How to turn your hobby into a successful business

Everyone has at least one hobby, whatever it might be – it could be playing video games, watching TV shows, practicing sports, going to the beach, hiking, or anything else that can help you unwind at the end of the day. Hobbies can be done alone or as a part of a group and they are extremely important for our mental health, as they make us feel happier and more relaxed.

Not everybody wants to turn their hobby into a career but, for some, their passion can be a lot more than just a fun way to pass the time. Not every activity has the potential to become a business, but with the right approach and level of creativity, you might be surprised of everything your hobby has to offer.

Here are some steps to follow if you're ready to turn your hobby into a career. 

Evaluate if there's a demand for it

Demand is an economic principle referring to a consumer's desire to purchase goods and services and willingness to pay a price for a specific good or service. This might sound obvious but the first thing you have to do is assess if your passion is something that can become lucrative as it supplies a demand. In some cases, you can even create that demand yourself if you're doing something no one else is doing at the moment. That requires a lot of research and marketing, and simply put just a lot more work, but it's entirely possible to bring people into a small niche if you are good at selling it.

Find a way to do it

If you want to turn your hobby into a business but you're not quite sure how, Nancy Collamer, author of Second-Act Careers: 50+ Ways to Profit from Your Passions During Semi-Retirement, has six suggestions:

  1. Teach others what you love: guitar lessons, cooking, whatever it might be.
  2. Craft a product or accessory.
  3. Combine your background and actual career with your hobby: do you work as a coach but love cooking? Specialize in coaching people in the food industry.
  4. Speak or write about your hobby: hobby related how-to books and YouTube channels are extremely popular nowadays.
  5. Create a performance or tour around what you love.
  6. Sell, invent or craft accessories related to your hobby: sometimes the key is not with the product itself but with all the possible accessories related to it.

Don't be intimidated by your competitors

The next thing you want to do is research your competitors. Don't see them as the enemy or feel intimidated by them, simply use them as a research tool – it doesn't mean you have to copy them but look at whatever they're doing that's making them successful, give it a personal twist, and try to see if it works for yourself. Don't bring them down, just focus on your product and why it's a better option.  

Test the waters

You might want to start by turning your new business into a side hustle. Not everybody can just go full force into it and become a successful entrepreneur overnight, so starting out small is the best option for many people. By turning it into side hustle, you can test the waters and have a bit of extra income that can help you see if it's a viable option before you burn your resources trying to make the leap.  

Understand the aspects of running a business

It's important that you understand that turning your hobby into a career doesn't necessarily mean you just get to do that thing you love 24/7, it means it's now a business and you have to deal with everything that entails – from answering emails and phone callsto marketing your products and paying taxes. As any other enterprise, having a business plan from the very beginning is crucial. You need to start out in an organized way and be prepared for everything that's about to come, otherwise you will be all over the place and risk failing before you even start.  

Build online and offline presence

Everybody needs an online presence to generate activity nowadays, which means creating and maintaining a website, social media profile and everything else you might need to brand yourself as an entrepreneur. It's important not to forget about the offline world, though. The world seems to revolve around the Internet these days but a lot of business success happens via word of mouth and networking.  

Always look for feedback

Don't be afraid to share your services and ask for other people's opinions. Sometimes you will get negative feedback and it's important that you don't get offended if it's given in a constructive way and it clearly shows a weakness that you need to work on. You need to learn how to turn that feedback into momentum that will help you improve your product or service.

Don't lose the passion

Even if you meet setbacks or it doesn't reach the potential success you were expecting, you need to be willing to work for it. Turning your hobby into a business can be a double-edged sword: it's easier to wake up in the morning and say 'this is what I enjoy doing' when you're working on something you're passionate about, but if you begin to simply see it as a tool to make money, you might burnout and resent something that used to bring you a lot of joy.  

Whether you're running a YouTube channel or selling your own crafts, there are countless ways you can turn a hobby into a legitimate career. By fully evaluating your opportunities and creating a concrete plan, you can turn your favorite activities into one of the most enjoyable ways of earning a living.

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