#shopsmall, #shoplocal. The hashtags are everywhere. It’s no secret there’s a huge push to shop small and local right now. The most recent holiday season allowed us to show our support for the small businesses we love while helping them to stay afloat during these trying times.
Did you know that a lot of these small businesses started as something simpler? Whether cooking great food, keeping little hands busy, or helping others feel confident in any outfit—what started as a hobby or “it’s just something I love to do!” turned into something much bigger.
Maybe that’s you. You’re a cookie baker, a knitter, a designer, a maker—and until recently, the thing you love to do was just a hobby. But lately, friends and family have been asking about what you make. They’ve asked you how to place an order. You hesitantly started putting your hobby out there for the world to see, and the amount of love you received back was overwhelming (in a good way!).
I’ve been there. My small business (Acorn Handmade Co.) started in 2017 as a pair of knitting needles and some yarn. I’ve learned a lot about running a small business since I opened three years ago. But above all, I learned about the importance of believing in myself to make it work.
It takes a lot to turn a hobby into something more, but if you’re determined, confident, and willing to take a few risks, it can be just what you need. I struggled with no longer contributing financially to our family after becoming a stay-at-home mom. Opening a small business was on my radar—and I knew how to knit, so I ran with it. I no longer carry knitted items in my shop, but I have incorporated my love of hand lettering into a lot of what I sell.
If you are ready to turn your hobby into a small business, there are a few apps you’ll need for your smartphone. The “business” app folder on my phone has quite a few apps that I use often, so I organized them into five categories for you. Grab your smartphone, open up the app store, and get to downloading! Here are the five types of apps you need to be using to turn your hobby into a small business.
1. Your Online Selling Platform
One of the most important apps, and one I use daily, is an online selling platform. My shop is currently on Etsy, so I have the Etsy app along with Sell on Etsy. It’s super easy to track orders, view stats, and create a listing right on my phone. Not needing my Chromebook to be in front of me 24/7 to access my website is convenient.
If you don’t currently have an online selling platform, there are many options available to choose from. An online selling platform will provide potential customers with a simple way to place an order. It also helps your business grow credibility and show others you are legit. Customers can leave reviews, which shows the world that you provide quality products and have great customer service.
Popular online selling platform apps include:
2. Social Media Accounts
The other category of app that I use daily is for my business’s social media accounts. I have a Facebook business page and an Instagram creator account (I recommend a business or creator account – both provide valuable insights!). Together, they are linked within the Facebook Business Suite app, though I personally prefer to use the Instagram app by itself.
If you don’t currently have a social media account for your hobby, make one! They are a fun way to keep your community updated on what you’re doing/making. It also provides a nice online experience for potential customers to interact with. You can post videos, photos, behind the scenes peeks, and connect with the amazing small business community.
Popular social media apps include:
- Instagram (App Store/Google Play Store)
- Facebook (App Store/Google Play Store)
- Facebook Business Suite (App Store/Google Play Store)
- Tiktok (App Store/Google Play Store)
3. Email List Service App
I didn’t have an email service until last fall, but I’m so glad I started one. Mailchimp is my email list service of choice. An email list service provides you with an additional way to contact potential or current customers. Some platforms are free to use, which is perfect if you’re just starting the transition from hobby to small business. It’s a fun way to launch items for sale and share more behind the scenes peeks.
If you don’t currently have an email list, now is the perfect time to start. It might be a little scary at first to put your new business out there like that. Just remember that there are people out there who want to support you and sign up. (There seemed to be quite a few email service providers, but unfortunately, not as many were easily available in app form.)
Popular email list service apps include:
4. Photo/Video Editing Apps
I don’t use these apps all the time, but they are handy to have. Product photos are important for a small business. How else can you show a potential customer what you have to offer? Having a way to format or edit photos and videos at your fingertips is convenient, especially if you want to post in the moment and not at a later time.
If you don’t currently edit your photos or videos, it doesn’t hurt to give it a try. You can play around with colors, brightness, etc. Some apps will even speed up or slow down your videos. I use Story Cutter to cut my time lapse videos into smaller segments, perfect for posting in Instagram stories.
Popular photo/video editing apps include:
- Lightroom (App Store/Google Play Store)
- VSCO (App Store/Google Play Store)
- Snapseed (App Store/Google Play Store)
- Story Cutter (Google Play Store)
- Adobe Photoshop Express (App Store/Google Play Store)
5. Task Organization Apps
Owning your own small business involves so many moving parts. Why not have your phone help you stay organized? While I prefer to use the desktop version of my favorite organizational program (Trello), it does have an app. I started using Trello in November when my paper-and-pencil method of to-do lists for orders became impossible to keep up with.
If you don’t currently have any sort of organizational system, START HERE. An organized business starts with everything in its place—even if it’s controlled chaos that makes sense only to you. You can create to-do lists, write down reminders, and digitally cross off items when they are completed. Plus, having task lists for your business right at your fingertips can help you work smarter, not harder.
Popular task organization apps include:
- Notes app (right on your phone! Seriously!)
- To Do (replaced Wunderlist by Microsoft)
Now, go for it!
Making the jump from hobby to small business is scary, but if you feel that calling in your heart, go for it! The small business community will be there to support you every step of the way. You know what you love to do, and you know which apps will help you get it to the next level. So go for it!