Turning a hobby into a thriving business

When Chrissie Yee saw ANZ’s $5,000 radio advertising competition on Facebook, as part of its $2 Billion Lending Pledge campaign, she knew it would be a great opportunity to diversify Cakes by Jacob’s Mum. Chrissie was one of the winners and we caught up with her to find out how she turned a hobby into a thriving business.

We often wonder if we can turn our hobbies into our day jobs. “Wouldn’t it be great to do this for a living?” When Chrissie Yee’s hobby of making cakes garnered encouragement from family and friends, she did just that. “I’ve always had a passion for being creative and making cakes,” she says. “So I took the plunge and made a wedding cake for some friends.”

After enrolling herself in cake classes, Chrissie launched Cakes by Jacob’s Mum, the distinctive name inspired by the monthly treats she would prepare for her son Jacob.

Chrissie’s ‘can do’ attitude and commitment to customer satisfaction are key factors in her success. “I work with each client to get the best possible outcome,” she says. “Happy customers are what drives me to go the extra mile and what makes my business work.”

The marketing of Cakes by Jacob’s Mum is largely aided by social media. “It’s where it all started,” she points out.

Making use of platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, Chrissie is able to engage with her customers on many levels as well as providing options for them to generate feedback. “Now it’s an integral part of my strategy,” she explains. “Clients write testimonials about my cakes which helps new customers trust me.”

Each of Chrissie’s social media channels are integrated into her website, which showcases her work beautifully. The pride she takes in her work is reflected in her website, giving potential customers a taste of what to expect in the finished product. An online ordering system complements her site and provides a Facebook plugin for customers to add comments.

Testimonials from happy customers also feature on the site, confirmation of Chrissie’s skill and dedication to her clients and to her business. And of course, Jacob is a huge fan!

Hoping to diversify and take her business to the next level, Chrissie entered the ANZ radio advertising competition and won one of the $5,000 radio advertising packages. “Radio’s such an effective medium for advertising and for engaging a large audience,” she says. “Most of my clients are satisfied return customers and referrals, so hopefully radio advertising will convert listeners into loyal repeat customers.”

When the campaign launched, Chrissie was impressed with how professional it made her business sound. “The radio advertising was great, my business sounded so professional when I heard the ad!” she exclaims. “It was really cool.  Friends and family heard it and thought so too. It was exciting and I felt I really am running a small business and not just a hobby.”

Chrissie’s done what many of us have thought of doing – she’s turned her hobby into a business. And she has some tips for anyone thinking of doing the same:

  • Take a risk – there’s risk involved; where Chrissie put her savings and reputation on the line, she believes this is offset by the unlimited potential of being in charge of your own business.
  • Put in the hard yards – be prepared to put in long hours and to work hard. If you do, you can reap the rewards.
  • Put a price on your abilities – set a price point on your skills and stick to it. You need to believe that you’re worth every penny.
  • Go the extra mile – it’s the best way to achieve customer satisfaction and it’s what keeps them coming back.

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