Have you ever wondered if you could turn your hobby into something more than a casual pursuit? Maybe you’ve been inspired by stories of people who’ve turned hobbies into thriving businesses. Or maybe you just think of that old quote – “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life”.
Regardless of your reasons, we can all agree that building a business around your hobby would be the perfect job (apart from “professional ice cream taster”, of course).
But before you quit your day job and embark on your business dreams, there are a few things you should know:
- Find Out if There is a Market for Your Hobby
Not every hobby is equally profitable. Some hobbies are too crowded with competition. Others are too niche to attract a sizable customer base. To build a sustainable business with your hobby, you need to target a niche that’s just right on the size vs competition spectrum.
Fortunately for you, the internet is a great help. Search engine data can show you whether there are enough people looking for your hobby (or rather, its end products). Use a keyword tool (such as Google’s keyword planner) to look for keywords related to your hobby.
For example, if your hobby is to make paper origami animals, you can search for “origami animals”. The keyword data shows that roughly 8,000 people search for this keyword each month.
If you could attract each of these 8,000 searchers, you could make nearly 200 sales at a conservative 2.5% conversion rate. If the price of each order is $20, you would make $4,000/month. Not laughing away to the bank, but sustainable by itself.
- Test Demand with Content
Turning a hobby into a business means creating products (physical or digital). But even if you have ample search data, you can’t always tell whether people are actually willing to buy these products. And even if they are, you can’t really tell what price they’ll pay for it.
Instead of investing thousands of dollars and man-hours into creating a product, test the market with content first. Put up a content-rich page on your target keyword(s). For added benefits, add a targeted offer to capture emails from your visitors as well.
Direct traffic to this page either via Google AdWords. If you see substantial traffic and buyer intent (in terms of capturing emails and engagement), you can assume that there will be at least some customers for the final product as well.
For example, we created this page on the best MIDI keyboard to see whether people were willing to buy products through this term. This gives us insight into our market behaviour before we’ve even produced a single product.
- Leverage Platforms
When you’re starting out, it’s easy to think that you must have everything perfect before launch – a brand, an e-commerce store, a customer support system, etc.
Not only does this thinking stop so many businesses from launching, it also costs them thousands of dollars in wasted assets and time.
A much smarter solution is to develop the most minimally viable product (MVP) and sell it on an existing platform.
Sure, you will sacrifice freedom, limit your marketing impact, and cut your profit margin, but large platforms can give you instant access to buyers. You can test the market, build up a customer base, and launch your own store/website only when you have a substantial audience.
There are countless platforms for creators targeting different niches and market segments. If your hobby involves making handmade goods, try Etsy. For digital products, try Udemy. For conventional products, choose Amazon FBA.
- Consider Selling Info Products
What should you do if your hobby involves creating intangible products (such as writing or teaching)?
Easy: turn your knowledge into informational products.
Info products provide a path to business success for hobbyists who don’t really have anything physical to sell. They also have the added advantage of requiring no manufacturing, shipping, or returns.
In certain niches such as music marketing, customers are more comfortable paying for knowledge than they are for physical products (such as actual music CDs or even MP3s).
Even if your niche does support selling physical products, consider adding info products to your product catalog. It will give you another source of revenue while also acting as a marketing channel.
The best part is that you can sell info products in virtually any niche. Like creating origami objects? Then teach people how to do the same. Like putting together your own computers? Offer an eBook showing people how to do it.
Turning a hobby into a business isn’t easy. But if you test the market, create valuable content, and leverage platforms, you can easily turn your hobby into your profession. Follow these tips to get started on your dreams today!