One of the few silver linings of the pandemic is that many of us discovered new hobbies. We experimented with new types of art, explored new crafts, and learned new skills. These hobbies were a great way to retain our sanity amidst all the chaos, giving us something constructive to focus on while the world burned around us. Lets find out How to Turn a Hobby Into a Business.
But what happens once the pandemic ends?
Many will probably toss aside the sourdough starters and paint kits as our lives return to some semblance of normal. Some, however, found their passion. Something they not only enjoyed doing but were good at — a much-needed outlet to help them make sense of the world.
Ryan Kimball found that in kickball. Based in Rochester, New York, he’s always been passionate about sports. But he never imagined that he’d go from handing out slips of paper outside a pub on Monroe Avenue to managing one of the largest single city kickball leagues in the country.
Before COVID, Rochester Kickball comprised 300 teams and over 4700 players. Getting here has been anything but easy. Since 2007, Kimball has faced everything from rain and park closures to flagging interest from referees.
He’s managed to make it this far through perseverance by focusing on community involvement and player engagement. Its work with charitable organizations has led to it being voted the best local recreational sports league three years in a row. And through a focus on technology alongside events like seasonal pub crawls and T-shirt contests, they keep their people interested and engaged.
Since first founding the league, Kimball has learned a great deal — below are some of his most important takeaways.
- Know you’re committed. Anyone who says doing what you love means never working a day in your life is lying. If you turn your hobby into a business, you’ll enjoy what you do for the most part. But there will always be days when you feel discouraged, frustrated, or just plain bored, like any job.
- Look at the market. Unfortunately, not every hobby is feasible as a business. You’ll want to do a bit of market research before diving in head-first. Are there any successful businesses that do what you do? Is there any interest among friends or colleagues?
- Think about your brand. How will you represent your hobby-turned-business to prospective customers? What sort of marketing and advertising will you do?
- Dip your toes in first. Don’t quit your day job just yet. If you want to turn a hobby into a business, start by doing it on the side as a part-time venture, maybe while pursuing a relevant degree like an online Master’s in Sports Management. Eventually, you might have a stable enough income to quit work, but it may be a risk you should avoid for now.
- Have a plan. If you decide to commit fully, start with a business plan. This should include, per The Balance Small Business:
- What you do.
- Why you do it.
- What products or services you’ll offer.
- Your sales and marketing strategy.
- How you’ll make money.
- Who will be involved.
- Your target audience or ideal customer.
- What you’ll need to get started.
- Your ultimate goal.
- The obstacles to reaching that goal.
- Register. You’ll want to declare your business for tax purposes formally. For now, you’ll likely be a sole proprietorship. Further down the line, you might consider switching to LLC. Find an attorney to help you with this process.
- Start marketing. Get established on social media. Create a website and maintain a web presence. Start running ads.
Turning your hobby into a business is a ton of work, but it’s worth it. That said, it’s not the only way you can monetize your creativity. Think about the skills you’ve built and are leveraging with this hobby.
A visual artist, for instance, might consider a career in graphic design. A writer could pursue a job in marketing or public relations. A musician might work as an audio engineer.
Your hobby is what you do to unwind and relax. But it can be more. If you have the drive to do so, you can turn it into a full-fledged career, either as an entrepreneur or as part of a larger business.
About the Author: Brad Wayland is the Chief Strategy Officer at BlueCotton, a site with high-quality, easy-to-design custom t-shirts.