You can make money from your hobby.
Whether you knit, or write, or make photographs, or grow a vegetable garden, or tinker with cars, or build web sites, or collect ancient coins — you can make money from your hobby.
I’m not saying it’s possible to get rich by playing your violin at weddings, or by weaving baskets from pine needles, but earning money from a hobby is a nice way to get paid for doing something you would do anyhow.
On last week’s show I discussed turning your hobby into a side hustle and I want everyone to know that it’s not as difficult as you may think!
First, by way of introduction, here are some ground-rules for making money from hobbies.
Focus on something you love
Pursue something you’re passionate about. Choose a hobby that you enjoy, and find a way to make money from it. Don’t choose a hobby simply because it might make money and then dive into it with that aim in mind. You should be doing this hobby because you love it; any side-income should be secondary.
Keep it fun. Don’t let it become a chore.
If you’re interested in making money from a hobby but don’t know where to start, think outside the box. What skills do you have that others don’t? Define the term “hobby” broadly. Find something that you can do that most others cannot, something for which other people might be willing to pay.
At my previoius job, I had a customer whose wife loves to cook. She turned this hobby into a part-time job as a personal chef. She prepares meals in advance for wealthy clients. She spends a few hours a day preparing a week-long menu for people who pay her handsomely for her time.
Don’t force it
Your hobby will not make you rich. In some cases, it won’t even net you enough to allow you to quit your day job. It’s quite possible, however, to earn enough money to make the hobby self-sustaining, to keep yourself in new tools and equipment.
My cousin builds computers and works with equipment as a hobby. He makes some money at it. (”Spending money,” he says.)
Don’t underestimate your ability
It’s easy to discount your abilities. When you truly love something, your prolonged experience can give you skills and knowledge that you don’t appreciate.
For example, I have a love for pastries. My brain is filled with facts and anecdotes about all things sugar. I sometimes find myself under the impression that everybody knows that decorator’s icing is much different from the frosting you pick up in the grocery store. But this isn’t common knowledge — it’s specialized.
The same concept holds true for you and your hobby. Know a lot about Napoleonic warfare? Start a blog about Admiral Nelson. Spend time tinkering with bicycles? Open a small-scale bike repair service. Not everybody knows what you know. Don’t sell yourself short.
This can be difficult. In order to actually earn income, you need customers. But just as most people have a tendency to underestimate their abilities, they also tend be uncomfortable with self-promotion.
There’s no shame in mentioning your money-making hobby to friends, family, and neighbors. You needn’t be pushy. Just mention it at natural points in the conversation. If you’ve decided to do some woodworking for cash, mention this when your uncle mentions he wants to buy a new bookshelf.
Marketing can be subtle, but it’s an absolute necessity if you hope to earn money from your hobby. People need to know you’re available before they can hire you.
Hone your skill
Practice, practice, practice. The more time and energy you’re willing to devote to your hobby, the better you will become. The better you become, the more likely that you’ll be able to earn money from it.
Photography is a terrific example. If you’re willing to make a hundred images a day, you can improve your skills quickly, especially if you teach yourself about composition. You may never become a professional photographer this way, but you can develop your skill to the point where you can sell images to stock photo agencies, or enter (and win) photography contests.
Some people are born with natural talent. Most of us have to work at it.