‘I work 5 hours per week’

I’ve never been the entrepreneurial type. But after losing 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 earn me $160,000 per month in passive income. I also recently published a book, “How to Get Paid for What You Know.”

It was the first business I started The Recording Revolution, a music and education blog that sells music performance courses. The second one, which I started in 2018, teaches people how to make money from their passions, like I did. It is the most profitable business, thanks to online course and coaching program sales, as well as affiliate commissions.

Graham Cochrane started his first business in 2009. Since then, he has scaled two online companies and now grosses around $120,000 a 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 being able to give back, so I’ve set up my work and personal life to be able to focus on those core values.

Here’s what my typical day looks like:

The mornings start slow and easy

I usually wake up at 5 am – before the kids – because I always want an hour to myself. I’ll start with coffee and my Bible.

After some reading, praying and journaling, I will make breakfast with my wife and wake up the kids. We spend 20 to 30 minutes eating together in the kitchen before I drop them off at school at 7:30 pm

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

Graham and his wife have breakfast with their children in the morning before talking about 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 make an exclusive training film for my paid community members which adds about two extra hours of work per month to my schedule.

I’ve never been a fan of the hustle culture; I don’t believe it is healthy or wise. If you can find a way to build systems into your business so that it mostly runs on its own, you don’t need to waste time doing constant maintenance.

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

Family time is my No. 1 priority. 1

People often ask me what I do with all the extra time in my week, and my answer is not the most exciting. I run errands, hit the gym, go to the car wash, have coffee or lunch with a friend, or jump into a good book. Now I’m reading “Live without fear” by Jamie Winship.

But most importantly, I spend time with my family. Friday is considered “date day” with my wife. We work out, go out to lunch, catch up on life, talk about the kids, and meet with our marriage counselor.

Lately, we’ve been focusing on how to communicate better when we’ve had disagreements. No marriage is perfect, and the work I put into our relationship has made me a better husband and father.

Neither my wife nor I will compromise on picking up the children from school together. We want to be at home when they are. Our other non-transaction is family dinner. We sit down to a technology-free dinner every night. Most evenings, my wife cooks and I do the dishes. But we also eat out a few times a week.

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

Photo: John Olson for CNBC Make It

We love going out for walks, 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 how to share feelings and be kind to each other. I also want them to feel like valuable, included members of the family.

We travel a lot, too – both locally in Florida and around the world. A few summers ago, we spent a month in the South of France. And just this spring, we stayed in Puerto Rico for three weeks. You need to have the time and flexibility to make these kinds of memories together.

Radical generosity is a core value

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