5 tips for turning your passion into a successful business (SideGig Ep. 1.4)

What’s your passion? Do you have a talent that you wish could turn into a full-time side gig?

In our fourth episode of SideGig, we’ll show you how one man took his passion and turned it into a successful business.

Doing what you love and making money at the same time is a dream come true for many people. This is exactly what show host Ian Paget has done.

Ian is a successful graphic designer,  who’s grown his side gig Logo Geek into a profitable part-time business.

Ian works as a Creative Director 3 days a week for an eCommerce design agency. The remainder of the week he runs Logo Geek where he offers a logo design service.

As part of this side business, he also writes a blog and manages a supporting Twitter account which has grown to have a following of over 80,000.

In this episode of SideGig, we’ll show you how Ian turned his passion into success and offer some tips for building your side hustle along the way.

Psst...We're building a group of smart, talented freelancers to support each other on LinkedIn. Wanna join us?

You can listen to the full episode below. We’ve also included some quick-to-read notes as well. We hope you enjoy episode four of Sidegig.

A creative beginning

Ian grew up being talented at art, and was given positive feedback which drove him to enter and win a number of school design competitions. He even had his art featured on TV a few times.

Ian went on to study A-levels in Art and Design, and left his formal schooling at 18 to get a paid job, at the advice of his parents.

His first job was for an Exhibition & Display company working as an assistant print finisher.

At this job, Ian was first exposed to a design team who was working in Photoshop. He realized at this time that he wanted to be designing the stands, and not manufacturing them.

The road to a career in graphic design

Ian moved on to an office-based job at a medical company that was mostly admin, but a small percentage involved design.

Although Ian didn’t have a design degree, he was able to work on posters and literature for the international sales team, having the opportunity to ‘play’ with the design software which he had never used prior to this experience.

In this role he was given the opportunity to gain training from a local print company. He went eagerly to each session with a list of questions.

Working on side projects to learn

Ian was able to learn design skills on the job, and continued to practice his skills in his free time.

He started out by offering free design services to bands on MySpace, which he treated as a hobby allowing him to practice what he was learning and to push his skills forward.

Ian chose to offer his design skills for free of charge at this stage as he had no prior experience, and used the experience as an opportunity to learn and to build a portfolio.

His first paid side-gig was a logo design project for a work colleague who had seen his design work. Having not taken money for his skills before and only charged £25 for the work.

Ian’s side projects began to get bigger.

He started working on the designs for a long-term iPhone game project with game developers he had became friends with. This was a very time consuming project, and after the launch of the game and almost 4 years work, he made the decision to no longer work on side projects.

After just a few weeks, the drive to work on a side project quickly returned.

The beginning of Logo Geek

Talking about ideas for side projects with a friend, logo design came into discussion as something Ian had a talent for.

As logo design projects would be short-term and would be a good opportunity to allow him to improve his skill-set, Ian decided to proceed with the idea, creating Logo Geek.

Ian started out by creating a quick WordPress website, which he built in a few hours. Being a minimum viable product to display his work, Ian was surprised when he received an inquiry from someone he didn’t know, which turned into his first client.

Ian’s basic website was the foundation he needed to start his business, which he continues to work on a little at a time.

Even uses his free time to build Logo Geek, including his time during Christmas holidays, evenings and weekends. All the small steps here and there have allowed Ian to create something bigger than he had ever imagined, which has became hugely valuable for his personal career and success ongoing.

The content Ian has worked on has allowed him to be seen as an authority on logo design, but it also performs well on Google too, bringing in continuous high-quality enquiries.

We can learn from Ian’s story:

  • Ask others what your strengths are.
  • What would you enjoy as a career?
  • Could I turn that into a business?
  • Create a minimum viable website – something that will bring in potential clients.
  • Improve and perfect the website over time.

Attracting opportunities using Twitter

Along with the website Ian has worked on social media, putting a focus on Twitter, and has grow an active following of over 80,000.

Posting on social media started as an attempt to attract inquiries.

He started with Facebook, finding and sharing resources he had discovered, and paying ads to grow his following with little success.

He then tried the same activity on Twitter, using Buffer to post, and discovered his following was growing substantially faster on Twitter without the need to invest a penny in ad-spend.

As the following grew, he began to be approached with opportunities, such as being on the jury for international design awards.

Although social media failed to bring in leads, Ian found that social media allowed him to position himself as a logo design expert.

This distinction allowed Ian to attract opportunities which has helped him gain back-links to his website – a big part of Search Engine Optimization – improving his position on Google.

As Google is where Ian’s inquiries come from, he puts a lot of effort into social media to create opportunities that are otherwise impossible. These opportunities have continued to improve his SEO standings, as well as position him as the go-to expert for logo design.

Putting all his effort into Twitter has caused Ian to work on a lead magnet; Logo Design Tips from the Pros, allowing him to grow a large email list. This means that if Twitter was to come to an end, he can fallback on his email list to continue to communicate with the audience he has worked hard to build.

As Twitter is the ‘cocktail party of the internet’ it’s a great way to network with people. It’s easy to find people interested in a specific topic, and interact with specific tweets. This means you have endless opportunities that are ready to be taken.

Ian suggests that Twitter is ideal for those starting out, but advises not to use it for sales. Instead use Twitter to position yourself as the go-to expert, and to get to know people in your niche who you could one day work or collaborate with.

Relationship building cannot be measured as a business metric, but it’s essential for building future opportunities.

Today Ian has a superb position on Google in the UK, with keywords such as ‘Logo Design UK’, ‘Logo Design Manchester’ and ‘Logo Designer’ on page 1. This leads him to have hundreds of inquiries every month, allowing him to have a profitable side business.

He plans to continue to grow and serve his audience, creating content and resources that he hopes to bring in additional revenue.

Ready to start a side-gig? Listen the full episode here:

Keep the conversation going...

Nearly 10,000 of us are having daily conversations over in our free Facebook group and we'd love to see you there. Join us!