Discover How To Turn a Hobby Into a Successful Business
By Sean Tinney October 12, 2020
This is the dream of many aspiring entrepreneurs. In fact, over 627,000 new businesses open each year in the United States alone.
Maybe you’re one of those fortunate small business owners, or perhaps you are trying to figure out your own path from passion project, to start up, to Fortune 500. Okay, I may be getting a little ahead of myself with the Fortune 500, but why not dream big!
So how can you get from point A to point B (or even point C)? You learn from successful entrepreneurs who forged a path for their business.
Meet Frankie Croker, who turned her hobby of creating handcrafted bows for children into a thriving business.
Turning a Hobby into a Business
Frankie Croker always enjoyed crafting but was especially interested in designing hair accessories. When she first started making them, it was because she enjoyed doing so, not because she had aspirations of starting her own business.
However, it wasn’t too long after that Frankie realized that this was becoming an expensive hobby. That’s when she started thinking about selling her accessories. But she didn’t know where to start.
The answer turned out to be Etsy.
Early Days of Etsy
There are over 39.4 million active Etsy buyers in the world, so that seemed to be the best place to start selling her products. In November 2016, Frankie started her business littleWshop on Etsy.
Early on she relied on the traffic from Etsy and the extra work she put in promoting her store through social media channels. Frankie’s business was a success, and she soon started developing a loyal customer base.
But Frankie didn’t really know anything about running a business. She thought you just put your product out there and sold it. She admitted that there were missed opportunities along the way.
Her business was growing, but to take the next big step in her journey, Frankie needed to focus on marketing her small business.
Marketing Her Small Business
Running a small business needs to be more than simply selling a product or service. To be successful, Frankie knew she needed to establish a relationship with her existing customers. She needed to take that prospect or new customer and convert them into a loyal customer. With a loyal following, she anticipated more sales and new business through referrals.
This approach is called the marketing funnel. The marketing funnel is a tool that helps you visualize the customer journey, or the path a prospect takes as they become familiar with your company, from introduction to conversion (and hopefully beyond).
Email marketing is a great way to establish a relationship with your existing customers. Unfortunately, Frankie didn’t use email marketing right away.
“Looking back, I wish I had started my email list from the very beginning, because I found the people on my email list are very loyal, they purchase, they’re easy to promote my product to.”
Frankie didn’t start capturing email addresses and communicating with her customers through email until almost 2 years after her business was launched. At that time, Frankie admits to not fully understanding how to run a proper business and admits she missed opportunities during her learning journey.
By her own admission, she was intimidated by email marketing.
“I was really intimidated because I didn’t know what to do or how to get started. So I avoided it for a very long time.”
New to Email Marketing
Being new to email marketing, Frankie didn’t know where to start, so she went with Mailchimp because it was free and because she recognized the brand. But she quickly found out that it was difficult to use.
“I’m coming from a standpoint where I am tech savvy. So it’s not like I have a learning curve when it comes to tech. I can pretty much pick it up really quickly or read a blog post. And I’m like, OK, I got it, you know? So I don’t know how those that aren’t really tech savvy, how they figure out Mailchimp.”
It’s important to find an email service provider that is easy to use and has the features your business needs to excel. Frankie learned this lesson the hard way by choosing Mailchimp.
“Mailchimp is a very clunky platform. It’s really hard. It’s not very intuitive. The setup process was very difficult. It didn’t make a lot of sense. And so that’s why I left.”
In addition to the features an email service provider offers, you need a partner. A company that truly cares about your success. An email service provider that will treat you like you’re their only customer. A company that does more than email.
Why AWeber was the Perfect Email Partner
Since Etsy was the main source for her business, Frankie knew that to be successful she needed to find an email marketing platform that would integrate easily with Etsy. And that’s when she discovered AWeber.
In addition to being able to connect with Etsy, she found AWeber’s platform easy and, if she had any questions, she knew AWeber’s customer service team was available 24/7. Still being relatively new to email marketing, being able to connect with AWeber 24/7 was truly a game changer.
Incorporating Landing Pages and Sign Up Forms
In addition to sending frequent email communications, Frankie uses the AWeber landing page builder to create awesome looking landing pages for her new product launches.
She uses these pages to get her existing and potential customers excited about new product launches. And she has a sign up form (also part of AWeber’s features) that customers fill out to be informed when a new product is available. These sign ups forms automatically filter into a new list. This allows Frankie to easily send targeted email communications to that group about the product launch.
Grow Email List
It was easier for Frankie to sell her products to her existing customer through email. So to grow her email list Frankie created a sign up form through her AWeber account and easily embedding it on her website. The popup provides customers with a discount for giving their email address. This is considered a lead magnet and is a fantastic way to increase your customer base.
By using the AWeber sign up form, Frankie’s new prospects’ email addresses automatically go into a list within her AWeber account. Now, she can market specific offers to this group.
Building Relationships with Email Marketing Automation
Frankie set up email marketing automation in the form of a welcome campaign. A welcome email campaign is a series of automated emails that your new subscribers get as soon as they sign up for your email list. This automated series is important because it’s the first communication with new customers. This type of email series can set the tone for your future relationship with your customers.
Frankie created a three email welcome series. She doesn’t use these series to sell her products, instead she uses it to introduce her brand. The first email introduces herself and her company while providing a discount as a thank you. The following three emails are used to educate her customers, giving them a little more information about her business and what they can expect.
“I’m very proud of my welcome series. It is very in-depth and a good welcome to my business. And I think people resonate with it a lot.”
Helping Small Business Owners Start a Business with Etsy
I mentioned earlier that to start a business from scratch, you learn from those who forged the path before you. Well, that’s exactly what Frankie Croker sought out when she created Hello Frankie + Co. She wants to use her knowledge and experience to help people turn their hobby into a profitable business on Etsy.
She provides aspiring entrepreneurs with tips, tricks, and advice to be successful. Frankie teach young entrepreneurs how to start a business with no money, how to start email marketing, and what tools and resources she’s had success with along her journey.
“…just helping other Etsy sellers by teaching them and helping them avoid some of the ups and downs with growing your business..”
Robert Stewart10/12/2020 4:56 pm
The key to keeping customers is to keep them informed. An interesting article.