021 - Are you ready to turn your hobby into a business?
Topics Discussed and Key Points
•How to know when to turn your hobby into a business
•Conducting a mini-trial using the power of social media
•Wrapping your head around shipping
•Joining a design team
•Selling your product at a craft show or at a local church
•Building your Instagram audience
•Making art on a schedule by joining a challenge
•Improving your photography skills
•Learning how to make basic graphics using Canva
•Teaching a class to your friends
As a creative, you may have at some point asked yourself whether it’s time to transition from dabbling to monetizing. Going from amateur to professional can be tricky, and so it pays to know what you can do and what you like and don’t like if you’re seriously considering turning your hobby into a business.
Test the Waters
You can start by testing the waters—and it doesn’t have to be complicated: Do a mini-trial by promoting three to five products or services, making a few sales, and evaluating the initial experience to see if you simply like the process. You can easily do a mini-trial online via an Etsy store or a pop-up sale on Instagram. Get some feedback on how much your product or service should cost, since most people make the mistake of pricing too low. Reach out to art friends in your circle for advice.
Design Team Experience
Another option is to join a design team, which will not only help you grow your skills, but also give you experience in working within parameters and deadlines in preparation for running your own business. It will also help you in getting your name out there, particularly with manufacturers if you specialize in physical products. The key here is to have work samples or demos ready. Then, reach out and make connections, both face-to-face and on social media.
Become a Vendor
You can also try applying as a vendor at local craft shows. Selling at these types of events will get you in front of customers and allow you to get real-time feedback on your product. It will also give you some experience in bookkeeping—an imperative skill when managing your own business.
Build Your Audience
As a creative, building an audience on Instagram (a platform that’s visual and popular to boot) can give you an edge in today’s marketplace. Make full use of the platform’s features: post daily, share your life on Stories (Stories now get more exposure than regular posts), and engage consistently with your fans. This last point is often overlooked. Be sure to give thoughtful replies to every single comment and direct message, because this will help you establish rapport and loyalty with your audience. After all, if you eventually want to sell your products, it’s worth it to have followers that actually care about what you have to offer.
Set a challenge
You can also set art challenges for yourself, or—even better—join like-minded communities (there are tons on Instagram) that put challenges together for increased accountability. When you force yourself to make art on a schedule, you’ll get used to always having product at hand should you eventually decide to sell. The added benefit of doing challenges with a community, aside from accountability, is the opportunity to further expand your network.
Increase your skills
Next, you’ll want to learn how to continuously improve your photography skills. Simply put: If you can’t tell what it is, don’t post it. Posting your art on Instagram or Pinterest is more about quality than it is about quantity. Be sure not to neglect lighting and editing, as mastering these makes a huge difference in how your work turns out in photos. The quality of your photos can make or break your sales, no matter how great the product itself looks. Don’t shy away from learning how to create and apply basic graphics as well, if only to give prospective buyers information on what you’re offering more clearly.
Recommended → Canva, a simplified graphic-design tool website. They offer free and paid plans.
Finally, you can demonstrate your creative expertise by teaching a class, or—if you want to take it to the next level—holding a retreat. Not only is this a great promotional tool, but it also helps you hone your organizational skills and your ability to succinctly explain (and in turn, promote) your art.
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