PTM 005: Making Extra Money By Turning Your Hobby into a Small Business with Jeff Block of

Part Time Money PodcastIn this episode of the Part-Time Money Podcast I speak with veteran entrepreneur, Jeff Block, of Jeff took his passion for a hobby, origami, and turned it into a small business that he now runs with two employees. provides custom made flowers for anniversary gifts and all floral occasions. Jeff is also the author of Steel Wool on a Stick – My Hobby on Steroids.

I really enjoyed the interview with Jeff. He gets into how and why he started his business. He gives some insight into starting an online store and driving traffic to it. He also delves into some entrepreneurial advice that only an experienced small business owner could give. Very good stuff.

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Hobby Turned Small Business

Jeff Block’s hobby of origami was the inspiration for his online business, Read this post to learn more about turning your hobby into a small business. After making paper roses for a customer to give his wife on their first anniversary, Jeff realized he wasn’t doing much with the resources he had. He needed to find a way to make that customer a repeat customer. So, he added cotton to the roses and sold 25 more sets on the internet. He spent the rest of the year adding to his resource collection—everything from leather to aluminum—so he could sell roses for anniversaries 1 through 10.

Ten years later, Jeff has over 35,000 customers to his solely online business. He credits his success partly due to the fact that he is from a family of entrepreneurs. After losing his job at a Fortune 500 company, Jeff picked up another one driving for a limousine service. He also began an origami-style greeting card company on the side.

Eventually, he added paper orchids to his online collection, but a friend advised him to create roses instead of orchids, primarily because of their wider appeal. Eventually, when Jeff’s roses were grossing him around $1500 a month, he was able to quit his position at the limousine service. Since Jeff has never had a brick and mortar building, he’s become a student of internet marketing, including using Google Ad Words to promote his business.

I turned my hobby into a full time business with 2 employees. It’s my American Dream come true story. We’ve had over 35,000 customers and nobody knows about us!

Jeff’s Advice on Entrepreneurship and Partnerships

When it comes to entrepreneurship, Jeff teeters back and forth between believing it can be learned and believing that some of it is simply genetics. He also cautions against believing that a business is a great idea just because no one else is doing it. Sometimes, he says, there’s a reason no one else is selling that product or providing that service. A void in the marketplace does not necessarily equate to success, he points out.

If someone wanted to begin an online business of their own, Jeff recommends starting with a cheap site like GoDaddy. While he realizes search engine optimization (SEO) is important, he also admits he has been lazy in his employment of it. However, he does have a few affiliates who have high Google rankings, and they have fed business to him.

I have joked with other people when they talk about entrepreneurship or working for yourself versus a job/a career, and I say well the thing about being in your own business, is the pay really sucks, but you make it up with the long hours.

Jeff warns those who are in the arts and crafts sector against believing that if their work is beautiful enough, people will buy it. He says figuring out a niche use for it, like his anniversary gifts, is important to success. Read about another niche market that became a successful side business here. He also stresses the importance of partnerships. His vases, for example, are acquired through a partnership he has with another woodworker. Jeff helps out the woodworker buy ordering 700 vases from him a year at wholesale prices. It’s win-win for both of them: Jeff gets hand-crafted vases and the woodworker doesn’t have to go to arts and craft shows where he would never be able to sell that many vases in a year.

Mentors, friends, mastermind groups—all of those things have their importance, but personal persistence is the key, Jeff says, to a successful online business.

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