Turn Your Hobby into an Online Business in 10 Easy Steps

How to Turn Your Hobby into an Online Business

Lots of us have hobbies, and lots of our hobbies have the potential to provide a partial or even full-time income. Specialized bracelets, woodwork, hand-crafted clothing, homemade toys — the possibilities for original, one-of-a-kind products are endless, as is the potential demand.  Why not take advantage of what you enjoy doing most and turn your hobby into an online business?

Online marketplaces like Etsy may seem like the easiest way to start an online store, but then you’re subject to their rules and regulations, which can change at any time. In fact, Etsy recently announced that all businesses will be automatically enrolled in a new advertising program that takes 15% of income from eligible sales — a big chunk of sellers’ hard-earned money!

With WordPress and WooCommerce, you have full control over your content, products, and where your money goes. You can create a store that’s as large (or small!) as you’d like and customize everything to be as unique as your products.

Ready to start a business or expand your sales beyond local shops and farmers markets? Let’s take a look at how to create an online store, make money online, and market your products with WordPress and WooCommerce.

1. Name your online business, purchase a domain and hosting

Choose your business name carefully as it’ll become a core part of your brand. As you narrow down your list of names, make sure that the matching domain name is available.

  • Pick something that’s easy to remember and easy to spell. Avoid hyphens and numbers; these are easily mistyped or forgotten and are harder to describe out loud.
  • If possible, buy a URL that ends in .com. If you choose something other than a .com, make sure there’s no .com equivalent that’s offensive or a direct competitor.

Next, you will want to choose a hosting provider. Here at Courtland Consulting, we have worked with many hosting providers and our recommendation is SiteGround.  With all SiteGround’s hosting packages, you can get a free domain for the first year.

Since you will be using WooCommerce, check out these WooCommerce hosting packages and look for the one that will fit your needs.

2. Install WordPress

WordPress is a website creation tool that will form the base of your online store. It’s open source, flexible, powerful, and completely free, which is why it’s the platform of choice for 35% of the web.

To install WordPress, follow these instructions:

  1. Login to your SiteGround Customer Area.
  2. Click on the banner that says “Get your new site up and running!”
  3. Select to get WordPress pre-installed on this account and click proceed.
  4. Then choose what your login details should be for your WordPress site. You can skip the theme because you will do that later.
  5. Finally Click Submit and WordPress will be installed and configured for you. The login details will be emailed to you.

3. Log into WordPress and configure settings

To log into the WordPress dashboard enter your URL and add “/wp-admin” like this: https://mywebsitedomain.com/wp-admin.

  1. In your WordPress dashboard, navigate to Settings
  2. Go through each section under Settings and configure your website to your needs.

Check out this article for information about how to set up your WordPress settings.

4. Select a WordPress theme

This determines the design of your website. A theme that’s built specifically for eCommerce makes the process of setting up your store much easier. And whether you select a free or paid theme, make sure it’s mobile-friendly and loads quickly.

The free WooCommerce Storefront theme is a great place to start. It’s clean and simple but can be customized to meet your exact needs. It also offers several versions made for specific niches, for example, the Galleria theme is perfect for clothing, while ToyShop is a great option for handmade toys.

To install a WordPress theme:

  1. In your WordPress dashboard, navigate to Appearance → Themes → Add New
  2. Search WooCommerce and find the theme you want
  3. Click Install
  4. Click Activate

After your WordPress theme in installed, go to Appearance → Customize to design your website to match your brand.

5. Install WooCommerce

WooCommerce is an intuitive, customizable platform for selling online. Use it to create product pages, accept payments, and use a variety of selling strategies and extensions to serve customers and increase revenue. You can modify the design and functionality to meet the needs of your specific store and scale as much as you’d like.

Best of all, WooCommerce is free to install and use! To get started:

  1. In your WordPress dashboard, navigate to Plugins → Add New → Search Plugins
  2. Search for “WooCommerce” 
  3. Click Install
  4. Click Activate

The Setup Wizard will walk you through the basic configuration. Congrats, you have a store!

6. Integrate your payment gateway

A payment gateway allows you to securely accept payments online. WooCommerce integrates with all major gateways like Stripe, PayPal, Authorize.net, and Square, along with niche gateways around the world. View all payment gateway integrations.

When selecting a gateway look at the applicable fees, security, and ease of use, and think about whether you want to take payments in person as well. Square brings this functionality to the table, allowing you to accept credit cards at flea markets, farmer’s markets, and events while syncing inventory with your WooCommerce store.

Learn more about choosing the right payment gateway.

7. Create product pages

Now that you have the basic structure of your store, time to add some products — get started with the steps outlined in this article: Adding and Managing Products documentation.

If you’re selling physical products, high-quality photos are key — online customers can’t pick up and hold your products. Take photos in an area that is well-lit and free of clutter. This could be as simple as placing your products on a white tablecloth on the floor.

Show several angles and take close-up pictures of any important details. You might even consider taking a short video to demonstrate how a feature works or highlight details that are be difficult to convey through text.

Then, write a good description. Focus on how the product benefits the buyer. How will it make them feel? What will it do for them? How will it make their lives better? Use language that speaks to the heart of your target audience.

Don’t use jargon and industry buzzwords. You can add technical details farther down the page. Here’s a guide on how to write outstanding product descriptions that draw traffic and increase sales.

8. Create your other website pages

An effective online store offers more than just products; it should give customers all the information they need to make a purchase and convince them to come back. At a minimum, you’ll want a Home page, About page, and Contact page. You may also want an FAQ page to answer the most common questions you receive and make customers feel more confident in your business and products.

It’s also good to create a Privacy Policy page if you are going to taking payments on your site. This article will show you what your Privacy Policy needs.

To create a page, navigate to Pages → Add New in your WordPress dashboard. Then, use the built-in block editor to create unique, beautiful designs without needing to edit a single line of code. Drag and drop text, products, images, buttons, videos, and more! Learn more about blocks built specifically for WooCommerce.

9. Expand the functionality of your store

Once you’ve got the foundations of your store built, you can explore the world of extensions — that is, add-ons that give your store more options and functionality. WooCommerce offers an entire marketplace of extensions that help you increase sales, attract more customers, and manage your business efficiently, including extensions to:

Mix and match extensions to realize any functionality or design vision you have.

10. Market your shopping cart

Turning your hobby into an online business requires more than just building a website, although it’s a great start.  Now you need the right shoppers to find it. Start by identifying your target audience — a group of people with common traits who are most likely to purchase your product — then experiment with ways to reach them. You might post in groups, join clubs, or place ads on sites that are frequented by your audience.

One of the most common ways to find new customers is through search engines. Think about what your customers might type into Google to find the kinds of things you make, and what phrases indicate an intention to purchase. Someone searching, “how to knit a scarf” is less likely to purchase than someone who types, “buy homemade scarf.”

You can place ads on platforms like Google so that your site appears when someone searches for one of these terms. Learn more about Google Shopping Ads and explore the Google ads for WooCommerce extension. You can also save on advertising costs by trying to show up naturally when someone searches for one of these terms. This can be accomplished through search engine optimization (SEO). Read this product-based SEO guide for more information. 

For successful online marketing, put in consistent effort, be willing to experiment, regularly measure results, and refine the process over time. You can  track your success by using Google Analytics.  Read this article on How Google Analytics Can Help Your Small Business Succeed.

In addition to your eCommerce store, you might want to sell on Amazon or eBay. You can integrate WooCommerce with online marketplaces for a seamless way to make money online.

Learn how to integrate WooCommerce with Amazon or eBay.

Hopefully, this introduction to online selling has made you feel more confident about turning your hobby into an online business.

If you do run into any problems or have any questions, feel free to contact our support team at support@courtlandconsulting.com.

 

Written by Sandi Beach, Creative Team Project Manager