Wouldn’t it be great if work felt more like play? Well, it is possible to get to this state if you turn an enjoyable hobby into a career. Transforming your favourite past-time into a money-making business venture just sounds so perfect, it must be too good to be true.
Well, I’m here to tell you now, it is totally possible. There are increasing numbers of people taking the decision to follow their passions and make a living from something they really enjoy doing.
Popular hobbies that can turn in to businesses include photography, cake making and decorating, making crafts, painting, singing and gardening. But if you are an amateur palm reader or even a demon curry chef, there are opportunities out there for you, too. Be open minded about which hobbies translate well into businesses – on the face of it, dog grooming sounds pretty bonkers, but it is a surprisingly popular direction for hobby-entrepreneurs.
The brilliant thing about many small businesses that evolve from hobbies, is that they are unique. They don’t conform to any cookie-cutter blandness that large corporate organisations peddle, they offer truly niche products with a refreshing edge and originality. And right from the start, you need to recognise that as one of your biggest assets, something that sets you apart from the competition.
If you have no experience starting a business from scratch is tough. You may be an expert photographer or knitter, but how are you with accounts? You can make stuff, but can you sell it? Is there a market? How much to charge? Do you even know where to start? The first thing you need to do is bash out a business plan, work out a budget and nail down a solid marketing strategy. Hiring an experienced marketing consultant will save money in the long run because they will be able to identify commercial opportunities in areas you haven’t even considered. They will sharpen up your brand, give focus to your promotional communications and start spreading the word, giving you time to spend on getting creative.
We love our food in the UK and finding a fresh new taste or flavour is always a real buzz. Amateur chefs who turn their passions into profitable businesses come in many guises. Bakers of celebration cakes, kids’ party caterers and pop up restaurant hosts are all members of the new breed of enthusiastic hobby cooks. Other growth areas in small food businesses include mobile ventures such as horse-boxes turned into pizza ovens, mobile cocktail bars and vans serving fresh champagne and oysters – all perfect for attending large outdoor events where people are on the look-out for something different.
With food preparation businesses there are a heap of rules and regulations you need to adhere to so make sure you do thorough research before investing huge chunks of your money.
Selling the crafts you make is a satisfying way of making a living. If you have a product of good quality that is unique, you may want to try selling it online. Large sites such as Etsy enable craftspeople to sell their wares and link directly to a Facebook site from there – alternatively you could sell directly from your own website. Attending craft fairs, festivals and markets where crafts are sold is another great outlet for your goods – keep informed about when and where the best fairs are being held. Fees to exhibit and sell at bigger shows can be steep, but the foot traffic they attract usually means you get a good return on your investment.
Make the internet your new best friend, because it’s going to be the one shouting about your business the most. You will need to set up a website that speaks directly to potential clients about your products. The website should be clear, great looking, easy to navigate and with flawless functionality. Write blog posts regularly about what you are up to, new products, instructional video clips, photos of events you’ve attended – interesting and engaging content that will hook readers in and keep them returning. A regularly updated website will be search engine friendly, making you discoverable – so make time for it. Other sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Google+ are well worth using as promotional tools, but again, makes sure it’s not too spammy – blend promo material with valuable, interesting, relevant content and interact as much as possible with potential clients – the personal touch will always be the ultimate persuasive weapon in the world of sales.
With a lot of effort, a big dose of luck, marvellous marketing and a fine product, you can turn a hobby into a business. You will be working longer hours for less pay at first, but if you get it right, you could be working your dream job…