I talked about How to convert your hobby to business in Part1 of series. The discussion was about why you should not make your hobby into a profitable business. I produced a number of examples where people passionate about their hobby turned it into successful businesses.
Now it is time to actually look into the methods that you can use to convert your hobby into business.
Here are some of the steps that you can take while starting your business out of a hobby
Learn how will you monetize your hobby
Let me start with an example. It is very important to know how will you monetize your hobby. If you love writing and interested in blogging, you may use monetization techniques such as adsense, affiliate marketing, banner advertising, writing ebooks and so many other things.
If you are in education business you can create CD/DVD of your course.
If you are in gardening, you can provide landscaping consulting.
Since there is low money at the start of the venture, it is very important to find out sources where you can make some money in the starting.
Break your product into modular structures if possible
Your customers might not be interested in taking your complete package in the start since they are unsure of your business. If possible provide a modular structure of your products where customer can choose and pick whatever they want.
Even if it is hard to tear your business into modules, you should at least attempt to create them. If for e.g., you are running a dance class you can create separate modules for kids, working couples and singles. You can design modules by timings or by dance types.
One of the advantage of creating a modular product structure is that you can know which one is working well and you can concentrate on it more.
Test your product with your friends and family for free
The best way before you can take a product to market is to test it for flaws and bugs. Who can be your best critics other than your family( not sarcastically ;) )? You can first ask them to try out your product and provide feedback.
The feedback from family can provide a good practice before you sell your product to the outside world.
Promote your product in your network
The next step is to talk to your network. Provide free samples of your work to your network. Invite them to your private parties where you can showcase your products. Do not push them to buy. Just give them your products as gifts. If your products are good they will be talked about giving you great publicity.
Guess what? Giving free is not a bad thing. A lot of large companies too provide free samples when launching a product. It helps build awareness and publicity among users.
Create commission schemes or affiliates in your network
A many billion dollar industry on the internet is living off selling someone else's product. An affiliate is your selling partner. An affiliate is the one who people trust and listen too. She may be offline/online affiliate but she has the network and she might be ready to sell your products for a commission. Find out such people and include them in your network.
Listen to feedback and tweak a lot
Once your start promoting your product you will start getting feedback from the market. It could be about price, packaging , product quality. It is very important to take the feedback in a positive way and incorporate the changes to suit the market needs and opinions. You might need to constantly tweak your product but remember, it will be good for your product only.
Get a website to promote your product
Nothing like starting a website to showcase your products. A website can reach a large number of people . If you are good at Web technologies, you can do it your self or hire a web development agency. Do not cut back here because it is like a storefront for your product. You would not like to enter a badly designed store would you? Set the theme for your site and get rocking.
Talk to local newspaper, do a Press Release
There are some articles on this site about press release (located below). Press release is the best way to tell the world about your product. If you are good at writing, write press release yourself or hire an agency. Use social media to put your press release on the sites such as facebook, google buzz or talk on twitter.
Invest your profits into building your business
It is very tempting to take whatever profits you are earning and buying expensive wine for celebration. However be aware that it is a business expense. It should be utilized to increase your network, set up an office, improve products. Investing your hard earned profit back into business when you are still building it is a far better idea than to spend it all on something not so useful.
Involve like minded interest as partners in your business
The best part about having a hobby is to meet a lot of people .Some people are your suppliers, others are partners and some customers. You may involve all of them in your business and make strong production/distribution chains. By intelligently creating affiliates and partners you can maximize your business returns
I hope you find these points useful. Let me know if you have some stories you want to share. I will publish them on this site providing you with additional publicity for free :)