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Freelancing Stories: Turn Your Hobby Into A Business, With Elena Cito

09 May 2017 • Filed under Freelancing Stories

For this month’s episode of Freelancing Stories, I’ve invited cake designer Elena Cito of Torte Coi Fiori to share her inspiring story and how to turn your hobby into a business. And although Elena didn’t have a proper freelancing story to tell, she has talent, creativity and is also doing quite great over on Instagram.

I was excited to interview her to hear about her tips on building a career as a creative while she’s still in the process. Today we’re covering how to turn your hobby into a business, a real profitable career of dreams! Together with the best tips for growing a following on Instagram, and so much more…

Want to be the next to tell a story? Get in touch! >>

Freelancing Stories: Turn Your Hobby Into A Business, With Cake Designer Elena Cito

What do you do?

In my free time when I’m not working or studying, I find my creative outlet in designing, baking and decorating cakes with fresh flowers. This is where Tortecoifiori (literally “flower cakes”), my personal blog, comes into play. Together my Facebook page and my own #tortecoifiori hashtag, used to store all my cakes on social media.

I like to try and reserve some of my time to document and share what I create with pictures. And it’s thanks to social media that I’m being able to expand my very small business into something bigger, lately! What has been just a hobby for a long while, seems to start yielding the first results.

Last month I taught my first course, started new collaborations… now I’m excited to see what the future will bring!

Freelancing Stories: Turn Your Hobby Into A Business, With Cake Designer Elena Cito

How did it all begin? When did you discover this passion of yours?

Although I’ve always pursued classical studies and I’m currently studying economics, I’ve always been a creative at heart and always felt the need of finding a creative outlet. During the years I’ve discovered myself passionate to a lot of creative hobbies: from calligraphy, to cardboard working, to table styling and floral design.

Baking has always been a constant in my life instead.

I can remember so neatly when, as a little girl during my Summer vacations in Puglia (Italy), I found myself charmed by my grandma’s hands making homemade pasta. Or when at the small age of 6/7 I was already baking breakfast cakes by my own.

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I can’t say exactly when I found out of this passion of mine, but I can surely remember when and why my #tortecoifiori were initially born. Just a couple of years ago, in a perdiod when my family and I were going through a rather rough spell, while listening to Levante’s “Le Margherite Sono Salve” (Levante is an Italian singer and songwriter I really love), I had the idea of a cake, completely white but covered in daisies, in reference to the song’s title. And this is how it all started!

What was your biggest goal or dream when you started?

I started decorating my cakes with flowers as a pure personal hobby. It had no real purpose if not filling my time with a creative activity. It was only when I started seeing an interest towards my arrangements on social media, that my dream has shifted to becoming somewhat of an inspiration to others.

How was it, when you started considering to turn your hobby into a business? Anything you didn’t expect?

Seeing my hobby growing into something more has been exciting and extremely time consuming at the same time. Because of the fact that I work and study, I can’t really dedicate all my time to it.

What I couldn’t expect was seeing this passion opening my way towards new opportunities, that, quite paradoxically, are very close to what I’m studying. At the very moment I’m interning in the marketing department of the same chain I’m running my cake design courses for, for example!

Did/do you have to face adversities?

Unfortunately yes. The main adversities came from the fact I need to find a balance in the way I manage my time. I’d never want social media and cakes to limit the time dedicate to my studies. My main priority today is still completing university.

Being able to organize my time between exams, cakes and growing my following on social media is rather complicated. I get distracted a lot and that can demotivate me from time to time.

Freelancing Stories: Turn Your Hobby Into A Business, With Cake Designer Elena Cito

What’s your biggest goal for your creative outlet at the moment?

I have to admit, I’d love to publish my own cooking book! With photos, family recipes and, of course, a good amount of flowers.

But then, if I think of my biggest life and career goal, that would be turning my hobby into a business. And maybe finding (or inventing) a job that can be both a creative outlet for me, but also allow me to put years of studies into practice. This is something that would make me feel extremely satisfied, to feel like my job is able to let me express all my different passions.

Tell us the secret! Any tips you’d suggest to anyone with your same dream?

Tips? Oh I have so many!

First of all, find the courage of doing what you love and showing what you can do. If you are considering to turn your hobby into a business, use social media in a productive and coherent way. Avoid to let chasing likes and followers become an obsession. But try and understand what you want to communicate instead.

Curate your Instagram gallery finding a distinctive element you want people to identify your pictures with. For me this is making sure that flowers are always (or almost) present in my shots: fresh, dried, embroidered, printed.

To feed your creativity always remember to have a look around and let yourself be inspired by what you see: a book, a plant, a concert, a show.

But most importantly: forget about envy. I saw a huge difference in my followers number only when I stopped caring about what others were doing. Of course it’s important to grab the good out of whoever you have around, but only if that helps with your inspiration and with showing what you can do.

Want to be featured in the next episode of Freelancing Stories? I’d love to hear from you! If you run a freelance business (of any kind) and would like to share your inspiring story, please feel free to get in touch!

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Freelancing Stories: Turn Your Hobby Into A Business, With Elena Cito