Stranger: “You’re pretty meticulous about all of those photos you’re taking, are you a professional?”
Me: “Me? Ha, no way. I do run a photography website though.”
Stranger: “Oh really, so people pay you for your prints?”
Me: “Nope. I review photo software.”
Stranger: “Oh, so you don’t make any money with it. I get paid for my photos”
I didn’t have the heart to tell this person that my photography site has probably made more than they ever will off of their prints.
There are all kinds of lifestyle businesses out there.
- The Brick and Mortar – If you move to Brazil and start your own hang gliding outfit you’re doing what you love, and have built a brick and mortar lifestyle business.
- The Enabler – This is how I got started. If you’re doing SEO or copywriting simply because you like the freedom it affords, but don’t necessarily love the work, you’ve built an enabling business, because it enables you to do the stuff you do like. Most Location Rebels start with this type of business.
- The Passion – This is what people often think of when they think of a lifestyle business. “Follow your passion, build a business around what you love!” Yeah that’s cliched advice, but when done properly, this can be the best kind of business to own.
Today we’re going to talk exactly about how to get started with that last one. More specifically we’re going to look at the very first steps you should take to build a business around a hobby or other passion.
I’ve personally started a few of these. Some successful, others not so much. However I’ve finally found a formula for this type of business that seems to work really well, and you may be surprised by what’s involved.
Hint: Step #1 is not start a blog.
Want to know what it is? Great, read on young grasshopper.
The First Step to a Hobby Based Business
So if you’ve been reading this site for awhile, you might think I’d say “Get hosting, buy a domain, install WordPress – as a first step. While that is a great step to take, I don’t think it’s the best first step for this type of business.
So what is?
Start a Facebook page.
The single most difficult roadblock you’ll encounter when starting a business like this is traffic. You know there are thousands if not millions of people out there who have the same interests as you, but finding them during your first year can seem like nothing short of an impossibility.
With Facebook you have a giant percentage of the global population who use it, are active and engaged, and you can find them based on their interests.
I discovered this recently while trying to figure out exactly how to launch Breaking Eighty. I have a pretty big audience here, but the fact remains, most people on this site could care less about golf – so I was more or less starting from scratch.
I found that by following the path outlined below I not only had huge engagement numbers right off the bat, but I was adding social proof, and growing the community much faster than I ever did with Location 180.
So, want to know exactly how to do this? Awesome, let’s jump in.
How to Leverage Facebook for Your Lifestyle Business
Step 1: Decide On a Name, Secure Brand Assets
So before you do anything, you should choose a name for your business. We go over this in more detail inside Location Rebel, but whatever you choose, you’ll want to make sure you secure as much of the following as possible:
- Facebook URL
- You Tube
- Any other social accounts you may use
By locking this down early, you’ll be able to make sure your branding is consistent as your site grows.
Step #2: Setup the Facebook Page
There’s a good chance you’ve done this before, but we’re going to do it one more time. It doesn’t need to be perfect, but there are a few key things we’re going to want to make sure we cover:
- Beautiful Cover Photo – This should be eye catching, and idealy have branding. Check out the Location 180 cover photo for an example.
- Concise About Paragraph – Tell me what this page is all about as clearly and concisely as possible. You only have a few seconds to hook people, so spend some time with this.
- Relevant Profile Photo – On top of an eye-catching cover photo you should also make your user photo relevant as well. With Breaking Eighty I used a beautiful landscape shot of a golf course, then used a photo of me playing a hole for the profile photo.
There will be more to do later on, but this sets up the basics for your new lifestyle business.
Step #3: Start Posting Three Times a Day
Trust me, we’re getting to the important part, but we’ve gotta cover the basics first.
Right now, no one will be coming to your site, and that’s cool. But when people do start showing up, you want to prove that it’s a page worthy of their “like”.
This is easier than you think. Spend 45 minutes at the beginning of the week and schedule all of your updates. Then as you see any interaction you can comment and moderate, but you’ll only need to curate content once a week.
Step #4: Fire up Some Facebook Ads
This is where things get interesting.
I’ve never spent much time with Facebook ads. They seemed confusing, and I didn’t totally see the benefit.
Now I’m a believer.
You should have no trouble finding a $50 ad voucher somewhere on the internet – most hosting accounts will give you one if you haven’t ever used Facebook ads before.
Why are we doing this?
The whole purpose of the Facebook ads in this case is to get people to like your page. It’s much easier to get someone to like a Facebook page around a topic they’re interested in, than it is to get them to commit to following a new blog.
When trying to get attention for your new lifestyle business, we want to go for the lowest barrier of entry possible.
So how do you find the right people? Keep it simple.
Action Item: Make a list of potential “interests” people might have related to your business, the more you can niche down the better. For example, with Breaking Eighty my list looked like this: golf, pga tour, golfing, sunriver golf resort, champions tour, lpga tour.
Obviously “golf” is about as broad as it gets, but for this test it worked pretty well.
I then created a series of three ads and tested different combinations. I took the one that performed the best, and then tested it with three different photos.
Trust me, this is about as unscientific as it gets. Once you get into the Facebook ads manager, it’s pretty clear how to do this.
What I found shocked me. With no effort at all most of my ads were costing me about $.25 per like. After just a little bit of optimization, I was at $.09/like.
I was spending $10/day.
My first $50 in free money was enough to get me used to the system and do some tests. Then once I got it dialed in I was getting about 80-100+ new likes for every $10 I was spending.
When you’re constantly adding new people this way, and putting out high quality content on your niche 3 times a day, the interaction numbers become huge.
A good rule of thumb with fan pages like this is you want at least 10% of your audience engaged. So if you have 1,000 fans, you’d like to see “100 people talking about this”
For the first few weeks of this fan page, we were seeing numbers like “1,036 fans, 436 talking about this”, then with WDS I dropped the ball a little bit on keeping things going.
People want to find good resources for their hobbies. Finding these people can be tough however, and that’s why ads are so valuable – they speed up the process.
Step #5: Create Landing Page on Domain
Ok, so you’ve got a new Facebook page with high quality content, good user interaction, and new people coming in everyday.
That’s great, but we want to start a business here, so what’s next?
The most valuable tool you have as a business person or marketer online is your email list. So the next logical step is to start building that up.
You might be thinking, shouldn’t I start a blog or website?!
You could, but if you start it too early, you may not have the momentum to really push the project to the level you’d like to see it at. I started Breaking Eighty earlier than I probably should have. That said, I did it more for the lifestyle reasons than the business reasons.
I wanted a place where I could write about the golf courses I played, so I put it up, and consciously told myself it was worth it, even if the site growth was slower.
Note: To do this properly, you should sign up for Aweber. This is much more valuable than simply collecting email addresses into spreadsheet.
For the full tutorial on how to setup this type of landing page, take a look at “How to Build Your First Online Asset in 48 Hours.”
Step #6: Send Traffic from Facebook to Landing Page
You slowly want to start introducing the idea of the website to your Facebook fans.
Your landing page should give people a compelling reason to want to sign up. This could be the promise of a free gift, early access to something other people won’t be able to see, or some kind of offer unique to your niche.
That said, spend some time on it. Include a BIG, GORGEOUS photo and make sure you think about the copy on the page.
Three times a week, post about your landing page in your Facebook group. This will get them familiar with what’s coming, and entice them to want to sign up.
Step #7: Give Away Something AWESOME for Free.
Within a month or so, you should have prepared something really valuable for the people who have signed up.
For Location Rebel, I created “Location Rebel Arsenal: All the Tools You Need to Work from Anywhere.”
For HDR Software I created “Make Your Photos Not Suck: 50 Tips to Improve Your HDR Photography.”
For Breaking Eighty I created “Breaking Eighty Arsenal: 80+ Resources for When You’re Not on the Course”
If you’re into building a business that allows you to travel, photography, or golf, these are incredible free resources that you’ll gladly give your email address for.
With a lifestyle business, you’ve gotta capture attention, entertain, and provide value – this is one of the best ways to do it.
For more help on exactly how to do this check out “How to Build a Killer List Building Offer (Even if You Have No Product to Sell).”
BONUS: Build Email List with Facebook Ads
When you’re just starting out I recommend following the steps above and simply focusing on getting as many likes as possible. However, if you use Aweber you can setup a new tab and send your ads directly there.
You most likely won’t convert as many likes, but you will start building your email list in the process, which is always a good thing.
You’re Well on Your Way…
Simple enough, right?
The whole purpose of this strategy is to get you the proper base for building a business around an interest or hobby.
You start providing value via the medium with the lowest barrier to entry, and then slowly get them integrated into your ecosystem.
Once you’ve got their email address you can do just about anything you want. You can launch a more full-fledged content based website or blog. You can create paid products and market it to them. You can get feedback from the list on what they’d actually like to see.
The options are really unlimited.
In a future post, we’ll look at more advanced strategies for how to monetize your new lifestyle business, but as with anything, you’ve gotta start with the basics first.
Have you done something similar? Anything you’d like to add? Tell us about it in the comments!