Being able to make money doing not just something you love, but something you’d actually be doing in your spare time anyway. Turning your hobby into a career is living the dream, isn’t it?
Thinking about taking the leap and turning your passion into a living?
You know you’re in for a lot of work and a lot of learning. Confidence and courage are some of your most powerful weapons for treading this path.
But there are a few other things you need to know to prepare for the road ahead. I’m not talking about marketing how-to or the steps of setting up your business, but the advice you’ll need to help you take the leap and swim these waters.
What’s wrong with the all-or-nothing approach…
Many people just contemplate turning their hobby into a business. But ultimately, the all-or-nothing attitude prevents them from taking the first step towards this goal. They fantasise about leaving their job to fulfil their dream, dedicate all their time to it and push through the financial struggle of the initial phases. Until the business kicks off and the cash starts flowing…whenever that is.
Of course, when you’re thinking this way, it’s one huge risky step, and the stakes are high. If you have people depending on you, the all-or-nothing approach is rarely an option. Unfortunately, this makes a lot of people give up entirely, while the solution stands there in front of their eyes: don’t put your eggs in one basket.
If you want to turn your hobby into a business, think about going part-time at your day job so you can pursue your venture for the rest of the day. Is that a possibility? Will you be able to manage with smaller earnings? If you can’t switch to part-time work, you’ll need to create a schedule that lets you cram in extra hours to dedicate to honing your craft, developing products, and establishing your business.
And the most important thing you need to realize is that this state of juggling two jobs or working overtime on your hobby could last for years until you’re ready to make your hobby a full-time job.
Cecilia Rathe, a lawyer and aromatherapist, built her natural skincare business after surviving cancer at 55. Two years after kicking off, she was still working as a lawyer part-time, adding in an interview for Female Entrepreneur Association:“…every other minute is often taken up with the business. However I love it when our products get great reviews, and am delighted with every sale or order. The sense of personal achievement is amazing!”
Gaining confidence through learning
Robin Woodward, the founder of Barbie’s Basement Jewellery, talks about how turning her hobby into a successful company was a long and studious process. It’s important not to get ahead of yourself. “Starting small is important, especially when you lack experience; that’s how you learn,” she says in an interview. Robin took a small business course to learn the basics of running a company, and not only did this help her make informed decisions, but she adds that it gave her the confidence and “headspace to take herself seriously as a business”.
Don’t rush it. You will be building your ship as it sails, but you want to have the right tools at hand. There’s a lot to learn, so acknowledge the fact that you can’t know everything right from the start. And a lot of the stuff you’ll have to learn won’t be much fun, but these are the tools you need to realize your goal. So take it one step at a time, and you won’t only be better equipped to do this, but the knowledge you gather will give you more confidence for this venture.
Diving into your niche
There’s a crucial point when you’re no longer observing your field of interest as a mere enthusiast. You’re slowly taking the reins and starting to participate in it, to test the waters and look for business opportunities. It’s when you stop observing yourself as a hobbyist and start looking for your place as an aspiring entrepreneur.
Many entrepreneurs suggest starting your own blog as a way to establish your place within a niche community, meet other entrepreneurs, and eventually even generate leads for your business. Sarah Arrow, an entrepreneur who had built a successful blogging business and a boutique social media marketing agency, places blogging as her number one advice for business owners. “Not only is it therapeutic, it generates leads and helps establish your authority,” she advises.
As you establish your place within your niche, be prepared for a lot of networking ahead. Reach out to other entrepreneurs and potential clients, find networking opportunities, and don’t hesitate to look for mentorship from someone you admire.
Your hobby is going to become a lot less play and a lot more work.
The most important question you need to ask yourself is: Are you willing and ready for this to happen?
Give this some hard thought. Because the truth is, turning a hobby into a career is not all rainbows and butterflies. Pressure is suddenly put on your passion. It’s no longer a therapeutic channel just for yourself, and you have to find new mechanisms so that all the fun doesn’t get drained out. Now, all this is possible, but it is important that you understand the consequences beforehand, set your priorities straight, and prepare in advance.
When your hobby becomes work, you have to set clear boundaries so that you’re not working all the time. You’ll have to practice switching off, learn to say no, and most importantly, you’ll have to try hard to not take everything personally. This is incredibly difficult when you’re passionate about your work. But if you don’t set boundaries and create a certain distance, every blow will feel crushing.
Look at all the inspiring stories of the women who have made this dream a reality. Turning hobbies into profitable businesses is one of the trends that mark the era we live in.
We have more information than ever in the palm of our hand. Various platforms, social media, learning channels, entrepreneurial communities and whatnot – no matter what age you are, the atmosphere is ripe with possibility.