At the end of a long day of work, what do you like to do with your time? If you frequently choose to spend your free time creating something, you could be missing an opportunity for extra income.
A lot of creative hobbies produce items other people are actually willing to pay for. If you’re into knitting, woodworking, quilting, crafting, or sewing – you could be making things in your free time that you can sell at a profit.
It does take some work to build a side business, so you have to be prepared to devote some time to it, but if your side business gets popular enough, you could potentially find yourself making enough to do it full time.
If you want to see if your hobby can viably start to make you a profit, here are the steps to take to turn your hobby into a business.
Step 1: Research the market.
To start, you want to confirm that there’s an interest for the type of product you’d be selling, and get a feel for the competitive landscape. Spend some time searching the internet for similar products. Use search engines, as well as online marketplaces like Etsy, to find examples of other people selling similar items.
Take notes on which brands or sellers seem to be your closest competitors and what they typically charge. Looking at how your potential competition run their businesses can give you ideas on how to run yours.
This is the step where you determine whether or not it’s worth turning your hobby into a business. You might find that the common costs for the items you make are too low for the amount of time you put into them. For example, if it takes you 10 hours and $10 in materials to knit a scarf and it looks like most people are selling them for $20 – your return might not make it worth the trouble to start selling your scarves. But if you see people selling them for $50 and seeming to get a good amount of customers (and you know you’d spend your free time knitting anyways), then continuing with the next few steps could pay off.
Step 2: Determine your pricing.
Pricing is tough. You need to figure out a price that matches what people are willing to pay, but also makes you enough money to make it worth the trouble of turning your hobby into a business.
The research you did in step one should help you with the first part of that equation. Knowing the prices other people charge gives you an idea of what people are willing to pay. You don’t want to be on the low end of that range, and you might be pushing it to aim for the high end. The brands charging the most are probably pretty well established and able to put a lot more time into their marketing.
Decide if there’s a price somewhere in the middle that works for you. Consider the cost of materials and the other investments you’ll need to get a business going (more on that in a minute), and how much you’d need to make for your time in order for your profit to feel worth it.
Step 3: Decide on a brand name.
Your brand name is the word or phrase people will think of when they think about your products or services. It can be your name, or you can come up with something that communicates what you do. Spend some time brainstorming possibilities and do some Googling to see if any of the names you’re considering are already taken.
Ideally, you want to come up with something unique and memorable, that fits your personality.
Step 4: Purchase web hosting and register a domain.
It’s 2017 and every business needs a web presence. Investing in a website for your business lets potential customers know you take this seriously. It inspires a level of trust they’re unlikely to feel with a brand that seems less established.
Web hosting isn’t free, but you can get a good plan for just a few dollars a month.
Step 5: Build your website.
Hiring someone to build a professional looking website will elevate how established your brand looks, but it can get expensive. If you want to keep it simple (and considering that we’re talking about monetizing a hobby here, you probably do), you can find templates and website builders that make it easy to put together a legitimate looking website on your own, for cheap or for free.
Since you’ll be selling products through your website, you should make sure to invest in an eCommerce software to use on your website as well. These will let you list products, have a shopping cart on your site, and safely accept payments.
Your website will be your brand’s face to the world, so make sure your put one together that you feel good about.
Step 6: Promote.
You have your brand, you have your website, and you have your products. Now you need to let people know about them. Promote your new business on your social media profiles and to your friends.
Over time, if you decide you want to take your business to the next level, start looking into further marketing methods, like SEO, content marketing, and paid advertising. To start, don’t let all that overwhelm you. It can come later if you decide you want to really grow your business.
For now, focus on filling the first orders that come in and making sure your early customers receive stellar customer service. If they’re happy, they’ll do some of your promoting for you.
The web has a way of making it sound easy to monetize everything. You know better. If it was easy to make money off a hobby, no one would have day jobs.
Be prepared to put some work into this if you want it to pay off. But if you’re willing to spend some extra time in your available hours and invest some money into building a website, you could start profiting off of doing what you love.
Kristen Hicks is an Austin-based freelance content writer and lifelong learner with an ongoing curiosity to learn new things. She uses that curiosity, combined with her experience as a freelance business owner, to write about subjects valuable to small business owners on the HostGator blog. You can find her on Twitter at @atxcopywriter.