How To Make Money From Your Hobby Online
When you’re looking to make money from your hobby online, it’s important to determine what you want to get from it. Do you want to earn some extra money on the side of your existing job? Or do you want to turn it into your main source of income and eventually leave your job? What you want from it will determine the amount of effort and time that you need to put into it to get it to a level that you are happy with.
Find out if there is demand for your products
Set time aside and start to look at whether there is demand for the types of products that you can make with your hobby and skills. A good place to start is by researching similar items on websites like Amazon, eBay, and Etsy. Google is also a great place to start when researching items that you can use your hobby to create yourself. Look for a niche that isn’t dominated by large brand names but has some competition as it shows there is an overall demand. Have a look at what is working well for competitors and what their customers are saying in their reviews and try to think of anything that you can do better or differently. Also, have a look at the prices they are selling at and calculate what you would need to make them to help you determine whether the amount of profit you can make on each item is worth investing your time and effort.
Perfect your skills
Before you start to make money from your hobby online you need to make sure that you are good at it. Be honest with yourself and decide whether your skills are at a high enough standard that you could use them to make money from your hobby online. If they aren’t, don’t worry, identify areas where you need to develop and start to improve them or gain any new skills that you don’t yet have. Developing your skills first will make it easier for you when you decide to start and can save you hassle and frustration as you will be able to offer a better product or service than if you had rushed into it. When selecting your products start by focusing on a few that you can make well and expand this selection over time as you develop your skills and experience.
Decide which channels you wish to sell-through
You will want to decide on if you want to build your own e-commerce website or if you want to use existing e-commerce platforms such as Amazon, eBay and Etsy.
Creating your own website
By choosing to create your own e-commerce website you will be able to have a lot more control over the design and layout of the whole platform. This allows you to create something unique and specific as well as being tailored to the products that you are creating or selling. It also means that when someone visits your site, they will only be able to see your products while they are on it unlike on a third-party e-commerce marketplace. You will also be able to have more control over the websites marketing such as its SEO, advertising on Google and various extensions and software that helps to improve your website. A downside to setting up your own website is that you will need to invest a lot more time and money into setting it up to the point that it is bringing in sales. If you decide to go down this route don’t forget to make your website mobile-friendly, mobile devices are increasingly being used over traditional computers for searching and shopping on the web.
Using third-party marketplaces
Opting to start your e-commerce store on a third-party platform will be much simpler and quicker as they will do much of the work for you, leaving you more time to focus on the listings themselves. The fact that many e-commerce marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay and Etsy are growing in popularity is beneficial if you choose to sell through them as there is a wide target audience already entering the site looking to purchase items which can increase the chances of your items being found. However, if you aren’t taking the right steps to optimise your listings within each site, they are likely to get buried under competitors’ products. The majority of third-party marketplaces all charge fees in some sort of way, whether that’s for adding a certain number of listings, subscriptions, or a percentage of the value of each sale made. Even with these factors, the time saving that these e-commerce platforms offer, and low/sometimes non-existent upfront costs make them an ideal route if you’re wanting to test the waters with your products and make money from your hobby online without having to quit your job.
Create a separate bank account
Although as a sole trader it’s not essential to set up a separate bank account, it’s a good idea to set one up if you want to be serious about it. By having a separate bank account for your online business and using it for your business expenses such as materials, online fees or any marketing activities as well as income from sales, you’ll be able to keep track of your money much easier as it won’t get mixed in with your weekly food shop and house bills etc.
Decide on a name and brand
Once you’ve decided where you will sell your products you will want to form a business name and brand. Although this aspect is more important if you are selling on Etsy or your own website than on eBay and Amazon it’s still a good idea to create one as it can link to other products that you sell and can be used to search. This can also help you in the future if you wish to increase the size of your business by moving over to your own website or have a presence on social media. Coming up with a unique name and brand allows you to stand out.
Build a social media presence
Social media is becoming ever more important for businesses and is a cheap way for companies to promote themselves. It’s a good idea to create a presence on at least one (but ideally more) form of social media that you have linked to your store and products. By using social media for your business and creating regular engaging content you can start to generate leads, build brand awareness and engage with existing or potential customers. Some platforms such as Facebook even have their own facilities for people to buy and sell products on a small scale. Before you rush off and start creating accounts on every social media platform, make sure that you are targeting the right target audience. With a few Google searches, you can find out the demographics of the users of each of the main platforms such as age, gender and location. This can help you to prioritise which social media platforms to use based on who you think will have an interest in your products which in turn will make it easier for you to make money from your hobby online.
Organise your postage & packaging and returns policies
Once you have your store (or products on a third-party platform) active you’re likely to be completely focused on getting that first sale. Don’t forget to figure out how you’re going to get your product to your customer once you receive that first sale. As you’ll be sending items that you’ve invested your time and money into, you will want to make sure that they are well protected and get to your customers undamaged. For this, you will want to make sure you have postal packaging that is the right fit and adequate protective packaging to keep the items safe on their journey. Your packaging is likely to come into contact with many people on its travels from you to your customers. Packaging serves as an excellent platform for showcasing your brand and can improve the overall experience and memorability for your customers, increasing the chances of them purchasing from you again in the future. A good way to do this is to add your brand to your packaging, for more information on how to customise your packaging affordably read here.
Finally, it’s important to have a professional outlook, so have a go, see what happens and don’t be afraid to learn through trying new things. If you’re good at your hobby and there is a market for it there is no reason why you can’t start to profit from it and turn it into a second income.