Do You Want a Lifestyle Business or a Real Business?

By Spencer Haws |

Are you trying to start a “Lifestyle” business or a “Real” business?  Over the past few years, the talk of starting a “Lifestyle” business has been all the rage. Guys like Tim Ferris of the “4-Hour Workweek” have made it sound like 4 hours is all you need in a week to obtain your hopes and dreams.  The rest of the time you can spend lounging on the beach or doing whatever you want!  I have to admit that I have never read the book, but it sounds pretty nice right?!

And to be honest, what’s not to like about the idea?  Essentially, a lifestyle business is something that allows you the freedom to work when and where you want and leave you enough time to travel or enjoy the lifestyle that you want.  On the other hand, a “real” business is one where you strategize for growth, work long hours, and make your business as successful as possible – even if sometimes you have to sacrifice some hours on the beach.

So, while I’m not going to discuss specific strategies for building a business, like I usually do, I DO think that having an end goal in mind for what you want your business to be like IS very important.  So what kind of business do you want?  A business that gives you the living standard you want (i.e. income) and also gives you time to spend with your family, vacation, etc?

Or do you want a business that could be grown into something viable, that perhaps could change your community, an industry, or provide employment for others?  Perhaps you can do both!

The Hopes and Dreams of a Lifestyle Business

I have to be honest, that I have never looked fondly on books or people that sell the dream of doing very little work to get the life of your dreams.  I think these types of salespeople feed off the hopes of innocent people that don’t know any better.  At the same time, I now look at my own business, and I literally could work much less than I do and could certainly enjoy more vacations if I wanted.

With my website portfolio, I’ve built up an income that is very comfortable for me and my family, and it does have a lot of passive benefits to it.  I am essentially enjoying a “Lifestyle Business” right now, even though its not what I’m looking for.

I am looking for something more.  I want to make an impact.  I want to create products or services that change the world (even if only a small part of it).  And I want to grow my business into something much more viable.

So, here’s the reality check for those looking for “passive income” or just a “lifestyle business”.  It doesn’t come easy.  And doesn’t come at all for most people.

I started building websites in 2005 and didn’t make enough money to quit my job until 2011.  I spent at least a good portion of 2009 to 2011 working lots of late nights or early mornings before or after I got home from work to build up my internet business.  And its certainly not like I stopped working once I quit my job.

I still easily put in more than 40 hours each week.  Yes, I could put in less.  But I am focused on growth at this point.  In addition, I know that things change (particularly if you are reliant on Google), and if I were only working 4 hours a week – I’d never be able to position myself well for future expansion.

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Living a Good Lifestyle AND Having a Real Business

Luckily for me, I am able to in a way have the lifestyle I want AND focus on growing my business.  You see, I actually ENJOY what I do for my business, so it doesn’t feel like work.  And that perhaps is the key for some of you out there.  Find a business that you are passionate about so that you can actually imagine yourself working in the same industry for 20 years.

So, if you are passionate about your business you can essentially have the lifestyle you want AND have a “real” business.

The second way to have both a great lifestyle and the big business that you want is through building a great business first, then developing systems so that others can run it later.  I want to emphasize that you have to do the upfront work yourself (or with a team) to build that great business.  This could take years (and likely will) to build a successful product or business.

However, once you establish yourself as a market leader, you can then hire others to manage and run your business if you have developed the proper operational systems.  Think McDonald’s here.  The Franchise owner doesn’t have to be present all the time for the business to function, because the McDonald’s corporation has developed great systems that make it easy to manage and run.

However, the McDonald’s brothers and Ray Kroc had to first develop the product and the systems.  They worked very hard to get there, for many many years.

Avoid the Hype

So, if you have a successful business with lots of employees and you are making more money than you know what to do with, then yes perhaps you can take a look at what Tim Ferris has to say.  However, if you are working a day job and just dreaming about snorkeling all day, DO NOT listen to lifestyle garbage!  You first need to actually have a product or business before you can start dreaming of the good life.

And it will likely take many years of difficult work with many long hours.  And even then, is there anything wrong with trying to build something that can impact many people through employment, a great product, or otherwise?  Definitely not!

I’ve made it pretty clear where I stand.  I think hard work is admirable and necessary for any successful business.  However, where do you stand?  Are my comments about having a “Lifestyle” business misplaced?  Share you thoughts below, what you say could really help others get the right mindset!

Niche Business Ideas | 97 comments

By Spencer Haws

Spencer Haws is the founder of After getting a degree in Business Finance from BYU (2002) and an MBA from ASU (2007) he worked for 8 years in Business Banking and Finance at both Merril Lynch and Wells Fargo Bank.

While consulting with other small business owners as a business banker, Spencer finally had the desire to start his own business. He successfully built a portfolio of niche sites using SEO and online marketing that allowed him to quit his job in 2011. Since then he's been involved in dozens of online business ventures including: creating and exiting Long Tail Pro, running an Amazon FBA business for over 3 years and selling that business, founding, and co-founding You can learn more about Spencer here.

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Great post and I agree with you that a real business is better than a lifestyle business. We all want the lifestyle but the lifestyle won’t pay your bills and buy the things you want.

In order to have a lifestyle business you first have to spend countless hours working and setting yourself up for the future.

Here is an example. I spent roughly two years working long hours, late nights, early mornings and even over-nighters so that I could get ahead. Now, I am living in Puerto Vallarta where I can lounge around by the beach in the day and work when I feel like it. Do I wish I could work 4 hours a week – Yes, but the truth is that even working 4 hours per day still gives my family and I the lifestyle we want while being being able to grow my business for the future.


Thanks for sharing your experiences Adam! Sounds like you put in lots of hard work to get where you are today. Work hard now and open the door for opportunities later.


Yes, Tim Ferris makes it all seem so easy. I do like his philosophy of not making your job your sole focus. Try to avoid working for the man or driving yourself into the ground.

However, I have worked over 12 hours per day for two years trying to learn how to make and rank websites. It is anything but easy.

I could easily have another degree with the work I have put in. But, I love it. It is my passion. It is all worth it, torture and all.

I don’t think you can be happy with no purpose in life, just floating around on a permanent holiday.


Great points Sarah! Having a purpose is key to success. The internet business is not easy – and neither is any other business for that matter.

Kent F

Thanks for the reality check Spencer! It amazes me how deceitful (or so it seems to me) some are about much they work – as if they have to be dishonest or it isn’t sexy enough for some I suppose to buy their e-book on how to be a “lazy affiliate” – lol.


I sure haven’t figured out the lazy way yet. 🙂

Nate Rivers

Great message Spencer. I got some advice from someone once – I don’t remember where- but he told me that if I was trying to ‘make money online’ just so that I could sit around more and never have to work that I would never succeed.


Great advice!


I honestly thought a few years back that this whole business was totally “hands off” and it kinda was then… today it is very different and to succeed one has to work pretty consistently.


I’m not so sure the internet business was ever hands off. And it certainly isn’t today. I think alot of people have been told that its easy – but not a chance.

Rich Buggy

Personally I’m hoping for a happy medium between the two. A real business where I can take time out for family when I need to. It doesn’t mean that I won’t be doing a 40 hour work week but I might be doing some of those after the kids have gone to bed so I can spend time with them while they’re awake.


You know Rich, I think that’s a great way to look at it. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a “lifestyle business” – I just think some people have taken it too far. I think a happy medium is what a lot of people would love.


I listened once to a podcast by Dan and Ian over at and their idea was that with a lifestyle business, you don’t necessarily work for only 4 hours a week. In fact, they implied that you can work 60 hours a week and still have a 4-hour workweek. Most of it goes to what they term as “play” time, which does not fall in the category of work but is still productive – networking with other entrepreneurs, doing interviews, doing all sorts of high level/executive stuff that’s not boring. One example they say of someone who does this is Richard Branson. I think these two guys are also good examples of people who have successfully applied Tim Ferris’s idea.

I must admit I also haven’t read the 4-Hour Workweek book and had the same understanding of it as you do before I came to learn more about it.


Interesting perspective! I guess if you enjoy doing those types of interviews, networking, and other executive things, there you could certainly have a shorter work week. Never thought of it like that. In the end though, you do have to put the work in (even if you enjoy it).

Mark Washburn

I don’t think you can argue at all with the idea that smart work, and hard work, are really the road to success. I mean the truth is, as easy as Tim Ferris makes it sound, he still had to write the book in the first place and most people don’t think they can even do that.

In some ways I like his lifestyle ideas and all that (who wouldn’t?) but by the same token, I’ve had my share of free time, lounging around and all that, but I like being busy and doing something worthwhile a bit better. A nice balance of the two, however you want to slice it, is probably a pretty good place to be.


Well said Mark!


I want a mixture of both. The ideal situation would be my being in place where I can afford/have the time available to take my family on some extended vacations (2-3 weeks at a time). Have some days for play only and other where I’d work 3-6 hours a day/night. For me, it’s more about being location independent.


Sounds like a good plan! The internet certainly provides the opportunity to be location independent – it likely will take a lot of work to get to that point, but its certainly achievable.


I’ll certainly look for mix of both the lifestyles. Having a real business will certainly help me to live a lifestyle business.


Good post, Spencer. I read the 4 Hour Work Week a couple years ago. It is very motivational. It made me want a “lifestyle business”, and that is still what I want today. My definition of a lifestyle business is to have a business that makes enough revenue for my family to live on, and gives me the flexibility of working wherever I want, whenever I want. I don’t mind working at all. I just hate working according to someone else’s rules. I am on the right path. I am just not quite there. Yet.

I think the idea behind The 4 Hour Work Week is to set up a scalable business with systems in place to handle the majority of the day to day aspects of the business. If I remember correctly, Tim Ferris made most of his money with a drop ship supplement company with VAs who handle customer service and maintenance, etc. I am sure he spent a lot of time up front working on it, but developed the systems to take his place. He gave more power to his VAs who handle the customer service so that the only time he had to intervene is if there was something that would cost him X number of dollars.

I think that was it, anyway. It is a good read.

Steve wyman

Hi Drew

Thats GREAT contribution to this thread. Youve read and understood the point of the book.



Nothing wrong with wanting a lifestyle business! I hope that you get there for sure. Just wanted to give something for people to think about.

Amir Najmi

I completely agree. When I first started writing every article myself for the webpages and for content for backlinking, I was on the computer 10 hours a day, but I enjoyed it because I would see rankings rise and money coming in. So that really opened up my eyes to as long as you enjoy what you’re doing, you won’t ever complain about long hours.

Now most of my work is outsourced. Really because I’m going to school full time but once summer comes around, I’ll be on the computer for more time again. I’d rather be working 60 hours from home on the computer with my own hours compared to 40 hours at a “job”.


Agreed Amir! Working for yourself long hours beats working for someone else any day of the week!

shendy wilandria

Great post! I do totally agree with you. I’m building my little business with 4 my friends that have experienced in online business. After read this post that came from my emal,Now I’m getting onfire in my passion to built our business bigger! Once again, thanks for sharing this post. It’s good to follow every new posts from you, Spencer.


That’s awesome to hear Shendy! Thanks for letting me know the post helped light a fire under you…stay motivated!

Chris Wandel

Hi Spencer,

I think it depends what your definition of work is. I like the idea that if I don’t slog it out all day doing manual, repetitive tasks my company will continue making money.

I started with off line clients and I’m building a portfolio of niche sites which all have the ability to expand into authority sites.

I don’t see keeping up with the latest technology as a ‘pain’, rather than reacting to changes I want to be at the forefront of the change. I love the recent algo changes with Google, there’s no way some of the web sites ‘or untouchables as I call them’ who have tens of thousands of spammy links should be sitting comfortably at the top for high volume keywords when their content and value delivery is mediocre.

This is a really exciting time for people who want to give true value to the end user, we have a shot at the high volumes.

Steve Jobs said ‘Do something that you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.’ Well I love internet marketing, content marketing, broadcasting etc, and my weeks are all great. Sure, it’ll be great when I can take off to Cape Town for a week or two, but I won’t be laying on a beach going comatose, I’ll be planning my next big achievement.

I don’t understand the mentality of wanting to do ‘nothing’, that’s an unfulfilling and empty road that goes nowhere fast and leads to depression.

So, do I want to scratch around slogging it out from one paycheck to the next, heck no. But do I want a business that sits comfortably and lets me focus on new projects? Absolutely!


Excellent comment Chris! I love the Steve Jobs quote – that resonates well with this subject. I love internet marketing as well – so its doesn’t feel like work really. Best of luck with your sites and your next projects!


I’m actually a big fan of “The 4 Hour Work Week”, and I think a lot of people write it off due to the sensationalist title. Tim Ferriss has also been accused of not practicing what he preaches, as he is actually a workaholic, and never stops building his business and brand. I think people miss the point he tries to make about developing a business where you get to spend the vast majority of the week working on the business (if you want to) instead of most small business owners who have to work in the business. He also highlights the ability to be locationally independent and the use of outsourcing. All of which we have used to get to where we are today.

Both my wife and myself have used many of Tim’s principles, and now we have several online businesses, all passive, and we live in Bangkok because that’s where we choose to live. Do we work 4 hours a week? Hello no! We spend all day on our businesses, because we love them! Can we take time off whenever we want to? Yes we can. We’ve just come back from 3 months of resting/travelling. We’re not rich in a monetary sense (yet) but our lifestyle is amazingly rich. So I do definitely support most of what the 4 hour work week was all about.

Love your work Spencer, part of our online income streams are niche sites we’ve developed from your advice, so thanks and keep up the good work!


Thanks for your points about the 4 hour work week. Sounds like Tim Ferris and I are pretty much saying the same thing – but mind doesn’t have the sensationalist title. I agree when someone talks about systems, outsourcing, and working to grow their business – its all spot on. I just want to make sure people realize it doesn’t come easy…(which of course you know).

Congrats on your niche sites and other online ventures! Love to hear the success!!


If I remember right, Tim wanted to title the book, “Drug Dealing For Fun And Profit” but Walmart had a teeny, tiny problem with that title and wouldn’t let him in with it, heh. Now that would have been REALLY sensational! I guess he DID start it off with a “drug” or supplement…I think that was his point, heh.

Nigel- A newbie marketer

Another great post. I think newbies that come into IM need to understand that a sustainable online income is no different to the real world where you work your butt of in the begining to enjoy the fruits of your labour later. I takes years to do this not a push of a button.



Thanks Nigel!

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I dont know what to say. I am a work at home/stay at home mother. I sometimes wonder, is it worth it for me to work hours and hours on my computer. I do wish I had another job then I can have the money to outsource or if I have a software that is affordable and can do ethical work that can earn me money. I am overdoing a lot of things. I write 2000 word articles and I am trying like 10 sites. I do feel overwhelmed. I know someone will say, well, soon you will reap the benefits. Okay so, what is soon. My kids are growing, I have three girls. I want to be there to do art with them, to go swimming to read for them. My daughter loves to read and she said the other day..mummy write me a book and just go print it and bring I want to read. I said yes. I went back to blogging…I have not done that and she has asked like twice.
Sometimes I do think, and correct me, if I am wrong that men have it easy if they have a afmily, somebody takes care of the kids. But that is an excuse as we have single mothers too. I guess I have to find a balance.
Thanks for sharing and making me think about this.


Thanks for the heartfelt comment. I think being single, raising kids, and trying to start a business DOES make it much more difficult. Unfortunately, raising a family and starting a business take a lot of time. I don’t have all the answers, but perhaps setting aside a smaller amount of time that you dedicate to your business is a good idea, so that you can spend time with your children (which are obviously more important anyway). You may have to accept that only working 1 or 2 hours a day on your business will take years to grow it into anything viable… In addition, always be thinking outside the box, maybe there is a better path for you than the one you are following right now??

DeAnna Troupe

Thank you so much for this post! I am glad to see that I’m not the only one questioning these people claiming you can run a viable business without spending a lot of time devoted to it. Great job!


Glad you agree DeAnna!

Ramy Khuffash

I’ll just start by saying that I think the 4 Hour work week is a great book BUT I would rather build a business than travel the world.

I just wanted to mention that a big part of the book is about making things efficient, outsourcing and currency arbitrage.

Even though the lifestyle promoted in the book may not be possible or may not be for everyone, there were some great lessons to be learned by reading it!

It’s all about building a business that doesn’t require you to actually be there to run it for 14 hours a day.

I think it’s great that you’re living off your passion though Spencer!



Great comment…thanks Ramy!

Steve wyman

Hi Spencer
I want a real business that gives ME the life style I want. That’s what lifestyle design IS about.
I highly recommend that people read the book rather than listen to other or assume.
Tim made his first round of money by building a real business that bought and sold stuff. He was smart enough to work out a system which allowed him to cut down on the number of hours HE had to work. That’s smart isn’t it?

BTW the title of the book was arrived at by running an adwords campaign to find the most clicked upon title! So it was searchers that liked it! A smart marketing move and some early proof of social metrics being used!

There no Qudos in being the guy that works 100 hours a week! (I work most hours’ im awake say at least 90 hours week it doesn’t make me better than the 4 hour work week guy). I do it for the same reasons you do spencer to dent my own little corner of the universe.

Having retired once I can for sure say that sitting around on beaches is not all its cracked up to be. Anything gets lame after a while. I never intend to retire again. But I do want the freedom to be able to travel, live and work where I choose.

Steve wyman


I just wanted to add this snippet from an email that I received from Perry Marshall today (everybody should subscribe to Perry’s emails they are golden)

“The business version of this is wanting to go from zero to ten grand a month in, like, 2 months. It’s an easy story to sell but it doesn’t happen all that often. It’s hard to get excited about $400 a month from your e-commerce biz, but the funny thing is, that may well be the cornerstone of your long-term success.” – Perry Marshall

One of my goals is to be able to afford to do Bobsled run from cash flow 🙂



I think Perry is syncing up pretty well with what I am saying here. Thanks for sharing!


I agree that is what lifestyle design is all about. I just wanted to point out that some people want something more than just lifestyle design. And even those who do need to be aware that it doesn’t happen overnight. I’m never saying someone should be working 100 hours a week. In fact, I mention specifically the importance of developing systems, etc so that you don’t have to be as involved BUT that takes a really long time to accomplish – I’m emphasizing the up front work.

And yes, I’m not surprised that some market research (through adwords) was done on the title. The book wouldn’t be nearly as popular without that title. Its a lot of hype upfront – which is why I never bothered with it. If you want a great book that sounds like it addresses alot of the same topics (without the hype) – read “The E-Myth” by Michael Gerber.


The E-Myth has been on my wishlist for a while. In fact, it has been on there so long I forget where I got the recommendation. That is why I haven’t read it yet. Sounds like I should.


Yep, its a GREAT book, highly recommended.

steve wyman


E-myth does but in many ways. Tim’s book funnily enough is more about business.. And ofcoure outsourcing.

And you are so right about the upfront work. Its a long steep learning curve.

Although your site has helped shorten it for many of us 🙂



I feel the same way. Today is the 27th and I hit $10,000 for the month yesterday (over $3k each from amazon, & adsense) and have worked much less then 40/hrs per week for the last 8 months because of a new baby.

Getting to $10k/month+ was not easy.

However, I’m trying to build some partnerships and ecommerce sites on the side right now because I want what I would call a real business….not just adsense and affiliate sites that can be gutted by Google in a matter of seconds.


Congrats on hitting the $10k milestone…that’s awesome!…and the new baby! Best of luck with your additional business ventures.


One thing you said struck a chord with me. Something that’s been dancing in the back of my head since I started down this path. Want to make an impact? Go down to a local high school, homeless shelter, battered spouses shelter, veterans group, etc. and offer to mentor someone or a small group. Cost of admission: a pledge from them to teach and mentor 2 others.

I don’t see really see ANYONE in this industry doing much in that regard.

It’s one vision that’s driven me to learn this stuff.


Paul – I think its a great vision! I’ve actually considered starting some sort of local group for a similar purpose…haven’t done it yet (unfortunately), but its been in the back of my mind as well!


ican teach 10 people if you elpme. keybord doesnt work. to now more abt me see below bye


That post is very inspiring….I agree 100%…so are your sites not affected at all with the deindexing of all these private blog networks? I know you use BMR and UAW and I have read in the forum that people had sites affected because of this latest move by Google.


My sites are almost completely unaffected by the deindexing of the blog networks. I only used BMR on a handful of sites. I have seen a decrease in one of those – but actually many of my other sites are UP for the month. I will be writing an extensive post about this for my monthly income report. So, overall I not sure if my income is even across the board or slightly up – I’ll calculate that in a few days.


Good post.. i personally want to have a lifestyle business if it means that i am going to have a lot of money and time. but i want to remind readers here that it is not a must to work hard for being a billionaire or a millionaire or even to get one dollar. i dont think mark zuckerberg-founder of facebook worked harder than my father to get his billion dollar empire. sometimes you are lucky by having the things you need for success. if i was the son of spencer i would have made a lot of money by now. because he could help me financialy , plus he could guide me on how to do it correctly. with that i could quickly become a niche site master like him….and to deal with the changes i may not go by my self and check information …i can read his blog to get up to date information so quickly.or ask him since he is my father. for many people there is nothing like making money online…with niche sites. imagine a work that you can do from anywhere in the world -you can do this work in a cafe if you want to…and you can work anytime you want….and you can build your buisness to a million dollar empire…age doesnt matter….if u are 18 and know how to do it …you could make 20000 dollars per month which doesnt happen with other buisnesses because the system of the world sucks….in most cases you have to be a degree holder or even msc….or you work hard for years to reach 20000 per month from a brick and mortar business. and i think someone who is technical minded…can read this blog and know how to make a fortune online. with as little as 250 dollar investment…he could be on his way to being a millionaire. and to learn how all this works you wont have to spend 5 years like spencer did. if you are real genius and have 250 dollars to invest i think it wouldn’t take you a week to understand and implement the knowlege on this blog….as funny as it sounds you could make good amount of money enough to leave your job with as little as 3 hours perday of work…..after 3 monthes. and i personaly dont like real business because there are a lot of things that come to play…like your unethical and crook partner at a job..could make things difficult. on the internet you can remain completely anonymous and make big bucks without bad partner at work ..i should stop know becasuse it is getting longer.. and i think you should know that i am from africa and never made money with niche sites…but i have some good keywords that i can go for… my problem is that how do i write a content that i know nothing about…and how am i supposed to buy hosting and domain name in a countyry that nothing like this is allowed. no debit/credit cards to invest my money…paypal doesnt even work in my country. if anybody read this comment please consider helping me out.i would generously give back. thanks


Thanks for the comment Semir. I disagree with most of it, but thanks for your thoughts. I disagree that Mark Zuckerburg didn’t work like crazy for many years to get to the point he’s at. Sure, some people are lucky – but most people will have to work for years to have any sort of viable business. I will just NEVER encourage anyone to think otherwise.


hey spencer
i didnt say mark zuckerberg didnt work hard…i said i dont think that he worked as hard as my dad.if u were to grow up in a third world country…you will compeletly see what i mean. i am from africa…i have seen so many(including myself) people sufer from what most people from other parts of the world doesnt even know about. just a simple example….my neighbor teenage friend works…let me stop i am having tears…..dont feel sorry for us. what you should know is that some not all people from poor countries work crazy hard….when will they reap the benefits? may be in heaven! most people from developed country see success as a vacation….i mean it realy amazes me how many sales page for make money online products …tell you that you are going to have a vacation in a week if you buy thier product…for african people if u want to sell …you might need to put things like you will get secure food and shelter. because vacation is not the concern here…it is the food. if u eat food twice everyday then you are medium class(luckiest) in africa..or shall i say my country. to be honest i am hungry now….i read the recent blog post on pats smartpassiveincome blog….about eating well to work hard….pat said that his tooth disease never let him eat well through out that month and because of that he didnt do quite well. imagine the nubmer of people in mycountry who dont eat well…doing miserably at work. any way i am sure you agreed on my idea of 3 hours per day work for 3 monthes with the knoweledge of this blog….you will replace your day job. what i am saying is i am a good keyword researcher…i did good without longtail pro….if u help me(or other people reading this now) may be you could change my life.!!!!!!!! i have already done keyword research and have some keywords real gems on my hand! one keyword with 1500 local seach and 4.$ cpc and hubpages ranking first! and other will do good also . so help me out here by buying me a domain and hosting….with articles. i will give back the money….treat this as one of your projects to make money! because i will give back. trust me….offer me a guest post….and make me promise on to ur audience. if you want to…
i know one of the keys to success in this buisness is posting a lot of content targeting long tail keywords ….i can pump out content about my counrty or something like that on blogger or wordpress and expect the traffic and money but that way i might not reap benefits of the hardwork after monthes because it so risky the free way….you know what i mean right blogger can shut down my site….failure now might break me forever as an internet marketer because i have problems now that i dont want to tell here….
hopefully you get what i mean
peace and success on you man
thanks so much


hey there
everybody seems to ignore the above comment….i would like to hear from anybody….just your thoughts ….even if you think it is wothless…please..
have a good day


Hey Spencer –

Thanks for explaining the two different types of business. I can appreciate a person that does either one or both. Personally I think I am going to focus on the lifestyle business. I realize at first it is going to take all my time and then some. It will be hard and take many years and long long hours. However that is the risk I am going to take to get the lifestyle business.

I want the lifestyle business so I can spend more time with my family and enjoying life instead of letting it pass me by. I plan to go on vacations, spend lots of time with family, and spend time doing what I love to do in life.

However just because I plan to have a lifestyle business doesn’t mean I can’t do good in the world. If I am blessed with great earnings I plan to give back to the world. I plan on giving to charities, giving to people in need, and possibly volunteering as I’ll have more time on my hands.

I do plan on making the world a better place if I am so blessed to make a nice living myself. I am not greedy. I just want what is best for myself and my family and then take care of other people as much as I can.

Right now I help where I can while I temporarily live on a Caribbean island. I realized I am a lot more blessed then most people living here (I’m from Canada and work offshores) so I try when I can to give back to people that are around me. They are super grateful and everyone is happy. It’s a win-win situation.

So anyways in a long winded answer I would like to have the “lifestyle business” Spencer. But I want to help people in return as well. Online and offline.


No problem with that James – sounds like a good plan!


hey there
from your comment above i see that you are very good person…but i think you are not in the position of giving now because you are not on the income level you want to be…u used the words if i ….. anyway i dont want to make spencers blog look like a charity blog.. if you would like to see what kind of situation i am in read the above comment i made.
thanks spencer
thanks james


Hi Semir –

I am talking about if my niche website business takes off. Right now I am definitely in a position to give and I do to an extent but if my website business takes off more I plan to give even more money.

Basically what I am trying to say is if I make a lot of money online and I live the lifestyle business life I still plan on making the world a better place by giving back. That is all.


hi james
thanks so much for responding. i assume you know that i am from africa. and i have very good keywords on my hand. i am thinking if you help me with a blue host account and article purchasing…we can together build ten sites that are sure to get to top of page 1 without backlinking. i say this because i know the keywords and i have analyzed the competiton. they are real gems. one keyword is for 1900local american searches 4$ cpc and high advertiser competition with an article from hubpages ranking first. so any way the plan is this.. i know that blue host costs 60$+100$for domain+100$ for article=260. i take care of all the other works. like installing wordpress and building backlinks by rewriting and adding ideas to the main articles. i am sure after 2 monthes we are going to hit about 200$ from adsense. then we can sell it on flippa or somewhere for 15x. keep in mind that even if the site agerage earnings fall to 6$ …we have 60$ per month which can be sold for 900$. you get 450$ i get 450$ and with the bluehost account already purchased i can build other sites and start changing my life.
hope you understand my poor english.
thanks james so much
by the way plan b …if all sites fell. we will let them die and you wish me luck…i might build sites with subdomains on bluehost account. and i will give back whenever i can. if this system fails there is nothing i can do other than praying for you and me.
this is my idea
shall i use the contact us on your income lab blog.
thanks bye


Hi Semir –

I appreciate your offer but at the time being I am not looking for any joint ventures.

However feel free to email me on my blog and maybe in the future we can work something out.

PS – why not start with free webhosting and write the articles yourself? I’ve seen people make great money that way as well. There is a guy that does this. I think his name is Bear Grizzle or something similar. Google it. Shows you how to make money online with a free blog.



I just checked and it appears that guy took down his site. However you can still definitely make money online with free platforms like or Just need to write the content and then put the ads up there.

The traffic will come and you can make money that way!!


read this comment i tried to post before.
hi james
yes you are right…trying to do just like spencer does is very difficult. but i recommend you spend more time and work harder on keyword research. i found those gems by researching for 3 full days straight. and after that everything is so easy. ordering articles….installing wordpress or waiting for them to rank. going to the bank!
i highly apreciate you helping me. incase you change your mind i will be waiting for you! i will check this page often. and i have had it with free hosts. it has been heart breaking to see that one site that made 10$ a day on max day! just being offline for some reason. and as bad as it might sound the advertising company did only have two payment options …..paypal which doesnt work in my country. and check which you should make 50$ before they send it to you.
they(free platforms) just want an email from a competitor or some guy…to bring your site down. not to mention that you are going to look like fake in the eyes of your audience.
there are a lot of disadvantages.any way this time i am not asking for 260$!!! if you only get me a bluehost account that would be enough. blue host gives one domain. and i could build subdomains ..that means one site will be and the rest would be and they will be self hosted which greatly decreases thier risks!
tell me what you think.
thanks for everything


In real life, Tim Ferriss actually works a ton of hours writing, blogging, speaking at conferences, fundraising for charities, etc. I believe his reasoning is that it’s all devoted to projects that he’s passionate about and wants to spend his time on.


Spencer, behind any successful business in life, there has been some hardwork that most people did not see. working late at night, getting up very early in the morning to work and some other stuffs attach to it too.

So my advice is that you work hard but smart and success is sure for you.


Omar @

Hey Spencer. Great post.

I can agree with much of what your saying and I have also purchased and read Tim Ferris’s book and it was a great one.

I think many people first need to understand that you just can’t JUMP into the 4 hour workweek It’s going to be a gradual and at times, painstaking adventure….

But it really depends if you enjoy what you are actually doing…because if not you will quit when the ride gets bumpy.

Thanks for the ideas in this post bro!



Hi Spencer

Thanks for the post! Having read the 4 hour work week I found it very motivating but also realized quickly that in order to run an organized and future focused business it obviously takes much more than 4 hours per week. Working a full-time career position, owning a small cleaning business and now building niche websites… well, even with outsourcing the content for these sites I still spend 15 hours a week on this niche site business.

Thanks for the post! Very helpfull. Curious to see how you will change your backlinking methods with these blog networks becoming useless for links.




Thanks for the comment Dave!


You do have to work hard online, I am on my 3rd niche site now and been almost a year, I am just now been getting 1.39 a day just this week lol.

Andre Garde

Hey Spencer,

Everyone wants the “IM Lifestyle”, but the reality is that it’s very hard work especially if you’re still new to the industry. Work your butt off, get paid. Nothing wrong with that, and it’s the way I want to go. Because I see the wonders it has done for my relationships with family, friends, etc.

Too many get sucked into their corporate careers that they lose sight of what’s important. If I’m going to bust my hump all day I’d rather do it for myself. I could’ve started an offline business, but IM came much more naturally to me since it’s tech related.


wouldnt it be great to be earning 20/30k per month. well as you said earlier it takes years to get to that point. ive been doing IM now for 18 months and there is always something new to learn. i started off by making a few sites and it wasnt until recently that i discovered adsense. with that came analytics , webmasters and adsense integratin to analytics. gosh what a learning curve. 1st of all learning and implementing adsense in the sites is daunting enough after waiting 6 weeks for approval. then figuring out anlaytics and webmasters and wondering why some data isnt there or why and how to get it to appear is mind boggling to say the least…. ive learnt what i know by myself by reading blogs like yours, by doing a simple course called affillo blueprint that got me started and now im about to buy your niche keyword tool to nail down my best keywords even thogh im now raninking on page 2 with no backlinking in the xbox niche….mb its luck i dont know but im sure spending a lot of time researching and reading new information to learn what i need to learn. hopefullly when my keywpords are better i will make more money but i can honestly say that it defintely is hard work and nothing happens overnight…thanks for all your blogs spencer it sure has helped me along the way


Best of luck paul!

Rob Cubbon

Great article, Spencer. Although I read the book first a long time ago I still think I got a lot out of it. I thought straightaway that the title was a great title just to grab your attention but then thought nothing more of it.

I’m quite happy working the hours I work (which are considerably more than 4 a week) and after a couple of years of trying my passive income is small but increasing.

I, too, loved Gerber’s E-myth book but I think the two go quite well together (Ferriss recommends Gerber in 4HWW, as I remember).


Thanks Rob!


Spencer, thanks for coming out with this post. I feel the same sentiments as you and it’s glad to finally see an accomplished community member with a post like this. I can say you have made a diference for me. Your posts have been extremely helpful. Some of them I have printed out, underlined and highlighted and I refer to them again and again. Thanks for that. Fred.


Thanks for the kind words Fred!


Great post. I think that there is a difference between “working on your business” and “working in your business”. One should work on his or her business and not in his or her business if he or she wants to earn some real money and have a lifestyle of their dream. And usually in any business there is a stage of working in a business followed by working on a business stage. The most important rules to remember are the following ones:

1) Never listen to those who promise lots of money for little work.

2) Learn how to do all the tasks yourself and then outsource.

3) Remember that only 10% of your earnings is your money. The rest should be re-invested into your business to make it grow.


i would go lifestyle, but bill will get me back to real live


Everybody’s into making his life better. I’m beginning to think it’s a low-class, unintelligent, foolish and tragic purpose.

Like I mentioned, I also haven’t read The 4-Hour Workweek, but guys, if any of you want to have some break from this online thing that we all do and you want to hear something that has meaning, instead of buying the 4-Hour Workweek for more immersion in this business thing, spend an hour tonight reading “No Green Bananas” (it was written by a generous lady, and it’s free!), and this very short blog post:

This blogger’s 400-page book is also now being given for free.

Sorry for making this comment but I guess reading other books won’t hurt, especially when you want to put your life into perspective first before you aim for a lifestyle business.


The title of the 4HWW is misleading and is why I did not read it for so long, but I finally read it last year and now consider it one of the best business books ever written. The EMyth is also an exceptional book, but the 4HWW is written in today’s technology based world and gives business owners insights into how to use technology to their advantage.

The book is not a get rich quick and do nothing scheme, but instead forces you to thoughtfully consider your time as a resource and to analyze and eliminate the parts of your work you dislike. My favorite quote from the 4HWW is:

“Our goal isn’t to create a business as large as possible, but rather a business that bothers us as little as possible.”

If you have any desire to build a successful business that does not consume your life, then you must read the 4HWW…just ignore the title!

Thanks for your great posts Spencer.

Ejeke P C

@Dana, you are right, and I think apologies are appropriate here. Before I made my comment I haven’t read the book and I took it on the face value, but a friend just walked in with a copy and I just glanced at it. It simply is a Master Piece. It’s the balance that we all need bearing in mind what we all want as individuals.



Spencer Thank you for this eye opening article!
It is much harder to create a lifestyle business then I have been told.
It feels like everyone is creating websites and making money except me.
This makes me feel better that it isn’t all just easy street with internet marketing.


Hey Spencer!

I think quite a few people misunderstand the intention and thoughts behind Tim’s 4 Hour Work Week. In the beginning of the book, he was working 70-80 hour work weeks and feeling burned out. The point is to systematize your business processes to maximize your time and to cut out that which is not actually productive. It’s not so that you can work 4 hours a week…it’s so that you can fit 80% of your CURRENT productivity into 4 hours…and then (from my perspective) stretch that out to 40 hours/week so that you can get MASSIVE work done.

I liked the book, but definitely wouldn’t consider myself a fanboy either. Some of what Tim does is effective, but take a look at Penelope Trunk’s opinion on how annoying he can be…she’s a great blogger and it’s a funny read:

I’d also mention there’s a stereotype that seems to follow around “Lifestyle Businesses” that’s only partially warranted. Years ago, most of the “lifestyle designers” I ran across were glorified backpackers…pretending they have a business while really just squeaking out a living traveling SE Asia, hoping the money doesn’t run out.

In the last year or so we’ve run across some pretty amazing people that are doing some serious business. Million dollar online product businesses where they manufacture in China and ship to the US, a multi-million dollar security company based out of East Timor, Start-up incubators based in Singapore, Bali, etc…really interesting, engaging stuff.

I really used to think that Silicone Start-ups were really where it’s at, but I’m slowly being convinced there’s another way to do these types of things. We’re starting to play (at a VERY low level, mind you) with these types of things and realizing they do have legs, are legitimate, and there are serious people making these types of businesses happen around the world.

Anyway, interesting post as always, Spencer! Just thought I’d try to present another side!


Awesome analysis Justin! I agree with you 100%. I think there are all different types of businesses. I just think its important that people go into them with eyes wide open realizing that while a lifestyle business may be your end goal (which it just fine), it won’t come easy. Be willing to put in lots of hours and lots of hard work up front and then reap the benefits later.

Kyle proctor

Spencer you are very correct. I love the thought of little work and lots of reward but that is the anomaly. Very few strike it rich simply because the work it takes to achieve your kind of success is more than most will endure.

Getting back up after you make mistakes is the most important part and most just don’t feel like getting back up. Keep the dream alive of making money with little effort just remember that with most things in life work is required and lots of it

Keep up the posts. Great content

Any update on the niche theme and any new changes to it. I am an owner and it is a great tool to have.


I think the 4-Hour-Work Workweek debate is a moot point. Tim Ferris is one of the most fascinating renaissance man and business man out there, and his book is one of the best business course I’ve read (and I’m in business school!): it’s all about system optimization and liberating yourself from your business.
The most famous “lifestyle designers”, such as Tim or Colin Wright all had a solid business before they automated it and created a lifestyle closer to their goals (such as travelling): one had a supplement company, the other one a successful branding studio.

I think the problem -and who Spencer’s post is targeting- is with all those (fairly famous) “lifestyle designers” who sell the dream but don’t bring anything new to the table business-wise. The only way they make money is through affiliates for the products of their “lifestyle design” buddies, and through selling expensive ebooks and courses that are just rehash of everything we already know (use miles to travel, get a Charles Schwab account, do some affiliate marketing, and voila! cocktail on the beach!). I read these “lifestyle” blogs for a little while but I’ve stopped, since I quickly noticed these guys were just selling air.

I’m currently facing a tough decision as I have to choose what I’m going to do during my Business school Gap Year. While all of my classmates are competiting for consulting internships, I have told my family and friends that I will be creating a business.
As an 18-year-old, these lifestyle blogs put stars in my eyes and seemed to offer an obvious way to live, but as time has passed (I am now 22 years old), I have come to realize that having a dream of creating a lifestyle business will get one nowhere. Unfortunately, dreaming of sipping margaritas on the beach doesn’t put money in one’s pocket. One first has to build a solid business, and only then can he think about systems to get continuous income and make the business run without him. And to create such a business, one has to put in long hours of work, be honest about the offer, and sell something that is truly useful to people… Unlike “feeding off people’s dreams” (someone said earlier).
The strategy I have started to implement is to build niche websites (after reading Spencer’s, Glen Allsopp’s and Pat Flynn’s blogs for months, I have finally taken action) that I hope will make me a few hundred bucks in a couple of months, so that I can work 100% on my “serious”/”real life” business without worrying about where my food is going to come from.
Life is not black and white as lifestyle bloggers would make you believe. While thinking about what I am going to do during my Gap Year, I had to take into consideration the opinions of my school (about what is “accepted” as a professional experience… and if you had doubt, writing ebooks about working from your laptop in Thaildand is not considered a “professional experience”), but most importantly the opinion of my father (who is supporting me financially and who really wanted that I work for a “big company”) and the opinion I have of myself (I would feel guilty if I didn’t work at least 10 hours a day on my startup): you don’t want to disappoint your family or yourself… I think a lot of people are facing the same dilemmas as I am. Creating a “real” business just seems to me to be the most ethical, rewarding and fruitful option.
Anyway, I feel like I have gone on a tangent too long, so I’ll stop.

Great post Spencer (and BTW, thanks for answering my emails regarding the Niche Website Theme).


Great comment Romain! Glad you agree that its takes a lot of time and dedication to achieve the “dream” that others are trying to sell.

Kent @ Make Extra Income Online

Spencer, no kidding.. I am reading “4-Hour Workweek” in March and I’m behind.. about 30% done.

The 80/20 rule and productivity is very helpful. I’m reflecting how to work less – indeed more on my niche site business. Focus on 20% tasks that generating 80% of online income.

This is totally eye-opening! Since I have kids and family commitment, I can’t afford traveling (although this is my dream) and work online full-time.

I still enjoy my 9-to-5 and hate being my own boss and working longer hours on computer screens.. including tablets. 😉

It’s so nice that you enjoy what you do and could work from home full-time and spend time with family. This is a great “life-style” business and be your own boss.

There is a lot of Hype out there.. I have been doing this Online Business part-time with attention and mindsets for the last 3 months. It’s NOT easy being my own “boss”.. it involves a lot of dedication, business thinking, and getting things done.

It’s do-able.. and I am trying to work 2 hours a day before and after 9-to-5.

I’m thankful that this niche site business works and scalable. I’m still on my way making $100 a day as a part-time extra income.

As what you said, enjoy what you do, and design your own “life-style” business fitting in your schedule and other life priorities. It could be a win-win situation – income, family, and life!


Wow, $100 a day in only 3 months online, that’s insane. Congrats ! Have you launched many niche sites (like Spencer), or do you just have a few high-ticket item sites ?


He actually only said he’s on his way towards that – he’s not yet making $100/day. I’ve read Kent’s blog once and I think he’s earning far below that amount.

Any newbie who can do that in 3 months time all while learning about WordPress, SEO, monetization and all that stuff must be a genius.

Kent @ Make Extra Income Online

Thanks Chris for clearing it out. Yes, I am on my way. 🙂

I had a few $100-200 a day in Nov and Dec (Shopping season of the year.) That’s why I said this business is working and scalable.

I could say SEO is pretty dynamic.. once you have those traffic data and statistics. It would come handy and easier.

I “read/learned” those stuff in 3 mos last year.. and took another 3 mos to take actions and exercise the “lessons”.

Spencer has a lot of great info here and I learn so much free here.. just need to pay the cost – time and dedication into it. 🙂


Great comment Kent…thanks!

Ejeke P C

Hi Spencer, I know am late to the party but I can’t help but say something because I do know people will still be reading this post even in the future.

I think that both kinds of life style are achievable if one sets his mind on doing it. But the truth is that personally though am far from achieving any of them, I find it really difficult to work just 4hours in day not to talk of 4hours in a week.

If we are true to ourselves, people that build highly successful businesses and brands hardly work just 4hours a week even though the can easily do that if they want to. The human body simply is not designed to survive that way, it will simply waste away, it must find meaningfully work.

The key here should be moderation and balance, having a clear picture of what one wants in life and striking a balancing between work and play or the balance between Lifestyle Business and Real Business. If you are truly passionate about your business and you enjoy what you do, I don’t think you would want to work just 4hours a day.

What you achieve by either building a Lifestyle Business or a Real Business is nothing compared to what you become at the end, meaning that the transformation you undergo to become WHO you are is more important than what you achieve at the end of the journey.


At the end of the day I think you had to do what makes you happy. Some people set out to build a huge multi million dollar business, which others are happy to have enough to pay the bills or make the car payment. Neither is wrong, just taking into account what they desire to make the business work for them.


OK had to just but my oar in after reading this.

Tim Ferris is, as someone has already said, about optimizing systems and your priorities. It is a gross simplification to suggest that his philosophy is about sitting on the beach drinking cocktails. But yes, this stupid cliched fantasy of sitting around doing nothing all day is nonsense and would drive most people crazy…

BUT..The puritan work ethic is still deeply instilled in many of us so that we will unconsciously graft away for hours just so we can say “look aren’t are I good, I work so hard on my business”. etc. That bullsh*t as well.

And if we find we wouldn’t know what to do with ourselves if we only had to spend 4 hours of the week on income-producing activities then that is a sad reflection on all of us. If you know you want to work 50 hours per week on your business because you have a greater vision for then wonderful.

However, there are plenty of worthwhile, fulfilling and necessary activities in this world that will never make much if any money. That doesn’t make them any less important. That’s what i got from Tim Ferris and, I suppose this post is saying- really get down to what it is actually important to spend time on and then optimise like hell for that. If that means a 1 HOUR income producing work week the so be it.

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