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8 Resources to Build (Or Buy Then Build) A More Valuable Online Business
Steve Chou is a serial entrepreneur and the Founder of My Wife Quit Her Job LLC, an educational blog and podcast that teaches entrepreneurs how to sell physical products online. Steve is also the Co-founder of Bumblebee Linens, a company that sells customizable handkerchiefs and linens for special occasions.
In addition to this, Steve is the Co-founder of Sellers Summit, a conference that Entrepreneur Magazine and CPC Strategy Inc. have lauded as one of the top e-commerce events in the business.
Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:
- Steve Chou talks about starting Bumblebee Linens with his wife—and replacing her salary within a year of its launch
- Steve’s experience growing his blog, My Wife Quit Her Job, into a 7-figure business
- How to obtain an e-commerce education before buying, owning, or selling a business
- Steve’s advice to entrepreneurs: don’t let your e-commerce business be totally reliant on Amazon sales
- Steve shares his dos and don’ts for building a sustainable—and profitable—content website
- Steve’s mini courses on e-commerce, blogging, and more
- The software Steve uses for My Wife Quit Her Job and Bumblebee Linens
- Steve discusses his successful e-commerce conference, Sellers Summit
In this episode…
Do you want to efficiently expand your e-commerce education? Are you looking for top-notch resources that will help you effectively buy, own, and sell online businesses? If so, this episode of the Quiet Light Podcast is for you!
As a buyer, owner, or seller, you are susceptible to unforeseen risks when acquiring, managing, or transferring a business. According to serial entrepreneur Steve Chou, knowing the e-commerce world like the back of your hand is paramount to mitigating risk as an entrepreneur. But how do you access and gain this foundational knowledge—especially as an inexperienced entrepreneur? Today, Steve is here to share his expert tips and tricks for eliminating risk and creating a profitable, transferable e-commerce business!
In this episode of the Quiet Light Podcast, co-host Joe Valley sits down with Steve Chou, the Founder of My Wife Quit Her Job LLC, to discuss the importance of entrepreneurial education in order to mitigate risk for your business. Steve reveals how he turned his side project into a 7-figure success, why a dependency on Amazon sales could hurt your business, and how to access Steve’s educational courses and build a sustainable company—today. Stay tuned!
Resources Mentioned in this episode
- Steve Chou on LinkedIn
- My Wife Quit Her Job
- The My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast with Steve Chou
- MyWifeQuitHerJob Ecommerce Channel on YouTube
- Bumblebee Linens
- Sellers Summit
- Profitable Online Store
- Profitable Audience
- Joe Valley on LinkedIn
- Mark Daoust on LinkedIn
- Quiet Light Brokerage
- Quiet Light Podcast email: [email protected]
- “Incredible Exits – Mike Jackness – Selling ColorIt” on the Quiet Light Podcast
- Buy Then Build: How Acquisition Entrepreneurs Outsmart the Startup Game by Walker Deibel
- Mike Jackness on LinkedIn
- Pat Yates on LinkedIn
- Chris Guthrie on LinkedIn
- eCommerceFuel Live
- Social Media Marketing World
- ManyChat’s Conversations Conference
Sponsor for this episode…
This episode is brought to you by Quiet Light Brokerage, a brokerage firm that wants to help you successfully sell your online business.
There is no wrong reason for selling your business. However, there is a right time and a right way. The team of leading entrepreneurs at Quiet Light Brokerage wants to help you discover the right time and strategy for selling your business. By providing trustworthy advice, effective strategies, and honest valuations, your Quiet Light advisor isn’t your every-day broker—they’re your partner and friend through every phase of the exit planning process.
If you’re new to the prospect of buying and selling, Quiet Light Brokerage is here to support you. Their plethora of top-notch resources will provide everything you need to know about when and how to buy or sell an online business. Quiet Light offers high-quality videos, articles, podcasts, and guides to help you make the best decision for your online business.
Not sure what your business is really worth? No worries. Quiet Light Brokerage offers a free valuation and marketplace-ready assessment on their website, quietlight.com. That’s right—this quick, easy, and free valuation has no strings attached. Knowing the true value of your business has never been easier!
What are you waiting for? Quiet Light Brokerage is offering the best experience, strategies, and advice to make your exit successful. To learn more, go to quietlight.com, email [email protected], or call 800.746.5034 today.
Hi, folks, it’s the Quiet Light Podcast where we share relentlessly honest insights, actionable tips, and entrepreneurial stories that will help founders identify and reach their goals.
Joe Valley 0:29
Hey folks, Joe Valley here, one of the hosts of the Quiet Light Podcast. As you know, I’m a partner at Quiet Light Brokerage and a serial entrepreneur like many of you will, many of you will be someday. I’ve been self employed since 1997. Back then I ran a radio direct response media buying agency. I produced two television infomercials for my own products. I even co-hosted one of the shows. I moved my last brand 100% online in 2005 and sold it in 2010. Through Quiet Light, I then joined the team in 2012. And since then, have sold nearly 100 million in total transactions. And I am just one of 12 people on the team. Yes, 12 the last podcast you heard me say 11. But Pat Yates has joined the team he’s a Shark Tank alumni owns a brand called Happy Feet and did a deal with Robert in 2014. He’s been training his whole life for this role of Quiet Light and he’s a new member of the team. So welcome, Pat. Today’s episode is brought to you by Quiet Light Brokerage, a small to middle market, entrepreneur LED and then a firm focused 100% on online businesses. everyone on the team has built, bought or sold their own online business and now acts as advisors to other business other entrepreneurs seeking an exit as well. And today we’re joined by my friend Steve Chou. Steve is the Founder of the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast, Bumblebee Linens, the Sellers Summit e-commerce conference and a host of other online businesses. Steve has his master’s in electrical engineering from Stanford University. So he’s kind of a smart guy. But he spent a good deal of his graduate education studying entrepreneurship so he was very distracted. And when his wife became pregnant in 2007, they started a company called Bumblebee Linens and replaced her salary, hundred thousand dollar salary within one year since then Steve self to thousands of entrepreneurs and would-be entrepreneurs take a similar journey. And he’s here to share ideas on how to get started with your own online business or grow an existing one that you may have, or one that you may buy from Quiet Light Brokerage at some point in the future. Steve, welcome to the Quiet Light Podcast.
Steve Chou 2:38
Happy to be here, Joe.
Joe Valley 2:40
Let’s just get this over with did you beat Mike Jackness badly and tennis last week?
Steve Chou 2:47
Yeah, I was gonna keep down the download because those of you who know Mike, he’s very competitive. He’s probably taking private lessons right now as we speak. So. So Steven, I
Joe Valley 2:55
chatted before we recorded and we were both going to be professional and hold off and not really talk about Mike Jackness and how badly Steve beat him and
Steve Chou 3:07
oh, man, I hope he doesn’t listen to this fight. But I couldn’t help
Joe Valley 3:10
- He doesn’t listen to this. For those that don’t know Mike Jackness. Just Google Mike Jackness and the Quiet Light Podcast. We sold his business ColorIt we did a series of podcasts on it. We did it on his podcast. eComCrew as well. And Steve and Mike are our good friends. So But enough about my chattiness and his his inability to beat you at tennis. He’s gonna throw so much money.
Steve Chou 3:33
I know, man. Dude, yeah.
Joe Valley 3:37
So your journey so seriously, Stanford University. You’re no dummy. Seriously, like my kid. We we’ve traveled a few years ago and visited Stanford and his top choice was Stanford, but he ended up not even applying because there’s just no possible way.
Steve Chou 3:52
It’s a lot harder to get in now than it was back when I went. Let’s just say
Joe Valley 3:57
that’s what I say about Northeastern University. Still not Stanford University. No, but it wasn’t for you, you and your wife. Were just grinding it out with the way that many people that are listening in the audience now grind it out with that day job. For instance, we just we just launched a business. Last. Well, today’s What Are we recording on a Monday so it was a week ago Friday, Pat and I launched a business and we had nine offers on it’s gone over asking price. And those are nine people that are grinding it out in the day job just tried to find that perfect business. This one is and now they’re trying to become Steve Chou and live that entrepreneurial life but you guys were grinding it out, not happy with life. Baby comes along and you decided to start your own e-commerce business was the very first one Bumblebee Linens.
Steve Chou 4:48
It was Yeah. My wife basically told me she wanted to quit just to hang out with the kid at home. We live in Silicon Valley. Joe, you probably been here several times. It is expensive to live here. Pretty much need to comes to get a good house and good school district?
Joe Valley 5:03
I would think so. Yeah. And so there was no way for you with a master’s in electrical engineering from Stanford to cover both, at least at the lifestyle you were living.
Steve Chou 5:13
We could have covered both, but like the houses here, so for example, like our house here is worth $3 million. It’s a shack, literally is a shack. That’s just to give you an idea of what real estate prices are over here.
Joe Valley 5:27
So you’re mentioned it’s California. So you’re paying 13% income tax as well. Yeah, probably just gonna get worse.
Steve Chou 5:32
Yes, yeah. Thanks for reminding me, Joe. In fact, my wife and I had discussed moving out of this place actually. That’s it. That’s a different tale. But yeah, my salary could have covered it, but we would have had to have skimped. And my wife actually still wanted to do something on the side, you know, that she could perhaps get back into once our child was a little bit older. I do want to say this, because you mentioned Stanford many times, I think having an education and getting a good job, actually is a big deterrent to starting your own business. Because you have your cushy salary here and you’re thinking yourself, man, I have to I have to make this much with my business in order to replace a salary. And what’s happening is that your employer just keeps raising your salary to the point where it doesn’t really make sense even want to try. So I will say that
Joe Valley 6:19
golden handcuffs, so to speak, right? Yeah. Yeah. And I think that you stuck around in your day job for several years before you went off on your own. Is that right? Is that how I did a little bit more your story and how it work?
Steve Chou 6:31
Yeah, so the plan really was to make my wife quit my job, I actually really loved my job. I studied microprocessor design, I was a hardware engineer. And that was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. And so we started the store in 2007. We replaced her income after a year. And then I read this one blog by this dude named Steve Pavlina, how to make your first love dollar. He was making like $4,000 a day via advertising on his blog. And so I was like, okay, just in case, this whole engineering thing doesn’t work out. I may as well start my own blog. And that ended up turning into a seven figure business as well, in addition to the store,
Joe Valley 7:10
and was that My Wife Quit Her Job? Yep. Gotcha. That’s 2007. The world has changed a lot in the last 13 years. And people have a lot more resources to educate themselves with courses like you’ve got your podcast, your story, the way that you help people, even our friend, Mike, Jackness and EcomCrew and his premium program. But they also have an opportunity more now than ever to buy a business. And we’ve had Walker on the podcast, who wrote Buy Then Build and Amanda, on the podcast, Amanda Raab, who joined the team when I joined the team. And she’s an advocate of building versus buying, with all you know, right now and to the audience that out there is out there. And some of them are thinking build some of the thinking by what do you think in terms of risk and preference? And I know it changes depending upon people’s life roles. But what do you think?
Steve Chou 8:05
Yeah, so back when we got started, and we’re still running this business today, we’ve been running for 13 years. I think, if you have the capital, I’m actually in the bike camp. Now. I wasn’t like, if you asked me this question, like several years ago, I wouldn’t have been. But after looking at some of the listings I’ve looked at, there’s a lot of people who, who aren’t doing a lot of things to grow their business. So that first startup period with your business is actually really difficult. Like when you’re starting from scratch, like just building some initial traffic domain authority, and just getting some traction. That’s arguably one of the harder parts of getting started in e commerce, right. So if you have something with an existing customer base, it’s much easier to grow the business there, maybe sell more to your existing customers, and you have a base where everything’s just kind of taken care of, you can kind of focus on the marketing, that, in my opinion, is probably a faster way to make significant amount of money today, but of course, it requires capital.
Joe Valley 9:01
It does, it does. If you find that like the business we launched last week, the reason we had nine offers on it is because it’s SBA eligible is 1,000,050. And it’s you know, we’ve got offers that are going above that. That’s why there’s so many people because they can come to the table 10 or 15%. down. That’s the ideal situation for for buyers, not always the case. So you’ve got to have more capital if it’s a non SBA eligible business, and we just don’t have that many in that, you know, one to $500,000 range these days, our averages is two to two and a half times that. All right, so you’re more in the bike camp than the build camp. But what you do with your podcast and with your courses that you have, are really appropriate in many ways for people that buy and then want to bring in expertise that they don’t have, they can learn from the experts that you have on and the courses that you’ve put together, things of that nature, if I was to buy a business, and I’m coming from the corporate world in Silicon Valley, and I don’t know anything about it, on marketing, but I’m going to buy a ecommerce business, let’s call a 50%, FBA, 50%. Shopify. What am I going to look at on My Wife Quit Her Job? what’s what’s there, that’s gonna really help me more than anything else. Because I know there’s a ton there, Steve, you know better than anybody.
Steve Chou 10:16
Yeah. So first off, I actually, like, if you don’t know anything about e commerce, I wouldn’t just go off and buy business, right. Um, you had to kind of understand how things work, the best way, obviously, is to run one before you choose to buy. But that’s not always possible, right. So you, you absolutely have to understand how ecommerce works. And the best way to do that is, you know, aside from running one before you buy is to just kind of get educated on what everyone’s doing out there in order to get business. And that’s kind of what I cover on the blog, as well as the podcast, I now have a YouTube channel as well teaches you the ins and outs on how to build up your e commerce business. So that when you are looking to buy something, you kind of look, you know what to look for, on how you can improve something before you actually made that purchase. And it’s a huge difference.
Joe Valley 11:04
In today’s world versus back when you started and back, even when I sold my business in 2010, those resources were not available. So to those that are out there listening, thinking they’re gonna buy something, what Steve’s talking about is, and I’m going to say it less politely than he would get an education, take your time, and put in the work, because you’re about to stroke a check for a half a million 1,000,002 million dollars, and put everything at risk. And if you don’t get an education first, and learn what you’re going to do to grow a business, it’s gonna, it’s not gonna benefit you to just look at a package that’s put together and make a decision quickly. What I’m always advising is that you look at as many listings as possible, that’s part of the education process is that I think people should be looking at 20 or 30 listings, before they make a decision to make an offer on one, it’s very, very rare that the first two or three that they’ll look at the perfect one will be there, I think the more they look at the, the more they’ll know that perfect fit when it comes along, and then be able to act quickly have all their financial ducks in a row. But I like the idea of listening to your podcasts and reading the blog, so that they’re getting educated along the way, because they read these packages, and they look at these listings and they go well, I heard that over there with Steve, the mini courses and how that could change. And I could do that with this business to recreate some recurring revenue and things of that nature, I think it’s really important that they do all of that is there, when it comes to e commerce anything, in particular, that stands out that you see most people are not doing that they should be doing.
Steve Chou 12:37
I mean, I was just gonna say like when you as you’re browsing these companies for purchase, you have to dig into the nitty gritty. And this is where it kind of like the education comes in play. So I’ve seen companies that are doing very well, but they aren’t doing any email marketing, for example, or they aren’t doing any messenger marketing or SMS marketing. A lot of people focus on getting new business, but not focusing on the existing customers that they already have. And so what I found in the past is that, you know, when you as you’re looking at companies, if you find that they’re not really doing a good job of getting more out of their existing customer base, then that’s like a huge way that you can grow the business once you make that purchase. So that’s just like one aspect. Other ways that I’ve seen where you could actually make a huge difference in something that you buy is by perhaps increasing the average order value, or introducing complementary products that can be sold together, and kind of boost the amount of money that you can get per transaction.
Joe Valley 13:31
When it comes to Bumblebee Linens, what percentage of your revenue is produced on your own store versus Amazon?
Steve Chou 13:40
Yeah, it’s increased over the years. It started out to be very little now I would say it’s more on the order of 70% Our store and 30%. Amazon, you said it increased over the days. Do you mean the store is increasing? No. The Amazon shares actually increased over the years.
Joe Valley 13:54
Yeah, it Do you feel like it’s inevitable that the Amazon side is just going to grow at a faster pace than the storefront because that’s where most people are shopping.
Steve Chou 14:03
So for our store, it’s a little bit different. We sell Personalized Products. And those are actually our highest growth drivers. Those are items that don’t lend itself to FBA, because we actually personalize them in house. I’m actually a firm believer of doing things that are kind of more of a pain in the butt, so to speak, because it makes the business much harder to replicate, right. So if someone wants to start a business where they’re personalizing linens, they have to buy sewing machines, they have to learn how they work, they have to learn like how to place designs and that sort of thing, which provides a much higher barrier to entry than just taking a private label product and putting it on Amazon. So when I say that our percentage is increased, it’s because we’ve been introducing more of our non personalized inventory into Amazon. But yeah, for those products. Yeah, Amazon has 50% market share, it’s probably only going to get larger.
Joe Valley 14:54
So have you thought about that aspect of it and doing more sort of off the shelf product. books that are not as personalized just so you don’t lose future revenue with with Amazon because so much of it is personalized, or do you see the personalization happening on Amazon in the future?
Steve Chou 15:10
Personalization has already happened on Amazon, we actually have a couple of products on there. But what I think what most people don’t realize is that there’s a lot more back and forth involved in doing something that’s personalized, which the Amazon platform where you can’t really communicate that well with the customer isn’t as ideal for that sort of thing.
Joe Valley 15:29
Yeah, I wouldn’t think so.
Steve Chou 15:31
Yeah. And to answer your question, it’s just about introducing more, you know, off the shelf products. We’re working, we’re coming from, like, the original reason that we started our businesses was so that my wife could stay at home. And it’s more of like, our businesses kind of contribute to our lifestyle, so to speak, Amazon that we found over the years, even though it makes a significant amount of revenue, it’s actually the biggest stressor for my wife and I, mainly because you could wake up one morning and your listings are suspended. This happens all the time, actually, you wake up one morning and something’s wrong, someone’s attacking you, you get suspended, and you just have to deal with that those issues you don’t really have to deal with at all with your own e commerce store.
Joe Valley 16:14
So there’s a big advantage to owning your own e commerce store beyond owning the customer. You don’t have the stresses that big brother Amazon’s gonna do something to suspend your store or come. I see I see competitors go ahead and knock up people’s listings and file grievances. And Amazon suspends it until you prove that you’re innocent. And those types of things does happen for sure.
Steve Chou 16:37
Yeah. And we’re the wedding industry, right. But believe it or not 36% of our business our revenues every year from repeat customers, even though you’re in the wedding industry,
Joe Valley 16:47
is that dad sign for how long marriages last or? You guys
Steve Chou 16:52
is it we have a force autoresponder series that we give out. So it gets married, like we’ll see in like, a couple of years,
Joe Valley 16:59
you’ve got an automatic tie into divorce court, you get files for files for divorce, is it is it because there’s your customer is not the bride and groom? They’re more of the Who is it? Is it a b2b side of it? Yes. The b2b
Steve Chou 17:13
side precisely. So we have event planners, wedding planners that come to us. And this is one thing you can’t do on Amazon, like we go through our customer list, we actually have a survey that goes out as part of our email autoresponder sequence, just asking them if they are essentially like a planner of some sort. And as soon as we find out their planner, we literally just pick up the phone, and we call them and we say, Hey, here’s some coupons. Here’s a dedicated person that will handle any order. And we’ll just make sure it gets to any event that you’re planning on time.
Joe Valley 17:43
It almost sounds like you’re running a real business where you’re not
Steve Chou 17:45
exactly talking to people and stuff, right, like goodness,
Joe Valley 17:48
is that still an online business. So if you were advising people in the audience, that they’re thinking about buying a business, based upon what you’ve said, so far, if they could find a business that is not as heavily reliant on Amazon, that would be your first choice. If they’re, if it’s an e commerce, meaning physical products, try to find something where you can really grow it off of Amazon,
Steve Chou 18:13
I think that would just anything that’s more defensible, would be better. Like, here’s some other things you can do with your store that you can’t do on Amazon, like, a lot of our sales come from our post purchase email sequence. So we’ll do cross sales of products. So for example, if someone buys linen cocktail napkins at our store, we have these flows in place using Klaviyo, where it automatically tries to upsell them on matching dinner napkins. So based on what they’ve purchased, we can send them offers that are very specific to what they bought. That’s how we get a lot of repeat business there. These are things you can’t do on Amazon, because you don’t own the customer relationship.
Joe Valley 18:50
You’re also blogging with My Wife Quit Her Job. And that’s producing a substantial income for you as well. What do you think is a better business model? And I know that the answer is probably depends upon the individual, but a physical products ecommerce business, or a content site that is producing revenue through online courses and and affiliate links and things of that nature.
Steve Chou 19:13
I get that question all the time. Actually. I think it just depends on your timeframe to income. Right? So if you want to make money sooner rather than later, I think the e commerce store is a much better bet. Because you’re physically selling something, right? You’re offering a product and you get money for it. On the content side of things. It’s a much longer path. So with my blog, I actually didn’t make much money at all until the three year mark. After the three year mark. I made six figures, but it is a slog. And I can tell you that right now, just in case I had forgotten what it was like because I just started a YouTube channel up, right. I’ve been doing this for maybe like the last seven months or so. And in the very beginning when you don’t have much traction, it literally is a slug. You have to force yourself to be very consistent with the content you create. But if you can get past that slug period, that at some point, it’s just going to hockey stick and your audience, you can monetize it easily and the money just grows exponentially. At least that’s been my experience with any sort of content. So I did I developed,
Joe Valley 20:11
so somebody has the fortitude to stick it out through this log period in two to three years, really just getting very consistent with the content, then they’re going to be able to see the hockey stick monetization, how do you recommend that they actually monetize that blog?
Steve Chou 20:26
Yeah, I think the best easiest way and you can start this out, even the beginning, when you don’t have that much traffic is through affiliate marketing. And this is where you refer people to other services or products that you’d like, and you get a cut of the sale. I always about owning as much as I can. So any sort of digital products or courses and that sort of thing that you own and you control, that’s probably the best monetization method. Probably the worst monetization method, I would say, would be just display advertising, it doesn’t, you don’t make that much money with it, you have no control of what’s being shown on your site for the most part. And, yeah, it can be kind of finicky. Like it fluctuates a lot.
Joe Valley 21:05
So with display advertising, folks, you’re getting paid per view, mostly per click, versus the affiliate, you might be getting in this changes dramatically, and has on Amazon recently, but you know, anywhere from three to 15, or, in some cases, much, much more of the total purchase price of the product that people bought. And the nice thing about that model, Steve, is that there’s no inventory carrying costs, right? Yep. How much time do you put into or recommend somebody put into if they’re trying to create, I’m looking at your free mini course “How to create a profitable blog”? How much time does somebody have to put into that blog every week, creating new content before they start to see that hockey, Puck growth in terms of traffic and revenue?
Steve Chou 21:51
It’s really hard to put like a time frame on there. But I would say that you should be willing to put out one piece of content per week, at least how many however long it takes you to create that piece of content?
Joe Valley 22:01
How many words in that content?
Steve Chou 22:03
How many words in that content? Yeah, it depends on your industry, right. So for what I do, which is teaching people how to start ecommerce stores, my blog posts are typically a minimum of 3000 words, wow, because you need to be comprehensive. You know, when it comes to ranking, it’s all about quality of the posts. And since I sell a course, the content has to be very high quality, it has to be, I always inject like my own experiences in there running my own e commerce store, because you need that you need to build that authority over time as well.
Joe Valley 22:32
So you’re always using Bumblebee Linens as the reference to what you’re doing. And your store itself,
Steve Chou 22:37
I treat the store as a laboratory, actually, whenever something new comes out, because ecommerce changes so quickly, I try it out in my store, and I report on the results, like I use real numbers because it’s I’m just transparent with that.
Joe Valley 22:49
So folks, I’m looking at Steve’s website, mywifequitherjob.com. And there’s one mini free course it’s called “How to create a profitable blog step by step.” The other one is “How to scale your e commerce business to seven figures and beyond.” And then there’s “Create a niche online store in five easy steps.” I guess we’ve got two that are about blogging and two that are really ecommerce oriented. How much time is involved in each of these mini courses that you put together? If I wanted to go through on how to create a an e commerce store an online store in five easy steps? Is it? Am I looking at a course that’s an hour long or 10? hours long? What’s mini in your in your view?
Steve Chou 23:31
Yeah, that’s a good question. So that mini course even though it says five days, it’s actually grown over the years, just to include more content. So I think it’s like the the e commerce one is actually nine steps now. Just to give you an idea of like, everything that’s involved. So in terms of number of hours to go through that. I would say it’s probably a week or so to get through that in terms of hours, it just kind of depends on your level of technical skill or whatever, you know where you’re at, in terms of tech savviness.
Joe Valley 23:59
Alright, so let’s talk about your business model, right? Because your business model now is helping others launch businesses. So what’s the business model? Here? You’ve got the free mini courses, and your business model is to educate Help, Help Help. And then you’ve got I would assume a deeper more involved course or services do you consult? How’s it? Yeah, what’s the paid part of it? Where Steve to make money?
Steve Chou 24:24
Yeah, the pay part of it is a full blown course where I literally walk you through everything that it takes to start an e commerce store. And I actually offer so here’s my business model. I offer lifetime access to the course. And I constantly add new content to it every single week, based on what I’m working on with my own e commerce store. Right. And every single week I give live sessions where I get on a video Give a lesson or I’ll do q&a or or I’ll invite someone to come talk and Joe you’ve been on before. And there’s this live chat box where people can ask questions in real time. There’s also 24 seven email support. There’s actually over 120 hours of content in there. It’s it’s always up to date, because there’s always something new that I’m adding to the actual class. And so that’s where I make probably the bulk of my revenue for the blog. And then there’s also affiliate offers, you know, all the tools that I use, and demonstrate people tend to sign up for and yeah, and then there’s sponsorships as well.
Joe Valley 25:24
seems much more sensible to go through a course like this. I know there’s others that are out there. But for those that are listening in or thinking, get an education before you buy that online business, or start one, look, we’re an advocate of both. I’ve never, well, no, I was gonna say, I’ve never bought one, but I’ve bought two. Okay, I forget so quickly. So I started more than a lot, right? I’m, as I mature, and it’s funny, maybe it’s just an age thing that buying one is, is in many ways less risk, and you’re generating income quicker. And you just take the experience that you’ve gained in life and apply it, and you’re not in that bootstrap startup mode. But it seems to me like the course would be great for somebody, any any one of these three or the following one, for people that are either starting or buying, I have to tell you, I don’t know how many people would go through a full 120 hours.
Steve Chou 26:22
That’s not the way it’s meant to be consumed. Actually,
Joe Valley 26:24
I wouldn’t think so. Yeah, but even I guess it’s a resource that they should go to I just I find the I’m cutting on human nature, I find people are looking for shortcuts and don’t want to put in all the time, energy and effort that I feel like they should when they’re stroking a check for half a million or a million dollars. This is the course is nothing compared to the total purchase price. And it seems like an invaluable return on investment it’s going to get, but do you find people are consuming 10% of it. 50% of it, 100% of it.
Steve Chou 26:58
Yeah, here’s how it’s meant to be consumed. So let’s just take that scenario that you just gave, right, you’re about to buy this business. And you’ve noticed that they’re not doing a good job with email marketing. So I would sign up for the course. And I would just jump straight to the email marketing section of the class and go to everything is step by step to do list. So soon as you get to the email marketing section, you go, Okay, these are the five flows that you need that five automated flows that you need. Here’s how you run broadcast marketing campaigns, here’s how you do automated cross sells how to set everything up. And right then and there, you’re probably going to boost the revenue of that business that you buy right away, like email is probably one of the quickest ways to get a high return. And you share in your own personal automated flows, your every single email that I send out, yeah, goes into that class.
Joe Valley 27:41
And are you doing video demonstrations on all this?
Steve Chou 27:45
video? There’s slides. Yeah. And for people who are less tech savvy, I literally walk them through like kind of where to click and that sort of thing to? Wow,
Joe Valley 27:53
just out of curiosity, what software service did you use to build a course?
Steve Chou 27:57
Ah, so this is another thing about my personality. So I used to be an electrical engineer. And so I i hate actually paying recurring fees. This is one of the reasons why I just charged lifetime access. I don’t want people thinking about, you know, man, should I pay another month or so just download everything and just leave. So I try to do everything on the cheap. So my my webinars strategy, or the course is just based on a free plugin called S2member. And then for email, I’m using a service called Drip to do the promotion. Okay, I know Drip, we use it as well.
Joe Valley 28:30
All right. So why are you not using Klaviyo to do the promotion instead of Drip.
Steve Chou 28:35
Klaviyo is more for e commerce. So I am using Klaviyo for my e commerce store. But in terms of managing a content based site Klaviyo is probably not the best solution. Plus, it’s expensive.
Joe Valley 28:45
Okay, so there you go guys that have the blog, Drip for content, sending sending out content updates, which is what we do. We’re new listing alerts or quiet giants new video series, or whatever it might be in clay, vo for the physical product, ecommerce, converting it to revenues and upsells. Got it. But
Steve Chou 29:04
I will say this. For my e commerce store. There’s also a blog with it. I’m using Klaviyo for that blog, just because it’s much easier to have everything under one roof.
Joe Valley 29:13
Gotcha. Is there a back end to the course where people can interact and talk to each other? Or like some folks have Facebook forums and things of that nature?
Steve Chou 29:25
Yeah, so I have a Facebook, private Facebook group where other students can interact a committee.
Joe Valley 29:31
I find that invaluable where people can talk to each other and help each other and be in that same world without being anywhere near each other. And same.
Steve Chou 29:40
Yeah, so what’s really valuable about that is one thing that you just said. But the other thing is, I actually check in on there. I’ll do a Facebook live every single week in that group. And I basically ask students what they’re working on. And then I’ll continuously ask them about it. So in a way, I’m kind of holding them accountable. This is something that I needed and To a certain extent, my wife does that to me. But I found that it helps to just get people moving.
Joe Valley 30:06
Okay, and how many people are generally in the Facebook group on a regular basis?
Steve Chou 30:11
Uh, so there’s about 4000 people in the course itself, and maybe half of that are actually in the group itself.
Joe Valley 30:17
Cool. Now, you and Toni are partners in Sellers Summit, which is a, a commerce conference that you have once a year, down in southern Florida, I believe when it comes to Florida, or Fort Lauderdale, Fort Lauderdale. Yep. Can you talk about that a little bit, because I was slated to attend and then COVID head, so I didn’t go. But I’ve, you know, spent a lot of time with the folks and talked to a lot of people, because we did it online. But tell me more about that. And what’s going on there. For those that like to attend conferences in person, or, you know, if we have to do it online again, next day.
Steve Chou 30:52
I’ll tell you this. So my blog actually didn’t take off until I started attending conferences, believe it or not, okay. And same with the e commerce store. Once I had the ability to just meet and talk to other people who are doing similar things and kind of bounce ideas off of each other. That’s when things started taking off. And that is the impetus for me starting this event. And I’m not an event starting type of person. It’s very intimidating. And so that’s why I partner with Toni. She’d been throwing events for many years. And we put together the Sellers Summit. I’m also not a big conference kind of guy, like I keep I like to keep everything small and intimate. And so everything I’d liked about events, I kind of put together into the cellar summit. So just to give you an example what that means the event is rarely over 200 people, we purposely limit ticket sales, and as a result, it sells out right away. And we actually run these mastermind groups. And what a mastermind group is, it’s basically a group of people, we just kind of lock them in a room. And we do kind of like a hot seat, where people ask questions on, you know, whatever problems they might have with their business, and then everyone else in the group helps them out. And the idea and we screen for revenue for this. So you have to be making at least a million dollars in revenue. And in this group because everyone has their own set of unique experiences. chances are there’s someone in that room that can help you with your problem. And for the rest of the events we have, you know, ecommerce industry leaders like Jackness, you know, we should probably compliment that guy a little bit.
Joe Valley 32:18
Michael Jackness, a good human being very good at what he does in the e commerce world speaks on Klaviyo all around the world.
Steve Chou 32:26
Joe Valley 32:27
We bust his chops because we love him dearly. Simple as that. Yeah. Even though he’s no good at tennis. Compared to you. He’d beat me badly, but compared to you, oh, man, he better. He could beat you to poker. Probably.
Steve Chou 32:44
Yeah, definitely. I would concede to him in poker.
Joe Valley 32:46
Yes. Okay. Fair enough. All right. So you have experts like Jackness like Ezra,
Steve Chou 32:52
Ezra, Molly Pittman, basically, the commerce community really is, is a small community. So we all know each other.
Joe Valley 33:00
And then it’s, it’s the community that you’re associated with, I’ve referred to as like the good human clubs. They’re just good people. And that’s why I’m willing to talk openly about courses that you have everything you do, for the most part, I think a lot of people, this isn’t a podcast to get you to sign up for Steve Chou’s online course. It’s, there’s free information on the blog, I’ve listened to your podcast and gotten great resources from it. You had somebody on that wrote a book on getting paid to speak, and I listened to that podcast, yes. All of this, all of these different things, there’s so much valuable information out there that you give away for free. The course itself, I think, is really important because it takes it to a deeper level. And then the the conferences, I find, like you I, I, it was a challenge for me when I first joined the quiet life team to go out to conferences. Because I’m a bit of an introvert, I could talk like this all day long. But when it gets to big crowds and meeting people for the first time, I feel very awkward. But what I found is that if you pick a few conferences that you like, and you go to those again and again, at some point, you stop becoming an outsider, and you’re going to the conference and you’re just meeting up with old friends. And they’re old friends that do exactly what you do, and share information. And you’re you’re not only away on a great vacation, but you’re learning a tremendous amount on how to grow your business, as well. You You said that you had a bunch of conferences that you went to and that’s really how you learned about blogging. When it comes to must attend or favorite options for attending conferences these days, whether it’s ecommerce or blogging. Can you drop a few names in terms of what people should look up and go to perhaps?
Steve Chou 34:51
Yeah, so my favorite one outside of my own actually is eCommerceFuel and this is how we met right, Joe? Yeah. eCommerceFuel. I think It’s closed off the you kind of have to apply to be a member of the community. But that’s one of the best e commerce conferences that I’ve been to. And we kind of you Darren’s a good friend of mine. And we kind of run it the same way. Keep it small and intimate, where everyone’s forced to hang out with each other eat together, like the entire time. And those kind of work the best. Other events that I like, are more kind of industry focused events, like Social Media Marketing World, I will speak at pretty much every year, the many chat conference because I’ve been really into Facebook Messenger marketing lately, is a good one to attend. FinCon is the one that got me into blogging and it see it sounds really random. It’s like the financial blogging conference. And I’m not really a finance blogger. But that’s when I first got introduced to conferences, and I met a whole bunch of other people who were making money blogging in that space. And we, we’ve kept in touch and basically it helped each other. Those are the main ones that I probably attend every year.
Joe Valley 35:54
Kind of open your eyes to the possibility of making money blogging. Yeah. Yeah. Why no eCommerceFuel? Well, we’ve been to Manychat, we haven’t been FinCon yet. We were going to go to it. Our mutual friend, Chris Guthrie. By the way, I just want to tell everybody that’s listening. I’ve known Steve, I think we met in California. When I tried to convince you to have Quiet Light sponsor Sellers Summit, you know, like, No, no, no, we’re loyal to FE we’re gonna go ahead and stick with them. Yeah. Anyway. He’s trying not to say anything. If he’s there. It’s FE International folks. You know who they are. If you’re listening, they’re good people. We mentioned our competitors all the time FE International Empire Flippers and website closers. top four, I would say in terms of people know them. But where was I going? This? I just went off on a tangent. Yeah. Where
Steve Chou 36:42
are you going with this show?
Joe Valley 36:43
I don’t even know. ecommerce, SEO California that it did. Yeah. Well, I don’t even know Joe just gets off on tracks.
Steve Chou 36:50
God, a couple words about Joe Valley. I will say that the fact that you have attend these conferences, and we always end up hanging out at all of them together. That’s what kind of made me kind of turn this to I feel like you guys are smaller outlet. And you get much more, more personal, so to speak.
Joe Valley 37:12
Well, we’re not trying to be the bad guys. We’re just trying to help as much as we can. Because we’ve all been there. We’re all entrepreneurs. We’ve all bought and built and sold our own online businesses. We know how glorious and painful it can be all at the same time. I know where I was going now. And it came to you and I at brand accelerator live and Guthrie had just joined the team. And you are such a fan of Chris Guthrie’s. And folks, if you don’t know who Chris Guthrie is yet you haven’t looked at any of our listings that Chris has launched. But Chris is somebody that’s been podcasting forever blogging forever and people. It’s it’s still fascinating to me. You joked around and said that having Chris on the team elevated our
Steve Chou 37:57
status and it did actually Yes.
Joe Valley 38:00
He what he wasn’t joking. And it has and it’s stunning to me still. Excuse me, I had peanuts earlier in the day, she never eat peanuts before podcasting. Okay. We don’t edit our podcast either state, we’re human, and we totally screw. Okay. It’s stunning to me still, how many people I will talk to that are running 510 million dollar brands, or content sites that started off years ago. And one of their core podcasts that they listened to, was hosted by Steve by Chris Guthrie. And it’s just blows my mind that he had that much influence so many years ago, because he was one of the early pastors, you know, on content and SaaS and things of that nature. So I think it’s, it’s, it’s a tremendous kudos to you to know Chris and vice versa. But the thing is that you what you do, and what Chris has done very, very well over the years, is really just share your experience, help as much as possible. And at the end of the day, the more people you help, the more people will use your products and services and whatnot, and you’ll make more money. But it’s an interesting business model, which is help first, help some more, give it away for free, do everything you can to make them successful. And in turn, it makes you successful. And it’s part of being a good human. And I think it works very, very well. So thank you for doing it.
Steve Chou 39:31
Thank you. It’s actually counterintuitive, right? Very much. So most people who give away content, they like to hold back on stuff so they can charge for it. But it’s actually better to just give it all away.
Joe Valley 39:45
Steve Chou 39:47
Yeah, that’s good, but
Joe Valley 39:48
yeah, I was at eCommerceFuel in 2016. Do you remember going there it was in Savannah, I’ve
Steve Chou 39:54
been to all of them. So yeah, okay, so
Joe Valley 39:55
there was a guy that a couple got up and spoke. I can’t remember his name. He was from the Netherlands or something. And he saw every other word was a swear word. He’s up on stage. Because actually, it’s riveting. I can’t remember his name, but I had a drink with them afterwards. And he pretty much said that he says, I give it all away for free. I just lay it all out there. That, Pat. Exactly,
Joe Valley 40:21
yeah. He lays it all out there. But it’s so hard. so complicated, what he does in particular that people like, okay, okay, just how do I hire you? How do I pay you to do this? For me? It’s a different service than what you have. But it’s still giving it away for free and letting people make their own decision. You don’t sell them anything. You just share information and help. So thank you. I know there’s a lot that you do. Am I missing anything? You’ve got the three mini courses, you’ve got? The My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast, you’ve got the blog, you’ve got Bumblebee Linens, Sellers Summit, you’ve got the full course. What else do you do, Steve, because I’m sure I’m missing something.
Steve Chou 40:59
Let’s see. So the full course is over a profitableonlinestore.com, I actually run a content based course over at profitableaudience.com. And I just started that YouTube channel, which is still as I mentioned before, during that slog period, I just want to mention before we get off is that I feel like you guys are applying the same principles that we just talked about, right? You got Joe, you guys over a quiet light, you guys give away so much information and so much help that people just want to work with you just by nature of you being so giving. And I think that’s like the best business model that you can have.
Joe Valley 41:35
I agree. It’s like you said counterintuitive. I appreciate you saying that. I have, like many people do that have some success in life in business. They have a mentor, or two or three or four. And I have one it’s my wife’s Uncle Uncle Walter, if you’re listening, thank you. When he and I sat down and chatted about me becoming a partner at Quiet Light, and whether that’s the path I wanted to go in or not. I explained the business model to him. And he said, Joe, it It sounds like you’re giving it all away for free in hopes that they work with you. And I’m like, exactly. He’s like, that doesn’t make sense. But it works while they’re we’re helping. First we have conversations and oddly enough, you know, it helps us to we help enough people when it comes around. And it’s it’s a lovely, lovely gig that I have Steve and I’m sure it’s the same with you. To have people come around and say, you know, three years later, this is what I’ve achieved. This is what we’ve done. I think we’re ready to sell now. Those are great conversations. I got some pictures from Joe Cocker and Joe, if you’re listening, thank you, Joseph. He’s a friend of Mike’s. I sold this business in January, he I was watching a football game yesterday. And he’s texting me pictures of him kayak fishing in Peru. And he’s pulling up like a 50 ball. This was he wasn’t actually texting me while he was fishing. He said to me afterwards, but you know these giant fish that he’s sending. And I spoke with Joe and worked with him for two years before his business was ready. And we did a podcast with him after we sold the business. Joe was a father. Two days after his 17th birthday. He graduated high school only because his girlfriend then wife did all of his homework because he was in school full time and worked full time to support the family. He had a drug addiction at one point he sold his used car to to buy more inventory for his Amazon business. He sold his car to keep up with inventory and eventually sold it for multiple seven figures and now he’s you know kayak fishing in Peru those are the stories that we we love and the people we love to help and it just makes a difference in their lives and ultimately in ours as well so whatever Thank you Mike Jackness for that referral Joe’s a good man Steve Thank you for coming on the Quiet Light Podcast I’m flapping my out way too much now. read to me those additional URLs profitable online store, profitable online blog and how do they find the YouTube channel?
Steve Chou 44:12
The YouTube channel is if you just do a search for My Wife Quit Her Job on YouTube. I believe the channel should just pop up.
Joe Valley 44:17
Okay. Last but not least, folks if you’re part of if you’re looking at GoFundMe and things of this nature keep an eye out Mike Jackness is probably going to start a GoFundMe page to get some money to get more tennis lessons. Beat Steve Chou badly the next time they play.
Steve Chou 44:32
Joe Valley 44:34
We’re in trouble. Thanks for joining the podcast.
Steve Chou 44:38
Thanks for having me, Joe.
Today’s podcast was produced by Rise25 and the Quiet Light content team. If you have a suggestion for a future podcast subject your guests Email us at podcast at quietlight.com. Be sure to follow us on YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram and subscribe to the show. Wherever you get your podcasts. Thanks for listening. We’ll see you next week.