Here’s How to Turn Your Hobby Into a Business

What do you like to do in your spare time? Do you already have a hobby?

If so, chances are your hobby costs money, rather than bringing money in—but it doesn’t have to be this way!

If you have a hobby, and a little creativity, you might be surprised at the way you can actually earn money from something you do for fun.

From Hobby to Small Business Idea

Many just look for ways a hobby can pay for itself. A little extra income can go a long way in justifying your hobby to yourself, your spouse, and your financial situation.

In some cases, it’s possible to turn your hobby into a side hustle which earns a little extra for the family budget—or even into a full-fledged business idea.

The Internet has made it possible to work from home in a number of cases, turning your hobby into a money-maker you can manage as a home-based business.

Getting Started

Your first step is to take a step back and look at how your hobby might be able to make you some money. You love doing it (whatever it is), and you’d do it anyway, so consider how others might view it.

  • Could it be seen as a skill others would pay to learn?
  • Can you make something others might want to purchase?
  • Would you get bored of it if you did it full time?

Examples

If you enjoy fly fishing and tie your own flies, you could make extras and sell them to other enthusiasts.

If you know your local area, maybe you want to become a guide. My uncle made money as a river guide for years, subsidizing his love of rafting quite nicely!

My sister-in-law loves doing crochet. The obvious play is to crochet items and then sell them on Etsy.

But, one day, she noticed people were selling patterns for between $2 and $5—or more. Now, she has a regular (albeit modest) income stream from her own unique patterns, since the download can be sold over and over again to different buyers, rather than just once.

Listen to a podcast featuring a guest who turned a unique hobby (origami) into a thriving small business with over 35,000 customers.

If you enjoy cooking, you could sell your services as a personal chef, or help others learn to prepare meals in advance and freeze them for quick, healthy meals.

I know someone who provides consulting services for those looking to start gardens and then preserve (through bottling, or drying) what they grow.

There are a number of opportunities for:

  • freelance writers
  • computer programmers
  • app developers
  • graphic designers, and
  • others who like to tinker around in their spare time

Photography lovers can take photos and earn royalties by offering their work on stock photo sites like Dreamstime or Shutterstock, or by charging for photo shoots.

Even scrapbooking can be a great hobby which earns money. I don’t scrapbook, but if I wanted a scrapbook, I know someone locally who could put one together for me, using my pictures, for a reasonable price.

With a little creative application, it’s possible to see ways your hobby might be monetized.

Of course, that’s the easy part.

Once you know what you are going to do, and how it might provide you with an income, comes the hard part: Selling yourself.

Marketing Your Small Business Services

Once you know you want to try to make money from your hobby, you need to come up with a marketing plan.

My sister-in-law decided to try to monetize when she realized she had a pile of crocheted items—and nowhere to put them. She began selling on Etsy, and then, from there, began developing her own patterns.

However, not every hobby comes with a built-in marketplace you can tap into to sell your wares.

It becomes especially difficult if you are selling services, rather than actual merchandise.

However, you do have options:

Word of Mouth

Let people know you are offering your services on the side. You don’t need to batter people over the head with your attempt to monetize your hobby, but you can mention it in conversation.

If your cousin is lamenting she can’t find a reasonably priced wedding photographer, let her know you have a business, and you could take care of it for her at a reasonable price.

Sometimes, just letting your network know is enough, and they can mention you to friends who might benefit from your services.

Social Media

This is heavily related to word of mouth. You can add your skill or services to your social media profile.

Create a Facebook page, or use Google Business Profile, to help you get the word out.

If appropriate, post pictures of your latest creation, whether it’s a wood carving, a dinner, or a video you created for your friend’s wedding.

Online Search Engines

Post your business online using services like Thumbtack. You create your free profile and then Thumbtack will help customers looking for your service to find you.

You only pay when an interested customer reaches out to you.

Blogging

Blog about your interest. One way to draw eyes to your skills and abilities is to start a blog.

Your blog doesn’t need to be all self-serving. If you are selling flies or offering your services as a fly-fishing guide, you can write blog posts about techniques, the latest news in sport fly-fishing, or some other useful posts related to the topic.

Make your blog relevant and interesting, and you have the potential to draw more people to you.

Local Advertising

You can also be involved in local advertising. If allowed, you can post fliers on community bulletin boards.

If you decide to teach music lessons, visit the music stores in town; many of them have a board for teachers to advertise their lessons.

Some local newspapers offer discounted advertising packages, including the ability to advertise your services online.

Look for ways to become involved in the community through gift shows, art fairs and other events.

Be Realistic

Even if you decide to try and take your hobby to the next level and turn it into a business which will replace your day job, you need to be realistic.

Starting any sort of enterprise takes time and effort. You will probably have to work hard for months—or even years—to find success.

For many people, the reality is monetizing a hobby will merely provide the funds to offset some of the costs involved. A successful business requires a substantial investment of time and a great deal of exertion.

You can’t expect to be rolling in the dough after only a few months.

Don’t Lose the Passion

Of course, there is a balance that needs to be maintained.

While it can be fun to make money from your hobby, you don’t want to end up trapped, losing your passion.

If turning your hobby into a full-fledged business is pressuring you to the point where you don’t enjoy it as much, perhaps you should scale back; just do enough so you can cover the costs of participation in your hobby.

There’s no reason to force your hobby into a business venture if you won’t be able to maintain the passion and enjoyment you derive from doing what you love.

Have you turned a hobby into a business? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Avatar About Miranda Marquit

Miranda Marquit is an author, journalist, and award-winning personal finance freelance writer. Her work can be found at The Hill, Investopedia, Student Loan Hero, US News & World Report, The Huffington Post, and many other outlets.

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  1. Avatar Terry Pratt says

    But seriously, without a brick-and-mortar shop (where people can walk/drive by and come in off the street) I have found that I can’t buy coins at sufficiently low prices to resell profitably.

    You certainly cannot flip (buy and resell) coins profitably on auction sites like eBay; there are too many bidders driving prices up to levels where your (re-)selling fees guarantee no profit.

  2. Avatar Terry Pratt says

    I’m a coin collector. (I started at a very young age when valuable coins could be found in circulation). But I’m not allowed to make my own cois and sell them. Says so in the Constitution.