I have a daughter that loves painting. She was talking to me a while ago about two things. She was talking about trying to find a job, and about her painting. I was kind of confused as to why she would want a job doing something that she doesn’t really enjoy, to pay for something she did. I told her to make her painting her job, and she asked me how to do that. This is what I told her, and it is the general steps that I think you can follow for any passion. This is the slower approach, one that you want to start in your spare time.
1) Read some books. Find the 4-5 most popular books on your subject. Her subject is painting, which is very broad. I recommended that she find a smaller area to focus on. She was talking about using broken glass in her art, which I thought would be perfect. The trick is to find an area that people care about, that can be found with one or two search words. What you are looking for is a “niche”. A niche is a smaller section of a larger topic. If you focus on all of art for example, it is a huge market. If you focus on art techniques using broken glass though, that is a much smaller niche. If you can’t find things on your particular niche, great! That means that there is something out there that you can be the main expert on. Try articles and blogs instead.
2) Talk to some of the leaders in your area of expertise. They can be the authors of the books, or people that already run successful websites on similar topics. Ask them what they think is most important.
3) Find some groups, and get involved. Facebook, Meetup, Craigslist, etc. are all great ways to find people that share the same interests and hobbies. This will also help you to figure out what the hot topics are right now.
4) Write an ebook (optional). If you have read all of those books and forum posts, and talked to a few leaders in your field, you know more about your subject than most of the people that engage in it. Surprisingly few people take the time to master a subject. Put what you have learned into an ebook, and place it on Amazon.com. You can do this in less that a day. There are several great ebooks by Ryan Deiss on Amazon that teach you how to make and publish ebooks. This step is recommended if you need some fast income.
5) Start a website. Using the things you have learned, post up answers to questions that people have. Write down all of the things you have learned, and post up your experiences using the techniques. Use your participation in the forums as a starting place for your customer base.
6) Start a newsletter and start collecting names of people that are interested in what you have to say. These are the people that you will work with to achieve success for both of you.
7) Now that you have a loyal fan base, the proper knowledge, and the idea that helping people do what you love is what you want to do, you can start monetizing. Some ideas include offering ebooks/pamphlets, seminars, selling art supplies directly, using affiliate products, selling your own art work(like on Etsey, Facebook, Ebay, Amazon…etc.), and pretty much anything else that you can think of. What about weekend retreates where you all get together and try new techniques? What about a series of classes teaching other people how to become the experts in their areas of the art world? Google adwords is an excellent program that will place small ads on your site, and then pay you for the clicks that are generated. The point is, when you know what your customers need and want, the monetization part becomes easy.
This is a basic guideline. I would like to give special thanks to Timothy Ferriss, author of “The Four-Hour Work Week”, and to Ryan Deiss, an expert on ebook development and marketing. Also the good people at SiteBuild-It, whose philosophy of helping others turn their passions into their jobs I fully agree with. Last, but not least a special “Thanks” goes out to my talented daughter, Felicia Armstrong, who inspired the mindset I was in to write this article.