Here's How To Turn A Hobby Into A Thriving Business

Quitting the ratrace could be closer than you think...

26/08/2016 10:44
TommL via Getty Images

A hobby, by definition, is something you do for pleasure at your leisure. You don’t do it for the money, even though it’s likely you’re far better at it than you are at doing your regular job.

The working day dream for all of us is to feel the same passion for work as we do for our favourite pastime, but the risk factor stops us from making the two become one and the same. But for every cautionary tale (we all know the mate who quit his job to become a DJ), there’s a baffling success story (those kids on YouTube who make millions playing video games).

If you go for it carefully, you too can turn your drive into a living. Just don’t lose sight of the difference between the two – one’s for fun, the other for funds. Here’s to having both!

Is It Viable?
It’s tempting to tell your boss to shove it and imagine the story ending with you brandishing an award, but you need to be sure you’ve got what it takes – both in terms of product and the mind-set to handle the pressure that’ll come with it. 

“Develop a side-hustle,” advises Melinda Emerson, author of Succeed As Your Own Boss. “That way you can test the waters and learn some of those expensive lessons in business while you are still collecting a paycheque.”

Keep The Plan Simple
The experts are divided on whether business plans are a waste of time (you research, plan and set everything in stone, then the first unexpected jolt and it’s out the window), or essential (without clear objectives and defined strategies, who will take you seriously?).

Dominic Sanchez, who charts his journey into entrepreneurship in Bare Naked Entrepreneur, admits he wrote his on a napkin to stop over-complicating what should be a clear vision. He admits: “There wasn’t a whole lot of space, so I had to make sure I wrote down what I felt was the most important information.”

Promote Yourself In The Right Places
Telling your social network friends to press ‘like’ on your new venture might make you feel good, but it’s not going to get you customers. Find the platform where your work is most likely to attract the attention of your target audience.

The artist Landysh, who runs the quirky doodle gift site Lingvistov, reveals: “We launched our online shop where we sell my illustrated prints and books. We didn’t have any visitors or sales, so I decided to take action. After posting my illustrations in Bored Panda (a creative hub for artists), everything changed almost overnight.”

Teach Others What You Do
Marking yourself as an expert immediately elevates you to a more trusted position among consumers, so start teaching what you’re good at through a local college, or set up your own webinar through Skype, or offer a course via a platform like Teachable and Udemy.

Paul Gronow, who teaches the How To Become A Guitar Teacher course, believes teaching makes you question exactly what you’re capable of. “It helps you assess your knowledge, identify your level, create your own aims and objective, deal with accounts, learn how to find clients, and know how much you should charge.”

Don’t Try Going At It Alone
Hobbies are deeply personal, and the drive for perfection means it’s easy to think others won’t be able to get your vision. Or you could be so obsessed with your craft, you can’t see which aspects might not be appealing to others.

Problem of doing it yourself, warns Stephanie St.Claire of Bliss Bombed, means you won’t have time to actually do what you set out to do at all: “You will spend 15% of the time doing what you love and 85% of the time marketing, administrating, selling, strategising your business, and answering a shedload of email.”

Get Better Quick
However good you are, chances are there are many others out there better. Research what they do, learn their tricks, see what they’re missing and why, and keep coming up with innovative ways to offer something original.

“Steal like an artist,” advises Srinivas Rao, the author of Unmistakable: Why Only Is Better Than Best. “Learn from masters and mentors. But treat their advice as guidance not gospel. Say what’s never been said. Do what’s never been done. Try what’s never been tried. Make it all your own.”

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