Hate your 9 to 5? Wouldn't it be cool to build a career, or better, a business that is hobby-based?
"Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life." - Unknown but possibly Confucious
If you already love what you do then please feel free to read something else, but if not you might want to continue. Hobbies are one of those things in life you actually choose for pleasure.
Studies also show that they can have incredible benefits for your mental and general well-being too.
They tend to be activities you either passionate about or have an inert proficiency in. Hobbies are one of the few things in life that reveal your true character.
They, as Joyce K. Reynolds (an expert business coach) “give us unedited clues as to our real desires and interests". Perhaps it's time to pay attention and build yourself a future you deserve.
We wrote last month about hobbies that engineers tend to be drawn to. Whilst everyone is different, choices like this will give you excellent prompts about how to choose a career or build your own business.
The following tips are aimed at those who wish to turn their hobby into a money machine but you might want to consider them for monetizing your passions with a side hustle whilst maintaining a full-time job.
These are far from exhaustive but we hope they give you some food for thought.
After all, you will always want to continue your hobby - your main job might even be funding it anyway. Why not find a way of supplementing your income?
1. Start small and expect an uphill battle
"Go big or go home" is one way to build a business, but that takes a lot of courage and, more importantly, money. Whilst it is, of course, possible to beg and borrow from friends, family and, if you must, banks, it might be better to take things one step at a time.
Since we are talking about monetizing your passion, it's a good idea to start treating your passion as a business. Keeping in this frame of mind will eventually make your new venture a success, and more importantly, turn into a career you will have unlimited energy and motivation to build and make successful.
Most existing hobby-come-business owners will recommend you keep your day job until it's time to make the leap. They tend to also recommend that you save up a couple of months worth of savings (personal and startup capital) to cover expenses before fully committing yourself.
There are a few business models that allow you to start for very little. You could, for example, build a blog on your own hosted website , and be up and running for under $150 (but prices do vary). Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and newer ones like Minds.com are actually free to host on ,but will consume large amounts of your time getting up to speed with building your brand and getting yourself noticed.
Just as Rome wasn't built in a day, as they say, so too expect your hobby-based business to take some time to get off the ground.
2. Check out the competition but stay true to your vision
Any successful business should always be prepared to keep an eye on the competition. Not only will this provide you with inspiration for building your own brand but it can give you priceless information on where you are doing things better.
But you must keep true to your own brand at all times. You are unique and your hobby business will be the very embodiment of that.
Checking out your competitors will also give you an indication of price points for your market. Just like any business, you can charge whatever you want for your products or services but if someone is supplying a similar thing cheaper, you won't make any sales.
Unless, of course, your brand and product(s) are so unique or difficult to replicate that you can charge a premium.
Many hobby-business entrepreneurs will also advise that you stay authentic at all times. You will want to aim at building a loyal customer base who love what you do and keep coming back for more.
3. Pay attention to feedback, especially criticism
This one is a biggy. It's only natural to take criticism personally but you should try not to, as easy as that might be to say.
You should always think of feedback as a kind of customer sensor that tells you what you are doing right and, more importantly, wrong. Listen to it, dissect it and take action to rectify any issues - if they are genuine constructive comments of course.
Marketing and brand awareness used to cost an absolute fortune in advertising but innovations like social media have never made it easier to build an online presence. But, as we all know, some platforms are literal cesspools of angry keyboard warriors - prepare to hold the line!
Always respond professionally and courteously, if you have to respond at all that is. Nothing will sink your hobby-business ship quicker than getting embroiled in a comment war!
You cannot please everybody all of the time but the information you gather from this will guide you on how to mold your brand to make it more profitable. You will quickly grow a thick skin and your business may even metamorphose into something else you never even imagined.
Just like in real life we test our ideas in the "free market" of ideas, so your business will also be tempered by the fires of feedback.
4. Feel the fear and do it anyway
This, out of all of these tips is likely going to be the hardest to overcome. It's very easy to not want to leave your comfort zone.
After all, isn't that why you took a salaried job in the first place? Starting and building a business is an enormous undertaking, so be under no illusion, it will be a walk in the park.
It will test you to your limits and more.
The real and understandable fear of risking a reliable and regular paycheck is not to be underestimated. But the sky is potentially the limit when you start your own business.
Working for someone else will always cap your potential income. Not only that, but you will get to earn the satisfaction of all your hard work being used for your own personal benefit.
Like many, a self-improvement book will tell you "feel the fear and do it anyway".
5. Failing to plan is planning to fail
Cliche yes, but it is very true. Before you take the plunge into building your own hobby based business you should take the time to plan.
This is especially true for getting your finances in order. Make sure you are au fait with keeping track of expenses and income.
And do make sure you pay attention to your tax obligations. It may even be worth your time founding a registered business rather than being a freelancer or sole proprietor.
Research your market and niche and discover the potential pitfalls and profits from it. Will it actually be a viable business.
You may want to draft a formal business plan to focus your thoughts and plan for your new venture. Carve out time, especially if you are working full-time, to learn to absorb everything you can.
Watch videos and read articles from successful hobby business entrepreneurs. You could even reach out to them for guidance - you might even find a mentor!
But on the same token, get over your fear of failure. You will quickly find that failing is the best way of improving yourself and your business.
You will make mistakes so fail, and fail fast!
6. Network, network, network
You should aim to build connections in real life and online as quickly as possible. With many social media platforms available, this is much easier than it has ever been.
You should seek out like-minded people on platforms like LinkedIn to bounce ideas off or ask for help. Starting a business will require you to learn many new skills you might have never known existed.
"Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia." Mary Schmich
Many successful entrepreneurs will build themselves a network of like-minded or specialist knowledge individuals to help, inspire and encourage you. Some might call this a "dream team", but you can think of them as your own personal Sid Meier's Civilisation real-life team of advisors.
These can be friends or family, but you should aim to find people trying to achieve the same things you are. After all, you are the average of the five people you spend most of your time with.
No man (or woman of course) is an island so don't be a stranger.
7. If you do something more than once, automate or outsource it!
Time is money, as they say. But remember time is also your only real asset - you can always earn more money but time is finite.
The best and most profitable businesses are always looking to both innovate and make themselves as efficient as possible. This is where automation comes into its own.
Unless you are a glutton for punishment or just have micro-manage everything.
There are many applications and online resources that will help prevent you having to waste your time on repetitive tasks. If you open a website or blog or both, there are many solutions at your disposal to use.
Platforms like Wordpress, for example, have many free and paid-for plug-ins that will make your business as streamlined as a tear-drop.
If you can't build your own solution or find a ready-made one you could always look into recruiting some help. If you don't have the skills yourself, or time for that matter, outsource it!
There are many options for finding freelancers for all sorts of services or you could contact a VA (virtual assistant) to take care of all the mundane bits of running a business. Websites like Fiverr, for example, is an excellent resource for getting the help you need.
This will free you up to do all the creative thinking and planning.
You could always sign up to Fiverr yourself to sell your own services! Your options are really only limited by your imagination.