Lots of people write to us asking whether turning a hobby into a profitable home-based business is manageable and which are the necessary steps in order to start a small business from home. The answer is a definite and resounding “YES!”. Great news! There are a multitude of options on how you could potentially turn a hobby or a passion into a home-based business and a lot of resources regarding the process entrepreneurs need to take in order to get things going.
But before diving in, consider carefully whether turning your hobby into a business is the right approach for you. The main risk you need to consider is that once the thing you do because you love it and it relaxes you, becomes the thing you must do, no matter what, because it’s the one keeping the roof over your head, you may start to dislike it to the point of dreading it. The pressure of working on a deadline and meeting specific financial goals and customer expectations can take away the relaxation and personal satisfaction you previously had.
So, if after you carefully analyzed all your options, you still believe that this is the best path for you, but you don’t know where to start, consider Nancy Collamer’s, author of Second-Act Careers: 50+ Ways to Profit from Your Passions During Semi-Retirement suggestions on turning a hobby into a profitable business:
1. Teach others to do what you love. Whether we’re talking about piano lessons, cooking classes, knitting or a foreign language, practically anything can be taught. You can do this online via a web course on platforms such as Coursera or Udemy, or offline through a college or continuing education program.
2. Sell/import/invent/ craft a product or accessory for enthusiasts in your hobby. For example, if you are a wine enthusiast, you might import hand-blown wine glasses from a different country, invent a unique wine refrigeration device, or develop a line of fun wine-themed t-shirts, or…well, you get the idea Collamer says that “hobbyists tend to be very enthusiastic, passionate and willing to spend money on items related to their hobby”. Just think about the insane amount of money baseball enthusiasts are willing to pay for World Series tickets.”
3. Teach the business of the hobby. Collamer talks about this in her book using an example of a man who used to work for Microsoft in marketing and had magic as a hobby. He combined the two and now he teaches marketing to magicians! So, let’s assume that your background is in publishing, but you love cooking—you could specialize in teaching people in the food industry how to get their cookbooks published.
4. Speak or write about your hobby. In Collamer’s opinion hobby related how-to topics, historical perspectives, or compelling stories are all of interest to enthusiasts. The ever-growing number of how-to books available on Amazon and the Kindle store are testament to this fact!
5. Create a tour or performance series around what you love. An example of someone who did this is Tony Mula. Tony turned his love of pizza and Brooklyn into the highly successful A Slice of Brooklyn pizza tours. And, if you’re a bike enthusiast with a penchant for travel, what about starting up a bike tour company for tourists?
“The other day I met a woman who bills herself as a ‘Founding Fathers Fanatic’ and she performs at schools, in character, to teach students about the Founding Fathers,” Collamer says.
6. Appraise, repair or fix items related to what you love. Most hobbies have stuff connected to them, and sometimes, that stuff needs to be fixed by a skilled and knowledgeable person. So you could fix computers, appraise collectibles, repair bicycles or source missing parts for highly unusual items.
You need to keep in mind that a home-based business is just like any other business, so before starting it you need to do your research, evaluate your options and develop a solid plan that will help you figure out the steps you need to take in order to make it profitable.
Related: Planning a Home Business
So where should you start? First you need to figure out some key things:
1. Ask yourself whether there is a potential market for the products you intend on selling and what the going rate should be. Also, make sure to try and find the answer to the question “How much are your potential customers willing to pay for your products?”.
In a nutshell, it’s something between the lines of asking your family and friends whether they are willing to pay x amount for you product and then ask a stranger on the street whether he or she is willing to pay that price and see the reaction you get. Also, you could opt for Survey Monkey and create a quick survey for your friends and close ones to answer online if they are willing to pay a certain amount for one of your products or services. By doing this, your job as far as the pricing model is concerned is so much easier.
2. You may be asking if this is it the best possible time and the right place to offer this product or service. Simply put, you may be wondering whether you will be required to market quite a lot or just a little.
The fact of the matter is that marketing is very important in any kind of business and as a home based business owner you need to focus on it and establish the amount of money you are willing to put in it. After deciding on the amount you will invest, you need to keep track of it and see what your return on investment is after advertising on Facebook or with Google AdWords.
The best advice any marketer could offer you is to conduct a thorough research so as to determine whether your online marketing efforts are going to work or if you’re spending money without seeing any ROI. And in order to see whether your online marketing actually works, you will need a certain degree of expertise, so you need to identify potential partners and build a support network.
Networking is essential for any entrepreneur, but in this particular case, of small home based businesses, you must use the brand, wear the brand, be the brand, in order to inspire others to buy your products or services.
If you’ve decided to take your passion or hobby into the e-commerce world, you should know that it’s pretty simple because you won’t be doing all of the work, for example platforms such as Etsy, allow home-based business owners to have their own online store and to market through them.
Related: 7 Steps to Start an Etsy Shop
Also, they allow you to share directly to all your social media accounts, so you can let your Twitter followers and your Facebook fans know about your special deals and discounts. Still, you shouldn’t do this on a regular basis because they will perceive your advertising as spam. You need to provide meaningful and enticing content related to your field 6 out of 10 times.
3. Last but not least, you should probably ask yourself how far are you willing to go to get your home-based business off the ground, turning it into a full-time business that registers profit. Also, consider whether this can realistically support your current lifestyle. If it turns out that this is just a hobby, then you should start slowly and just use Etsy and after a while start to build it through Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook or even YouTube.
Whatever your hobby or passion is, if you really want to turn it into a home based business, you are one click away from numerous sites full of resources that can guide you through the process, so go ahead and start planning today.
If you have already turned your own hobby into a business we would love to hear more about your experience, so leave a comment below and share your thoughts on the matter with other entrepreneurs.