“I need a cheap hobby!”
Ever heard someone say that before?
One thing I’ve learned about hobbies in 27 years is there’s no such thing as a cheap one. If you’re interested in something, then the more you get into it, the more it tends to cost to stay interested and keep progressing.
Of course, this doesn’t have to be true—some people are happy to get the basics down and never go beyond that. But for the rest of us, our human nature demands we keep progressing, getting better and better, and spending what it takes to do something we care about.
In every hobby where people like you are willing to spend money to get better at something, there are fun, little businesses that are more than willing to create and sell whatever it is you need to do that.
If you’ve put in the work to become good at something you enjoy, there’s probably a good chance you can turn that skill or knowledge into a business if you want to.
Many people think about this at some point , but few ever act on it even though it’s one of the easiest ways to start a business.
Some are scared they won’t have fun anymore if they try to make money. Others think their ideas are no good. And some, unfortunately, think of it as “selling out”—as if they’d be doing something wrong by trying to earn a living from something they love.
That’s the saddest one, in my opinion. Supporting yourself by doing something you care about is one of the greatest feelings.
If you’ve thought about trying to turn a hobby of yours into a legitimate micro-business, then my best recommendation is this:
Quit thinking so much and start doing it!
If you follow the principles of the $100 business model, you really don’t need to figure out much in advance. Do something very small, evaluate, adjust, repeat. This is how businesses are built.
- Creating something that people really want.
- Getting your creation in front of the people who want it.
- Collecting money for your effort.
For example, my talented friend, Mark Powers, has spent a huge part of his life becoming an excellent drummer. Over the years, he’s slowly turned his skill into a real business by playing backup for bands, giving private drum lessons, writing sheet music, and giving seminars at schools across the country.
He didn’t start with all of those different streams of income; he slowly built them up. As he became successful with one, he’d start another.
In my hometown, there are kids (and even adults now) that tie lures for fly fishermen. I have a friend who races motorcycles and is starting to hold training camps. There are even travel experts that earn a side income by booking trips for people with frequent flyer miles.
If you love doing something, you can probably turn that love into a micro-business if you’re driven to. When you go for it, make sure you take these very important things into consideration:
1. Focus on a skill you already have.
The most important—and often hardest—part of starting a business is just that—getting started. If getting started means you have to learn a whole new set of skills on top of running the business, it’s going to make things unnecessarily difficult.
If you’re telling yourself, “But I don’t have any skills!” you’re probably wrong.
Creating a successful business from a hobby is more about combining skills from other parts of your life and applying it to that hobby than being great at the hobby itself.
2. Find the hardest part of your hobby, and make it easier.
The biggest roadblock I see people run into when trying to create a business from a hobby is that their instinct is to try to make money by actually doing the hobby. Golfers want to get paid to golf. Gamers want to make money by playing video games.
Unfortunately, unless you’re one of the best in the world, you’re not going to find much success with this route.
This is because the business is focused on you and what you want instead of on helping other people solve a legitimate problem in their lives. Don’t get me wrong, you need to enjoy your work. But the most important part of the equation is providing something valuable to your customers. That’s where the money comes from, after all.
You’re going to have a hard time getting paid just to play golf every day, but getting paid to be a swing coach? Or a putting specialist? That might actually have some legs.
Important note: You don’t have to completely solve a problem to have a successful hobby-based business. If you can take one small piece of your hobby—something that people find difficult—and make it a little easier, you have a viable business idea.
3. Identify exactly who needs your help (and who will pay for it).
This sounds simple, but it takes a bit of careful thought to get it right. If you want to teach music to children, great! Lots of kids take music lessons and lots of instructors make good money teaching.
So who’s your customer? The kids, right? Wrong! It’s the parents!
Once you have an idea for how to turn your hobby into a business, one of the most important things you can do is to get clear about who really needs what you offer and who’s going to pay for it.
Looking at the music lesson example, the kids don’t really need or even want lessons, and they don’t have any money, so they won’t be paying for them. It’s the parents who need to feel like they’re giving their kid a leg up in life, and they have all the money, so figure out how to get your offer in front of them.
The Bottom Line
Creating a business from a hobby is not the simplest task in the world, but it’s a lot of fun, and it beats most other options!
You don’t have to be great at your hobby to succeed either. At the end of the day, what really counts is that you’re able to see a problem people have, and offer some type of solution.
To head down the right track, think less about doing your hobby, and more about how you’ll help others do it faster, easier, or better.
P.S. On Monday, April 23rd, I’ll be launching my latest project, The Bootstrapper Guild, for a few days only. If you’ve thought about starting a micro-business from your hobby, we’ll help you get started the smart way.
Image by: maistora