Hard work done for a hobby don’t feel so hardAmit Kalantri
Do you prefer to run away from daily chores and tasks? Does typing reports on events you did not witness or filling in spreadsheets of calculations make your eyes sleepy and your office day continuously duller and longer? Time travel is only possible in your mind, where you already steer your mountain bike across gnarly grounds. When you again find your fingers, run the piano keys and your audience will sing cheerfully.
Your hobby is your passion. Your work not. The escape? Make your hobby your work. It’s easier said than done, yet not impossible.
Leisure activities balance life and are entirely your choice. A job is (often) a compromise or a must-do. A job and a hobby are often as divergent as the sun and moon. (Unless you’re a digital nomad who loves to travel and his job.) So, how to conjure up that interacting eclipse?
The way is to find out:
- how much you live for your hobby
- if you can dedicate even more time for it
- if people are interested in it
Do you love your hobby the right amount?
Before you make your business plan and create a web presence, start with the essential questions:
- Where do you want to go with your hobby short term (next year) and long term (in 5 years)?
- Do you and others (friends, family) see your hobby as useful?
- Will you still enjoy your hobby when you HAVE TO DO IT to earn your income?
- How much time would you like to invest?
- Do you have startup capital?
The following two exercises will define which of your leisure activities is best for side hustling and if you are ready for it.
From hobby to business in 5 steps
List your hobbies and passions
Write down all your hobbies and habits you love. Scale all of them after how proficient you are.
Example of a hobby proficiency scale
Transfer each of the hobbies into a valuable product. In the example above it can be selling sour-dough bread, crochet napkin holders or decorative table wear, even becoming a swimming coach or an Olympian. Uniquely, as a gambler, you could be the inspiration for a movie script (or a fine case for a psychiatrist).
Be realistic. Develop a concept of how your products or services can be beneficial for people so that they are willing to pay for them. Here it helps to highlight why yours are the best.
Explore how complex and versatile your hobby can be, or how you can combine multiple hobbies. For example, if you’re a fan of fantasy books and enjoy writing, you can recommend exciting tales in book reviews and sell your huge Harry Potter collection. Someone will love that Slytherin scarf.
Example of the versatility of hobbies
Not sure if you are ready for the big business step? The following diagram will point you to the truth.
The pathway to determine if you are ready to turn your hobby into a business
Do your market research
Would you like to taste Cheeto-flavored Lip Balm? The company Frito-Lay thought if you run out of Doritos, cheesy lipstick can be a thing and you won’t need your Labello ever again.
You get the idea. Do what is sensible. Be careful when your product is already widely sold. If you copy something existing, the focus must be on why your product is different and better. Remember Microsoft Zune competing with iPods in 2006? They did not offer an alternative to what flooded the market years earlier.
Look up popular side hustles and compare their trends. Listed below are the most marketable hobbies that can successfully become a side-hustle.
Popular hobbies that make money easily, sorted by their popularity. Popularity derives from recent publications online and is measured in counted occurrences.
For the last year, popular hobbies include writing, fitness, pet sitting, music (including teaching music and playing music as a band) as well as blogging. Examine how much in-demand your hobby is. A rather strange hobby like extreme ironing or polishing dirt (look up Hikaro Dorodango, people find it beautiful) needs a clear market gap.
Define personas for your product or services:
- Who are your customers?
- Where are they?
- What do they need?
- How can you speak to them?
Test your product or service
Let friends and family be your Guinea pigs. For example, you can create polls and questionnaires online or conduct phone interviews to collect feedback about your new idea, product or service. Adjust according to the outcome of your tests.
Create a marketing strategy
A name, a brand, a voice, a motto. Voilá, you are someone.
Reach people on social media channels. Create your business website. Spread out actively by holding events and classes at conferences, local fairs, online talks (TED) and on appropriate learning platforms (Udemy, Skillshare).
Gather your first testimonials online through Google reviews or market-specific platforms like TripAdvisor or Trustpilot.
Choose your sales channel.
Ecommerce and retail
Will you sell personally through an online store using platforms like Etsy, eBay and Amazon, or through retail in a store up the road?
Value Added Resellers
When you create products that complement other products, as a VAR (value-added reseller) you will depend on that other company. For example, if you like to work as a photographer, a magazine or wedding planner will be the kind of cooperation your business depends on.
Running a virtual or physical store is too much for you? You simply just like to produce board organizers for tools and knick-knacks that otherwise fall into the abyss of every household Bermuda triangle? Then working with a distributor that sells your work to retailers or e-commerce sellers is an option.
Cross-check legal aspects
Obtain certificates, licenses, and permits where needed. The minimum is a business license that determines what jurisdiction covers your enterprise and that you are taxed correctly. When it comes to selling goods, no matter if online or brick and mortar, a sales tax license is a must in the US. Depending on the country, sales taxes and laws differ and thus affect your online business.
A home occupation permit will ensure that you can legally conduct your work activities and don’t run into conflict with neighbours if your woodcutting is crossing the decibel threshold of a mezzo-soprano.
Certificates are quintessential to being credible and gaining trust. Thus, display diplomas and accomplished courses proudly on your business website or portfolio.
Should you keep your normal job next to your hobby as a business, make sure that:
- there is no conflict of interest with your employer
- your contract does not include any legal and fiscal limitations if receiving an extra income
- you agree on working hours
Side hustle or full in?
Decide if you want to hang your job on the nail or keep it.
List pros and cons of both scenarios in form of a table. Remember, there is no need to rush. The day has only enough hours on Mercury. You can always start with a part-time business and go full time later.
Straight from the mouths of the pros, we collected the following advice to help you get up to speed.
Top tips from the pros
- Yes, start slow!
- Keep your current business
- Concentrate on what you love to make or do and sell it
- Keep in touch with your local community (cafes, clubs)
- Involve people who might sell your goods or support you
- Consider funding
- Adapt your environment (workstation, ergonomics)
- Define boundaries (separate your hobby-workspace from the rest of your life)
- Don’t say yes to everything
- Let people help you early on (outsource tasks and responsibilities)
- Find the right team & how to manage it
- Get a media release (pictures, videos, and data privacy)
- Do not underestimate your admin work (a secretary, a bookkeeper or accountant should be on your team)
- Celebrate small successes (reward yourself and your team by celebrating milestones)
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help
- Never underestimate the importance of your accountant
- Don’t start a business if you have no money!
- Be patient, a business takes time to grow
Online you will find more inspiration. Szidi and Zsolt developed Blue Petal out of a workshop. The playful porcelain jewellery and accessories are now available in their online store.
Our little business started out of a part-time project, and an order of martisoare. We participated in local craft fairs and much enjoyed the interaction with people. This was the moment when we realized it can be a lifestyle and we gradually gave up our jobs. With rising interest, we knew we had to go online and create our virtual store, which was very helpful during the pandemic.
Sirke Vitaanen trained dogs as a hobby. Now your four-legged friends can receive her training.
26 years of sitting in front of a computer programming day in and day out was enough. I decided to turn my longtime hobby, dog obedience sports, into a new career. Now I teach people how to train their dogs and how to compete with their best friends. In a few months my customer base grew. Now I’m self-employed and look forward to do what I love most.
When keeping your hobby is the better decision
Do you want the change in your source of income but are still not sure how to climb that mountain? Perhaps, it is better to reconsider your mission. These are the top indicators when your hobby should remain your hobby:
- Your hobby is a respite for you and a stress reliever
- You would start to hate your hobby if you cannot create the income needed
- You are one of these free spirits who decides when the job is done, not your client
- There is no market gap for your idea or product
- If you do not know how to close (a deal)
- You are too busy
If the first three indicators are predominating, it is impossible to build the mindset of an entrepreneur. A recreational activity that you can escape becomes horribly stressful when it is your business. If you are a strong character who does whatever they want and ignores your client’s wishes, it is pointless to sell your hobby.
In case your hobby will not generate the income needed, you can still consider turning it into a business on the side and keeping your regular job.
Now you know how to make the right decisions when it comes to turning your hobby into a business.
Are you planning to create your own website? Try this step-by-step guide.