Hobbies play an important role in our lives. Having an enjoyable hobby provides a much-needed break from the daily grind of work and life responsibilities. Engaging in activities outside of work can help us recharge and refocus. Whether it is art, music, photography, or even working out, hobbies provide a sense of balance and can help reduce stress and burnout.
However, what if you find that you have a profitable hobby that can possibly become a business? How do you turn that hobby into a profitable business? Although at first the process may seem daunting, it’s simpler than you think, and you just have to take it step by step. In this article, we’ll give you some important steps to take so you can turn your hobby into a business.
Evaluate Your Skill Set
First and foremost comes the hard question: Is your work good enough to sell? If you want to develop a successful business, you need to accurately assess your experience level, skills, and where you stand in the market against potential competitors. If you’re new to your hobby, you might need more time with it before taking the big leap.
There are several ways to evaluate the profitability of your hobby:
- Ask for Money– People often say they like something but are they willing to pay for it? Ask those interested in your skills to pay for your services.
- Compare Yourself to Other Pros– For example, if you have a photography hobby, visit the websites of other professional photographers to see if you’re quality matches up.
- Ask for Feedback– Ask friends, family, and any professionals in the field that will offer help for feedback about your skillset.
Know Your Target Audience
Before you do anything – even before you think about your first product or your business name – you need to pin down your target audience. Identify the group of people you want to target with ads and online content. Think about who is most likely to buy your products, understand their worth, and engage with your content.
Identifying your target audience early on saves you so much time later. Sure, you can always create whatever you want and just hope someone comes along to buy it – but you’ll likely see very little success with that method.
Instead, focus on one specific target audience and cater your products to them directly. They’re already online looking for products just like yours. All you have to do is bring it to them.
Build Your Brand
Unless you’ve discovered the latest and greatest technology, chances are you’ll find it almost impossible to sell your product on its quality alone. In the modern age, people are so bombarded by constant advertisements, social media campaigns, and online trends that their attention is much more difficult to grab.
No matter how amazing your product actually is, customers need more than that. This where building an effective brand comes into play. A successful company creates a unique, distinct brand that stands out from competitors, uses recognizable imagery, and has developed a personality.
You might think personality has very little place in business, but in reality, you couldn’t be farther from the truth. Customers respond to businesses they feel are authentic, charming, and relatable. If your hobby is related to the arts, this is an excellent opportunity to make even more use of those natural talents and design an easily identifiable, eye-catching logo.
Building a brand doesn’t stop at design, though – you’ll also need to cultivate an online presence that aligns with your brand’s values, mission, and the overall vibe you want to put out. That’s where the next step of the process starts – establishing an online presence that works for you.
The best way to spread the word about your growing business is to get online. Making use of social media platforms such as Facebook, TikTok, and Instagram can popularize your work at a rapid pace. With new trends emerging on an almost daily basis, it’s becoming easier than ever for people to click a single button and instantly share their favorite posts – and maybe even your product.
Create a Website
Social media aside, it’s also wise to consider developing a website for your business. There are some unique perks to running your own website that make this worth looking into. For example, you have complete control over every aspect of design, as well as the precise language you use on the site to intrigue visitors.
When you have your own website, you can direct online traffic from other sources directly to your shop just with the click of a single link. If someone sees your product online and loves it, it’s much easier for them to head immediately to your shop.
There are apps and sites that serve as alternatives to this if you’re not eager to get into website design – namely, Etsy and Shopify. These apps are third parties who, in exchange for a percentage of your earnings, list and promote your products for you.
Needless to say, the best way to make the most of your online presence is to utilize these in conjunction with your website, as opposed to just using one or the other.
Learn Effective Marketing
Understanding marketing is an absolute necessity for any business owner, and that includes you. Take the time to research various marketing methods so that you can find better ways to reach your customers.
Start with marketing to the people you already know. Friends, family, current and ex-coworkers can make excellent first customers. If you don’t have your own social profiles for your hobby, utilize your personal social media accounts to get the word out. This will help you get started. However, at some point you’ll need to expand your marketing efforts.
Take notes from some of the major companies out there whose ads strike your interest. Even taking a course on marketing at your local community college will help you greatly.
One dilemma that is unique to hobby-based businesses is the issue of spending too much time making the actual product. If your creations are handmade and elaborate, naturally you’ll spend more time making them. That being said, here are some ways you can streamline the manufacturing process when orders start coming in.
- Buy supplies in bulk, in advance
- Develop an “assembly line” style of creation
- Delegate tasks (if possible)
- Organize your workspace
- Make multiple sets
Learn to Price Appropriately
The biggest mistake I see many hobby-based business owners make is not pricing their products properly. Running a hobby-based business requires something that these big corporations don’t usually have: craftsmanship. In today’s world, where we can order mass-produced plastic in the blink of an eye, handmade products created by experts of their craft are rising in demand.
Many people price their work according to how “good” they think it is, or how likely it is to sell, but this is a monumental mistake. You’re likely to undervalue your own work due to your own biased perception of its quality. Instead, you want to price your creations according to these five factors:
- Time: the amount of time it took to physically create the product
- Experience: your amount of personal experience in the field
- Supplies: the cost of the supplies needed to make the product
- Perceived Value: how customers perceive the product’s worth (this can be increased with the addition of extras, accessories, and better packaging.)
- Market Price: an estimate of how much this type of product goes for within the industry
So many artists and crafters underprice their work because they fear people won’t buy it. However, studies show that pricing your items too low can deter customers. If your prices are too low, customers perceive the product’s value as being lower (much like the old adage “you get what you pay for”).
Instead, price your items fairly. Make sure that your time, materials, and experience are appropriately compensated. At first, higher prices may seem to take longer to draw in customers, but don’t worry. The right audience is willing to pay your prices.
Utilize Local Events
Take advantage of local events such as fairs, festivals, and conventions. Oftentimes, purchasing a seat or booth at these events is relatively affordable, and if your products sell, you end up taking home more money than you paid for the seat. Exchanging business cards with passersby at these events can also create networking opportunities.
Don’t Give Up
Above all else, refuse to give up. Keep fighting for your dream. Almost any hobby can be transformed into a successful business with the right amount of knowledge, strategy, and hard work.