We are now faced with a level of Job loss as never seen before. So, the hobby economy is no longer going to be only about leisure and relaxation but about making an income. Experts from different industries are suggesting people start thinking outside the box. And in this article, I’m sharing 9 important steps for you to consider if you want to turn your hobby into a business.

Many of us are creative, ambitious, industrious, want more out of life and are constantly on the lockout for opportunities. Even those who are still privilege to have a job are not content with just a single paycheck and are also looking for alternative ways to earn an extra income. The massive layoff/retrenchments happening across the globe, is actually an opportunity in disguise to try something new and do what you actually love.

The digital era has made it easier than ever to start your own business and even sell to a global audience.

There are numerous paths to making an income and self-employment is a viable option. A job is just one way of making an income; it’s not the only way. Some of you could’ve been far down the pathway to success if you’d put that energy of looking for a job into your talents, hobbies or some other ventures that generates an actual income. We all have hobbies/talents and dreams that fall outside society’s definition of ‘normal’.

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Many people with great potential are sitting on opportunities because society has programmed us from childhood that the only way to make a living is to go to school, get a certificate and get a job. This might have been true 20 years ago, but it’s no longer the case. Times have changed. Machines are now employable, businesses are going digital and companies are doing more with fewer employees — hence the rise in retrenchments. As if automation wasn’t a threat enough, we’re now dealing with a pandemic that’s wreaking havoc on economies and the global job market causing many businesses to shut down and let go their entire workforce.

Like I mentioned in my previous article, it may seem counterintuitive to start your own business in a time of economic crisis but some of the most successful businesses today were started during times of economic downturn. As Warren Buffet said, “Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago”

As much as the Covid-19 hurricane is breaking down trees, now is the time to plant even more trees. Some of the most successful business ideas are borne out of people’s passions and hobbies. And while the opportunities for money-making from your hobbies are limitless, there are some important steps to consider before you begin.

If you prefer visual content, then watch the video version of this article on YouTube. Otherwise, keep reading…

1. Identify Your Hobby: You may not be sure exactly what your hobby is and that’s okay, So start by thinking about things that you have done in your life that people have complimented you for it. You can also take an informal poll and ask people what they think you’re good at, or take an online skills test or take a short course on something you’ve always had an interest in. Hobbies change from time to time. Also think back to previous work situations and what you really enjoyed doing. When you think of all those things together, you’ll see where your hobbies and interest lie. You can even create new hobbies by trying out new things and see which ones most interest you.

2. Research: Once you’ve identified what skill or hobby you want to use, think about how you can make money from it. Start by assessing how you can make money from your hobby, which means doing your research. Also, create a strong brand identity, assess what it is you need to learn in order to be successful and tap into your social network to see who may offer guidance and who can help with referrals. Your research can also cover what other people are charging, whether it is per item or per hour. For example, how much are bakeries charging for a batch of cookies or what are graphic designers charging for logo designs.

3. Start Small: Dream big, but start small. Start out small with family or friends. Freelance a few hours a week; see how the demands of your hobby align with the realities of the industry. If your hobby, and all its demands, is still enjoyable after you’ve done it for a while, that’s a clear signal to start growing your hobby into a business.

4. Get Your First Customer — even if you have to work for free. Your first customer will give you confidence that there’s someone out there who actually need what you’re offering and will make it psychologically easier to market yourself. If necessary, do your first project for free in exchange for a nice review or testimonial.

5. Treat it Like a Business: Just because it’s a hobby doesn’t mean you don’t have to treat it like a business. It’s okay to have fun and love what you’re doing, but if you’re not going to be serious about it, you may as well quit. I love what I do so much that I would do it for free if I could; however, money is important. And you need to constantly be asking yourself how do I monetized my hobbies/talents. If we’re talking making an income then money cannot be out of the equation.

6. Adopt a Business Mindset: A hobby is usually something you do at your leisure but when you make it a business, you must show up to work whether you feel like it or not. Think of your hobby as a business and make it a priority in your life. Turning your hobby into a business means meeting deadlines, pleasing demanding customers, and doing your hobby even on days when you don’t feel like it.

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7. Learn the Basics of Marketing: You can be the best in the world at what you do, but if you don’t market your business, you’ll never get customers. Take advantage of social media. Engage with your followers, show samples of your work and provide value to your online community. I did a video on this recently. Read up on small business marketing and observe how similar businesses promote themselves. Set up a website for your new business if you can afford for a start, otherwise get comfortable and strategic using social media as your main marketing platform. Start making connections online and in your community.

And so, If you have even a smattering of some hobby, talent or idea, don’t be invisible — bring it online. You might just be a hashtag away from being the next big thing. Many great businesses and talents have been discovered on the internet. YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social platforms are tools you can use to fast-forward your success and growth. All it took was one video on YouTube and Justin Bieber became a global sensation. So, be strategic online, market yourself and give your hobbies/talents or whatever you are doing a face and a voice.

8. Create a Brand and Stick to it. Your brand is your business identity and what you’ll be known for. A strong brand helps people to recognize you. Decide on a business name, logo, font, and/or color scheme that reflect your business’s “personality” and use them consistently in your website, social media, and other marketing. Consistency creates a bond and authenticity. Over time, people start to recognize your brand, your business, your name and what you stand for.

9. Allow the Business to Evolve: If you have a hobby that you could branch out on, consider that option. For example, a photographer can always do more than take photos and sell them. A photographer can establish himself or herself as a thought leader by promoting personal skills and knowledge or giving lessons. If you’re an artist, there’s more for you out there than selling your paintings or playing your music. You can teach others; mentor others; and much more

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