuming I’m running a business that requires regular supervision, like an eCommerce store.)
For example, if you’re a startup consultant and your goal is to earn $5000 a month, how many clients do you need to work with every month? Will these clients work with you on a long-term basis? How do you attract new clients on autopilot as you work on projects?
Alex Willen, Founder of eCommerce store, Cooper’s Treats, explains his top reason for creating a plan beforehand:
“If you don’t have a plan ahead of time, you may find that you have a product or a process that requires a lot of your oversight. Your lifestyle business may start to take up all of your free time, putting you in the position of taking funding to hire people, at which point you’re no longer running a lifestyle business.”Alex Willen, Founder of Cooper’s Treats
Source: Cooper’s Treats
In other words, creating a plan beforehand helps you prevent “treadmill activities”.
Cole South, the co-founder of Gold BJJ initially ran an online poker training site where he would post a new poker strategy video every day. It turned out to be a mistake (treadmill activity) as he was constantly struggling to keep up with the never-ending workload.
“Unless you have a big team, anything that requires constant upkeep — for example, a news site — makes it hard to step away and enjoy the lifestyle you’re aiming for.”Cole South, Co-founder of Gold BJJ
Moral of the story?
Create a plan to lay out your strategy — but more importantly, to prevent yourself from creating more work than you can handle.
3. Select A Niche And Go Deep
What’s something that you love, and you’re good at?
This sweet spot makes up your niche and allows you to go deep and claim your expertise.
Ideally, your niche should serve a smaller group of audiences but large enough to know there’s a demand for it. Bonus if it sets you apart from your competition.
When Nicole Faith started Plush Society in the vegan industry, she knew early on that she didn’t want to create another typical vegan blog.
Fortunately for her, she has deep expertise in vegan resources. Combining her passion and skills, she decided to offer personal shopping in the luxury vegan lifestyle space.
Source: Plush Society
“That is the key to starting and growing a lifestyle business — genuine interest and an eagerness to go deep.”Nicole Faith, Luxury Vegan Personal Shopper + Lifestyle Blogger at Plush Society
This deep expertise can either be your experience as a consumer or in your line of work. You’ll have an easier time kickstarting your lifestyle business, as you’ve already gone through the learning curve.
4. Highlight Your X-Factor
Your niche isn’t the only thing that sets you apart.
Your X-factor comes into play here, as well.
Make this X-factor a big part of how you run your business and stand out from your competitors.
Say, you run a blogging consulting business. Your X-factor could be sending audio clips of encouragement to clients. Run an eCommerce store? Make handwritten thank you cards as your X-factor.
For Joshua Strawczynski, who runs JMarketing from a tropical island in the Caribbean, his X-factor is his unique proposals.
Take a look at one of his proposals below. Notice how it resembles a miniature website?
It allows prospective clients to click through each page on the left tab, creating an interactive and user-friendly experience that probably couldn’t be done with PDFs.
Tip: Use Quoters to design unique proposals. This online proposal software comes with customizable templates from different industries, making it easy to create interactive proposals within minutes. Get the Quoters lifetime deal on AppSumo today for $49.
“Give yourself permission to be different. When I took a year off to clear my mind, I found time to innovate and approach things differently. As a result, our sales rates tripled, and our client yield went through the roof. Give yourself permission to dream. Dare to be different.”Joshua Strawczynski, Managing Director at JMarketing Agency
5. Build A Website (Or Buy One)
Put your best foot forward with a custom domain website. It’ll immediately show prospective customers you’re a pro!
Your website builder will depend on the type of lifestyle business you’re running.
If you want to launch an eCommerce store, go with Shopify. If you’re going to run an affiliate-based business and hire a team of freelance writers to create your content, choose WordPress.
Tip: Don’t want to go through the tedious process of creating a website from scratch? Buy one from a website marketplace.
Stacy Caprio, an online marketer, tried creating her own daily deals website for more than three years, but to no avail. She finally decided to purchase Deals Scoop on Flippa and grew it to the point where she could live off its income.
Source: Deals Scoop
6. Attract High-Quality Traffic
Your job’s only half-done after creating a website. Now it’s time to attract targeted traffic, so you’ll get a step closer to bringing money to the door.
There are two big ways to go about it.
One, create unique evergreen content.
Evergreen content is content that doesn’t lose its relevance regardless of time. With this “timeless” content, you’ll continue to attract your target customers to your website even after years of publishing it.
Jeremy Owens can account for the power of evergreen content. After he published his evergreen content (a brain teaser) on Seriously Smoked, top publications wrote about it, driving massive traffic back to his website.
Source: The Sun
All these exposures without paying a dime! Genius.
Another surefire way to attract targeted traffic is to build your backlinks.
Lina Velikova, Medical Advisor at Supplements 101, uses HARO to reach high-authority publications that link back to her website.
Here’s a feature she scored on a top (and relevant) publication thanks to using HARO:
Source: Best Life
7. Be Your Own Salesperson
Network to stay on top-of-mind.
Afoma Umesi, a freelance writer and editor, gets the word out about her business on social media and considers it a valuable channel when finding new work.
“When you run a brick and mortar business, it’s easy to understand the value of selling yourself or advertising your business. But as a writer or consultant, it can feel more ambiguous. Sell your services on social media. Share your work, achievements, the behind-the-scenes action. Let people know when you’re available for hire!”Afoma Umesi, Freelance writer and editor
The point here is to network whenever you have the chance.
Remember in the first tip where we talked about reaching out to your target audience before building your product or service? That’s a part of networking, too!
Lifestyle blogger Bonnibelle Chukwuneta didn’t have everything in place when she launched her blogging business, but she didn’t let it stop her from reaching out to prospective clients.
“My client onboarding process wasn’t finished, I didn’t have pretty proposal templates, and my website was far from perfect. But I did the work anyway. I sent the cold emails (yes, cold!) and booked the discovery calls, and before I knew it, I had clients on my roster, and I was officially a paid blogger.”Bonnibelle Chukwuneta, Lifestyle blogger
She networked her way up by sending cold emails to her target clients.
It turned out to be a smart move on her part, as she eventually scored a freelance writing gig with Sacramento News & Review.
Source: Sacramento News & Review
8. Diversify Income Streams
If there’s one thing COVID-19 has taught us, it’s that life is unpredictable.
What used to earn us a comfortable living can easily be wiped out in a matter of weeks.
For a lifestyle business owner whose income comes from only one channel (e.g. a motivational public speaker who does only in-person events), this is dangerous.
Want to create a safety net? Start by diversifying your income. You’ll have other income streams to fall back on.
Take it from Pete McPherson, Founder of Do You Even Blog:
“I don’t have a single monetization angle that makes more than $30-40k per year — but 7-8 income streams that make anywhere from $300 to $5,000 a month. This gives me multiple opportunities to scale, and also protects me if (or when) these channels ever disintegrate.”Pete McPherson, Founder, Do You Even Blog
There are a ton of ways to generate income from different sources.
If you’re a consultant who does only paid consultation calls, think about expanding your offerings:
- Create a course: Curate everything you learn in your line of work and turn it into a paid course using TeacheableU.
- Start a membership community: Create an exclusive community and generate recurring income with SubHub. SubHub is a user-friendly platform that helps you build, host, and manage your membership and subscription sites. Get the SubHub annual deal on AppSumo today for $299.
- Sell an e-book: Show off your expertise! Write a book and sell it to earn passive income.
More income streams. More security.
9. Scale With Software Tools
Building a streamlined process matters, as it allows you to be as hands-off as possible. After all, that’s the main reason you’re starting a lifestyle business, right?
The only way to build a true lifestyle business is to automate as much as you can — either through great staff or great business tools.
For this last tip, we’ll focus on the latter.
Darcy Ogdon-Nolan initially launched The Bircher Bar as a cafe but has since converted it to a high-end health-based affiliate business.
Source: The Bircher Bar
Note: The tools that Darcy shared are currently sold out on AppSumo, so I’ll recommend two alternatives that help you automate your business.
WP Scheduled Posts: An editorial calendar tool for WordPress that lets you plan, create, and publish your posts in one place. It also offers integrations with Twitter and Facebook. Once the post is live, it will automatically share on social media.
Source: WP Scheduled Posts
Get the WP Scheduled Posts lifetime deal on AppSumo today for $39.
Sociamonials: A no-coding social media tool that lets you create beautiful campaigns with ready-made design templates. It comes with a fantastic analytics dashboard, so you’ll always know which campaigns drive the most success.
Get the Sociamonials lifetime deal on AppSumo today for $69.
If you rather not delegate projects to freelancers, opt for software tools instead. It’s likely there’s a tool out there that helps you run your business just as well!
Launch A Lifestyle Business Today And Reclaim Your Life
Starting a lifestyle business is similar to launching a startup.
It requires a ton of hard work and careful planning.
But there’s also a massive difference between these two businesses — instead of thinking about profit or funding, you’re focusing on earning a particular level of income to create the LIFE you want to live.
We’ve covered a lot in this lifestyle business guide. To recap, here’s what you learned:
- Chat with your target audience to identify their goals and see if there’s a demand for your business
- Create a master plan (but don’t overcomplicate it)
- Select a niche and go deep
- Highlight your X-factor to show you’re the real deal
- Build a website. Or buy one!
- Attract high-quality traffic to your website
- Be your own salesperson
- Diversify your income streams so you’ll always have other channels to fall back on
- Use software tools to automate your lifestyle business
Experiment and see what works.
Let us know how your lifestyle business turns out, Sumo-lings!