How to Manage Your Ecommerce Side Hustle

Becoming an ecommerce “sidepreneur” while committing yourself to a 9-5 gig seems like an impossible task – there just aren’t enough hours in a day, right? Wrong! I’m here to tell you that there is enough time to manage and grow that side hustle. It’s no simple task, but if you focus and do your research, you can create an ecommerce business that will bring a full-time payoff with part-time hours. Here are some tips to make your ecommerce side hustle a success:


1. Do your research.

Before you start buying domain names and contacting suppliers, you must teach yourself the in’s and out’s of the ecommerce world.

Learn the basics of inventory management (a great place to start is our Inventory Management Guide for Multichannel Retailers). Become familiar with different ecommerce business models like dropshipping and white-labeling. Research products to sell and pricing strategies. Look up potential competitors and make note of their marketing strategies. All of this research is imperative to the next step:


2. Create a business plan.

The thought of putting together a formal business plan sounds dull, and it very well may be. However, nothing happens by accident. Planning is extremely important. About 17% of small businesses fail from lacking a business plan. 

Your plan lays the foundation for how you’ll run your business. It outlines what you‘ll sell and how you’ll sell it. You should also include any operational tasks, like how you’ll store and ship your products or how you’ll keep tabs on inventory levels.

A business plan is a roadmap that sets measurable goals and creates timelines – making it easier to run the business in the long term.

Don’t know where to begin with your business plan? Check out this post: Ecommerce Business Strategy – Review And Plan


3. Focus on what’s important.

It’s easy to get distracted by the fun stuff, like making a logo or setting up your company’s Instagram account. But since you’re working nights and weekends on your side-gig, time management is important for your own sanity. Try to focus on the things that come with a higher payoff, like setting up a new sales channel or streamlining your backend operations.

If you feel lost on what you should do next, take another look at your business plan. Find a task that gets you closer to your next goal.


4. Start out small.

Getting the hang of ecommerce management can take some time. So instead of launching a collection of a hundred products and becoming overwhelmed, focus on selling a small number of niche products.

Learn how to market those products. Keep an eye on what the competition is doing. Experience and overcome the challenges you didn’t expect (there are bound to be a few). Slow and steady growth that is consistent will bring you more success in the long run.

Over time, you’ll feel more confident about what you’re doing. With your business plan in mind, start reaching for more goals: begin selling on a new sales channel, add more products to your catalog, or create a new marketing campaign. The possibilities are endless.


5. Automate everything you can.

As we’ve said before, time management is a huge factor in running a successful side hustle. So why not use automation tools to run your ecommerce business while you’re working 9-5?

One of the easiest tasks to automate is social media. Tools like Hootsuite and Planoly allow you to schedule posts ahead of time to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and more. So take an hour or two on the weekend to create and schedule your social posts throughout the week. It’s much more strategic than a quick post during lunch at your office job.

Email marketing is also easy to automate. Use tools like Constant Contact or Automizy to create a sequence of automated emails based on behavior. For example, have a sequence of emails sent to users after they make a purchase, leave something abandoned in their cart, or subscribe to your newsletter.

A lot of ecommerce sellers don’t think about automating their backend operations like inventory updates or order routing. Automating these tasks heavily reduces manual entry time and allows you to have more visibility in your business.

For example, ecomdash auto-syncs your inventory across all of your sales channels. So if you sell a product on Amazon, ecomdash will auto-adjust your inventory levels on any other channels you’re selling on, like eBay, Etsy, your Shopify website, and more. This means that you’ll never oversell products and your inventory levels are always accurate, without you having to lift a finger.


6. Outsource. Outsource. Outsource.

Sometimes you just can’t do everything on your own, and that’s perfectly okay! When you have limited time because of your 9-5, and you feel too stretched to learn a new skill or software, find a contract worker who knows what they’re doing.

Don’t know how to create a website? Hire a freelance web designer. Your iPhone isn’t capturing high-quality images of your products? Hire a photographer. Not great at writing product descriptions? Hire a copywriter.

While it may cost more money to outsource rather than figure it out yourself, hiring someone who knows what they’re doing will save you time and bring you a higher return on your investments.


Work smarter, not harder

Managing your side hustle doesn’t have to be a nightmare. And it doesn’t have to take up all of your nights and weekends – you just need to be strategic about your time.

By planning ahead, taking advantage of automation, and outsourcing tasks, you’ll see your side-business bring full-time profits.


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