1. Find Your Passion
It has never been more possible to turn your passion into a business.
It has also never been more necessary to do so.
The global pandemic caused by COVID-19 has forced the entire world to imagine what “work” looks like. Millions of people around the world have either been asked to work from home or have been told they don’t have a job at all anymore. As businesses navigate this uncertain environment, we will see more and more jobs lost to automation and outsourcing. Touch-less payment gateways, kiosks and similar technologies have been rapidly changing the workforce before the pandemic. That trend will only continue…faster, as businesses scramble to adjust and minimize risks to both their customers and their employees.
Simply put: your passion is the only thing on earth that cannot be automated or outsourced.
Your passion(s) make up the core of who you are. There is no robot or computer that can replace the human imagination when it is burning with the desire to create, to solve, and to transcend.
What do you do for fun or to relax?
What do you love to learn or teach about?
What gives you peace?
What grinds your gears?
What keeps you up at night?
All of these are good questions to start with if you are struggling to figure out what you are passionate about.
Make a list of 5-10 things you are passionate about. They can be ANYTHING!
For example, a few of mine are:
I have created digital businesses that tap into each of these passions.
By following these steps, you can do the same with your passion(s)!
2. Choose a Platform
If you wanted to start an online business in 2005, you either had to know how to develop websites on your own or you had to have the budget to be able to hire developers to build a website for you.
Today, technology has made it possible to create an online store in a few minutes.
The best part?
You can get started for FREE or almost free. From WordPress to Shopify to Etsy to a Facebook page, it has never been easier or more affordable to create an online store and get started selling right away.
Choosing the right platform for you will depend on a few factors. The three things you should consider when choosing a platform are:
First and foremost, you need your online store to perform all the functions you need. If you need to collect recurring payments for a subscription, make sure your software of choice is capable of doing so.
2. Ease of use:
Some platforms are easier to use than others. Many times there is a trade off between ease of use and robust functionality and cost. Shopify and Weebly are both fairly easy to use–even for beginners–however, they are no where near as powerful as WordPress. Conversely, the learning curve for WordPress is a bit steeper.
The final thing to consider when choosing a platform is the cost. With platforms like Weebly and Squarespace and Shopify, you pay a slightly higher fee than WordPress. In those cases, you are also paying for customer support, hosting, and any other benefits that are bundled in your package.
While the cost should be considered, all of the software I have mentioned either has a free or basic option for you when you are just getting started. This is one of the first investments in your business, make sure you take your time and do your research!
3. Decide What You're Selling
A business needs three things to be a business:
1. Something to sell
2. Someone to sell to
3. A way to complete transactions
By figuring out your passion, you have also identified a community of people who share your passion; more often than not, that is who you will be selling to. Once you choose a platform for your online business, you will be able to use one or more payment processors like Paypal or Stripe to collect payments.
Passion businesses are not the same thing as commodity businesses.
As Adam Davidson explains in The Passion Economy, we should never aim to be in the commodity business. A commodity is something that can be easily replicated. Passion businesses must be focused on creating and articulating value. That means that even if you are selling a commodity like tooth paste or toilet paper as a part of your business, it cannot be your business. Passion businesses create value using tools of what Daniel Pink would call the conceptual age. These value-creating skills include: story, empathy, design, symphony, play, and meaning. By focusing on these skill sets, passion entrepreneurs can ensure that the value they create cannot be easily replicated or automated.
There are four models that I recommend for digital businesses to create something to sell.
1. Traditional Ecommerce
Example: You bedazzle shoes and sell them online. An order comes in and you fulfill it with shoes you have bedazzled.
Example: You sell apparel on your online store. When an order is placed, a company like Printful prints the product on demand and ships to the customer. Another example is a DOPE platform you should check out is called Spocket. Spocket allows you to drop ship original products from suppliers in the United States and the EU.
3. Affiliate Marketing
Example: You have a blog and have a Youtube channel dedicated to barbecuing. You join an affiliate program like Amazon’s or Target’s. Using the unique link they provide you, you link to any products that are mentioned in your content. When a customer clicks your link and makes a purchase on the affiliated site, you get a commission of sales!
4. The Directory Model
Example: AirBnB, Uber, and similar companies in the shared economy utilize the directory model. If you think about the core of it, Uber is simply a directory of drivers and riders. AirBnB is a directory of places to stay, things to do, and people looking for them. Using WordPress and a directory template like MyListing from the digital marketplace Envato, you can replicate this strategy to fit your passion business.
How can a “directory” connect the members of your passionate community in a way that creates value for them?
Facebook is the most powerful advertising platform on earth for two reasons: the massive user base and the ability to target those users with laser-like precision. Ever since Facebook acquired Instagram in 2012, small businesses can also reach its over 1 billion users with a single advertising dashboard.
Once you create your passion business, there are several ways to target potential customers using paid Facebook and Instagram advertisements. You can target people based on interests, demographics, and online behavior.
Another way to target users on Facebook or Instagram is to leverage custom audiences to target people who have (or haven’t) taken specific actions–online and offline. You can target users who have responded to an event or you can re-target potential customers who visited a particular page in your online store.
5. Analyze, Adjust, Repeat
The most important step when it comes to starting an online passion business is just that.
Another benefit of using Facebook and Instagram to advertise your digital business is the massive amount of information you can learn about your customers, their interests, and their digital behavior. Harnessing the power of a snippet of code called a pixel, Facebook is able to track its users across any website or mobile application that has a pixel integrated into it.
This information can help you improve your product or service and create new ones. Again, to be in the passion economy, you have to focus on creating and articulating value. Often, as entrepreneurs, we don’t fully understand all the value that we are actually creating until our customers tell us.
They can tell us with words like leaving a review on a product after a purchase or they can also tell us with their behavior, like saving something in their favorites, adding a product to their cart, or sharing it with their friend.
The key is being willing to put yourself and your passion business out there for the world. Once you do, use all of the information you have at your fingertips to improve your platform, improve your products, and improve the way you create value for the people who share your passion!
*This page contains affiliate links.