Guest Post by Christopher Haymon of Adulting Digest
Long ago, before machines and mass production became the means by which we manufacture goods, we had craftsmen, tradespeople, and artisans. Now that for the most part, these very essential products are no longer made by hand, they have become hobbies for those who enjoy them and are skilled in their practice.
Whether you build canoes in your backyard or pour candles in your kitchen, if it’s only a hobby, you’re either making them for yourself or giving them away to friends and family. With some planning and research, it’s possible to turn what you already love doing into a part-time or even a full-time career.
Here are three questions to ask yourself:
Is My Hobby a Viable Business?
You may love knitting sweaters for cats, but is there enough of a market for feline apparel to generate a steady income? Or maybe you’re good at crafting cat toys made from safe, sustainable materials and that has a large enough market to consider creating a real business. The only way to know is to conduct market research. As Entrepreneur tells us, failing to do market research can be a death sentence for a product.
Wix notes that doing market research can begin as merely talking to people, asking specific questions you’ve outlined in advance, to in-depth online research. Both steps are necessary to make sure your product is something you can sell, and who and where your consumers are.
Do I Have the Time?
Suppose you build life-size, working models of vintage Model Ts and have done enough research to know there’s a growing market for people who want to purchase them. Your next question has to be: How many can I make in a certain period of time? If it takes you two years to build your model, but you can sell it for the equivalent of a two-year salary, then you’ve got a winner. On the other hand, if you’d need to make one per year just to break even, your hobby clearly won’t sustain you.
If you’re a writer and can monetize your blogs, sell your short stories or memoirs to magazines, or teach writing in workshops and conferences, you may have a viable business. But if it takes you three years to write and edit your novel and several more years of waiting for the publishing process to pay off, then you may not be able to turn novel writing into a full-time career (yet!). Being realistic about what’s possible time-wise is a question you have to answer as honestly as you can.
Am I Ready for the Business Part?
When your hobby was just that, a hobby, you didn’t really have to consider things like business structure, marketing, invoicing, and inventory. These are the necessary tools for doing business. If you really want to take your enterprise to the next level, consider tapping into local resources, like makerspaces, entrepreneurship centers, business incubators, networking groups, or small business organizations that may be able to offer the expertise and experience to get you started.
Marketing your business is an exercise in creativity all on its own. And you don’t want to miss out on the huge audience social media reaches, so having the tool to create an ad yourself is easy, fun, and free by using an app.
You can start with social media templates available for free online with Canva. This tool is easy to use and allows you to upload your logo and other graphics to customize the ad to your taste, creating an ad that adheres to the platform’s requirement.
In the end, the most important question you should ask is, will turning my hobby into a career take away the joy of doing it? Only you can answer that one, but if the answer is that for love or money, you really want to do it, then go for it. The world needs more of you!
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