Maybe you’ve heard that old saying, “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” Regardless of how true it is, it certainly has a good point about enjoying your work. And the good news is, if you’re a hobbyist, you might just be able to attain this lifestyle goal.
Whether you love spending hours in the shop building furniture, knitting away while you watch TV or wait in line at the DMV, or concocting sweet-smelling soaps and candles, you may be able to turn your hobby into a business.
In this article, we’re going to take a look at some of the easiest hobbies to monetize, what you should consider before taking the plunge, and how to go about building your business. We’ve got all the starter tips you need to help get you pointed in the right direction.
Hobby to business in 6 steps
As a hobbyist, you may not know where to begin from a business perspective. Lucky for you, we’re here to guide you.
First, validate your hobby’s potential through research to determine if there’s a demand for what you’re offering and whether it will create value in the market. Secondly, decide whether your hobby will become a side hustle or a full-time business. This is also where you ask yourself if your hobby is sustainable as a business—can it remain viable for several years?
If the initial outlook is encouraging, take the steps below to turn your hobby into a business:
1. Choose your business model
First, decide what kind of business you want to run. The business model you choose will depend on a number of factors, such as:
- Work preference: Do you want to be responsible for crafting your products and running your business independently? Or do you want someone to help with certain aspects of running your new company, like managing inventory or finance?
- Production: Will you be outsourcing parts of the production process, managing production yourself, or selling finished goods or services?
- Sales avenues: Will you be selling online, in-person, or both?
Writing a business plan can help you answer these questions. It can also help you determine things like launch timeline, required funding, and any additional requirements.
2. Establish your brand
Next, you’re going to need a brand. A brand is what separates you from similar hobbyists-turned-entrepreneurs and ensures you can build a relationship with your target audience.
A good brand encompasses more than just a business name and logo. Your brand should exhibit your values, story, personality, and vision for the future. Some of the branding assets you’ll need to develop include:
- Brand voice (the personality you use in your content)
- Visual guidelines (brand fonts, colors, imagery, etc.)
- Brand values (what you stand for)
Once you’ve created these assets, use them consistently across all channels (from email to social media to product packaging) to gain recognition amongst consumers.
3. Explore funding options
If your business started as a hobby, you probably already own much of the equipment required to make your product. However, you may need funds to upgrade some machinery and tools to help you navigate increases in demand.
The exact expenses associated with your new business will depend on the kind of company you want to build. For instance, if you’re a dance instructor looking to package your routines into virtual classes, consider that you’ll have upfront costs for camera and lighting equipment.
While hobby businesses are usually bootstrapped by their founders, in some cases, you may require a small business grant, loan, or capital source to fund your purchases. Another way to raise funds is to start a crowdfunding campaign, but this requires you to give people an idea of what they’re contributing to before they make a donation. A PowerPoint presentation should do the job well.
4. Streamline your workspace and processes
Turning your hobby into a business often means making your workspace and processes as efficient as possible. While knitting jumpers on your sofa might feel comfortable at first, it’s probably not the most efficient way to mass-produce your products.
Look at your current workspace and see if you could add anything to help scale your operations. Maybe you could invest in additional equipment to improve productivity in manufacturing. Perhaps you could change the flow of your workspace to comply with ventilation and safety requirements. Make appropriate changes to ensure you’re able to grow and profit.
5. Pick your sales channels
With your production processes streamlined, you’re ready to start cultivating sales. Today, there are a number of sales channels to choose from. You could start by creating your own website, where you can host your products and maintain complete control over your email list and your brand presence.
You could also consider expanding your reach by selling on popular marketplaces related to your hobby. For instance, Etsy is ideal for selling handmade items, while Udemy is great for educational content creators. TikTok has been a launchpad for several hobbyists-turned-brands—and you can now sell on TikTok directly via Shopify.
The right sales channels can help you get in front of the right buyers, even if your marketing budget is low.
6. Launch and promote your brand
Finally, it’s time to launch your business. Create an announcement post to tell everyone that you’re transitioning your hobby to a business. If you’ve had support from family and friends as a hobbyist, start with these advocates to help promote your new brand through word of mouth.
You can also offer email subscriptions before your official launch to generate buzz and grow your followers and list. Note that there are several organic marketing tactics for hobbyist-turned-entrepreneurs with even smaller budgets.
Hobbies you can turn into a business
Writing and publishing online has the potential to become a full-time business. You can start your own blog and sell advertising space by choosing a niche and building an audience over time.
Cooking is one of the hobbies that you can transition to a business in a variety of ways, from selling your own food products to hitting the road with a food truck business.
You can create an income stream from your passion for music in a few different ways. For example, you can record your own songs and sell them on your website or a platform like SoundCloud. Another idea is to create beats or samples podcasters can use in their outros.
Gardening is a hobby that can make you healthier, happier, and richer. You can sell the plants you grow on a subscription basis or for a one-time purchase. You can also sell gardening tools to help your customers pursue their own passion for cultivation.
5. DIY crafts
Enjoy working with your hands? There are plenty of things you can make and sell: jewelry, soap, candles, bath bombs, and more. Your friends and family members can be your first customers and your best advocates.
Although you can become a freelance photographer, consider selling your shots as stock photos or prints for a more scalable side hustle. Check out our guide on how to sell photos online for a more in-depth look at how to monetize your images.
Build a career that you love
Turning your hobby into a business may seem intimidating, especially if you’ve never started a business before. But don’t worry. Once you have a basic understanding of the steps, it’s all about continuing to learn and grow as you take it day by day.
The most important tip we can give is: Don’t be afraid of failure. Give it your best shot, keep an open mind, and you may be surprised by what you find.