Turning your passion into a paycheck is totally possible, but it can be tricky. When you’re starting a business, you can’t just assume your interests are ripe for pursuing. Many people mistake their hobbies for business opportunities, but they’re by no means synonymous.
A hobby is a leisurely activity that keeps you entertained, while a passion is a deep interest in a specific subject. Being truly passionate about something means having a desire to deepen your knowledge of it and a willingness to spend considerable time mastering the craft.
If you’re 100% sure you’ve got a passion, use the 5 ways below to monetize it! With the right strategy, a decent business plan, and a little bootstrapping savvy, you can start off on the right foot today. Let’s begin!
1) BECOME A CONSULTANT OR FREELANCER
No one studies to be a consultant or freelancer, but anyone with expertise can take on the title and give it a shot. The main challenge is differentiating yourself from others in your niche.
In deciding how to market yourself, don’t choose a generic, overused title like “life coach” or “business consultant.” Instead, choose something ultra-specific. If you want to be a consultant that works with web design, what style of web design on which platforms? For what kind of customers/clientele? Outline the scope of your job, what your will deliverables look like and how your clients will receive them. Get specific and narrow the field.
You can use platforms like Wix orWeebly to put together a starter website. Initially, you should include the following pages:
About: Explain your experience and why you’re a great choice. Give people an idea of who you are, where you’ve come from and where you’re going. What’s your brand story? Be sure to get your individuality across! The vast majority of customers would prefer to hire someone they like and can relate to.
Testimonials: If you don’t have any testimonials yet, do whatever it takes to get some. Offer discounted rates in return for reviews. Help some friends or associates for free in return for solid testimonials. Each review is worth big money, and once you have about 5-10 of them you’ll have a great foundation!
Services: Describe the specifics of what you do. Keep it simple and straightforward without coming off as too informal (unless you’re targeting less formal client personas). All the copy and visual appeal in the world mean squat if people can’t put together what services you’re offering in 30 seconds or less.
How to Hire: How exactly can people hire and pay you? Do they need to fill out a contact form? If so, tell them, and make sure it’s a super easy, intuitive funnel.
Along with the online marketing game, don’t forget to do some in-person self-promotion. Order a stack of business cards, avoiding the free/cheap options if possible, and track down some networking groups in your area. This type of business takes some effort to build, but can quickly become your way of life.
2) START A BLOG
At this point there are nearly 200-million blogs online, and new ones emerging every minute. And there’s a good reason-- blogs are business. These days you can build a web of influence for your business by publishing just about anything: customized copy, embedded video, graphics of any kind.
If you love a topic and are open to publishing content about it, starting a blog is a great way to share your passion with the world and potentially gain a solid following. Although it requires a lot of work, building a successful blog platform is possible—the hardest things about it are a) getting started, and b) staying consistent!
3) BUILD AN ONLINE STORE (ECOMMERCE)
As a budding entrepreneur with a passionate business idea, you owe it to yourself to consider eCommerce: selling your products online. This approach is designed for people selling physical/digital goods rather than services like marketing or copywriting.
Building an online store isn’t the challenge it once was. There are plenty of large platforms like Shopify, Zazzleand CafePress where you can pay a reasonable monthly fee for your own digital storefront with all the bells and whistles. Once you add products and set up shipping/delivery, you can begin marketing through search engine optimization, social media, blogging, etc.
Etsyand Selz are two other affordable, more specified options for eCommerce. If you sell crafts or vintage products, you can open your own Etsy shop and become a part of their huge online crafting community with millions of visitors per month. Etsy doesn’t have any membership costs, but they charge a small fee to list items. If you sell digital products, Selz allows you to set up free online stores and charges a small transaction fee per sale. Point being, there are tons of options out there!
4) FOUND A HOME BUSINESS
Many businesses can be run right out of your home. For example:
Of course, each business has its own set of challenges, but none of these require a lot of startup money. Starting a direct-sales business can cost less than $100. Others, like cake decorating or photography, often emerge from hobbies so you’ll likely already have the equipment you need!
5) BECOME A TUTOR
If you’re an expert in a specific subject and have an interest in teaching, tutoring is a great way to go. There’s a surprising number of tutoring centers out there that frequently accept applications-- you just have to take the time to seek them out and fill out the paperwork.
On the other hand, if you want to tutor independently, you can market yourself by posting ads online and around your community. If you choose to go this route, make sure you have contracts and legal protections in place to protect you.
IT'S NOT EASY - BUT YOU CAN DO THIS!
Starting a business is tough, no matter how much money or resources you have at your disposal. That said, choosing a business that fits your lifestyle or that’s “close to home” will increase your odds of sustainable success.
Now that your entrepreneurial wheels are turning, don’t stop here! Sign up for a class, find a mentor or join a business group. Write a proper business plan and learn the exact steps you need to take in order to get off the ground. You don’t need to wait until you have a huge budget— get started today!