Five Ways to Turn Your Interest From a Hobby Into a Side Gig
From gardening to skiing and myriad interests and pursuits in between, humans have a variety of hobbies. We pursue these extracurricular activities to free our minds, release stress and build our character. For many, those perks and benefits alone are reason enough to invest the time into those activities. Yet, others may be interested in learning how they can turn their hobby into a paying side gig. Studies show that more than 44 million Americans currently work a side job to supplement their professional income. Let’s explore five ways you start earning some cash from simply doing what you enjoy.
1. Determine if there’s a market for it.
You might love taking pictures of your kids, but unless you’re interested in taking pictures of someone else’s, there’s little chance you can expand your hobby into a paying gig. Before you begin researching ways to turn your interest into a profit generator, first determine whether or not there is a viable market for it. Will people actually be interested in the products or services you’re providing? If you believe the answer is “no,” there’s no sense continuing on, though you may find that if you tweak your business model, you could make it work.
Remember, just because you feel passionate about an activity doesn’t mean it’s enough to generate the same type of excitement from someone else. Focus on hobbies that produce an outcome or final product that people either want or need, and branch out from there.
2. Don’t quit your day job just yet.
It’s incredibly risky to throw in the towel on your full-time job, even if you believe wholeheartedly that your hobby will replace that income soon. It’s wisest to start small and build up your clientele, brand community and following until your sales are consistent.
To do so, it’s helpful to grow your online presence. Aside from having a website and maintaining an active profile on key social media platforms, ensure that you’re also speaking authoritatively on the topic at hand. To do so, consider starting a blog, wherein you’ll discuss updates and subject matter pertaining to your niche. For instance, if you make and sell soap, your blog might include posts on the ingredients in your products, your soap making method, why you got into the industry, different kinds of soaps available, the science of scent and so forth. Not sure where to start? There are plenty of writing tips available to help you find your voice. The important thing is that you write consistently and keep the content informative, relevant and engaging enough to keep your target audience interested.
3. Hone your time management skills.
It’s one thing to say you want to earn a profit from your hobby. It’s another to actually put in a full day’s work then come home and work on your side job into the wee hours of the night. It might be exciting at first, but you could quickly become burned out and lose the interest that sparked your enthusiasm in the first place.
To avoid this fate, it’s important to develop solid time management skills from the onset. Perhaps you work an hour or so in the morning before heading to work, a little during your lunch break, and a little in the evenings. Or, maybe you dedicate one day out of your weekend solely to your hobby. Either way, remember to keep time open for friends and family, as well as other important obligations. Doing so will help you create that all-important work/life balance that will fuel you forward.
4. Advertise your services.
You could have the most dynamic product or service in the world, and a robust web presence to back it up, but unless people know about you, you could be sitting on a ton of materials, ready to create, but with no biters. To that end, create business cards and post them around town. From your local coffee shop to your library, there are many places where community members can share their contact information so people around town can quickly find them.
If you’re interested in selling to a wider audience, look at online selling communities, such as Etsy and eBay, where you can list and sell your products, often for a minimal fee. You’ll get your name out quicker and reach a greater prospective audience than if you relied on local word-of-mouth alone.
5. Network, network, network.
As you ramp up your advertising efforts, you’ll likely start connecting with like-minded people who share your same interests. Many may also offer similar products or services as yours. Instead of looking at these people as competitors, consider that there is room enough for all of your recreational pursuits and see what you can learn from one another. Attend local business fairs, Small Business Saturdays, entrepreneurial clubs, and more.
At these events, you’ll meet others who can mentor you, job shadow you and help you make the most of your new venture. You’ll need all the resources, experience and help that you can get and learning from someone who’s walked this path before can be immensely helpful. At the same time, you can also learn about local community events, leaders, and other resources that can help you and your business grow.
Turning your side venture into a paying gig isn’t impossible and doing so can be one of the most exciting and rewarding journeys you venture down. The key to staying successful is to ensure you have the tools and the delivery method that people are interested in, and then partnering with the right resources to get you where you want to go. Then, you’ll be able to generate an extra income simply by doing what you love.