From Hobby to a Business: The Reality (Comic)

#entrepreneurfail Passion as a Business

Pursue your passion…and you’ll never work on your passion a full day in your life…

Wait…that’s not how the old adage goes, is it? Isn’t it true that you if you work on something you love, your’ll never work a day in your life? What’s this about not being able to work on your passion?

Well the truth is, while there are benefits in pursuing your avocation as a vocation – you’re not going to have too much time to work on that passion when it becomes a business. You don’t get paid for just pursuing your hobby! You get paid for distributing and selling your passion.

Freelancers know this all too well. Say you have a talent that you want to share and monetize: Baking? Web Development? Design? As you start offering your service, the most of your time will not be working on your expertise. The reality is that business development, marketing, sales, finances, tech support, and other day-to-day activities will take a longer portion of the day than the actual skill you are offering to clients. Also, many solo entrepreneurs have a side job to help make ends meet as they are growing their businesses.

For bloggers, Derek Halpern from Social Triggers says most spend 80% of their time creating content and 20% promoting it; these proportions are exactly the reasons why most bloggers fail. He claims that the most successful bloggers don’t spend most of their time blogging! In fact, they spend 20% of the time creating content and 80% of their time promoting it.

All in all, the thing to remember is that starting a business involves MUCH more than just your skill set and yes, you will have to wear many, many hats and serve as a jack of all trades for a while.

Did you pursue your hobby as a business? What was your experience? Did you get to spend enough time working on your talent?

This comic has been adapted from #entrepreneurfail: Startup Success


Nail your startup launch with Public Relations. Here's How.

Getting press for your newly launched startup can be hard. Really hard. But it can provide tons of upside and quickly get you the first few thousand users you’ve been craving. While nothing in Public Relations (PR) is guaranteed, I’ll tell you how to put your best foot forward.

When we launched WhichBus, a past project of mine that got founded at a StartupWeekend, getting in the press was the primary way we planned to drive traffic to the site, as it was bootstrapped with a lacking business model.

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We worked on it for exactly a year and not quite sure what to expect. Here’s what we did.

Start building relationships early

We started seeding the press well before we launched by building relationships. Some local tech press regularly attend Startup Weekend, so we made it a point to introduce ourselves and tell them a bit about WhichBus. It didn’t yield much in the beginning, but was fruitful in the end. We kept the relationship up indirectly over the next couple of months by engaging on Twitter and commenting on their blog posts.

Make an awesome press kit

Once the relationships were seeded and launch was near, we built out a detailed press kit, which you can find here. As you can see, it includes:

  • Logo in high-resolution
  • Screenshots of multiple formats (homepage and routes page)
  • Launch overview

The launch overview was the most important file in the press kit. It answers many questions the press will have, like what is your startup about, why it’s different, and why  should the press care. Basically, you are writing the blog posts for them. Make it as easy as possible for them to cover your startup, because they’re busy people.

Make the pitch flawless

In the outreach, it’s really important the pitch is flawless. It needs to quickly communicate what your startup is and why it matters.

There have been a number of blog posts on this, but the the formula tends to look something like this: [Name of company] [product / service] for [target user], [benefit or special sauce].

Here’s what we came up with for WhichBus: WhichBus is a simple, beautiful way to navigate public transit in metro Seattle.

Pitch multiple angles

When preparing for your outreach, it’s important to think about all the angles you can be pitching. The more angles you have, the more outreach you can do.  Benefits, technologies, design, founders background, and so forth could all provide different angles. Since WhichBus only worked in metro Seattle, we targeted local: tech press, neighborhood blogs, transit geeks, and public bus drivers on Twitter.

When doing the outreach, it’s incredibly important to:

  1. personalize the message so it’s relevant to who you are talking to (sometimes we’d link back to similar articles on their blog) – no form or BCC mails;
  2. keep it short and simple;
  3. be honest, transparent, and patient.

Results and closing thoughts

Our efforts paid off in the end. The launch ended up being covered by a local tech blog which drove 606 visits, a neighborhood news blog which drove 193 visits, and a local transit blog which drove 51 visits, all within the first weeks over launch.

What launch PR tips do you have?