They say not to expect anything out of your hobbies aside from pure satisfaction. However, there are instances of people turning their hobbies into thriving businesses with no regrets.
For example, Harley Davidson started as a hobby. Three friends behind the brand started working out of their shed with no plans of making it a legitimate business. They sold their first motorcycle in 1903 and ran their operations for four extra years before officially incorporating the company.
If you have a hobby and tremendous drive, here are ways to make it in the business world:
1. Think twice
The first piece of advice on making money through a hobby is choosing the right hobby to monetize.
Imagine you’re skilled in cooking and know your way around graphic design and illustration. You could become a food blogger, but posting fresh recipes consistently is incredibly hard work (with little payoff). Or you can freelance as a graphic designer and make money right from your first order.
2. Test the concept
You may be interested in your hobby, but customers – not as much. Test your product or service on your friends and family and ask for honest feedback. Then upgrade from a smaller group to a larger audience, like a farmer’s market or craft fair (if it makes sense for your niche). Starting an Instagram page can also be a part of your gradual upscaling.
3. Create a brand
Don’t jump straight into coming up with a name and logo to represent your business. First, decide what will differentiate your business from others and draw the target market in. What kind of personality will it have? What is the story? What pain points are you solving?
Building a solid brand with a mission, set of values, and tone of voice is crucial to turning an inconspicuous hobby into a recognizable business.
4. Value your time and effort
Figure out your costs for making a single item, as well as how much time it takes and how easy/difficult it is for you personally. If you’re working with expensive raw materials and it takes days of work to produce an item, the price should reflect that.
Services are easier to price because they can be tied to an hourly rate. But don’t undersell your services if they are physically or mentally draining.
5. Leverage your social influence
Ask your focus group from step one to promote your new business. Word-of-mouth advertising is the oldest form of marketing your product, and it’s still around because it works. Consider offering your product/service to your neighbors, colleagues, and other close circles.
6. Get the word out online
You might not even need a website for a while. But if you don’t already have social media handles for your business, get on it as soon as possible.
Strongly consider social media marketing: creating content that’s relevant to your brand, announcing contests & giveaways, buying targeted ads, and more. Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, YouTube, and Pinterest are all worth exploring.
7. Keep tabs on the finances
Put some time into keeping track of the financial aspects:
- Retain all records of business expenses
- Create and maintain spreadsheets to keep a detailed track of all financial info
- Open a separate bank account
- Have a budget (separate from your household budget).
And lastly, to make money from your hobby, you need to take it seriously and persist through challenges.
For most small business owners, turning an idea into a stable source of income is a long, bumpy journey. Your transition from a hobbyist to an entrepreneur is likely to be patchy, too.
But don’t let it discourage you. As this article showed you, there are effective ways to make it work. Many successful companies start as hobbies, including The Walt Disney Company, eBay, and Spanx. As long as you are prepared for a long-term commitment, there’s nothing stopping you from pursuing the dream.