5 Questions Before Turning Your Hobby Into a Business

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Do what you love and the money will come, it’s often said. And countless successful entrepreneurs can testify that the saying is true.

Still, most of us find it hard to resist the lure of safety and security promised by a full-time job, no matter how boring the work is.

Each year, millions of young people head straight into the workforce from high school or college to begin a stable — though not necessarily satisfying — career.

Imagine how much happier they would be spending every day doing what they love while also making a reasonable living.

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How can you make that happen? Turn your hobby into a business.

But before you give it a try, consider these questions:

Can my hobby be monetized?

Whether you’ll make money depends on whether your hobby provides a unique or in-demand product or service for you to sell. Not sure? Here are a few income-generating ideas:

  • Sell your goods. Set up a consignment agreement to test the waters, or open up shop on your own. Another option is to advertise your goods through online marketplaces such as eBay, Etsy or Craigslist.
  • Use your talents. For example, if you’re handy around the house, highly organized or a natural at color schemes and home decor, use those talents to get paid.
  • Teach your skills to others. Show others how to make something you created, or equip them with the skills to provide a service at which you excel.
  • Take your hobby on the road. Host live events for enthusiasts who share your hobby.
  • Write away. The Internet isn’t going anywhere, and neither is the content that keeps the wheels turning day in and day out. Present yourself as a subject-matter expert and create a blog, a series of e-books or content for websites.

Have I scoped out the competition?

Consider the competitive landscape. If there’s competition in the field you’re looking at, there’s a proven market — but you also will have to offer greater value than your competitors.

If there’s no competition, you’ll be on your own to convince consumers that they need what you’re providing. That’s a tougher sell.

On a positive note, if you do convince customers to buy, you should have the marketplace to yourself — at least for a little while.

Is my product or service competitive?

Test your product on family and friends in exchange for their honest opinion and feedback on how much they’d be willing to spend for it.

If friends and family aren’t exactly your target market, consider gathering feedback by setting up focus groups or creating a survey from an online platform such as SurveyMonkey.

If consumers aren’t willing to pay enough for your product to cover your costs, head back to the drawing board.

Do I know where to go for help?

You’ve probably heard that a small business should have a “business plan.” But do you even know what that means? Do you know all of the other steps a new business must take?

Fortunately, the U.S. Small Business Administration offers some great information in the article “10 Steps to Starting a Business.”

You can also tap into the wisdom and advice of veteran and retired entrepreneurs through the SCORE program.

Is this really what I want and need?

Before you commit, ask yourself if this really is what you want to spend your days doing.

Even if the answer is yes, do you have the capital it takes to get things up and running and to sustain yourself during the startup period?

You will need to think hard about whether or not the business has the potential to financially support your family and lifestyle.

Still ready to proceed? Consider taking things slowly for some time until you get adjusted and demand grows for what you provide.

During this time, pay off high-interest debt such as credit cards. Being rid of that burden will ease the transition from the stability of your day job to the uncertainty — and excitement — of running your own business.

Have you converted your hobby into a business? Let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

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Comments & discussion

We welcome your opinions, but let’s keep it civil. Like many businesses, we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone. In our case, that means those who communicate by name-calling, racism, using words designed to hurt others or generally acting like an uninformed bully. Also, comments that include links to email addresses or commercial websites typically aren't posted. This isn't a place to advertise your business.

  • http://www.moneytalksnews.com/ Stacy Johnson

    We’re shooting news, not a movie. In other words, we don’t control the set because there isn’t one. This is real life. While we do our best to control the environment, if someone walks by a window while we’re conducting an interview (or honks their horn, or waves their hands) it’s out of our control.

    Now, here’s a question for you: Why would you insult my crew by calling them unprofessional? They’re anything but.

    • ask996

      If that’s what Martha walked away with, she missed the bigger picture. Keep up the good work. Thanks

  • Anda Gail Andreu

    Great article. I am looking into how to sell my art and need this info.

    • Amanda

      What kind of art are you looking to sell?

      • Anda Gail Andreu

        I want sell portraits, figure painting and landscapes. Most of what I am doing now is either charcoal or pastel. I am teaching myself oils now. I have people asking me what do I charge and I just get flustered and don’t know what to say.

        • Amanda

          Browse around online and see if you find other artists who have a similar style/quality. That should give you a good average idea of pricing and you might even be able to ask them for advice on selling paintings. If it’s something you’re considering long-term, I’d look into creating sites online (like on Deviantart or maybe starting a Facebook page, although the latter isn’t as great anymore) so that you can advertise your art and possibly find new clients.
          Just remember that it’s easier to lower prices than it is to raise them. I started out with super low prices and was quickly overwhelmed (also people are meaner to you when you have cheaper/free art for some reason…), so don’t undervalue yourself. The more you do it, the better you’ll get, so adjust your prices every now and then to make sure you’re getting what you deserve. :)

  • Balmer

    The interview was well done and very professional.
    I had to watch twice to see your issue even was —
    It’s a shame you’re so easily distracted and so quick to criticize this informative news clip.

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  • Amanda

    I made a Facebook page to grow my art so I could start trying to reach out to people. It was pretty successful for a while but Facebook isn’t worth expending your hobby with anymore unless you’re willing to shell out the money just to make sure people see what you post. It’s ridiculous. If it were just reaching out to new people I would understand it, but I can’t even get the people who have liked my page and want to see my art to have it on their feeds.

  • speaksthetruth

    Do you mean the leaves on the trees? Come on! You can’t be serious. The wind blows and the leaves hit against the window. That’s now a problem? Get a life.

    • Sarah A Shunk

      I did the same at Balmer to see what the problem was as well. It is trees that are blowing that are the “problem” that you see? Do you not live in an area that has some trees growing next to a house?