Building an Online Presence
The Internet has provided a wealth of new ways and opportunities for businesses to get themselves seen. It has also opened multiple doors for monetization.
Getting your online presence set up might take a bit of time, but it pays dividends in the medium term. It will also take some money to do so.
You could DIY using WordPress or hire someone to do it for you.
List your services in the business directories.
List your business on Google My Business.
There are other business or hobby directories that you can list your hobby business.
Challenges of a Hobby Business
Like anything else, there are downsides that you must know about in starting and running a hobby business.
Conduct your in-depth due diligence before you start. Go into it with your eyes open. This will reduce or eliminate any regrets you may have.
While some people may be lucky enough to never burn out when starting their hobby business, the reality is that burnouts do happen frequently with people who try to turn a hobby into a full-time job or business.
There are associated stress and mental issues that go with starting a business.
Dealing with crazy people.
When your hobby becomes a business, it means dealing with angry, rude, or unreasonable people or customers.
If dealing with crazy people is not your cup of tea, then before you know it, your hobby will become less enjoyable.
So, before you dive in, make sure you consider the pros and cons of dealing with your customers.
Monetizing strategy leads to the level of customer contact.
Your monetization strategy will dictate the level of customer contact you will experience.
If you just want to sell eBooks, then you will not interact with any customers except for asking for refunds.
If you are providing coaching services, then you will interact with people all the time.
Time away from your family.
As your business picks up momentum, you will need to devote more time to it.
This will take you away from your family and friends. It will reduce any free time you have for yourself and your family.
Take them along the journey by telling them about your hobby business. You don’t need to disappear on them without telling them or even contacting them.
Schedule some time to meet them when possible.
Check your online profile for consistency.
If you have a LinkedIn professional profile and a hobby profile, you may need to sanitize both. With information being archived on the Internet, people can find information about you without any problems.
Therefore, I am very careful about what I post or write online.
I also don’t put my day job employer’s name in my LinkedIn profile. Consider how your employer will react to their name being advertised. Some employers can be sensitive.
Use of Pseudonyms or Pen Names.
If you are a writer, it is acceptable to use a pen name that is not your real name.
This is an industry practice.
You need to find out if it’s your industry practice to do so.
You need to decide whether you use your real name for both your work profile and hobby business.
There are consequences for both.
Think it through very carefully as you cannot unwind things that have been posted on the Internet.
Don’t Quit Your Day Job…Yet
While it is exciting to start a hobby business, don’t quit your job right away.
The key thing to note is that you must be able to make a livable income from your hobby business before you start writing your resignation letter.
This means generating sustainable cash flow, having a large customer base, and creating a proven sales funnel for your high-end products or services.
Utilize your long service leave first.
If you have accrued long service or annual leave in your current workplace, then take this leave first before resigning from your job.
This will give you some time buffer.
Have a financial plan if you decide to quit your job.
If you do decide to quit your job right away, make sure you are able to financially support yourself (and your family) until income starts flowing in.
Evaluate your current savings accounts, assets, and liabilities. Have a contingency plan in case things don’t work out.
You may need to go back to working a job if your hobby business fails. That’s ok.
There’s no condemnation on you as everyone is different.
It takes time to grow a business.
Aside from that, starting a business takes a lot longer than you might think.
It will take time to grow your revenues and profitability to a level that you can make a livable income for yourself.
At the minimum, you need to allocate two to three years to this venture. During this time, you will need to show up regularly and consistently do the work.
How much you invest or put into your hobby business will determine the amount of money you can make from it in the future.
It takes commitment to have your own business.
You need a lot of commitment, time, and sacrifice to make your hobby business successful.
You may need to read books and participate in online courses on how to start a business, how to manage your cash flow, how to market your product, or even how to use social media. The list is endless.
You have to do a lot of administration and paperwork just to maintain your business. Form filling will be part of your routine.
Tap into your personal networks.
Let them know that you have started a new business.
Respectfully ask for referrals if they come across anyone who could use your service or product.
You can also reach out to friends and family. Let them know about your new business.
Consider networking with other small business owners and professionals.
Ask questions and seek help.
Don’t do this alone.
There are already people who have done what you are doing. Minimize heartache or mistakes by learning from established entrepreneurs.
Don’t reinvent the wheel.
Seek a business mentor.
Seek out a business mentor whom you can trust to get advice from.
This could be paid or voluntary.
Either way, mentors or even coaches can make your journey more enjoyable and productive.
Potential Business Partners
If you think that your hobby business idea is scalable, it doesn’t hurt to plan.
Find other business partners. They must be strategic and complementary.
It helps to find partners who have different or complementary strengths and skills than you. This will allow you to build a robust team with diverse qualities and skills.
You don’t need to do everything yourself.
Consider bringing in people within or outside your network who could potentially be interested in partnering with you down the road.
Having business partners to bounce ideas off can be a great way for you to succeed.
Surround yourself with like-minded people.
Surrounding yourself with like-minded, motivated people or business partners is one way to help you get your business off the ground quickly.
Attend networking events, mastermind groups, and even group coaching.
Link up with people on LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.
Testimonials and Reviews
Gather testimonials about your services and product.
Testimonials are tools to showcase how others think about your service or product.
If you start selling your hobby as a service, it can be hard to get started without any prior customer testimonials.
Never underestimate the power of testimonials as social proofs. People are more receptive to what others think and experience when they are genuine.
Feedback improves your product or service.
You may need to swallow your pride and be open to receiving feedback, positive or negative, about the quality of your service or product. Improvement opportunities should not be underestimated.
For many skilled or passionate people who have honed their craft for years, this can be a tough pill to swallow. Humility is the best medicine.
Never undervalue yourself and the things you can do. You must not settle for less.
Confidence and self-worth are important ingredients for success.
Getting Your First Customer
If you love producing music for yourself, but you don’t have any examples of work you have done for others, it may be difficult to get your first customer.
Consider doing work for free, at least when you are starting out.
Seek out customers who can give you positive and genuine testimonials of your work in return for free work.
Once you get your first few customers or sell your first few products, it’s much easier to build your business from there.
Build up your social proof.
Humans are like pack animals. We feel secure in crowds. When there is social proof, we tend to follow it.
Think about the recommendations from your friend of a restaurant they recently had a meal in. If you were told that they had a great experience, chances are you will try it out.
You can start by building your social proof before reaching out to new clients or customers.
Maximize your website to gain more customers.
If you have a website for your new hobby business, have a “Why You Should Choose Me” section.
People love personal stories.
Tell your story on your “About” page.
Write articles that showcase your knowledge on the subject. If you have anyone who can attest to your skill or services and the quality you provide, ask them to write a review.
Writing is another task for your hobby business that you need to do if you have a website. Consider the time commitment to doing so.
While it is not vital to have a website to showcase your brand and hobby at the early stage of your business, you need to have one when sales are increasing.
Timing will be important.
Finally, Have Fun Doing What You Love
The most important thing is to continue having fun doing what you truly love.
After all, you are now sharing your passion with more people. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing your creation being enjoyed by other people.
You are embarking on a whole new adventure.
Starting a hobby business should be viewed as an exciting new phase of your life.
Remember that success will only come if you manage your business well, minimize your risks, and continue to love what you are doing.
Time management will be vital. The limited amount of time spent on your hobby business must be effective and productive.
The last thing you want to do is to work for your hobby.
You also don’t want to work in your business but on your business.
This is Part Five of a five-part series.
Part Two- Build Interest in Your Hobby Business
Part Three- Driving Sales to Your Hobby Business