Whether you’re into crochet or cricket, you could turn your hobby into a business. And yes, you really can do it in just one weekend (kinda).
Many of us spend our weekends enjoying hobbies and learning skills that could easily be turned into successful business ventures.
Whether you’re into photography, crochet, baking, jewellery making, or something completely different (alpacas, cauldrons, shoes decorated with fish and chips… you name it, our customers sell it) why not take one of those weekends to turn it into a business?
It can be easier than you think if you do it online. And we’ve come up with a guide showing you how to do it.
With just two days’ careful planning, you can get the ball seriously rolling with a great website and the foundations with which to build your own mini empire.
Here’s how to go about it, complete with brain food tips to keep you revving…
Saturday should be a day of planning before the real action takes place on Sunday; think of it as a chance to ‘get all your ducks in a row’.
Be realistic about what you can do, and set yourself a few achievable goals, so you have your first milestones to work towards.
Brain food tips:
Have a good, hearty breakfast to fuel all that creativity. We recommend a large bowl of porridge with blueberries and honey – it’ll keep your brain ticking over til lunch (no excuse for snack breaks!)
Take some time to really define your idea. Then test it, question it, and polish it.
What do you want your visitors to do – Read? Buy? Share? Do you want an online shop to sell your products from, or an online portfolio that acts as more of an advert to showcase your services?
And what about your name? Try to come up with something original but that has some bearing on the nature of what you do (or you can do that in your strapline, of course).
- Before you get your heart set on your new name, check current company registrations at http://www.companieshouse.gov.uk/ to see if it’s already taken.You should also check whether you can purchase the relevant domain name – find out more about those in our post: Everything you wanted to know about domain names but were afraid to ask
- For the legal ins and outs of selling online, here’s what GOV.UK has to say about it in the UK - Online and distance selling for businesses
- Create a business email address. Even if it’s just a newly registered Gmail account, a specific address for your business emails can help you look more professional (and not just some old random from off the street)
- Notify HMRC of your status (you can always put this off until later if you prefer). New businesses and new self-employed individuals should register with HMRC at http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/businesses/iwtregister-a-new-business.shtml
Have you done your research?
Do you know who your customers are and what they’re willing to spend? Do you know who your competitors are and how much they charge?
In essence, do your research. Prove there’s a market for what you want to do. You can find much of what you need online – try Mintel reports as well as specialist magazines, and trade and industry associations.
Make sure you keep a record of what you find out, so you can refer to it again in future – your business plan may evolve, but the basic data that supports it is always worth keeping within arm’s reach.
Brain food tips:
For sustained energy release that keeps you energised and focused for the rest of the day, whip up a tasty salad packed with protein and complex carbohydrates. Try adding chick peas, quinoa, nuts, broccoli and spinach with a splash of dressing made with balsamic vinegar. Wash it all down with a green tea – said to improve concentration and focus.
Yep, it’s gotta be done. And nope, we’re not suggesting you’ll be able to create a comprehensive business plan in just three hours. But you can make a strong start – one that will help you with the rest of your prep this weekend.
All the information you collected this morning should help you to compile a basic plan that you can develop over time.
Will you need finance?
Banks are typically the first port of call for new business start-ups, but if your loan application is turned down, you could try everything from dipping into your own savings or asking friends and family for help, to private third-party investment or even crowdsourcing, where you invite members of the public to pledge financial support for your project online check out sites like Kickstarter for that.
It’s also worth looking into business grants, sector-specific funding, government-backed start-up loans and the Prince’s Trust.
So you’re bored of porridge? Try eggs on wholemeal toast. Or yoghurt with fruit, nuts and honey. They all come with an abundance of power, so take your pick.
No two businesses are entirely alike, so tweak the process to suit your circumstances.
Gather any images you want to use and take some photos of your products, your premises, your creative workspace and so on – and remember, a bad photo can do more harm than good, so pay close attention to lighting and focus.
Now write the copy for your main pages – your homepage as well as your ‘about’ ‘shop’ and ‘contact’ pages for example. Check out our SEO tips to give you a steer on what you should be doing to optimise your site.
You’ll also need to write informative captions and descriptions for your photos and products if you’re planning to sell online. All of this can be improved on at a later date, but it’s a good idea to tackle it all now, so you can get a feel for everything in-situ and improve as necessary.
Beware of copyright issues for any images you use that aren’t your own. You can buy stock photography from image libraries such as iStock, or find pictures free to use under a Creative Commons license on Compfight.com and Wikimedia Commons. (Check out our top 5 free image resources post for more info).
You know the drill. Here’s a list of ingredients to design your own brain-food smorgasbord from:
Broccoli. Blueberries. Avocado. Quinoa. Nuts. Eggs. Mackerel. Salmon. Spinach. Kale.Tomatoes. Yoghurt. Dark chocolate.
Naturally, we recommend you start your website with Moonfruit – what with it being ace and free (unless you want to beef things up a bit with a premium package, or want us to build it for you with KickStart).
What you need to do is set up your account and pick a website template that reflects you and what you do (unless you’re designing from scratch, of course).
Then you can start dropping in your pre-prepped content across your key pages. (See our Beginner’s Guide for details on how to do all this).
Make sure you don’t leave any empty image boxes or placeholder text – you don’t want it looking like the website equivalent of Worzel Gummage.
Give your pages, including product pages:
- Clear titles and product names, so people know what they are when they see them in search results or in your catalogue. Also use a URL that incorporates your title or product name.
- Quality content that matches your audience’s need, based on what they are likely to be looking for. There is no minimum or maximum number of words, though 250 words may be considered a very approximate minimum. Organise your content logically – with headings – so readers can easily navigate it, and check for spelling or grammatical errors.
- Key phrases (typically variations of the product name or the most relevant phrase associated with your page) within the content. Don’t overdo this: a couple of instances may well be enough, and the copy should read naturally without looking as though it has been over-optimised for keywords.
Linking and syncing
Now you’ve got your site up and running, it’s time to link it to your other web channels (formal speak for things like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and the like).
This is particularly useful if you have a shop on your site – you can encourage visitors to like and share your products on social media. And you can even set up a Facebook shop too!
Ask friends and family to share your site’s existence with the world – their support could prove crucial in the early days of your new business venture.
It’s also a good idea to add Google Analytics to your site for free insight into how many people visit, how they found you, and what’s switching them on (and off)
Give yourself a pat on the back!
You did it! Now you have the foundations of an exciting new business. Don’t sit back and relax just yet thought…
Now all the basics are in place, you’ll need to build on what you’ve started and create some momentum.
Here are a few things you should think about tackling next:
- Continue to build on your fledgling business plan
- Review your website content, keep it fresh, and optimised for SEO purposes
- Build buzz with your content, social media and other marketing activity
- Decide what your indicators of success are (Site visits? Break-even by a particular date?)
- Monitor Google Analytics to see what’s working and what isn’t
- Keep an eye on this here blog for future guides and inspiration for your new business venture
And do let us know how you get on – particularly if you think we missed anything important.
Have you been inspired to put all this to the test? If so, why not create a free website now with Moonfruit?
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