Baby boomers are retiring in great numbers, and some will be looking for productive ways to spend their leisure hours. Many of us have a hobby that we’re passionate about – for me it was photography – but the list is near endless as to what you can find that you are passionate about. And depending on the amount of effort you put into this activity, and the expenditure required supporting your new passion; you may give thoughts as to how to turn that pastime into a money generating activity.
Before counting on that extra income however, you need to ask yourself a few hard questions first.
What do you produce that has value to others? Whether your hobby produces tangible objects like arts and crafts, or intangibles like intellectual property, like stock photos and digital illustrations, it is important to understand how others perceive what you produce. Is there an existing market for your product? If you’re not sure, a quick Google search can probably help you answer that.
How is what you do different or better than what is already available? We live in a connected world. The advances in technology mean that individuals around the globe can easily conduct business with each other from the comforts of their home. How do you stack up in comparison with what the rest of the world is doing? You need to identify the market for your efforts and clearly understand the competition as well.
Find your niche or create one. No-one would have believed there was a way to make money by writing about things and posting them on the web, but entrepreneurial bloggers are doing great, as are YouTube phenoms, reality TV stars and the like. Create a need and then fill it.
What can you do to improve on your offering? Are there simple changes you can make to have more commercial appeal? Online training resources make it easy to obtain new skill – look to YouTube, coursera.org, or educational sites dedicated to your hobby to help fill in your training gaps.
How can you attract potential clients? The dot com bust in the early 2000’s taught us that simply using the internet is not a viable business model. How are you going to target and market your offerings to a wide audience?
Having a presence online is important, but it is not a final answer. What can you do with a physical presence at local retailers or regional shows? Are there places in your area – like community bulletin boards or local newsletters – where you can advertise your offering?
Use social media to promote yourself. Pin, post, tweet, like, share your heart out and get friends and family to do the same. Getting your offerings out there will help with search results when customers come looking for what you’re offering.
Network. Look for groups in your region offering services you can leverage. Meetup is a great place to find other freelancers who may compliment or even need what your offering. Look for local Rotary club meetings in your area where you can find individuals to help mentor you along or a users group where you can collaborate with like minded go-getters.
Look for professional agencies that represent people with your expertise. Whether looking for sell through an establish online agent, or for people to help you commission your services, professional organizations have more experience in reaching customer and can get you plugged into the business faster.
Have a website yes, but make it actionable. It’s always nice to see our name or business with its own .com next to it, but assuming people find you, what do you want them to do? Make sure your actions are clear and easily found on your site.
Look for contests focusing in your area. These can help you generate some much-needed cash while also building up your skills and getting your name out there for potential clients.
One thing that will not work is doing nothing and expecting customers to beat a path to your door with sacks of money to give you for doing exactly what you love to do. But a little hard work and a lot of creativity can help turn that passion into a profit.