Do What You Love! How to Turn Your Hobby Into a Career

Craig Jenkins-Sutton grew up with a love for gardening, but after working for a landscaping service he decided he didn’t want to work for someone else. In 2003 he put an ad in the Chicago Tribune, offering garden design services. After receiving 40 responses, he went into business and started a garden design company. Passing out door hangers proved an effective promotional method, and by 2011 his annual revenue was up to $1.2 million. Jenkins-Sutton learned by trial and error, something all entrepreneurs experience. Here’s a step-by-step path that anyone can follow to turn a hobby into a career.

Identify a Marketable Hobby

Forbes writer Jacquelyn Smith offers several strategies for turning hobbies into marketable businesses. Some hobbies are primarily for fun, such as dancing or collecting baseball cards. Others have practical applications, such as car maintenance or computer programming. In both categories, beginning hobbyists may be willing to pay you to teach them. For example, if you know an exercise routine, you might teach people who want to lose weight or get in shape. Matt Warnock makes money teaching guitar online using Skype and Google Video Chat.

People wanting to learn hobbies also may need supporting supplies you can sell them. For instance, woodworkers need wood and tools. Martial arts enthusiasts need uniforms and kickboxing gloves, pads and bags. College student Ryan Greene made a successful business out of acquiring and reselling collector Lego sets on eBay. The Hobby Manufacturers Association provides a step-by-step guide to starting your own hobby store business.

For hobbies with practical value, you can offer a related product or service. For instance, an artist can sell graphic design services to local businesses. A calligrapher can design business logos. A videographer can film YouTube ads for companies seeking more publicity. Priyanka Bhatt provides other examples, including digital photography, web design and business writing.

Finally, you can teach business skills to others who want to turn their hobbies into profit. For example, if you enjoy video games and understand online marketing, you might show other game developers how to market their games as apps, following the example of app marketer Chad Mureta.

Package Your Hobby as a Product or Service

The next step is to package your hobby in a form you can sell. For physical products, this means creating a prototype. For intangible services, Susan LaPlante-Dube of Precision Marketing Group recommends treating them as physical products by giving them names and service levels. Another strategy is to sell information in formats such as PDF files, books, audios and videos.

Some hobbies may require certification or licensing before you can monetize them commercially, in which case you may need to seek out educational opportunities or professional certification to pursue your business plan. For instance, federal regulations require a license for anyone engaged in the business of engraving, customizing, refinishing or repairing firearms. For firearms enthusiasts interested in turning their hobby into a business, Penn Foster offers an accredited online gunsmithing course. Taking this type of course also enhances your professional credibility and gives you information you can use to stay on the cutting edge of your field.

Create a Promotional Plan and Sales Strategy

To sell your product or service you will need a promotional and sales plan. One cost-efficient way to promote your business is giving public speeches that offer valuable information about your hobby to audiences in your target market. The Small Business Administration provides an online guide to promoting yourself through public speaking. Other low-cost promotional strategies include social media networking, blogging, writing for hobby magazines and attending events related to your hobby.

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