I’ve spoken a lot about the concept of doing what you love on this blog, since leaving my job as a town planner 4 years ago to work on my book and then this blog full time I’ve realised the joy of looking forward to and being excited by what I do. That doesn’t mean every day is a walk in the park, in fact quite the opposite – it’s been a roller coaster of emotions and experiences way outside of what I used to deal with working under someone else. But all worth it. It’s unbelievable how much I’ve learnt over the last few years. One surprising thing I’ve worked out? It’s not enough to just do what you love. That’s because it’s not as simple as, say, making your favourite ceramic bowls and hoping a profitable business will materialise. In fact, it turns out that doing what you love is only the first step in a very long journey to success. It’s about turning your passion into a bonafide business through being strategic, innovative and focused.
To give those of you who are contemplating turning what you love into a business, Etsy Australia and I have teamed up to give you a few things I’ve learnt along the way. It’s perfect timing Etsy have just launched ‘Etsy Resolution‘ – a free four week online bootcamp to guide new makers through the process of opening their Etsy Shop under the mentorship top sellers. It’s pretty much the cheat sheet that a lot of you makers have probably been waiting for! Head here to read more about what you’ll learn.
Define the sellable element of your passion
It’s really important to start thinking about your passion project in terms of what it can offer others, and evolving it into a product or service that people want, whether it be an item, an e-course or a consultancy. The key here is that people actually want it. If your passion involves creating or doing something not many people seem to be in the market for, you may need to tweak what you’re doing to suit your potential clientele. Some creatives hate that, but the reality is that if you want to be successful, or even be able to eat, you have to have an product/service that people want. If that means (for example) being a fantasy writer and doing some copywriting to get your business off the ground, so be it (IMHO). Think of it as a creative challenge – how can I turn what I do into something people are hankering for?
Benchmark what’s out there
Once you have an idea of what you can do or offer as your business, now’s the time to look at what’s out there and understand what other people are doing, and what they’re charging for it. In a perfect world you would be doing something that no one else does (that people want), but in reality there are businesses thriving all over the world that do similar things. The trick here is to try to build your own recognisable brand so that your business is able to stand apart from others – sometimes that’s about what you sell or do, and others it’s about how you market and who you market too.
Get skilled up
Trial and error will only get you so far, I’ve learnt the hard way that when you’re turning your passion into a business chances are to start with you’ll be a one man band, doing everything from marketing to making to invoicing. These things sadly can’t can be learnt via osmosis if you sleep with your lap top under your pillow, so you need to invest in some new skills. Sign up for some online courses, go to your local college or do a workshop. And seek out institutions and other places where you might get some free help – Etsy Resolution is a great example of a free course that will help give you the push you need.
Understand your target customer
Most people will tell you to write a business plan, which you should do. But you’re probably very busy, so as a starting point one of the significant things about a business plan is that it asks you to about the needs and wants of your target customer, so you can define how to a) give them what they want and b) reach them better. So even if you don’t do a business plan (yet), take a moment to think about this, and consider how you can make your pool of potential customers larger.
Get yourself online
Chances are if you’re reading this you know a little bit about the online world, but to reiterate, if you’re just starting out make sure you consider how you can put your business online, whether it be the way you approach clients, how you sell your goods or how you create an audience. Yes, I know, duh. But in case you hadn’t thought about it, you want your market to be a global one that’s able to be scaled larger, rather than the finite one in your street or city.
Cultivate an audience/community
And whilst we’re on the subject of online, it’s time to start cultivating an audience or community of like minded people who are interested and will share what you do with others. Even if you haven’t launched your actual business model yet, it’s never to early to start interacting. Finding like minded people is as easy as linking up with others on social networks, joining Facebook groups and emailing people directly. Scary but will definitely pay off!
Accept that you’ll continually evolve what you do
My business has evolved so much in the last few years, from not making any money at all, to making most of our money through ads, then content, then products, then content once again and now working behind the scenes doing digital marketing for others. All these things are linked and live together under the same concept, but we’ve been able to test and evolve over time what works best for us. Try not to stress out about the fact that sometimes things seems unsure, it will keep you focused and feeling creative!
This year I’m excited to share with you more behind the scenes of running a business, the pitfalls and the triumphs. And make sure to check out Etsy Resolution if you’re a maker who would love to turn what you do into a business. I mean, who doesn’t want to get better at what they do?
This post is in collaboration with Etsy