Love what you do and do what you love – words we all hope to live by when it comes to choosing our career path. The rise of bloggers, vloggers and social media stars have seen more and more people turn their part time hobby into full time employment, with famous examples such as Zoella earning an estimated £50,000 a month from a brand built entirely from her bedroom. But how exactly is it done?
Kimberley Bond speaks to home grown entrepreneur Alexander Huntley who managed to turn his part time hobby of making miniature sculptures into a global, war-gaming franchise.
Words: Kimberley Bond
1. Passion (obviously)
This is pretty much a no-brainer, as if you want to risk everything to turn your part time hobby into your job then chances are, you’re pretty passionate about it already. Alex’s passion for his topic eventually lead to him to drop out of his university degree and instead make Warploque Miniatures his full time job. However, Alex warned against any recklessness as you start out, and insists that being focused and committed to your work is the key to success.
“Don’t let yourself become distracted by other things – it’s all too easy to do.” He says. “And if you know you’re going to get bored of it, then don’t bother. Plan for the long haul, as you’ll never know where this might take you.”
Going out into the world of self-employment may be daunting to some, but there’s no reason as to why you’d have to go it alone – your family and friends will be vital in supporting you through the inevitable tough and deflating times each person in self-employment will have to face at some stage. Alex emphasised how important his friends and family were in the process, making what he called all the highs and lows of his initial start-up “bearable.”
“Whether it is helping you out at a trade fair, giving you advice, or even just offering a sofa to sleep on, your support network are your greatest natural resource and must be treasured.”
3. A Professional Network
Venturing out for the first time in a field that you may love, but may not know a lot about, is challenging, so Alex suggests that you learn from the best.
“Do your research and ask people in the industry you’re breaking into for advice; people are a lot happier to help out than you think.”
Having a distinct charm himself, Alex made a name for himself within a war gaming industry just be being friendly and approachable, selling not just his product but his personable nature to clients.
“The benefits of being a small business is that people can see they’re buying from a real person, as opposed to a faceless corporation.” Alex says. “It’s vital that you sell more than just your product, sell yourself as a person; whether that be through an active social media presence, visits to trade shows or one-to-one interactions with your customers.”
Be it beauty blogging or war-gaming, chances are the field you’re hoping to make it into is already saturated with competitors, but Alex argues that this shouldn’t put any budding entrepreneur off. Instead, he urges those hoping to set up their own business to revel in what makes them unique.
“It can be tempting to copy the styles of the market leaders, because that clearly sells.” He says, “But people are much more likely to buy from start-ups if they bring something completely new to the table; make your product your brand so people only need to glance at it and think ‘yep, that’s such and such’s product.’”
Alex’s distinctive style for his brand extends further than just his figurines and board game, it is distinctly seen in his marketing strategy. The video Alex made which accompanied his first Kickstarter campaign a bit more tongue in cheek, vivid and humorous when compared to what’s usually seen on the site from his rather more serious competitors. The video did Alex a lot of favours; it was a huge success, made his campaign go viral and lead to a partnership with one of the biggest miniatures and war-games publishers in the world; all because Alex chose to be a little bit different.
Unlike the majority of start-up advice pages, which stress that you should meticulously plan each detail when it comes to the launch of your business, Alex stresses that you should always be willing to take an opportunity that arises at the shortest of notice.
“There’s suddenly a spare space at a convention? Take it. You’ve been invited to a meeting at the other end of the country tomorrow? Drop everything and go.” He says. “Don’t get stuck in your ways, because your career will be constantly in flux and you need to be willing to adapt for your business to thrive. And anyway, if you were looking for a job where you’re chained to a desk all day every day, you wouldn’t have wanted to do this in the first place, right?”