Turning Your Hobby or Passion Into a Business

I love my profession and honestly cannot think of any other career that I would enjoy as much. My passion lies in creating beautiful smiles and I enjoy and love my patients dearly! However, there are other things that I love, enjoy and am passionate about.

I love scented candles! When I was in undergrad and dental school I remember spending quite a bit of money purchasing candles from bath and body works, Marshalls or TJ Maxx, and Yankee Candle Co. As a cash strapped student, money can get really tight and there isn't much room in the budget for such luxuries. That's when I decided to try my hand at making my own candles.

When I started making candles there was a period where I was only comfortable making them for myself. As time went on I became confident enough to give a few to my family who critiqued them and helped me to perfect it. Soon I was using my own candles in my home exclusively and so were some of my friends and family. Every few weeks I was getting requests for more and more candles. This is when I had an "aha moment" and decided to turn this creative hobby into a business. I found something that I not only loved doing but one that was also producing a profit.

If you are looking to turn your hobby or passion into a business, here are a few tips I figured out along the way that will help to get you started :

1. Do What You Love

When you're at work (or school), what are some of the things you wish you were doing instead? What things give you joy and make you happy? What activities do you enjoy? How about photography? Calligraphy? Painting? For me it was blogging and making candles. I've always had a blog. Writing is a hobby and truth be told, it is also therapeutic, so I've always had a corner on the world wide web. I also picked up the hobby of candle-making because of my love for scented candles. I've since turned them both into profitable ventures, writing for several papers, sites and blogs and founding UnOrthoDoc Candle Co.  Find something that you enjoy doing and think of how you can monetize it.

2. Do It For Free

When I started making candles, I gave them away to family and friends. If anyone was celebrating a special occasion they knew the gift that I would come bearing. I welcomed feedback and criticism and used it to improve my new found skill-set. Take baby steps in the beginning and perfect your craft before turning it into bucks.

3. Combine Your Passion with Your Other Skills

I am an Orthodontist and thus my passion lies in creating beautiful smiles. But, that's not all I'm passionate about. I love traveling, writing, and candle making also. I like to consider myself a bit unorthodox, hence the name UnOrthoDoc Candle Co.  On my site, I was able to combine my love for writing with my love for making candles. Figure out how to create your own success tool kit /secret sauce made up of all the different skills and experiences that only you have. This is what will make you stand out and keep your service unique.

4. Determine Your Ideal Client and Make Connections

Who’s going to pay you for the work you want to do? Who is your ideal client/customer. What’s their lifestyle like? And most importantly, based on who your ideal client is, what value can you bring to them? When that is known, your next step is to identify ways to connect with them. How can you draw attention to your work and provide a product or service worth purchasing? Once your audience is aware of your work and finds value in it, build your portfolio so you can show off your work.

5. Do It For Cheap

Once you've built some value, then you can start to charge a bit for it. When you reach out to paying clients, you’ll be able to present the free work that you did as a sample or a portfolio. Don't charge too much in the beginning until you're 100% happy with the quality of your product.

6. Fine Tuning

Pay attention to the details and fine tune things. Figure out things that you like and don't like, things that are working and things that aren't. I changed the name of my candle company twice before I settled on the current name. I've been through many vendors to source the best products and there are still things that I continue to fine tune today. The devil is in the details.

7. Follow a Pro

Take a look at people who are doing what you would like to be doing. What is their strategy? There’s no need to reinvent the wheel, and learning from those who found success before you doesn’t mean you can’t be original. Copy strategy, but make the rest yours.

8. BONUS: Don't quit your day job (yet)

All of this talk about following your passion could make you feel like you’re ready to put in your two weeks. Don't. You can still keep your day job and have your passion be your side hustle, or vice versa. Take this process slow and have your job fund your new venture (until you start making real money).