Seeing dollar signs?
Where it all begins
When you begin hooping, you may be like me. You may be just do it for fun or exercise. However, you may find out at some point that there are ways you can make money off of this amazing new adventure! You may even get excited and start to try a few. Don't get too carried away, however. As the title says, be careful what you wish for. Once you go down that road, you should be careful. Some hoopers risk their pure enjoyment of hooping by focusing on making money from it. Follow your dreams, but be cautious. If you allow your goal to make money to get too far, you can end up making a big mistake (or several mistakes). You may start forgetting the purpose of why you started hooping in the first place and lose your love for hooping (which is not something anyone should have to experience). This article is intended to help you know what you are getting into, and perhaps avoid some of the errors I made along the way. I want you to enjoy your pursuits! Here are some of my suggestions that I learned the hard way.
1. Making and Selling Hoops
When I started hooping, I jumped into selling hoops within my first month! I was pretty good at making hoops and was super excited about making a big profit and feeling like a productive, money-making member of society. I had very high hopes for my business and named it "Melissa's Hoops" and then re-named it 'TranscenDance Hoops". What I did not realize until about a year and a half later is that it takes a large sum of investment money to be able to compete with the best. I couldn't even afford the investment to try to sell polypro hoops. If your goal is to be one of the most sought-after hoop making shops or etsy stores, you should know what that takes. I discovered that it would have taken at least $2,000-$3,000 to buy enough in bulk (tubing, tapes, connectors, rivets, push buttons, and other materials) to compete. To be able to sell hoops at a good price and still make profit you must buy large amounts in bulk, which takes a hefty investment. On top of the financial investment, I noticed how much time it took me to make a hoop. I wanted to have the nicest looking hoops I could make and that quality level took a lot of time. I was only profiting $5 or less from each hoop. I was putting at least 45 minutes into each one, and for me, it was not worth it. In order to compete with the other shop prices, I had to keep my prices low and de-value my time spent. I was making far less than minimum wage. This didn't include the amount of hours I spent with marketing and trying to sell the hoops.
2. Teaching Classes
After about a year or so of very hard practice, finding my flow, and filling my brain with as much knowledge as possible, I wanted to teach classes. I got experience teaching others for free first to make sure I could do it. I began with a location that took 50% of profits for use of the space. I thought that was reasonable for months, until I found others that were only seeking 30% and 20%. My advice with that is to strive to teach at a location with reasonable prices/rental fees. Another thing I didn't know is how sporadic student attendance can be. I wasn't sure how it would go in my low-income, poor economy city. I was really positive and excited. I tried anyway and did quite well here and there. Most of the time, however, it has been rough. If you are easily discouraged, I would really take time to think about this. If you are the type that gets depressed or down when you plan something and no one comes, really think about teaching classes. I have a difficult time when I get ready, get there, set up my hoops and things, and wait for students to arrive just to find out they don't come. I still plan to keep teaching, but my time-consuming efforts to obtain new students have been greatly reduced. My point is: do your research, make sure there will be enough interested students, find out the average income level of your city, be prepared for some empty classes, and try not to put all of your eggs in one basket. I tend to put high expectations on my pursuits in life and end up getting disappointed, so try not to do the same. Some areas blow up with large numbers of interested students. Some areas aren't as interested in the activity or just cannot pay for the classes. Think all aspects through and do your homework. Stay positive and motivated, but also accept the reality that it might not work out. Don't allow it to devastate you and lose faith in the world. You don't want to end up making a bad association with hooping and failed dreams/goals. You should hope for the best, but be aware of the potential of having to find a new way.
*Edit: since I wrote this article, my classes have grown in size and attendance! Do not give up hope unless you know for sure it isn't going to work out.
I started wanting to perform immediately after finding my flow and learning a certain amount of tricks. When I felt comfortable with cameras and crowds, I pursued performing. I started with many free performances to get my name out there. I had great experiences and still enjoy it. What I didn't realize is that not every city/area is going to want to hire performers. This area is into hiring bands/musicians and other acts. They really weren't into hiring me to do hoop dance performances. Many of the places I thought were supposed to be professionals actually didn't take the time to call or email me back. I get discouraged when I feel that I am not even worth responding to. I found that is actually common among hoopers. So, that is something to consider within your hooping career/income pursuits. Not everyone will answer your calls, emails, or facebook messages. If they do answer, they may not be interested. It is a tough career choice and takes more work than I ever imagined. Unless you have enough money to pay people to make you well-known, you will be busy. The amount of self-promotion, marketing, graphic design, agent, cold calls, and other work that you must do on your own can be overwhelming. This is usually another job that takes full-time hours for less than minimum wage pay.
Have a back-up plan
The bottom line is that some cities are more receptive to hooping than others. Some individuals are made to do all of these things and make a decent living. The amount of work and time it takes should be noted. My advice is to have a back-up plan so that you aren't left lost and devastated in the case that one or more of these things don't work out for you. Stay positive and don't be afraid to aim high with your goals. Just as importantly, also stay realistic and cautious.