‘I work just 5 hours a week’

I was never the enterprising type. But after I lost my job as a sound engineer in 2009, I had to get creative to make ends meet.

Thirteen years later, at the age of 39, I have built two online businesses that together bring me a passive income of $160,000 per month. I also recently published a book, How to Get Paid for What You Know.

The first company I started was The Recording Revolution, a music and education blog that sells music production courses. The second, which I started in 2018, teaches people how to monetize their passions, like I did. It is the most lucrative business, thanks to the sale of online courses and coaching programs, as well as affiliate commissions.

Graham Cochrane started his first business in 2009. Since then, he has scaled up two online businesses and now earns about $120,000 per month.

Photo: John Olson for CNBC Make It

About 2,800 people use my products and my goal is to help more entrepreneurs grow their online businesses while working fewer hours.

My top priorities are spending time with family and giving back, so I’ve organized my work and personal life to focus on those core values.

This is what my typical day looks like:

Mornings start slow and easy

I usually wake up at 5 – for the kids – because I always want an hour for myself. I start with coffee and my Bible.

After some reading, praying and diaries, I’m going to make breakfast with my wife and wake up the kids. We eat together in the kitchen for 20 to 30 minutes before I drop them off at school at 7.30am

Then I head back to my home office, or do a quick gym session when I’m in the mood.

Graham and his wife have breakfast with their kids in the morning before going over their schedule.

Photo: John Olson for CNBC Make It

I only work five hours a week — Monday and Wednesday

Graham spends about five hours a week creating content and managing his businesses.

Photo: John Olson for CNBC Make It

Once a month I film an exclusive training session for members of my paid community, which adds about two extra hours of work per month to my schedule.

I’ve never been a fan of the busy culture; I don’t believe it’s healthy or sensible. If you can find a way to build systems into your business so that it largely runs on its own, you don’t have to waste time on constant maintenance.

After all, what’s the point of “being your own boss” if you’re working all the time?

Family time is my number 1 priority

“My schedule has two non-negotiable things,” says Graham, “I pick up my daughters from school every day and our family eats together every night.”

Photo: John Olson for CNBC Make It

We like walking, swimming in the pool, watching movies or playing Nintendo Switch with the kids. By spending time together, we hope to teach them essential life skills, such as sharing feelings and being kind to each other. I also want them to feel valuable, including family members.

We also love to travel – both locally in Florida and around the world. A few summers ago we were in the south of France for a month. And just this spring we spent three weeks in Puerto Rico. Having the time and flexibility to make these kinds of memories together is invaluable.

Radical generosity a core value

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