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* Refer to the BUILD YOUR DREAM BUSINESS resource page for an easy, comprehensive list of recommended tools/services for all aspects of starting and scaling your business(es).
Turning your hobby into a hustle is basically scaling and structuring your passion, hobby, or an activity that makes you happy into a source/stream of financial income.
Please keep in mind that you don’t have to make or turn every hobby into a hustle/business, and you certainly shouldn’t feel pressured to. Some hobbies and pastimes are there to give you the necessary break/recharge time/fun so you can continue to be consistent with work and every other aspect of your life and self-improvement. Like we talked about in How To Turn Your Happy Into Your Hobby, intentionally practicing and reserving time for things that make you happy and positively relieve stress/offer balance and emotional/mental stability is an integral part of self-care and growth.
HAPPY → HOBBY → HUSTLE
Getting right to it:
Write down a list of the top three to five things you have been consistently invested or interested in over time, even on and off. These are typically going to be things you enjoy and find ongoing pleasure and satisfaction in, like hobbies or fun pastimes.
Think actively about what specifically you enjoy about what makes you happy, and why. This is pinpointing the value it offers you, which is the premise of making it your hustle because it is that value you will harness and provide to others that will make them happily part with their money in exchange for it, thereby leveraging it into a sustainable business.
In this day and age, the most sustainable and best-leveraged business model is one that is digital or based online, at least to some extent. Even if you deal with physical goods, you need an online presence to get reach and exposure for your business and brand that you simply cannot even begin to dream of if you’re limited to just your immediate vicinity. You cannot scale to really big numbers (six, seven, and eight figures) if you limit your reach to who lives where your business runs. Another critical aspect an online business offers is significantly lower overhead and costs. This can be the difference between ever starting a business at all, let alone getting it off the ground. The third advantage is flexibility, allowing you the freedom to build, run and scale from any in the world, provided you have a (preferably good) internet connection. This means you don’t have to be physically present in any specific country or continent to start a business and make money from what already makes you happy.
There are several options you can choose from to build your online presence and business, including social media platforms like YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook. However, the major pitfall of building your business on existing, high-traffic platforms like this is that you don’t own or even partially own them. If Facebook decides to shut down or suspend your account (even if you didn’t do anything wrong, which unfortunately definitely happens) then you’re pretty much shit out of luck. You lose your account and, by default, your business and your customers/clientele/buyers/members because you’re effectively building on someone else’s land. In order to prevent your hard and smart work from ever potentially meeting that kind of fucked up fate, you have to be intentional about where and how you’re “housing” your business from the get-go. You must actually own your business and all it encompasses (products/services and access to customers) at all levels and times. Otherwise, you’re pretty much renting and it’s only a matter of time before the lease expires.
The two main things to not only consider but prioritize are where you house your business (products and services) and where you communicate with your customers about the business. The former will be your website and the latter will typically take the form of an email list.
Before we get into what platform to use, you have to think about and choose what you want to call your online business, and this will be your website’s domain name. Basically, what you see in the URL bar whenever you’re on a website, e.g., www.google.com which is a main domain, or domains.google.com, which is a subdomain of Google’s domain name. The same thing goes for this site. The main domain is youniqorn.com, and its subdomain is membership. youniqorn.com. As a rule of thumb and based on firsthand experience, I STRONGLY recommend that you don’t use the same service to register your website’s domain name and hosting. And you ABSOLUTELY should not get your domain as part of a hosting package or bundle, because then your website’s name, brand and literal existence online becomes dependent on that hosting bundle /plan. If you want to change it or even switch hosting providers as your business needs grow/change, you will end up losing your domain name because it does not exist independently. You should always purchase your domain name(s) as individual /standalone products so you and your business are not held hostage by a shitty hosting provider. Google Domains is currently my one and only recommendation because of how simple, straightforward and efficient in pricing and registration it is as a domain registrar. And the good thing is, they don’t provide website hosting services at all, so you’re forced to keep your domain(s) provider separate from your web hosting by default. Take time to come up with a name you really like and reflects what you and your brand are about but also don’t overthink it. The domain search bar will let you know if it’s taken or available so you can proceed accordingly.
WordPress is the most popular web platform, currently housing over 42% of the internet, Youniqorn included, and with good reason, one of which is being open source and therefore inherently more open and prone to innovation, creativity and sharing as a standard practice. This allows for a field day for being creative and standing out with your business branding/aesthetics (themes) and functionality/features (plugins). Naturally, this is the platform I recommend, and the one I’ll focus on.
Keep in mind that WordPress comes in two forms or “branches” so to speak. WordPress.com, is a hosted service, offering different plans depending on your needs. While this offers convenience, like we talked about above, it’s still its own platform, and you would still be building on someone else’s land, not yours. WordPress.org, on the other hand, is a free piece of software that you can host yourself with a hosting service, and as a result, you actually own your website in totality. You are never at the mercy of having your account suspended or shut down because you own it and are in direct control of all the files and data it entails. The importance of this alone cannot be overstated enough if you intend to scale your business to any significant revenue. You’re going to be investing time, energy, money and other equity into your business, so you better actually own it.
While WordPress.org itself is free as a platform/CMS (content management system) which allows you to build and run your website(s) without knowing how to code or needing to be a developer or even remotely tech savvy (as in, if you know how to send a WhatsApp text or comment on a YouTube video, you’re good) you need to host your website (which is essentially a folder of files) to make it available on the world wide web for other people to see.
If you’re a complete beginner on WordPress, the good news is you’ll learn quickly, especially with the help of this guide. The most efficient way to learn something new is to learn from someone who’s already done/doing it, and this is especially true when you need to get your business up and running. You don’t want to get bogged down and endure delays because of technical hurdles. The advantage of WordPress is that it’s so popular so you’ll have no shortage of readily available information on any and every aspect of it at any given stage of your business’ operation, whether you’re a spanking new beginner or a decade-long veteran with a village of websites under your shiny gold belt.
In working with WordPress, the single most important aspect of your business’ presence/existence online is how, where, and by whom it is hosted or “housed” so that the digital files that make up your website can be viewed on your phone or laptop by you and others.
The two hosting providers I recommend are Bluehost and Siteground.
To create a WordPress site for your new business, here is an outline of the following steps:
Go to Siteground
Pick the plan you feel currently suits your business best at this stage of your growth.
You’ll be prompted to pick or enter a domain name. Again, you should already have yours from Google Domains.
Finally, you’ll need to create your new account and enter your payment information. Make sure you verify that everything looks good and you have the plan you selected.
Once your submission is successful, log in to your new account and use the built-in, one-step WordPress installation to create a new website for your business, or migrate an existing WordPress site. Their support is top notch, with both call and chat available 24/7 so if you run into any issues whatsoever, rest assured that you and your business at any stage are in good, capable hands.
Your hobbies are generally going to be your niches. Your brand and/or domain name might actually be centered around/reflect this in some way. Cater to those audiences. Don’t try to be a resource or source of value for everyone or the “masses”. That is not only fool’s errand, but it’s actually (and ironically) unproductive and counterintuitive. You tend to gain more (in both audience quality and money) when you focus on providing value to a specific group of people with specific pain points or problems that they need solutions for–solutions they’re happy to pay you for. I know it can be a challenging mindset shift, but resist the temptation to want to appeal to everyone. It won’t work, anyhow, and that’s a GOOD thing. The same way that not everything makes you happy or want to invest hours of your time, the things that you find valuable and worthwhile simply are not for somebody else. Focus on the people whose values align with yours. Then the marketing becomes easy.
Examples: Hair Care (General Niche), Natural Hair (Specific Niche), Coily/Type 4 Textured Natural Hair (Very Specific Niche).
Fitness (General Niche), Yoga (Specific Niche), Cat Yoga (Very Specific Niche).
Food (General Niche), West African Cuisine (Specific Niche), Nigerian Cuisine (Very Specific Niche).
You generally stand to make more money the more specific your niche(s) is/are. Your audience will be smaller in size, but far more engaged and responsive, which means they are also likely underserved and will value your business as a resource that caters specifically to them, which means they are more likely to patronize your business repeatedly. However, you don’t want to be too specific that your audience becomes too small to monetize substantially.
Marketing is part and parcel of business. Good or even great marketing is integral to any successful business. Point blank period. There’s no two ways about it. How you choose to market or even think about marketing your business is paramount. For a lot in life, and business specifically, it’s not what you do, but how you do it. “It’s not the load but how you carry it.” Execution determines success.
Creating an email list of utmost importance. When visitors/strangers land on your site, the vast majority of them will end up leaving, never to return. Remember; people forget. Names. Titles. Birthdays. All sorts of things. Especially today when we have so much vying for our attention. So, even if someone enjoyed your site, they may still not return after they leave and will inevitably forget all about your business. You don’t want that. You want people returning to your platform again and again. Repeat customers. They are the bread and butter of any business, including digital ones. They are your lifeline and without them, your business does not exist. Provide and opt in form so they can give you their email address and/or name with permission to contact them on an ongoing basis about your business. This is your mailing list and the most valuable aspect of your business because it gives you direct access to your customer base, unlike social media.
Choosing an email service provider is, therefore, something you should choose carefully as mail delivery performance is crucial to getting the best open rates, click-throughs, and consequently, money. This is especially true over time.
ConvertKit is great if you’re just starting out. They have a forever free plan for up to 1000 email subscribers so you can keep costs down in the beginning, until you start monetizing your audience, which I always recommend. Sign up is easy and you can do so here.
AWeber is geared toward business owners and entrepreneurs and is a good choice if you’re further along in your digital business and are ready to scale. Check it out to see if it’s a good fit for you at this stage of your business.
Pick one social media platform to learn and get good at so you’re not spreading yourself thin or get overwhelmed/marginal results for your efforts. Investing in a well-reviewed course for marketing on a specific platform can fast-track you to scaling your business and making more money in less time as it will remove a lot of the trial and error in finding what works. Go with a platform that caters to your core/prime audience and niche. Think of where you commune/hang out online for the things you enjoy.
You can utilize social media management apps like Tailwind, Hootsuite and Canva Pro Scheduler to automate/schedule your social posts in advance which will save you a crap ton of time (your most valuable resource) and energy.
Technically, email and social media marketing constitute as content marketing because they require the use of content (an image post, video, email, DM, etc.) to advertise and sell a product or service. But content marketing generally goes much further, harnessing long-form content like blog posts (like this one), podcasts and videos meant to educate, inform, help, and/or entertain your audience. This builds a level of trust and authority in your niche that is harder to obtain with shorter-form content, especially when you’re selling higher-priced items or services. People need to feel like you’re worth not just their money, but their time and emotions. After all, money is just a byproduct of value, not value in and of itself.
Your content is what will offer strangers (cold audience) initial value that will lead them to become your readers, listeners, and viewers (warm audience) and have the opportunity to discover, learn, know, and ultimately trust you enough to become your customers, clients, and members (piping hot audience).
COLD → WARM → PIPING HOT
Strangers → Email List → Repeat Customers
It’s necessary to get a separate bank account for your business or even side hustle. This is good business practice as it makes accounting and taxes much easier, and provides a level of insulation against your personal banking/assets, especially if you register your business as a corporation (LLC).
Lili and Found (use our code YKDXGF to get $15) are great fintech (financial tech) online banks specifically for business owners, freelancers, and self-employed individuals. I recommend these two because they have built-in tax features, which are a very important aspect of your business. Found, in particular, is very detailed in tax write-offs, automatic tax savings from your deposits, and even allows you to pay your taxes from within the app, so you don’t need to use a separate tax app for your business like QuickBooks Self-Employed.
There are three main ways to make money from your content online.
Affiliate products: You promote other people’s products to your readers/clients/customers that align with your brand and message. This is a great starting point and perfect way to test out product or service ideas without taking on the risk of creating one yourself so you can quickly and more easily see what resonates with your audience. Amazon’s Associates program is probably the most popular affiliate program out there, and because Amazon literally has everything, you can get commissions for referring or recommending products to your audience at no additional cost to them (like we do on here).
Ads are an online staple and, despite the widespread use of adblockers, they are still a viable and consistent source of income for online businesses. They are also a very passive form of income, so you can continue to get paid advertising revenue for the same content over and over again, especially with CPM ads. However, in order to get into better paying advertising networks like Mediavine and Adthrive, you need to grow and scale your traffic to higher numbers (50,000 monthly sessions and 100,000 monthly page views, respectively).
This will likely be the (or part of) the foundation/cornerstone of your business and, therefore, the most lucrative one. Unlike with affiliate products, whose commissions and terms you don’t control (though you can and should negotiate with select brands depending on your reach/leverage), you decide what to price your own product/service, whether or not you want to offer an affiliate program for it, and you get all the revenue for a sale/payment instead of just a percentage of it. And, unlike ads, which require a lot of traffic to make decent/substantial earnings, depending on how you price your product/service, you can make far more money with a smaller audience.
Ideally, you want to monetize your business(es) using a combination of all three. This increases your overall earning potential and gives you multiple sources of income (diversification), thereby reducing your risk and reliance on a single income stream, especially long term.
You may not be able to do this in the beginning or until your business starts bringing in some money, but eventually, if you want to scale, you need to understand that you can’t do everything yourself and it’s often better to pay someone to do something who already knows how to do said thing really well instead of trying to learn it yourself. Time efficiency is of the essence in business, and outsourcing tasks you can’t do well yourself, or even those you can but require too much time for their relative return on an ongoing basis (checking email, keyword research, social media management, etc.) is of utmost importance. You don’t have to outsource all or even most of your workload, but you will need to outsource something at some point.
Fiverr is the largest and most comprehensive outsourcing platform for online business. It’s basically the Amazon for digital products/services.
Signing up is easy and navigating/browsing the site for what you need is clear and intuitive.
Pretty much everything you can think of that will go into building an running your business is covered here, so you can easily hire someone to build your website, create an ebook cover, ghostwrite an article, and a myriad of other things.
Employing apps are also a great way to bridge the gap between doing/overseeing your tasks yourself and letting someone else, like a virtual assistant, handle it. This is especially true for design and social media marketing where apps like Canva and Tailwind shine, respectively.
*Refer to the BUSINESS RESOURCES page for an easy, comprehensive list of recommended tools/services for all aspects of starting and scaling your business(es).
There we have it; a comprehensive guide to starting and scaling your business. Parkinson’s Law says if you give yourself a year to turn your hobby into your hustle, then it will take all year to do. So, don’t give yourself 12 months. Don’t even give yourself 12 weeks. I challenge you to start a new or scale your existing digital business in 12 days. That’s less than 2 weeks to be up and running. You can 100% do it. You don’t have to do it perfectly. You really don’t even have to do it well. You just have to do it.
Standardize before you optimize (Atomic Habits). The important thing is to start. Start now. Start somewhere. Just start. If you need help from other Youniqorns and work better with external accountability, then the S+ELLAr membership (coming soon) will be right up your alley. In the interim, you can sign up for the STAR+er membership here, which is currently free.