Turn Your Passion Into Profit

Making a living doing what you love doesn't have to be a pipe dream. Here are some tips on turning your hobby or favorite pastime into a profitable business.

unique things. Ask the paper to do an article on the service or product you offer.”

When Petgrave began teaching a young boy how to fly helicopters, he turned it into an opportunity to grab free media coverage. “I called the TV station and told them I had a young boy who was learning to fly solo. They came out and covered the story on the local news and we got a lot of mention in the piece.”

For her first major New York City fashion show to launch MSL Collection, Minor mailed press releases to newspapers in major cities and to fashion magazine editors. Not only did she get a standing-room-only crowd of friends and media, Woman’s Day later featured her designs in the publication.

“You can’t just send the press releases and expect something to happen,” notes Minor. “I followed up all those mailings with phone calls.”

When it comes to paid advertising, Frazier warns, “You have to know what vehicle sells your service best. If you don’t know, your ad dollars will be wasted.”

For example, she says the Internet is a huge mover of gift baskets. “The people who buy gift baskets most are out-of-towners buying for someone local.”

Wainwright found that direct-mail brochures and radio ads are best for art shows. “We have 10,000 names on our mailing list. It’s the list for anyone interested in African art and galleries,” he says.

Once your hobby is up and running as a business, be on the lookout for opportunities to expand and grow. Adding services and branching into new areas can help keep your passion from getting buried under mounds of financial statements and paperwork.

Thompson has broadened his entertainment promotion services beyond entertainers to include corporate promotion, taking on clients that include HBO, AT&T and Seagram. To promote Seagram’s Martell line of cognac, he called on his entertainment business contacts and sponsored a major album release party for Puff Daddy’s newest album, Puff Daddy Forever. Celebrities turned out en masse to hear the album and sample Martell, and walked away with T-shirts, gift bags and glasses engraved with the Martell name.

Petgrave now offers tourists and would-be pilots the red carpet treatment when they sign up for his services. “I bought a limo at an auction,” says Petgrave. “Our clients don’t have to worry about how they’ll get to the airport for tours and flying lessons; we pick them up and bring them here. People love it.”

Wainwright has joined forces with Stedman Graham and Associates to develop sponsors for future black art shows around the country.

It’s tough not to take business rejections or failures personally when your business is, well, personal. “When things don’t work out, you can’t get too emotional or too subjective,” says Fallek. “You have to detach a bit and look at what you’re doing as a business.”

And when the inevitable troubles and hardships pop up along the way, you have to persevere. In The New Color of Success: Twenty Young Black Millionaires Tell You How

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