When you should turn your hobby into a career
The most often cited source of personal happiness is fulfillment in work. Career success coach Kathy Caprino wrote for Forbes in 2015, "search for 'great career' and you’ll find over 1.4 million hits - articles, interviews, books, videos, training programs, ads and much more". This clearly shows there is a hunger for great careers, but also that this hunger is not being fully satiated.
Many people have hobbies that they dream of turning into careers, with the main goal being fulfillment in work. It's something that Winston Churchill put brilliantly; "Find a job you love and you’ll never work again".
Life, love, passion and work; they might not sound like they go together naturally. And for many, they don't. But there are real ways that you can turn that passion into something that makes money.
So, how can I turn my hobby into a business?
It's not going to be easy (it’s not going to be easy at all). But it can be a gamble worth taking - if you have the kind of hobby that could become a viable career. You might be asking, "Well, I have plenty of hobbies; but could they be turned into a career?". Well, if you count watching television on a Saturday night and enjoying a glass of wine as a hobby, then probably not. Or maybe, just maybe...
Many of the internet's most powerful reviewers started with a blog from their home. So you could even turn TV addiction into a career if you really wanted. It might be less viable than other hobbies, but (almost) anything is possible.
Some hobbies are more financially feasible, or have the potential to be. And of course, turning your hobby into a business won't happen overnight. This can only become a reality through an organised process of individual steps.
What hobbies suit careers most?
Competition among TV bloggers is extremely high. People work for many years to make a name for themselves and get noticed. Also, demand is relatively low considering the competition. Low demand and high competition means that some hobbies are less readily converted into careers than others.
On the other hand, some hobbies are particularly good options to turn into careers, including:
MAKING AND MANUFACTURING
Okay, let’s say you’re good with your hands; say, making birdhouses or some other kind of carpentry, jewellery making, upholstery, cobbling or whatever. If you can make interesting, appealing products, you can make this into a career. The 'product' and value of a TV blog writer is less tangible than the product and value of a carpenter. QED, a carpenter's product is easier to sell.
Whether you’re a musician selling drum loops as .mp3 files, a graphic designer making logos for businesses, or a digital marketer running social media accounts for companies, digital goods can present a fantastic opportunity to turn a hobby into a career. Most digital skills are translatable into careers. But a word of caution: because this is such an appealing career choice and, by default it's a global marketplace, competition is really high, which means fees can be low. Differentiating your offering from competitors is vital.
Arts and design related hobbies can be very well-suited to being developed into businesses. The online marketplace for artists and designers is growing all the time. whether that’s digital forms of art like graphic design and illustration, or more traditional forms like original paintings and sculpture. Online marketplaces like Etsy, SaatchiOnline and eBay are prime examples of sites that can be used by creatives to sell their wares. Other services like photography, video editing and production are also ripe for transforming from hobby to career.
If your product is of a high quality, it might be possible to build a luxury goods business from it. Entrepreneurs Alice Barrow and Tom Green have turned their scented candle business Wick & Tallow into a premium brand, leading to a valuable partnership with a local high street seller - as reported by Tony Bonsignore for the BBC in December 2014.
A well-known fashion trade startup is The Cambridge Satchel Company – which literally began life on a kitchen table. It's an inspirational example of how well-designed artisanal products have great revenue-generating potential. Featured in a series of advertisements by Google, it inspired public imagination and led to a $21m investment as reported by retail writer Zoe Wood for The Guardian in December 2014.
Computer repair (or any kind of mechanical repair for that matter) and maintenance are also hobbies that can become good sources of income. Another great hobby sector ripe for making money is health and fitness; personal training is an appealing career choice for qualified instructors. Well-being services like yoga and massage are similarly viable careers. Musicians too; teaching lessons can be a good way to earn money from your hobby.
Overcoming obstacles and changing your life in steps
There are numerous obstacles to actually making the transition from hobby to career. The hobby itself is just the first step. There are lots of practical things you need to do, so consider the following if you’re unsure where to start:
Set (Small) Goals
If you can visualise the process of making the hobby into a career you're more likely to achieve it. So, what are your aims? If you’ve never made any money off of your hobby then your first goal should be to make something, however modest. After that, what would your next goal be? Forming a company perhaps? Plan, set small achievable goals, and build from there.
Make It Real
An idea in your head is worthless unless you make it something substantive. Quite often you'll find that you’re not actually doing anything of any real use. Something like forming a company, or reserving a company name or domain name, can legitimise your intentions and coalesce them into something concrete. I’s much easier to build on concrete than a nebulous idea!
Whether it’s getting over the initial fear of failure or having the gumption to make the leap, everyone needs motivation. Seek inspiration from those who have come before by reading articles and stories from other business owners, or watching TED talks. A great tip is to join internet forums and ask for questions and advice, feedback or support from others. Check out UK Business Forums and Quora.
Remember that it's a huge challenge. It’s going to be difficult, but with the right approach you are more likely to succeed.
Why bother trying to turn your hobby into a career?
You might be thinking to yourself, is it really worth it? Well, yes - if it works. The real question is balancing the viability of your hobby with practical considerations. If you have a family and need to keep your current job, it might not be viable to start a full time project.
But you can still make a start in parallel with another career. It’s almost like making the business side of things your 'hobby' as opposed to the hobby itself. If you’re making organic pesto products on a Sunday afternoon, try using some of that time to focus on the business aspect like marketing or planning. To make the transition you'll need to focus on both sides, the business and the practice.
If you’re looking for that last bit of inspiration to help you take the plunge, consider the following:
Running a business that is profitable and aligned with your hobbies is immensely satisfying. It’s one of the main reasons why people want to form their own company. Being your own boss requires the self motivation to keep going, but the rewarding feeling of working for yourself can be wonderful.
Even if your ambitions are relatively modest, there may be some (potentially serious) money involved in your idea. It’s a great motivator, but money should be a byproduct of doing what you love, not its raison d’être.
Being your own boss comes with responsibilities, but freedom too. If you’re trading by yourself, perhaps working from home, you might well find that the perks of working remotely or setting your own hours are empowering and liberating - and ultimately change the way you view the notion of ‘work’.
Practical considerations aside, there are plenty of perks in turning a hobby into a career. But the real driver should be that you love what you're doing so much that you couldn’t imagine doing anything else.
Turning your hobby into a business for a new challenge
At the end of the day the process of turning a hobby into a business is basically just a change in your life. You’ve made one thing into something else, the fact that it’s a hobby doesn’t change that it can be great way to launch a rewarding career, or earn extra income, and make your life more business focussed.
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