Transforming your hobby into a successful business

desk with laptop, promoted

When it comes to running a business that’s also your hobby it can be hard to take a step back and put your ‘business head’ on.

Sure you can make money from your hobby and you’ll more than likely have a following of people that know you for what you do…but how do you really push your hobby into a successful business?

When I first started out as a wedding stationery designer it was a hobby. I designed the invitations and wedding day stationery for a few friends for next to nothing. It wasn’t about the money, I really enjoyed creating the designs and putting their finished prints together.

I decided to set up a website to turn this into a business. People get engaged all the time so there’s literally thousands of couples out there looking for wedding stationery. It was easy money!

But that’s where I was wrong! I started out having not done any research into who I was targeting (apart from brides to be!), I didn’t have a strong brand, my social media feed where I’d planned to get my business out there was a mix of lots of different styles and nothing really fit to create a business anyone would remember.

My pricing was all based on what I would pay having not done any research into pricing and certainly not charging for my worth!

I was taking on any order that came my way, offering discounts just to get the booking, creating designs that weren’t my own personal taste just to fit with the clients theme and working crazy long hours to get their orders done for very little money (I’d worked out based on the time I was spending on my business I was earning well below minimum wage!)

This is when I knew things needed to change.

The most important thing when it comes to turning your hobby into a business is to know who it is you’re targeting and how you’re helping them with your products or service.

I’ve spent a lot of time identifying who my ideal client is, I’ve rebranded my business with a new name and brand identity, dropped products from my range that didn’t fit with my new branding and weren’t attracting my ideal client but most importantly, I’m charging what I’m worth!

All of these things have totally transformed by hobby into a multi award winning successful business that I love! There is absolutely no reason why other hobbyists can’t do the same.

Here are my top tips for taking your business to the next level:

  1. Identify who you’re targeting, not who your product or service if for but who would be buying from you. Who do you want to work with? Who would be your absolute dream customer?
  2. Create a strong brand. It’s not just about a pretty logo, your branding should be an experience for your customers. From the logo design and colour palette, to the way you speak to your audience in your copy, to the images, packaging and social media feed. Every touch point should be consistent to create a strong brand.
  3. Get your products/services right to attract your ideal client. If it’s not something that person would be interested in, drop it and try something else.
  4. Invest in your photos! Whether you use a professional photographer to capture a personal brand shoot or product photoshoot, or you shoot yourself or buy stock images to use. If you’re online based, your photos are representing your business. If you’ve spend ages creating a product or service, why settle for a poor image that no one will engage with and certainly not be interested in buying?
  5. Charge for your product/service AND your time! Don’t worry about what competitors are charging, think about what is right for you. What do you need to earn? How many hours can you work in a week? What would you need to charge for your hourly rate based on your availability and needs? Factor in time you spend with emails, consultations, post office runs, packaging costs etc. Anything that goes into getting the booking through to delivery, charge for the materials and your time!

If you’re feeling stuck in your hobby business, you’re working long hours for very little money, or you’re constantly battling with clients who don’t appreciate you and asking for discounts or taking you for granted,  I’ve been where you are and you CAN make this a successful business!

Jacquie LawesAbout the author

Jacquie Lawes is a multi award winning graphic designer and photographer. Owner of Bailey & Roo specialising in brand design and photography for female creatives. Luxury wedding stationer at award winning White Olive Design Studio.

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