What do you like to do in your spare time?
Do you have a hobby?
If so, chances are that your hobby costs money, rather than bringing money in. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
If you have a hobby, and a little creativity, you might be surprised at the way you can earn money from something you do for fun.
Many just look for ways that a hobby can pay for itself. A little extra income can go a long way in justifying your hobby to yourself and your financial situation. In some cases, it’s possible to turn your hobby into a side hustle that earns a little extra for the family budget — or even into a full-fledged business.
The Internet has made it possible to work from home in a number of cases, turning your hobby into a money-maker that you can manage as a home business.
(Editor’s note: thanks to our friends at Optimal Startup Daily, you can listen to this post using the player below)
From Hobby to Small Business Idea
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 that others would pay to learn? Can you make something that others might want to purchase?
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, look into becoming 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 that 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.
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, or by charging for photo shoots. Even scrapbooking can be a great hobby that 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 that 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 that 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 that 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 that 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 that 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 that she can’t find a reasonably priced wedding photographer, let her know that 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+, 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.
- 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.
Even if you decide to try and take your hobby to the next level and turn it into a business that 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 that 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 that 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.
Image by Tumbleweed TexStyles