This past year, most of us have had some spare time on our hands during the pandemic. With all of the extra hours spent at home in lockdown, it has been a perfect time to try new things or finally dedicate more attention to a favourite hobby. Maybe you’ve realised how much you truly enjoy your new pastime — or perhaps you’ve reflected on how unfulfilling your current career is and thought about starting over.
If you’ve found yourself dreaming about taking a leap of faith and pursuing a career in your new lockdown hobby, but don’t know where to begin, then this article is for you. We’ve gathered advice and recommendations from people all over the globe who have successfully transformed their hobby into a real job; so read on for inspiration and 8 kick-start tips to turn your favourite hobby into a rewarding career.
- Step #4: Start as a side hustle
- Step #5: Connect with people of similar interests
- Step #6: Make some marketing buzz
Are you ready to take the first step in your entrepreneurial journey? Start with yourself.
Freelance writer Aurora Smith suggests, “Do some deep introspection. Do you want to turn your hobby into a career because you think it won't be work? Because you're sick of the 9–5? Because you hate having a boss? Because you want better work/life balance? Doing a lot of self-analysis to figure out exactly what you want your life to look like with this new path will help you focus on getting it done.”
Doing this will also pay off in the long-run. Amy Cattaneo, a happiness coach, adds to this sentiment by saying, “There will be times as you are growing the business that things get hard. When I am working on a project for a hobby and it gets hard, I can easily walk away but if that same project is part of my career, I can lean on my why, and that will help my discipline to continue on.”'
It’s crucial that you’re equipped with the knowledge you need to start your new venture. Whether that’s in the form of online classes, certificates, a mentor, or becoming an expert in your hobby, this step is a worthy investment that will help you launch forward faster.
“There's a big difference between being talented and acquiring more technique. What do you need to do to become better? What can you do to expand your skill-set and techniques? You can find courses and professional guidance for any area of interest. The more you educate yourself regarding a topic, the more control you will have over your process, whether you're a painter, a writer, a chef, or a gardener, “ says Caio Bersot, Communications Manager at Rank-It.
If that sounds a bit overwhelming, consider learning more about business as a starting point. Bol Varga, founder of Detectors Direct, explains, “There are so many high quality business courses available to get you up to speed on how to run a business. Whether you want to run an online store or have a brick and mortar business, there are courses that will give you the knowledge you need to succeed. Going in blind is a sure path to failure but having some solid business knowledge will help you have structure and keep your business on track.”
Before diving into a business plan, take the time to acquaint yourself with the market that you’re thinking about entering.
“What services do you offer? Are you looking to sell a product? These are questions you need to ask yourself, just as I did when hitting the floor running. Market research can go a long way, and should not be overlooked when determining your audience,” states Laura Fuentes, Operator of Infinity Dish.
However, remember to not lose sight of yourself during your research. “Doing a detailed competitor analysis, market analysis, and all the other analyses is important, but the most important analysis, at least for a startup passion-driven project, is self-analysis. Identify what sets you apart, work on ways to leverage this, and plan for how you will use your key differentiators and unique traits to set yourself apart,” shares Kristine Daub, Founding Editor of byCurated.
“Start your business as a ‘side hustle,’ so you can see if you get some traction before you give up your regular income. I was still working full-time when I started creating websites, and also when I started making some money from my online business. When I switched to part-time at work (and basically stopped working), I had already validated my ideas, so I knew I could be successful in the long term,” explains Ben Tanner, Founder of FastingWell.
Also, starting your hobby as a side project can also help you determine if your heart is really in it. “If you're not passionate enough to squeeze additional work into early mornings and late nights, maybe you need to reconsider your plan. But if you're willing to work hard during your time off, you might be able to earn enough income to eventually make the leap into a full-time career,” says Elizabeth Thomson, Creator of I Heart Vegetables.
Networking is a key tool that offers many benefits on your journey to success, especially when you align yourself with individuals on the same path.
Mark Coster, Owner and Chief Editor of STEM Toy Expert, remarks, “You’ll be surprised how many people actually choose to transform their hobbies into a career. They will inspire you, help you regain courage and confidence along the way, and share tons of priceless advice with you. I’ve done that through Facebook groups, which are still my go-to place for my daily dose of networking. But if Facebook isn’t your cup of tea, you can do it in coworking hubs, virtual or face-to-face meetups, even on LinkedIn.”
Laura Fuentes agrees, adding, “Finding communities with like-minded business leaders is incredibly important, and can be done through social media. Forging connections can create partnerships that last a lifetime and have done wonders for my own professional career.”
This step is essential to get the word out about your business and help it grow. Luckily in today’s digital world, there are many accessible options to choose from to achieve this like social media platforms, blogs, podcasts, or even a YouTube channel. Make sure to ask yourself: where are your clients?
Shiv Gupta, CEO of Incrementors, says, “I started my career as a freelancer (SEO services) in which social media became a source of my startup. Track your competitors and observe what social media channels they are using. Then, experiment with your social media appearance to see what does and doesn’t work.”
While technology can do wonders, keep in mind the power of human connection, too. Mel Carruthers, Founder of More Organised, emphasizes, “Lean on your network. Tell everyone you meet about your new business. Too many people hide behind their laptop screen and think that a good website is all they need. Websites don’t open doors – people and relationships do!”
Once you’ve created your business and found your niche, treat your customers like gold. Building a real connection with your core audience will help sustain your new career.
Kristine Daub explains, “As a small business owner, you have the opportunity to nurture lifelong relationships with every consumer your brand serves. Use this to build the strongest community you can - when your brand grows, this loyal base will continue to nurture and promote a sense of trust and loyalty in new clientele.”
Yusuf Perens, Co-Founder of Galen Leather, further adds: “We are very active in our communities both online and in person...loyal customers who rave about our creations are the backbone of our business and we wouldn't be here today without them. So we nurture those relationships and take our social media presence seriously. We not only share our products there, we share what our customers share and love to see for inspiration.”
Perseverance and patience are key on the entrepreneurial journey. Don’t give up if things don’t work out as initially planned, and don’t take it too personally. And remember to leave room for innovation during the process as you try to meet your goals.
Dr. Tzur Gabi, Co-Founder of Caligenix, states, “You can’t expect greatness overnight, nor can you count on consistent growth overtime. Once you understand that failure is a part of every great business’s road to success, you’ll be better equipped to handle the rollercoaster of obstacles about to be thrown your way.”
Wrapping up, it’s important to stay positive and support yourself when things get tough. Bol Varga shares, “Turning a hobby or passion into a career isn't easy and you will make lots of mistakes along the way. Being kind to yourself when things go wrong and not beating yourself up is key to moving past your mistakes. Remind yourself that it is OK to make mistakes, learn from them and move forward. Positive self talk, especially when things are not going to plan, will help keep you motivated, focused and on track.”
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Cassandra Kenning is a writer and content editor for Educations Media Group. Originally from the U.S., she has been living in Sweden since 2017 and has a master’s degree in International and Comparative Education from Stockholm University. Cassandra uses her passion for education to promote learning and development in the workplace.
A big thank you to our contributors:
Aurora Smith - Freelance writer at Fitness Fixed Gear
Amy Cattaneo - Happiness coach
Caio Bersot - Communications Manager at Rank It
Bol Varga - Founder of Detectors Direct
Laura Fuentes - Operator of Infinity Dish
Kristine Daub - Founding Editor of byCurated
Ben Tanner - Founder of FastingWell
Elizabeth Thomson - Creator of I Heart Vegetables
Mark Coster - Owner and Chief Editor of STEM Toy Expert
Shiv Gupta - CEO of Incrementors
Mel Carruthers - Founder of More Organised
Yusuf Perens - Co-Founder of Galen Leather
Dr. Tzur Gabi - Co-Founder of Caligenix