The sad truth about life in America today is that upwards of 80% of workers hate their job. These individuals dread waking up in the morning and find no enjoyment or personal satisfaction in the work that they do every day. However, a more comforting truth is that finding work that you are passionate about is actually easier than you think. For many people, their passions are manifested in the hobbies that they pursue. Perhaps you enjoy reading or writing or maybe you like wood working or crafting. Alternatively, you may be passionate about serving others (such as in a Church) or you might simply love to travel and experience the world.
Whatever your passion is, I’m sure that there is someone out there who is willing to pay you to do what you want to do. Finding a source of income doing what you love to do is the key to eventually quitting your boring day job and living the life that you’ve always dreamed of. The famous American author and theologian Howard Thurman said, “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
In this article I will discuss some ways you can learn to potentially transcend your hobbies and turn them into a passion filled career.
Never Stop Learning
No one will pay you for your work if you don’t produce good results. In order to produce desirable products and services that others will be willing to pay you for, you must become an expert at what you do. Turning a hobby into a career always begins with turning mediocrity into excellence. Every detail matters and quality is king above all else. You must do everything within your power to learn all there is to know about what it is that you do.
Usually the path to learning more about a hobby begins with finding reliable sources of new knowledge. Video sharing sites such as Youtube are great places to start learning more. Eventually you’ll likely surpass the free offerings of social media sites and you’ll want to start training with experts who do similar things as you. This could require investing in a traditional school or an online school. For some of the more obscure hobbies that people enjoy the only reliable sources of knowledge may be reading books written about the subject. No matter the case, your passion for your hobby must include a passion for learning more and becoming better.
Garner Feedback from Others
Having others give you honest opinions about your work is an excellent way to improve it while also looking for opportunities to monetize your hobby. Initially, you can start with seeking feedback from friends and family. However, take caution in relying too heavily on those in your inner circle as sometimes their desire to see you succeed may sometimes cloud the feedback that they provide to you.
Nonetheless, you will eventually need people to try your product or service and give honest feedback. Many small or new businesses give away free samples or do charity work as a way to promote their offerings and to obtain new customers. In the beginning you will need prototypes or several completed products and you may need to hire people to complete surveys about them. Hosting a focus group (either in person or online) can also be a great way to learn about what people want.
The results of receiving feedback is that you’ll find ways to make improvements to the things that you may not have otherwise seen. You’ll also be able to get an idea of how much demand for your products or services may exist in the open market. Personally, I have experienced this on many occasions having received both positive and negative feedback on many of the holiday decorations and other things that I’ve made and sold over the years.
Develop a Repeatable Product or Service
Another tip for turning a hobby into a career is to do something that can be repeated. For example, if you enjoy wood working, then it is wise to develop an efficient way to mass produce many of the things that you like to make. However, if you plan on doing custom work then you can make the design and creation process repeatable. Or for example, if your passion is to serve others then you could develop a repeatable strategy to offer the best possible service at every opportunity.
Having a repeatable product or service will serve many purposes. It can help to control costs, define your business mission, ensure consistency amongst your customers, and to make the process of measuring your performance easier.
Calculate Costs and Your Personal Value
For any hobby or business to be successful it must generate a profit. A profit is simply measured as the revenues the business generates minus the expenditures to took to make that money. In terms of your hobby, the prices that you charge for the work you do must be more than what it costs to make or do the work in the first place. Whether you produce a tangible good or an intangible service you must include a cost for your time in the calculations.
Setting a salary for yourself is not easy as it’s essentially the art of determining your personal value for a given task. Decide what you want to “earn” per hour and then use that number, in addition with costs for materials, to determine the total cost for developing your product or service. After this, you need to mark-up that cost to determine a selling price. A good rule of thumb is to set the selling price as double the total cost to make the item that you are selling.
The reason for this is that you have to consider all of the other factors that go into making something that you wouldn’t be able to easily or accurately account for on an individual product basis. This is called overhead and usually includes such things as product research, utilities for the building you are in, transportation costs, your internet bill, etc. In the big picture, these are things that have to be paid for in order for you to be sustainable as a business, however, there’s no easy way to account for it directly.
Once this is complete, you have to determine if people are willing to pay this price. If they are not, then you need to make adjustments to bring your costs down or the desirability of your products up.
Many hobbies can bring in some income on the side, however, the secret to quitting your day job is to scale up your hobby into a business that can bring in a steady and a sustainable income. Scaling up usually requires reinvesting profits into your business. This could include buying more tools and equipment, hiring workers, or paying for additional office space. For the entrepreneur, this can often mean securing funding from investors or a bank. If you don’t have the connections to get funding from companies or lack the means to get a small business loan, you can try many of the online crowd funding mechanisms that exist such as KickStarter or GoFundMe.
Another step to scaling up is marketing your product or service. Initially, you may use word-of-mouth to secure new leads but eventually you’ll need to invest in advertising. Finding new customers is essentially the key to enabling you to increase profits and grow your passion beyond a hobby.
If you’ve completed all of these things, then what you’ve essentially done is to prepare a business plan for your hobby. By obtaining feedback from others you have actually assessed the market for your product or service. When you began calculating costs and setting a price you were establishing the minimum price that you would need to make a viable business. Lastly, in order to scale up you usually have to get the word out and start marketing your business. With hard work, attention to detail, and a passion for success, anyone can use these tips to help turn a hobby into a career.