Dreaming of working for yourself instead of the man? It’s not easy. Follow these tips to ensure success.

If you spend most of your time at work fantasizing about your hobbies, it may be time to turn what you do in your off hours into what you do all the time. But how?

Here are seven tips for transitioning your hobby into a full-time paid gig:

1. Don’t quit your day job (yet)

Instead, rethink your day job. Think of your side hustle passion project not only as a way to make ends meet, but as a cash cow that pays your rent while you concoct your escape plan.

This small adjustment in thinking will help boost your energy by day so you can use it at night to strategize transforming your hobby into a successful, fulfilling career.

2. Build the buffer

Quitting your job will be so glorious! But envision the day after you quit your day job. It will be much more enjoyable if you have a financial cushion to get you through lean times as you build your new business.

When I started saving, I aimed to make or save $100 extra a day. This meant saying no to pricey restaurant dinners or selling stuff I no longer needed. I wanted to build a buffer to support myself for at least a year.

3. Run the numbers

Let’s say you embroider pillows. How many would you have to sell to pay your bills, pay yourself and save for your future?

If the number of pillows you would have to sell far exceeds how long it would take you to make them, the numbers don’t add up. That may be a tough reality to accept. But it’s better to find this out before you quit your day job. If the numbers seem like they could work out, move on to Step 4.

4. Start selling

With online marketplaces like Etsy, you can list your product for just a $0.20 listing fee. You don’t need to know how to build a website or add complicated e-commerce coding, and you certainly don’t have to quit your day job.

When I started my online letter writing service, I had 20 subscribers. That wasn’t enough to make ends meet yet, but it was enough for me to know there was interest in my product.

Will people buy what you’re selling? Find out sooner rather than later. (Click here to tweet this thought.)

5. Build buzz

Social networks are your personal advertising agency. When you post info about your amazing pillows, you already have a captive audience: your friends. They are your greatest sales team. They’re more likely than a stranger to buy your product or share it with their networks. This is a good time to scratch their back and share their buzz, too. Blog, tweet, share, repeat.

6. Integrate feedback

If sales are slow or you’re not getting enough clients, ask for honest feedback from friends. Seek trends, then integrate the learnings into your products.

Perhaps your embroidered pillows would sell better with an owl motif rather than the flower motif you have now. When I first started my business, I had many questions from potential customers about how it worked. While sales were slow, I rejigged my messaging. Once sales picked up, I could concentrate more on delivering the product than explaining it.

7. Quit your day job

If your side gig picks up steam, you can consider ditching the day job — especially if by now you’ve built up a financial cushion and a product people want to buy. And even better, it’s a product you love to sell.

Take these steps and you’ll discover if your hobby is worth the risk of leaving your job before you hand in your resignation letter. Smart, slow moves and daily actions that move you toward your goal aren’t just a good idea. They’re good business.

What small action could you take this week or this month to get you closer to your dream job?

Janice MacLeod saved for a year before she quit her day job. Now she lives as an artist in Paris. A book about her adventures (and how she saved up the dough), Paris Letters, is now out.

0 Comments

  1. Ryan Bonaparte

    Great tips here! I just released a guide on starting a business based on passions, which happens to share the title of tip #1. I think a #3 and #6 are often forgotten as people don’t realize how much work it would take to live off of their passion and don’t incorporate feedback from friends and customers to make it better.

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