Wednesday, April 13, 2011

How to Turn your Hobby into Retirement Income?

You most likely have at least one or two activities you enjoy in your free time, but have you ever thought that these hobbies can become a basis for your emotional and financial support at your retirement? Definitely, it might be difficult to impossible to convert your hobby into a side business at first, and into a main business after you retire. Use the following guidelines to get the ball rolling:

1.  Start early. Even before you get to the point when you need to get busy at retirement, review your interests and hobbies portfolio, and think, what activities you like to do, and what kind of your skills can bring a joy and some income at the same time. Take some time to think about what you’d enjoy doing, not what you think would make the most money. This is important with a side business because if you have a full-time job, you might be spending nights and weekends on your hobby, and you want it to feel more like fun than work. Otherwise, you’re bound to burn out.

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2.  Explore and investigate.
Be sure to investigate multiple alternative options. We all know that success is not instant. It might take a few tests to find the hobby that brings in the income that you want. Be patient persistent to get positive results.

3.  Transform volunteer work into retirement job.  Seniors who have been volunteering with a local non-profit can find ways to turn their passions into a business. For example, youth mentoring skills may lead to a summer leadership program for teenagers.

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4.  Turn previous career skills into a new retirement venture.
Jobs for retirees often stem from the technology, marketing, communication and sales skills developed during the working years. For example, a retiree could combine a passion for food with well-honed writing skills to start an income-producing blog or website.

5.  Be creative. If you think your hobby could never generate side income, it’s time to get a little more creative. Write down a list of skills and activities you enjoy. Here are some examples of how a hobby or skill can turn into a side business:

    • Love to play the guitar? Perform at weddings or offer music lessons.
    • If scrapbooking is your thing, offer to create scrapbooks for busy moms or family reunions.
    • Got a green thumb? Help homeowners landscape or set up kitchen gardens.
    • Jewelry makers can have a shop up and running in no time thanks to sites like Etsy.
    • A seamstress can make one-of-a-kind baby clothes for high-end, local baby boutiques.
    • Computer-savvy people can help others set up their machines and run routine maintenance.
    • Internet addicts can make some extra cash with internet marketing and affiliate programs.
    • Fluent in a second (or third) language? Translate for a high-traffic blog or give English lessons to native speakers of one of the languages you speak.

6.  Don’t force it. Sometimes a hobby isn't meant to be a highly profitable business, but you can earn enough cash to support your hobby or generate a small income stream. If you try to force your hobby to be profitable, however, you might find that you've sucked the joy out of it.

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7.  Don’t underestimate your ability. You probably know more than you think you do. After all, a hobby is something in which you have a real interest. You've probably read industry news, followed blogs, researched products and materials, and spent hours of time on your hobby. A person who loves to bake might take for granted that anyone could make chocolate chip cookies, when in fact, plenty of people lack the time, while others might set the kitchen on fire. You might think anyone can do what you do, but many probably can’t, don’t have time, or would rather pay someone else to do it.

8.  Research the viability of the business idea.  Before jumping into retirement careers, investigate the competition, the costs involved in starting the business and any legal requirements for operating the business. Create a business plan, clarifying the expenses associated with starting and running the business and keeping you focused on the steps necessary to make the business work.

9.  Market yourself. People shy away from selling themselves. It can be uncomfortable, but it doesn't have to be that way. Make sure friends, family members, and acquaintances know what you do. Often an outgoing friend will sell you for you by talking you up to everyone he or she knows. People like to connect people with problems to people with solutions. Also, when you strike up conversations with potential customers, try not to think of it as selling something. Look at it as solving a problem. If you’re a seamstress and you’re talking to someone who is complaining that they've lost weight and their clothes no longer fit, offer to help with alterations. Remember, you are filling a need.

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10.  Follow up with your customers. Sometimes the best business comes from repeat customers or referrals. If you want to increase your income, it can be as easy as a phone call or email to a recent customer. Hopefully they will give you valuable feedback on your services or product. The gesture shows that you care about what you do and want to provide the best for the customer. Think of how happy they will be and, in turn, how many people they will tell about you and your hobby. Following up is a great way to build a small hobby into a growing business.

11.  Hone your skill. If you want to have a successful side business, you have to continually improve your skills. This shouldn't be too painful, since you've picked a hobby you love! Read books, take a class, go to trade shows, and talk with other people who share your hobby. Keep adding to your knowledge base.

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