PTM 010: Making Over $100K Big Ones with an Online Store

PT's podcast this time is an interview with Steve about how he and his wife have earned extra income with an online store. Steve's wife quit her job to stay home with their kids, and she's been earning extra money ever since with their own online store.

In today’s episode, I speak with Steve Chou of MyWifeQuitHerJob.com. Steve is the online authority when it comes to putting together an online e-commerce store as far as I’m concerned.

Motivated by the expectation of their first child, Steve and his wife started an online store selling wedding linens back in 2007. The store was able to bring in over $100K in profit in the first year.

Part Time Money PodcastHe still maintains his corporate career (because he loves it!) and his wife is able to stay at home with their children and tend to the store part-time.

Back when he started, he didn’t even know how to write HTML code. But he was able to learn the ins and out of building a successful online store. He shares his knowledge with us today in the podcast.

Starting an Online Store

When Steve Chou’s wife agreed to marry him, it was with the understanding that she would stay at home and keep the kids when they had them. Steve agreed wholeheartedly.

Flash forward to 3 years later when his wife became pregnant, and they had a bit of a problem. They both had high-paying jobs and lived in Silicon Valley. If his wife quit her job and lost her $100,000 a year salary, their budget would be cut in half. So in order for her to quit, they had to come up with a home-based job pretty quickly.

They settled on the idea of starting an online store since it was something she could run from home. Neither one of them had any background in website design, coding, or even running a store, but they did their research. Read more of Steve’s story about opening an online store here.

I am comfortable with technology, but I did not have the programming skills or anything like that. I had no idea where to begin. What is amazing now with the internet is you can pretty much learn via the forums, and there is a ton of tutorials online and books you can buy in the bookstore that can help you out if you actually are willing to learn the material yourself.

Finding Their Niche

Steve’s wife had always loved the wedding industry, even long after they had been married. They remembered how they had a difficult time acquiring a handkerchief for her to carry in their own wedding. They purchased several of them for their wedding party. Eventually, when contemplating their own online store, they realized there was a need in the marketplace for good handkerchiefs as well as embroidering them. They established a relationship with a supplier overseas, and they set out to have the widest variety of handkerchiefs on the market.

Within a year of running their online store, BumblebeeLinens.com, they had made $100,000 in profit and replaced his wife’s income, so she quit her job to run the store full-time.

Steve’s Marketing Strategy

Steve and his wife created a 4-fold marketing strategy to get their site up and going. They used Google Ad Words, which he says can cost a lot of money if you don’t know what you’re doing. Steve recommends making ads that are extremely focused, instead of broad, and high converting.

The second thing they did was comb bridal forums and start answering questions. Every now and then when someone would ask about an ideal keepsake for a wedding, they would casually suggest their store.

In the meantime, they were also pumping out content for their site for Google indexing purposes. They created tutorials and gave wedding craft ideas. Customers who were looking for wedding crafts would find their site through search engines. They would read about a craft idea that incorporated some of their products, and then purchase the product immediately. Steve credits a large portion of their business coming along after they started getting indexed.

The other important element of their marketing strategy was through contacting wedding and event planners that had the purchasing power to purchase in bulk.

Online Store to Blogging

The success of the store led to Steve starting a blog, MyWifeQuitHerJob.com. He had numerous people inquiring about their new business so he created a site that described every process and documented everything they did to start their store. He even released a course on how to start a profitable online store, including 400 pages of course material and a webinar where students could ask him questions live.

Listen to the Podcast

Play

Online Store Owner Steve ChouHere are some of the questions I get into with Steve during the podcast:

Motivation

  • What made you want to start making part-time money with an online store?
  • What was it about an online store that made it doable? Did you have experience?
  • What made you choose the niche or specific type of store that you did?

Technical Aspects of E-commerce and Inventory

  • What online tools did you use to create the shopping cart and site back in 2007?
  • Do you recommend open source software for an online store?
  • What about the physical products and how did you get them?
  • What work did you do on the inventory?
  • How were you experienced in embroidery?

Time and Family Considerations

  • When did you find time to work on this business?
  • It’s rare that your wife would want to work with you. Tell me about that.

Marketing the Online Store

  • How did you get traffic to the site?
  • How did you work with wedding planners to get more business?
  • Tell me more about your background and experience.

Lessons Learned from Mistakes

  • What technical mistakes did you make along the way?
  • How did you determine your shopping cart sales funnel was having issues?
  • What mistakes did you make early on with products?
  • Why not get the product from the U.S.?

Becoming a Success and Lifestyle Design

  • Tell me about the process of realizing this was a successful business?
  • How are things now? Are you still working?

See full transcript by clicking show

Try BigCommerce to Create Your Online Store

While it’s certainly possible to DIY your online store’s website just as Steve did, you can be up and running with no fuss when you use an all-in-one ecommerce site like BigCommerce.

BigCommerce is a turn-key solution for online entrepreneurs that gives you a number of built-in features, including several marketing options that allow you to find (and woo) your target customers, integrated education to help you make the most of your online store, and excellent loading speed, payment security, and site functionality.

For anyone who would rather focus on their product, marketing, and sales than on maintaining the website for their online store, this kind of ecommerce service is invaluable. You get the beauty and functionality of a website designed by a professional web developer without having to shell out the money for one. Not to mention the fact that you will not have to spend time or money troubleshooting bugs in your website when you use the well-designed turn-keys offered by BigCommerce.

BigCommerce offers a 15-day free trial, and prices start at $29.95/month, making this an excellent choice for a reasonable price.

Learn to Start Your Own Online Store!

As you can tell from the podcast, Steve loves to teach and share his successes. He’s offering up a full classroom style course called: Create a Profitable Online Store. I’ve seen the materials from this course and I can tell you that it’s the real deal. Steve provides the specific blueprint to get your store up and making money.

Comments

  1. Philip Taylor says:

    Thanks, Jen! So glad this interview was valuable for you.

  2. That was a great interview! I have just set up my store, and running like a headless chicken trying to do everything, listening to the interview’s made me realized I only really need to focus on a few things and do them well. Thank you! 🙂

  3. Thanks for listening, Emily, Jackie, and Bill. Steve was definitely a fun interview. I’m so interested in the online store model. Who knows, I may just have to start one myself.

  4. Austerity Bill says:

    How interesting, as someone looking to increase revenue from websites I found that dialogue very helpful!

  5. Nice. I’ve just started listening to your podcasts and am happy I did!

  6. That’s great info, thanks! It’s so cool to live in a world with so many opportunities to develop passive income, or a high income with part-time hours.