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How to turn your hobby into a business

Your dream of doing what you love for a living may not be so far-fetched after all. Here's why.

By MSN Money Partner Jul 10, 2014 2:28PM

This post comes from Allison Martin at partner site Money Talks News.


Money Talks News on MSN MoneyDo what you love and the money will come, it's often said. And it's often true. But if you're already committed to a boring full-time job, you likely can’t see how to make the transition.


In fact, the idea seems so far-fetched that each year many head straight into the work force from high school or college to begin a stable, though not necessarily satisfying, career.


Imagine how much happier people would be if they could spend their days doing what they love while also making a decent living?


How in the world can you make that happen? One way is to turn your hobby into a business. We have some helpful tips to get you started, along with some important factors to consider before you begin.


Can your hobby be monetized?

Whether you'll make money depends on whether your hobby enables you to sell a unique or in-demand product or service. Not sure? Here are a few income-generating ideas to consider to see if your hobby provides these or similar opportunities:

  • Sell your goods. This is fairly straightforward, but you could set up a consignment agreement to test the waters or open up shop on your own. Another option is to advertise your goods through online marketplaces such as eBay, Etsy or Craigslist.
  • Use your talents. If you're handy around the house, highly organized, or are a natural at color schemes and home decor, why not use those talents to make the lives of those around you more pleasant and get paid for it?
  • Teach your skill to others. You could teach others how to produce the product you created or equip them with the skills to provide a particular service.
  • Take your hobby on the road. Host live events for fellow enthusiasts or offer public speaking, seminar or workshop facilitating services.
  • Write away. The Internet isn't going anywhere, and neither is the content that keeps the wheels turning day in and day out. Here's your opportunity to present yourself as a subject-matter expert and create a blog, a series of e-books, or content for websites that are popular among other enthusiasts.

Scope out the competition

It's important to offer a product or service that customers will rave about, so the competitive landscape must be considered. If there's competition in the field you're looking at, there's a proven market.


Literature offered by trade organizations and other industry-based entities can help you find out.


If there's no competition, you'll be on your own to convince consumers that they need what you're providing. That's a much tougher sell, but not impossible.


Is your product or service competitive?

Assuming there's a ripe market for what you're selling, now’s the time to determine if your product or service can compete. You can start by testing it on family and friends in exchange for their honest opinion and feedback on how much they'd be willing to spend.


What if friends and family aren't exactly who you had in mind to market your product to? Consider setting up focus groups or creating a survey from a platform such as SurveyMonkey to help you gather the feedback you need.


If consumers aren't willing to pay enough for your product to cover your costs and turn a profit, you definitely should head back to the drawing board.


Craftsman working in studio © Marc Romanelli/Blend Images/CorbisBefore you take the leap

Here are some other important things to consider before you commit:

  • Think again: Is this really what you want to spend your days doing?
  • Do you have the capital it takes to get things up and running and sustain yourself during the startup period?
  • Does this business really have the potential to support your family and/or your lifestyle? Again, trade publications and your own online research will give you some valuable information to consider. If there's no demand, or people would have to pay an unreasonable price for you to make a profit, you're probably not on the right track.

Still ready to proceed? My advice: Consider taking things slowly for some time until you get adjusted and demand rises. During this time, pay off high-interest debt like credit cards. Being rid of that debt will ease the transition from the stability of your day job.


Do the needed paperwork

First and foremost, you need a business plan. But there are other steps that new businesses should take. These free resources can help:

Spreading the word 

Once your business is ready to go, you have to let the world know.


Here are a few no- or low-cost ideas to promote your new business:

  • Blogging.
  • Guest posts.
  • Craigslist.
  • Public speaking.
  • Free seminars.
  • Free appearances at community events.
  • Networking.
  • Free online platforms, such as Weebly and Wix.
  • Social media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+ and Pinterest.  

While you may never achieve the fame and fortune of Bill Gates, Steve Jobs or any other world-renowned entrepreneurs, you'll have a chance at leading a fulfilling and happy life if you can make your hobby pay.


Have you converted your hobby into a business?


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