The early morning of April 2014 has become my zero hour.
It was the day to say goodbye to nine-to-five work and turn my life skill, which most people call a hobby, into a profitable business.
Saying I was afraid would be an understatement. Writing is my hobby, and I dreamed of being a writer since I was knee-high to a duck. And yet, the question "Why don't you want to monetize this talent?" made my brain freeze.
"Hey, guys, that's my hobby! How do money and business come into the picture?"
(Photo: Istockphoto via Getty Images)
And how wrong I was!
The thing is, you can monetize anything that provides value to others: five in 10 people gain income from their hobbies today, whether it's painting, baking, writing, or even dog training.
The other thing is, you should know how to do that. But since before learning how to do that, make sure you want to do that. Yes, you love your hobby, you are ready to spend hours on it, but will you love baking, writing or playing guitar when it's your only source of income?
So if you are a reckless adventurist like me, you can enjoy a positive result of turning a hobby into a business. With a little preparation, of course.
Here's what you should do.
(Other than getting over your fear of failure.)
(Photo: Nick Dolding via Getty Images)
1. Answer these questions to define if you're ready
The mere desire to monetize a hobby is not enough. What does make you believe people would want and need it? Are you sure you are capable of starting a business, as it's all about a lot more than just the activity you love?
Before you get started, ask yourself five questions:
- Will I love doing that when it's all for money?
- Do I have skills and resources necessary for making it a success story?
- Am I ready to do that under deadlines and when inspiration doesn't strike me?
- Does my hobby fill anyone's need or solve their problem?
- Am I ready for challenges?
Sure, turning a life skill into a business can be exciting and fulfilling, but you should clearly understand that it won't be easy. As Candice Landau mentions in her post for Bplans, it will be tough, especially if this is your first business: "You're going to be wearing a lot of hats for a while -- accountant, customer service rep, brand ambassador, CEO and so on."
It's the very moment for being honest with yourself: are you in the right place and time to market your hobby?
2. Do research and craft a plan
Don't quit a job once you've decided to monetize a hobby. Do some research, learn the niche and examine your target audience. What makes you different from competitors? Why would people choose you?
Craft a plan of your future business and follow it step by step. Tom Hess, a successful guitar teacher, recommends not to play an all-or-nothing game but start part-time: "Fill up all your available time on nights and weekends with students and save ALL the money you make (do not spend a penny!). Once you have saved enough money to cover four to six months of expenses, quit your job and go all-in to build your guitar teaching business even further."
Another way to get start-up budget is crowd funding. Kickstarter, GoFundMe, and other corresponding services are a great option to try.
3. Network and build trust
Online presence is half the battle. Choose a brand name and logo for your future business, start a website, promote it on social media, network with influencers in your niche and do everything that goes into branding yourself.
The best way to build awareness and trust is blogging. Brands with blogs generate 67 per cent more leads, so be ready to generate content for better promotion.
4. Grow up
You can't succeed without self-development: train your skills, learn from experts in the field, analyze competitors and stay up to date on innovations.
Attend issue-related workshops and seminars to get insights from experts. Even if you are not in this business (yet!), such events allow learning new things and training your skills. More than that, they inspire and motivate you to start.
Tip: When attending seminars, don't think of your passion as of a hobby. Consider it a primary source of revenue to lay the groundwork and move the needle.
5. And never give up
It's a big challenge to make your hobby a business, but whatever meets on a way -- move on because that's all about your passion. Even if your initial idea fails, you can find alternative ways of monetizing a life skill.
Nancy Collamer, a career coach, shares a few ideas:
- Teach others to do what you love.
- Sell accessories for those in love with your hobby.
- Write or speak about your hobby: monetize a blog or YouTube channel. (That's exactly what I've done.)
- Start repairing or fixing items related to your hobby.
So find a nerve for one more try -- and you'll succeed. Shake a hobby and a business to make a shining cocktail, but don't stir them to not destroy the magic.
After all, you do that because it makes you happy. Hobbies and side projects transform our mindsets in a positive way, so why not give it a try and turn it into something bringing a fringe benefit, too?
It's your zero hour now.
Images source: OmniPapers
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