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How to Turn Your Hobby Into a Business

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How to Turn Your Hobby Into a Business

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

A few years ago, my friend Sabah turned her passion for cooking into a chef-on-demand business. She started off serving her local Cleveland area, quickly grew to cover other major Ohio cities and plans to expand even further. She is just one of the many people I know who have turned their passion project into a successful business.

We all have our passion projects. We do them because they’re fun, or we like the challenge, or they’re our way of doing some good in the world. From time to time, though, our niche interests and hobbies lead us to marketable ideas. For many, that’s as far as it goes; they don’t know how to take the next step.

Sabah had a shortcut — she’s married to my friend and business partner, who knew not only the next step to take but all the steps after that. If you’re not lucky enough to have a spouse or friend who can help, here’s how to turn your passion project into a successful business.

Related: Ten Tips To Turn Your Passion Project Into A Business

Hobbies that make great side hustles

So you have a niche hobby, and you’re wondering: How can I make some money from this? It’s important to remember that not all hobbies are created equal, financially speaking. And a niche interest that might have driven profits 20 years ago (collecting Beanie Babies, say) could be a financial sinkhole today.

By keeping a pulse on the zeitgeist, you can anticipate trends and hobbies gaining public interest — and capitalize on those trends. Some, like the following, are side hustle ideas you could start at any time.

Photography

Senior portraits, weddings, special events, professional headshots — quality and affordable photography never lacks in demand. With a website highlighting your work, you can book clients and start earning money from your passion.

Coding

From bug bounty programs to website design, freelance coding offers major earning opportunities. A background in HTML, Python, Java, C++ or a myriad of other coding languages can be a financial boon.

Home design

If you designed your home to belong in an issue of Architectural Digest, others will take notice. Consult on color palettes, furniture selections, room layouts and lighting — and bring your curated aesthetic to the masses with a home design business.

Video and audio production

Whether promoting a brand on social media or starting a podcast, freelance producers can bring a marketing campaign to life. Sell yourself with past work, and mention your experience with programs in the Adobe Creative Suite or Pro Tools.

Gardening

Your green thumb could put some green in your pocket. The landscaping and gardening industry was valued at more than $250 billion in 2024, according to Mordor Intelligence, and if your own garden is thriving, you can fill a niche in your own (proverbial) backyard.

Writing

Can you construct clear and concise copy for a variety of clients? If so, the opportunities are as vast as your vocabulary. Wordsmiths can serve as speechwriters, copywriters, technical writers and ghostwriters, as well as assist with any editing needs.

Baking

Your beautiful cakes, cookies and baked goods could be more than delicious treats; they could be a source of income. Many entrepreneurs found success with home baking during the pandemic, and with proper planning and consistent clients, you can join them.

Vetting if your hobby could be a business

Before you make any hard commitments or major financial decisions, consider if your niche hobby can earn consistent money. Who is the target client? How much are current practitioners charging? How much money do you have saved? How much do you expect to make?

It’s crucial to be clear-eyed about expectations before investing your own money into your venture. The following steps can help you assess whether or not to turn your passion project into a side hustle — or even a career.

Run it by friends

When we have that eureka moment, it sometimes blinds us to flaws in our logic. To get a quick check, run your idea by a few trusted friends. They might be able to point out roadblocks you didn’t think of or know a way to bring your idea to life. For Sabah, that meant asking other chefs for input. Avoid relying solely on one or two peoples’ opinions, but do gauge your friends’ enthusiasm. After all, close confidantes have your best interests in mind.

Analyze the market

Chances are, others have had your idea. Sabah wasn’t the first to think of a chef-on-demand service, but when she analyzed the market, she realized her idea could still work. Market analysis requires thoroughly researching consumer trends and expectations, market size and the demand for your offering.

To truly excel, you must conduct a thorough analysis of your rivals. Although they might offer a comparable product, your goal is to surpass them. Analyze their customer feedback to identify gaps. When you look hard at similar businesses, you might find opportunities to fill the gaps they’re leaving.

Network

Networking with others who have launched their business or product can be invaluable. They’re ahead of you on the journey and can help you avoid costly missteps. If you’re lucky, you might find someone with similar experience and a willingness to mentor you. A good mentor can help you find the path forward when you hit a roadblock. Keep the lines of communication with your network and your mentor open. They know the twists and turns and can save you headaches and expenses.

Devise a business plan

Don’t invest significant money into a project before creating a detailed business plan. Prior steps, such as analyzing the market, will help you write this document, and you’ll want to come away with clear financial expectations. Do the math — calculate your startup and overhead costs, insurance, marketing budget, earnings expectations and taxes. This will give you some base-level expectations and a roadmap to funding, if necessary.

Getting your side business off the ground

You’ve done your research. You’ve talked to friends and other entrepreneurs. You’ve analyzed the market and built a business plan. Now it’s time to take the first big step: getting your side business off the ground.

Turning passion into profit takes work. Don’t be discouraged. There may be moments of doubt and anxiety as your business slowly ramps up. Lean on mentors, and consult your business plan. Like Sabah, if you’ve done the proper pre-launch work, you can keep your head down and follow the roadmap. The following steps can position you for success when turning your niche hobby into a business.

Build an MVP

In the software development world, a minimum viable product (MVP) is a way to test your idea with a small group of early adopters. It’s essentially an early product version with just a few core features. For Sabah, the MVP was a limited menu with a select set of chefs — and she was one of them. Once she proved her idea would work, she hired more chefs and added more meals to the menu based on the feedback she got from her customers. Early and genuine feedback is the goal of an MVP. After all, it’s easier and less expensive to make changes at the beginning of the development cycle than in the middle of it.

Related: 5 Tips for Solidifying MVP, and Why It’s the Most Important Aspect of Building a Startup

Set achievable goals

Be realistic about your first-year financial expectations. In fact, it’s common for new businesses to lose money in their first year of business as they pay back initial investments and build consistent customer bases. Sabah set goals — both financial and personal — that she could reasonably achieve. But don’t mistake this for easy goals. You should be ambitious but practical when planning to achieve your goals.

Get help

Sabah didn’t build her business alone. She knew she needed help building the web applications her fledgling company needed and outsourced that work. Trying to do everything leads to stress, burnout and costly mistakes. It also takes you longer to get to market and could mean competitors beat you to the finish line. Engage freelance help or outsource product development to a team with the knowledge and bandwidth to quickly build a high-quality product.

Knowing when to get help involves recognizing your strengths and weaknesses. Maybe you can build the product but need help with market analysis. Or maybe you need help with building a brand identity and marketing the product. Outsourcing some of the work frees you up to focus on what you’re good at and can take stress off your shoulders.

Related: Asking For Help Is Good For You and Your Business

Keep your finger on the pulse

Markets and trends can shift rapidly, so it’s essential to keep tabs on competitors and monitor your customers’ needs. The last thing you want is a product that’s outdated by the time it launches or a business plan built around last year’s “it” thing. By staying up-to-date on market and cultural trends, you can be ready to shift priorities when the time is right.

It’s been a joy to watch my friend’s business grow. She’s met challenges with grace and never lets setbacks slow her down. And that, too, is key to turning your passion project into a successful business: believing in your vision enough to stick with it, no matter what.

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How to Build Trust and Transparency With Your Customers While Taking Their Data

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How to Build Trust and Transparency With Your Customers While Taking Their Data

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Innovation starts with identifying the outcomes customers want to achieve — which is why most companies rely on modern tools and technologies to acquire vast amounts of customer information for creating personalized customer experiences.

You need your customers to share their details, including preferences, to ensure you create a seamless, engaging and personalized customer journey. However, this need is at odds with the growing concerns surrounding customer privacy. Now, more than ever, customers are growing increasingly protective of their personal data.

According to a survey conducted by Gartner, consumers are less comfortable with brands collecting other types of data, including browsing history. Only 27% of respondents feel comfortable sharing information pertaining to their employment, financial data and personal health.

Users know the risks associated with their personal information fueled by various privacy breaches, data thefts and increasing regulatory scrutiny. Hence, businesses striving to innovate and meet customer demands must navigate the complexities of privacy protection since customers trust brands that value their privacy security.

On the other hand, the stringent privacy regulations, including the GDPR and CCPA, are even more concerning. These regulations demand businesses to collect, store, and manage customer data securely. Failing to adhere may entitle the business to pay hefty fines and even reputational damages.

In a nutshell, if a business wishes to jump on the innovation bandwagon, it can’t ignore the inherent privacy risks, especially when collecting vast amounts of customer data. Let’s unpack why businesses must be more vigilant about customer data security and privacy when innovating and learn how to navigate this complex landscape.

Related: Why Your Company Needs to Rethink Its Purpose to Acquire Loyal Customers — And Drive More Sales.

Why you need to innovate with privacy on top of mind

Delivering seamless user experiences is vital, but ignoring privacy security wouldn’t please your users. Stats reveal that users worldwide are more concerned about their privacy than ever and wish to do more to protect it.

On the other hand, when we see things from an organization’s perspective, they have a typical mindset of invoking technology’s true potential to innovate for improving user experiences. However, ignoring privacy and security could be the worst strategy in today’s business landscape, especially when your customers know the importance of their privacy.

No matter how unreasonable it may seem to prioritize privacy in today’s world, where data-driven decisions dominate, embracing privacy protection can eventually open up new avenues for growth and innovation.

Users are more likely to engage with digital platforms and applications when they trust that their privacy is respected and their personal data is secure. They love to share personal information, along with their preferences and participate in innovative initiatives.

Consequently, a deeper understanding of user preferences and needs helps businesses develop effective and targeted innovations.

Why ignoring privacy regulations will spell trouble for your business

The relationship between innovation and privacy is quite evident. As organizations navigate their technological advancement journey, privacy regulations guide them toward a sustainable future where innovation does not affect or compromise users’ fundamental rights.

Whether it’s CCPA or GDPR, every regulation guards privacy rights and protects organizations from legal obligations. Furthermore, organizations that cater to customers across the globe shouldn’t ignore the importance of adhering to various data privacy regulations, as failing to do so may entitle them to pay hefty fines.

What’s worrisome is that if your organization’s reputation is tarnished for not adhering to global privacy compliances, your potential customers won’t trust you and will inch toward your competitors with all the necessary compliances in place.

And regarding innovation, you can freely collect essential information about users, and they won’t mind if you adhere to the latest data privacy and security regulations.

Strategies for privacy-driven innovation

1. Prioritizing a privacy-first mindset

Organizations that don’t prioritize privacy at every stage of their product development and innovation initiatives will not be able to win customer trust.

Hence, it’s essential to lay the foundation of your product by equally emphasizing privacy along with other aspects, including user experience, usability, compliance and marketing. Collaborating development, security, user experience and marketing teams to emphasize privacy security is perhaps the need of the hour for every business striving for success.

2. Prioritize transparency tactics — communicate clearly, win trust

If you establish clear communication with your customers regarding data collection, usage and protection, you can quickly win customer trust and loyalty. Most customers are reluctant to share their personal information just because they aren’t sure why an organization is demanding it in the first place.

Once they’re comfortable sharing essential information, you can use this data to drive meaningful innovation, such as offering personalized recommendations, suggesting products/services based on their preferences, and more.

3. Tap the potential of technology

Embracing cutting-edge privacy-enhancing tools and technologies can help you navigate your innovation journey seamlessly. Using robust privacy management tools, identity management platforms and multi-factor authentication can eventually help build lasting customer trust and loyalty.

Furthermore, using cloud platforms to scale rapidly would further enhance user experience without compromising security.

4. Optimize data collection

A data-minimization approach in which organizations collect only essential data and maximize its value helps deliver impactful results. Admit it: No innovation is possible without knowing what your customers want and their pain points. Effectively analyzing essential data can help boost targeted innovation efforts, ensuring impactful outcomes.

5. Skyrocket innovation with powerful partnerships

Last but not least, collaborating with privacy experts, regulatory bodies, and industry peers to exchange knowledge and best practices can accelerate your innovation efforts. Businesses can embark on an innovation journey flawlessly through collective support and expertise.

Related: This Unique Marketing Strategy Is Winning in 2024 — Here’s Why (and How You Can Implement It Successfully)

Navigating the nexus of innovation and privacy

While navigating the innovation landscape, organizations shouldn’t overlook the undeniable nexus between innovation and privacy. Hence, ignoring privacy while pursuing innovation could hamper customer trust and lead to legal obligations.

Emphasizing a privacy-first mindset, coupled with transparent communication and technological advancement, are undoubtedly pivotal strategies for unlocking the true potential of innovation while safeguarding customer privacy.

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How to Determine The Ideal Length of Your Marketing Emails Your Customers Will Actually Read

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How to Determine The Ideal Length of Your Marketing Emails Your Customers Will Actually Read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Email marketing is booming: last year, 52% of marketers said their campaign’s return on investment (ROI) doubled, while 5.7% of marketers experienced an ROI four times larger compared to 2022, a Statista report shows.

How can you create similar results for your business this year?

The effectiveness of email marketing comes down to a few key factors:

  • Knowing your audience and its pain points and desires.
  • Creating emails that respond to those specific needs.
  • Getting your emails in the inbox, where your subscribers can interact with them.

As the CEO of a B2B email marketing company, I often hear from customers about their top challenges. A big one? Creating emails that really engage and drive results. Getting the content, length and audience targeting just right is tough.

Related: How to Get People to Open – And Read – Your Emails

Most of your prospects prefer shorter emails

If you’re struggling to make your emails more engaging, here’s an aspect you may be overlooking: just make them shorter. Recent data from a ZeroBounce report shows that 66% of consumers prefer short emails, and only 6% favor longer ones.

But keep this caveat in mind: For 28% of people, email length becomes irrelevant if the content is well-tailored to their needs and interests.

It’s no surprise that people prefer shorter marketing emails. When inboxes are clogged with messages, why would you opt for a long message instead of a quick note? Concise and direct emails respect your prospects’ time and have a higher chance of getting their attention. But while most people prefer brevity, the quality and relevance of your emails are what truly capture and retain interest.

The message is clear for the 28% who don’t mind the length: When an email resonates well with their needs or interests, they’re willing to invest more time, regardless of word count. This segment of your audience is receptive to more in-depth content that speaks directly to their challenges.

How to determine the right email length

So, how do you strike the right balance between brevity and substance? The key is to start with understanding your audience. Segment your email list based on behaviors, preferences and past interactions. This segmentation allows you to tailor your messages more precisely. Also, you probably send different types of emails. That aspect alone should guide your approach:

  • Newsletters can be longer and cover several pieces of information in more depth.
  • Drip campaigns can consist of a series of emails that gently push your prospects closer to a purchase. Those emails can be short — sometimes, a few lines followed by a call-to-action (CTA) is enough.
  • Targeted campaigns, such as a discount or free offer, can have an engaging image paired with a couple of sentences and a catchy CTA button.

If you’re still unsure whether your email is too long, here are a few tips to save you time and make things easier.

Start with a clear goal

Every email should have a clear purpose. Whether it’s to inform, increase engagement or drive sales, your goal will dictate the necessary length. Don’t add fluff just to extend an email; keep it as long as necessary to fulfill its purpose.

Choose simplicity and clarity

Use simple language and clear CTAs. Marketing emails rarely benefit from any metaphors. Your email should guide readers smoothly from the opening line to the desired action without unnecessary detours.

Personalize to the last detail

Use what you know about your customers to tailor your emails. When marketing emails feel personal, people care more about the message and less about the length.

Test and adjust to what your audience likes

Studies can point you in the right direction in terms of consumer preferences, but only you can determine what your audience responds to the most. Before sending your next email, consider A/B testing different lengths. Then, analyze your metrics to see what performed best.

Improve your layout

Sometimes, the way information is presented can affect how we perceive the length of an email. Breaking text with relevant images or using bullet points can make longer emails appear more digestible and engaging.

Related: 4 Things You Can Automate in Your Email Marketing That Will Save You Time and Drive Sales

Ask your subscribers

Asking for opinions shows you care about serving your audience better, so why not include a poll in your next newsletter? Allow your subscribers to tell you how long they’d like your emails to be. Nothing beats direct customer feedback in helping you create more effective campaigns.

Bonus tips to increase email engagement

Here are a few extra tips to help your next emails get more clicks:

  • Try to keep your subject lines between 30 and 50 characters. Not only will your subscribers process them faster, but keeping your subject lines short ensures they display well on all devices.
  • Check your email list health to avoid bounces and the likelihood of landing in the spam folder.
  • Assess your spam complaint rate – it should be under 0.1% to comply with Yahoo and Google’s new email-sending rules.

Also, remember your goal is to connect with your audience genuinely, no matter how many words it takes to get there. If your email ends up longer than you’d planned but addresses a topic many of your subscribers care about, don’t worry. Engaging content can often justify a longer read.

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Get $60 off This Portable VPN Travel Router

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Get $60 off This Portable VPN Travel Router

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More than 50% of ransomware attacks targeted companies with fewer than 100 employees (according to StrongDM), so it’s important for businesses to use powerful VPN services. The problem is that the monthly fees can add up. Now, however, you can get robust portable VPN protection with a Deeper Connect Air Portable VPN Travel Router.

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The plug-and-play setup is effortless; no configuration is required. You can connect up to five devices simultaneously, with each able to enjoy unlimited streaming of favorite content around the world. The VPN blocks ads and unlocks geographical restrictions. There are also parental controls to keep your children safe online with a single click, as well as enterprise-level cybersecurity features, including military-grade encryption for maximum protection.

Unlike many VPN solutions, the Deeper Connect VPN travel router doesn’t slow down your internet speed. Its 300 Mbps connection and more than 80,000 worldwide nodes allow you to seamlessly stream anything you like at lightning-fast speeds, no matter where you are. Better yet, it has intelligent software that will switch nodes depending on your internet usage, utilizing multiple nodes simultaneously to support different applications.

It works as Web 3.0 infrastructure and for Blockchain mining. It’s the ultimate all-in-one internet security solution.

Get a Deeper Connect Air Portable VPN Travel Router for just $159 using coupon code: CONNECT, a 27% discount off the regular $219 retail price.

StackSocial prices subject to change.

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