How to lose your hobby and make it a successful online business in the US

The story of how you can turn your hobby into a successful online business, teach people how to take pictures of bottles and make a profit from it.

In our new issue on YouTube channel Startup & Travel about startups, technology and innovation in Silicon Valley, the owner of the online school Photigy Alexei Koloskov, who managed to build the largest school on subject photography in the world. In this article, we will describe how to build a company with an annual income of 500,000 dollars out of your hobby.

From Kiev to Atlanta

In the US, Alexei Koloskov moved from Kiev in 2001. When he flew to Atlanta in his pocket was only $ 200. He got a job as a programmer in a large American corporation. He worked in a large team. Everything was going great.

His first major acquisition in a new country was a spontaneously purchased camera. This technique then cost $ 500 - it was a lot of money for Alexey at that time, but he decided to follow the seller’s advice and bought it on credit.

From hobby to business

The programmer began to engage in photography for your pleasure. At some point, he thought about getting money from his hobby. In 2006, he and his wife Zhenya registered a company and began, in parallel with the main work, to engage in commercial photography. The main idea was to create a studio that focuses on the creation of the final product for Adidas and Coca-Cola.

Things went well with the photo studio. Novice entrepreneurs gave primitive advertising, sent postcards and some customers came to them. In parallel, Alexey continued to work as a programmer 8 hours a day and 5 days a week. He was engaged in photography in his free time: in the evenings, weekends and holidays. The photo studio occupied its niche - a subject photo and it was almost the only ones in such a field, which caused a constant influx of customers. Over time, Zhenya left her main job and completely switched to the photo.

On the advice of a friend, a photo blog was created. There laid out the final product, and then how it is done. There came people involved in similar things.

A personal brand was created, because no one before me particularly shared information on how to photograph correctly. “How to capture a girl” or “how beautiful it is to photograph a sunset” is so complete, but to photograph a ring with a diamond is technically very difficult. You need to know with an accuracy of a millimeter how to organize such a photographing.

Business and hobby are different things.

The photo was a hobby for Alexey. When he began working with her on an “industrial scale”, he realized that he was losing the buzz.

“When you work for a client, he often tells you what to photograph and how. Advertising agencies come up with an idea of ​​how it should look. There are complex orders, but they are not always there. When they come to you, you need to take a picture of 35 glasses, but tomorrow it will not be glasses, but bottles of wine. Perfectly! But it's boring, ”says Alexey.

As soon as the hobby turned into a workflow, the former interest in it was lost. At some point, this happened to Alexei Koloskov. Then he began to engage in the evenings not a photo, but a car tuning. Just for yourself and loved ones. Is free.

From photo studio to online photo school

Photo blog has gained popularity. On Google+, the number of followers reached 2 million. The creators were even invited to the conference of photographers in San Francisco, where Koloskov was one of the speakers.

People began to criticize and say thanks. At some point, they started asking him: where can I buy your tutorials? In fact, the readers themselves suggested the idea of ​​creating an online photography school.

The couple decided to teach for money. They put the camera and started recording the first lessons for the English-speaking public. First laid out in the blog. Later did workshops. They sold tickets to them on the Internet. About ten people came to the very first master class, and three came from other states. The very first three-hour Workshop over the next few years brought several tens of thousands of dollars.

The businessman immediately explains: “Why did we stop at an online school? Directly looking for a buyer is difficult. Logistics and other nuances. I was always interested in making money while sleeping. You sleep and make money. This is only possible online. ”

Photigy has a lot of competitors. Now they are growing like mushrooms. However, ordinary photography schools teach everything, while the Koloskovs' business has occupied the niche of subject photography. Photigy is the biggest here. Now the service has about 40,000 registered users. They teach specialists who then make photos of cans, bottles, create special catalogs, and then sell them on eBay or deal with orders from advertising companies.

Self-discipline and outsourcing weak points

By 2012, Alexei wanted to leave his work as a programmer, especially since she brought less than a photo. January 3, 2014 was his last day in the corporation.

However, after leaving his job, he faced an unexpected problem - self-discipline. The entrepreneur says this in the following way: “When you work in a corporation, your time is formed automatically. You get up, go to work, rest. When this is not, you can sleep before lunch. It’s hard to organize your time properly. ”

“I often share my schedule. Some days I do photography, I write tutorials, and some day I completely devote to management, analytics and planning. ”

And, nevertheless, the withdrawal from the “full bread” work under the contract may be unpredictable. Therefore, the creator of Photigy recommends making the choice between a hobby and work as late as possible. Need to have a safety cushion. “We didn’t have pillows and it was very difficult. You should not give up work in favor of the hobby until this pillow is formed. ”

Salesmen and Kulibins

Alesia conditionally divides all people into two categories. The first category is salesman, that is, an entrepreneur, the person who can speak, convince, sell. The second is “Kulibins” capable of shoeing a flea, doing cool things with their hands. People who know how to do something cool usually sell themselves badly, and those who can sell well, they have little ability to do anything other than sales.

He belongs to the second category. “I first do, and then sell. And this second half for me is the most difficult in business. The only correct solution in this situation is to outsource your weakness. To hire competent people - “salespeople,” who will do many times better than you, and you go about your business, ”says Alexey.


People search

It seemed that by hiring different people, putting them in the right places, everything would fly. Unfortunately not. You can not hire the right person if you do not know how to do it yourself. If you know how to do it yourself - more likely that you hire the right person. You can ask the right questions, test. You have to learn a lot and go into various details. After all, if a hired person is mistaken, it is first of all your mistake, beating on your own finances.

Initially, Koloskov spent only his time. The costs, as such, were minimal. Server, advertising, etc. And then when I started counting expenses, some months were unprofitable. However, in 2017, Photigy began to bring about 500,000 dollars.

Instead of the total

Photigy School is the largest school in subject photography in the world. On many sites, magazines, billboards that you watch, often there are works of school students. Which, by the way, is quite nice.

“Each has its own story. I will not say whether it is good to turn my hobby into a business. After all, sometimes money and hobbies do not go together, ”concludes Alexey.

Nevertheless, if you highlight the main tips for turning a hobby into a business, it is:

  • Decide on what you really like.
  • Understand whether you want to turn a hobby into a business?
  • Believe in your strength.
  • Find your niche, occupying which you will successfully compete in the market.
  • Properly organize your work schedule.

Share what else you know successful examples of creating a business from a hobby.

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