Most of us tend to decide what we want to do when we’re very young. Before we’ve even left school, we’ve made decisions that will affect our entire lives. You have to choose which classes to take, and the grades you get may have a major bearing on the job you secure when you finish school or college. Perhaps you’re one of those lucky people who knew what their dream job was from being a tot. Or maybe, like most people, you’re still not completely convinced that you ever knew what you wanted to do. If you’re not happy with your job or you wish you could do something, which enabled you to be more creative or imaginative, you may be considering a change of career. In some cases, our hobbies and interests can give us the inspiration and motivation we need to make that call.

If you’re thinking of turning a hobby into a career, here are some tips to help you make it work.

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Using your talents

If you have talents, use them! Not everyone is blessed with creativity or practical skills that could be used to establish a successful business. Do you bake cakes that everyone raves about? Are you famed for your homemade cards? Do friends and family keep urging you to try and make it in the world of music? Are you a gifted artist or photographer? If you think you’ve got what it takes to take a hobby to the next level, you could be opening up a series of new doors, and you may get the chance to do something you love every day. It may be a risk, especially if you’ve got a steady income, but sometimes, you have to be brave. If you don’t want to give up work straight away, you could try and set up a new venture as a sideline.

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Turning a hobby into a job: the basics

When you do something for money, it’s very different to simply having a hobby. Your interests will take up more of your time, there may be deadlines to meet and something that used to relax you may not have the same effect anymore.

You need to think practically if you’re going to take your hobby further. How can you make it into a viable business? How will it make you money? What do you need to set yourself up? How are you going to let people know who you are, and what you do?

Some businesses require initial investment. Others you can run fairly cheaply from home, and then invest as your business grows.

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Getting the word out there

If you’re setting up a business or trying to make a name for yourself as a singer, for example, you need to tell people. There’s no use in baking the best cakes in America if nobody knows who you are or where they can order your products. These days, there are several different avenues you can explore if you’re trying to spread the word.

The Internet is an incredible resource for new businesses, and individuals who eager to make a splash. Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram enable you to connect with hundreds of people within seconds, and you can choose whether or not you pay for advertising services. Initially, you may want to rely on word of mouth and ask all your existing contacts to share your new pages and profiles. You can also build a website, which tells people more about your new venture. Link the site and your social media accounts together, and try and harness the power of social media marketing to drive traffic to your website. Your website should be easy to use, and it should answer all the common questions buyers have. What is the product? How much does it cost? Where can I order it? How can I pay? It’s hugely beneficial to have an FAQ section or a live chat feature so that you can address queries and interact with your clients.

You can also use the Internet to showcase your talents. Upload music to sites like YouTube or create a gallery on your website to show off homemade greetings cards and wedding invitations. Post details of live gigs or craft fairs you may be attending, and encourage people to come along and see more. When you’ve got a small business, it’s really useful to ask about in the local area and find ways to display and sell your art, music, or culinary delights.

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Growing your business

If your business is going well, it’s advisable to try and build on your success. Invest in areas that are making money. Are you selling out local gigs or has a certain collection of photographs flown off the shelves? Have you had people asking whether you could create customized cards or are you receiving repeat orders for specific types of tray bake? If you’ve got a market, take advantage of this, and run with it. Cater for your clients, and give them what they want. If you focus on what’s selling, you should be able to maximize your profits without increasing your outgoings significantly.

If you’re off to a flying start, you may consider hiring other people. If you’ve got too much to do, or you’re looking to develop aspects like marketing, for example, you may want some extra pairs of hands. If you want to do this without committing to salaries, you should consider hiring freelancers or outsourcing specific jobs. This will enable you to get the work done without adding ongoing payments to your balance sheets.

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Does your job leave you feeling flat or uninspired? Would you rather spend your days doing something you love? If you have creative talents, don’t be afraid to use them. We live in a day and age when it’s possible to take chances and achieve success, so be brave. If you want to set up a business, make sure you have the right equipment, and make some plans. Take advantage of the Internet, and find out about events that will enable you to show off your wares. Connect with potential clients via social media, and make sure you have a great website ready and raring to go. Good luck!

Aggie Aviso