We all know the saying by Confucius, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life”. In most cases, one’s job is not linked with one’s passion. So you are stuck with doing what you actually love as a hobby after hours. And you wonder what it would be like if you could do that for the rest of your life?
The good news is that if you have access to the internet, there are many ways to turn your hobby into a side-gig, or even your main source of income if you have the desire and passion. You could do this the conventional way, but taking your business online could be your best investment this year. Also, there are many sources available on how to make money with your own website.
This is not a get-rich-quick solution. As with any good idea, it takes time to build the foundation and to let it grow. And we’re going to give you the steps of how to turn your hobby into a profitable business in 2018.
Table of Contents
Ask Yourself What Gets You Going
Make a list of five to ten things you enjoy doing or reading. Ask yourself what gets you up in the morning. If you’re not sure, maybe think back to what you enjoyed doing as a child. There’s bound to be some inspiration.
Here’s an example scenario you could relate to:
You’re sick of being stuck in traffic commuting to work for a job that doesn’t excite you. You love animals, but you’re not allowed to keep pets in your flat. And how you miss taking your dog for a walk and helping out at the doggy parlour when you were younger…
Figure Out How to Turn it Into a Business
Let’s imagine one of the items on your list is that you love animals, especially dogs. Since you were little you cared for the dogs in the house, took them for walks, bathed them, fed them, etc.
Now think of a few ideas of how you can turn your love for dogs into a business, depending on what you know:
- Start a professional blog where you teach others about dog care.
- Sell, import, invent or create products and accessories specifically for dogs that customers can buy online.
- Create a YouTube channel where you teach viewers how to train your puppy.
- Advertise a reparation service for dog beds, dog houses, etc.
Suddenly an idea light bulb turns on. You love walking dogs, so why not start a dog walking business after hours or on the weekends?
Do Some Background Research
Now that you have an idea of a potential side-gig, it is time to do some thorough research on the topic and plan methodically. It is a good idea to start in your area. Just because your complex is not allowed pets, doesn’t mean that there are houses in your suburb or the rest of town without dogs.
Look around for other examples and do a search on the internet to see how others are doing it, and how you can advertise yourself better.
Even if you can’t find any examples of dog walkers, have a look at other websites and social media pages of vets, animal welfare organisations, or businesses trading in pet products. Find one’s style that you like and feel will work as your brand voice, and stick to it. Too many examples will give you idea paralysis.
The next step is to learn as much as you can about the dog niche and industry you’re thinking of stepping into. Evaluate why people would want to use dog walking services. Perhaps they’re working long hours and do not have much time?
Maybe they’re bedridden and are not physically able to? Asking these questions will help your plan development and business strategy.
After doing some research, you’ll have an idea of what’s been done already. Find a way to stand out. What will make you unique from other dog walkers? The more unusual and in-demand your services are, the more people are willing to pay for your services.
Get the Word Out
Print out business cards, hand out pamphlets, stick them on notice boards, wear a branded t-shirt with your contact details, create dog bandanas with your logo, and ask your friends and family to spread the word on your new venture. Who are you? You’re a professional dog walker, that’s who! Don’t just tell people about your brand. Be your brand.
Build an Online Presence
An online presence is a must these days as conventional word of mouth may not generate enough presence for your business in a broad spectrum. Being online is not only more cost-effective for brand exposure, but also confirms your professionalism to potential clients
Make yourself visible online by doing the following:
- Create a website with your contact information and a few testimonials.
- Maintain social media profiles that are linked to your website.
- List your business in online directories.
- Take your own quality photos to add a visual aspect to your advertising.
During your research phase, you would have gotten an idea of how your competitors are advertising themselves, what social media profiles they’re using and where else they have listed their services. Use that to your advantage.
Network, Network, Network
Who you know in the industry can be a benefit when it comes to recommendations and referrals. Find clubs, conferences and social media groups that provide tips and support for other professionals in your niche.
Also, network with professionals that could use your dog walking service. For example, vets might be able to recommend your service to dog owners who need to give their pets more exercise. Do not be afraid to promote yourself.
Ask for Feedback
When in doubt, ask for feedback. Not just from your friends and family, but from other professionals. In these cases, it’s important not to take any feedback personally, but to use it to improve your brand. You can also ask clients for their input.
Get Your First Sale
One of your main goals in the beginning stage is to get your first sale, without selling yourself short. Your website and social media profiles don’t have to be perfect to get the first sale, as long as you spend time improving it. The first sale is always the most difficult one, but it will give you a big confidence boost.
Maximise Your Time
In order for your hobby to become a profitable business, you’ll have to treat your hobby as a business. It already is a struggle to juggle your full-time job with your personal life: partners, children, friends, pets and other social requirements all request your attention. Add your side-gig at the start-up phase, and most people tend to crack under the pressure and let their passion die a slow death.
Time management will become more important if you want to give your hobby the attention it deserves. Find creative ways to involve your loved ones in your side-business. Get up an hour earlier to plan ahead and sort out the admin. Most importantly, dedicate yourself to steady improvement, not a fast built empire.
Never Give Up
Define what success with this business means to you and know how to measure it. If at first, you fail, don’t stop working on your business. Go back to basics, seek advice from your network, read more about the industry, learn about sales, marketing and entrepreneurship. Keep setting out time for your business and draw inspiration from your surroundings. If all else fails, go back to why you started this hobby in the first place.
When you first create a game plan, keep in mind that you can always tweak it along the way. Go all in and work hard, but don’t be too hard on yourself. Even though it is not a good idea to dive in prematurely, don’t overthink and plan too much.
The longer you wait to take action, the more you’re likely to talk yourself out of pursuing your dream. You can follow guidelines online to set up a website and social media pages, or you can get help from the professionals so you can concentrate on your hobby-turned-to-business.
You don’t need a degree to make extra money. All you need is a good idea, persistence and a little bit of patience.