So, You’ve Turned Your Hobby Into a Business. Now What?
“If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life” Marc Anthony was onto something when he said this. The many people who have found a way to turn their hobby into a business would probably agree. The global pandemic has provided an opportunity for people to slow down and come up with creative ways to earn money as the economy struggles to hold on. The creativity, innovation, and adaptability, that individuals and small businesses have shown, have been nothing short of amazing. Social media has been used as the primary sales platform for many people just starting out with selling food and crafty items — such as specialized cakes, baked goods, meats, candy and sweets, jewelry, accessories, and handicrafts. Friends and family are often very supportive at first, but what do you do when sales start to slow down? You can’t rely on friends and family forever; you need to scale your business.
Extend Your Reach on Social Media
In our previous article, How to find your perfect customer, we discussed social media strategies to market your business effectively. Social media is an amazing advertising platform when leveraged correctly.
There are many strategies to extend your organic reach to find your target audience and ideal clients. There is also paid advertising available to place your ads in front of the people who are most likely to utilize your goods or services.
- Hashtags. Hashtags are free to use and work really well to get your products seen. You need to find the right hashtags for your product, though. For example, if you are selling handmade necklaces, you could tag something like #Necklace #HandmadeNecklace #NecklaceForSale. Hashtags are global, so anyone in the world can see your content if they check the hashtag you have used. This means you need to be very specific with your tags if you only sell your goods locally. For example, if you only sell your goods in Phoenix, you could tag #PhoenixJewellery or search for relevant local hashtags in use such as #DowntownPhoenix. It’s easy to find local hashtags; you just need to have a look at what other local businesses and markets are using then check to see how often the hashtag is used. If the posts are growing daily, then it’s a good one to use. If you distribute your goods worldwide, you can get away with using less-specific hashtags like the necklace ones above. Your work will be shown to anyone searching for that specific hashtag. Using generic hashtags like #cake when trying to sell specialized birthday cakes won’t be particularly useful because a cake is something that needs to be sold locally; shipping cakes from the US to Europe isn’t something that’s commonly done nor something there is a demand for. So keep your hashtags relevant.
- Paid Advertising. Facebook knows a LOT about its users, so it should come as no surprise that it’s an amazing advertising platform. Facebook ads target users by location, interests, age, education, employment, and various other demographics. The ability to be very specific with the targeting means that you can zero in on exactly the people you’re looking for. For example, if you are selling birthday cakes, you can target people who have upcoming birthdays in your local area. If you make wedding cakes, you can target engaged couples who are close by. And if you sell handmade goods for babies, you could target mothers’ groups. You can be really creative with the targeting options on Facebook ads, but it’s absolutely essential that you have a firm grasp on who your ideal customers are*link to blog 2*
List Your Items on an Ecommerce Site
With eCommerce, your products are available 24/7. People can easily find what they’re looking for and put in an order at any time of the day without you having to lift a finger. Putting your products onto an online marketplace such as Etsy.com helps to place your goods alongside similar products so there’s a high chance interested people will discover them. Ebay.com is another commonplace for people to search for goods. It will help if you choose a relevant online destination that matches the theme of your products. For example, Etsy showcases unique, one-of-a-kind, handmade or vintage goods, so crafty jewelry would work perfectly on Etsy whereas specialized cakes would not be an appropriate listing.
The Mom and Pop Association (MAPA) has the perfect online marketplace and eCommerce site to showcase all products of small businesses. It’s a place where consumers can go to find what they’re looking for while supporting mom-and-pop shops at the same time.
Add Your Business to Your Local Business Directory
Your local area should have a business directory that you can join, such as the California Business Directory. Business directories are made up of various categories so consumers can easily find the product or service they’re looking for. There are usually a long list of categories and a search function to seek out what you’re looking for if you can’t easily locate it in the categories. This is a great way for locals to support locals and provides convenience for the business and the customer.
The Mom and Pop Association has a business directory for small businesses. It can be challenging for small businesses to gain traction with all the competition in the market, so we’ve put together a community where mom-and-pop shops can join forces and build strength in numbers. Consumers are more aware than ever about supporting small businesses, and the MAPA directory search map makes it easier than ever for consumers to find what they’re looking for while supporting the community.
As far as scaling your business goes, the opportunities are limitless. Small businesses can go very far if they dedicate the resources. But these things take time. Your venture is going to be much more sustainable if you go at a pace you’re comfortable with while getting support and guidance from your peers at MAPA. If you’re just starting out in business, you are now equipped with a few ideas to take the next step with your mom-and-pop shop.