One of the best things the Internet has done is lower the barrier to entry for starting a business.
And when it comes to starting businesses, one of the paths most often walked is turning hobbies or crafting talents into commercial enterprises.
Some of the stories are wildly successful.
North Carolinian Brandi Temple turned her passion for sewing cute children’s dresses with a Southern twang into a multi-million dollar business, Lolly Wolly Doodle, by selling through Facebook.
On the other side of the pond, West Yorkshire woman Kate Broughton was able to quit her day job in a bookstore and sell greeting cards and stickers via Etsy.
eBay and a wide variety of plug-n-play ecommerce service providers also make it easy to offer your goods over the Internet. Today, budding ecommerce mavens can make the process as simple or as complicated as they wish.
Business is the hard part
However, success is seldom simple. Because of Etsy and the plethora of other selling venues, the competition is high. You need to have an excellent product and great marketing if you want to make a serious go at it. Because of this fact, many crafters, artisans, and creators see ecommerce as a way to supplement their incomes or simply to pay for their hobby “habit.”
But don’t let that discourage you from testing the waters. Also, I want you to see a somewhat bigger picture than might be apparent at first: directly selling your wares isn’t the only way you can leverage your hobby into a business.
Consider starting a website and blog that helps establish who you are and what makes your products so fantastic. Build a following for your blog, grow your email list, and increase your presence on social media.
You might find that Facebook works for you, but, if you’re selling a craft item, there’s a strong possibility that Instagram or Pinterest — maybe even Vine — could be a great fit.
An “all (or most) of the above” social media strategy may be the way to begin until you find which suits you best.
Social media synergy
Use social media to send visitors to your blog and vice versa. As you build your followers you not only build your pool of buyers, you are increasing the number of people who want to listen to what you have to say.
At this point you can write and sell an e-book about your craft with insider tips and information. You can put together a webinar to teach people how to do what you do. You can sell ad space on your website or within your newsletter to businesses related to your craft or hobby.
You can become your own horizontally integrated craft conglomerate!
Now as I said earlier, this is difficult to pull off if you want to make it your sole source of income. However, in the worst-case scenario you will probably make a little money and get invaluable lessons in startups, email and social media marketing, and ecommerce.
I don’t see any downside in that.
Have you succeeded at turning a hobby into a business? Share your story in the comments below.