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How to Turn a Hobby Into a Career

Ever want to turn a hobby into a career? Maria Cannon at HobbyJr.org did just that with her love of quilting. Now she is trying to help others do the same. In today’s guest post she shares some practical tips that can help you get started.

Many people these days are looking for a new career. There are many ways that can be accomplished without going back to school. One such way is to use an existing hobby to make money.

It’s a valid path to pursue, especially for those who feel like they’ve hit a lull within their jobs and want to try something different. Starting your own business is a wonderful option when you’re ready to branch out. However, it’s not without its challenges. Done poorly it could blow up in your face and leave you worse off than you are right now.

So, the question is, “Where do you start?” If you already have a hobby that could be a potential moneymaker such as sewing, baking, or making jewelry, you’re already halfway there. If not, you’ll need to think of ways you can earn money while doing something you love.

Here are a few tips on how to get started.

Make a Plan

Once you have decided on a hobby to turn into a career, it’s time to put a plan together to get there. First off, do some research both online and in your local area to find out whether there are already products similar to yours. Find out what other companies are charging for similar items and how you can differentiate yourself from them. You may even purchase something you’re your competitors to see how their business model works. Knowing the competition will go a long way in determining your success or failure.

Related Content: How to Resolve the What Career Should I Have Dilemma

If you’re creative and want to sell handmade items such as jewelry or artwork, consider looking at online outlets to make sales, such as Etsy or Society6.

Also consider creating an online presence on social media. Sites such as Facebook, Instagram or Twitter can all serve as a platform for people to see your products or get the word out about your services. 

Get and Stay Organized

You can’t run a small business unless you are organized. From business software, to appointment calendars, to contact phone numbers and emails – you need to get it all under control.

If, for example, you love animals and want to turn it into a career, staying on top of appointments will likely play an important role. You might decide to become a pet groomer, which would require you to be on time to ensure your client is happy and trusts your reliability. You’ll need a system to remind yourself and your clients of appointments. Sending reminders is a nice, personal touch and it demonstrates your commitment to the appointment. You will also likely cut down on client no-shows, which means you’ll have the opportunity to increase your billable hours in a given week.

Even simple things like sending notifications to alert your client if you’re running late or need to cancel suddenly. There are several services (like Square) that offer the ability to send reminders and notifications via text or email. Do your research to find the one that best suits your needs.

Keep Your Day Job – For Now

This may be the most important thing to remember. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of a new career and those first few sales. But, as most small business owners know, there’s always a bit of time between starting a business and making real money – money you could actually live off of.

Besides, you may find out after a few months that you prefer your hobby to stay a hobby. You may realize that once the hobby becomes a job, you don’t really like the hobby as much. So, if you come to this conclusion, you will still have your job in place to support you.

Another benefit of holding on to that day job is that you can still save money from your main salary. You’ll need it because startups don’t startup for free. You’ll need some cash to get it going. It will be vital to learn how to use free or low-cost resources to help you get started.

Set a budget for spending on materials and promotion and stick to it. And, if at all possible, do not go into debt to start your business. The risk of failure with a new business is great. You don’t want to be saddled with debt should something unfortunate happen and you fail to make it work.

Give It Time

Give it time means two things. First, your business won’t succeed if you don’t give it the necessary time and attention it needs. This might mean working long days, evenings after you get home from your day job and on the weekends. But it’s important to treat it as a real job even if you aren’t making a profit yet. It won’t happen at all if you don’t pour time into it.

But secondly, don’t expect things to happen immediately. Best case scenario is that things pick up quickly for you and you start turning a profit immediately. Probably though, that will not be the case. You will need to give this new venture time to work. How long depends on the business type. You should have a good idea though if this has potential to work for you in 3-6 months.

Network

Learning how to network with others in the real world is essential when you’re starting up your own business. You will want to look for opportunities to meet other small business owners and entrepreneurs at conferences, at group meetings and online. Have a short biographical statement about your business that you can give when you introduce yourself. This will help break the ice and will give them an idea of what you’re all about.

Get support from your friends and family as you start out. Use every opportunity to research your competition as well as potential allies and partners in your area. It always helps to befriend other small business owners so that you can help each other along the way.

Related Content: 10 Effective Strategies that Will Improve Your Networking Skills

Conclusion

Turning a hobby into a career is hard work. It’s going to have stressful moments. But you can alleviate some of the stress by being organized, developing a plan and having realistic expectations about how long this will take.

The rewards of breaking free from a dreary job and doing something you love can be tremendous. Start thinking it through today to see if it might be an option for you.

Questions for Discussion: If you could start a new career based on a hobby, what would it be? Has anyone done this already? If so, what was the most important aspect to it becoming a success? What other tips would you give for turning a hobby into a career?

Image courtesy of Pixabay

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Comments

  1. When I started my business, I was still in working full time. Keeping the day job is important as early on a business is not stable and doesn’t have much livable income. I stayed in my job until my income increased to the same level as my job. I then asked my manager if I could work part-time which he thankfully agreed. So I was able to work more on my business while getting a stable income. Worked part-time for a year before going full time on my own business.
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