7 Tips For Turning a Hobby Into a Side Income

While the recession storms outside our windows, many entrepreneurs are using their new-found time off to turn a long-time passion into a profitable business. Even if you’re still employed (as most of us are), you shouldn’t feel bad about earning a few extra bucks from something you like to do after work.

Turning a hobby into profit is not as difficult as it may first seem. The biggest hurdle is getting over the psychological barrier of believing that you “deserve” to get paid for something you like to do – whether it be writing, model-making, photography, knitting, painting, or anything else.

While it’s true that you won’t be able to sell anything, you can sell just about everything with a little effort. (Errrr…huh?)

Here are 7 solid tips for taking an after-work hobby and making a little extra cash:

  1. Make a list. Many people have so many hobbies and interests, it’s hard to count them on one hand. Focus yourself by making a list of everything you may want to try out, and begin with the hobbies that you’re best at or you have the most interest in. Trying to do more than 1-2 things at once will result in a lack of energy toward all of them.
  2. Search for others doing the same thing. Figure out how they’ve monetized their hobby and try to imagine yourself in their shoes. Then pave your own way based on a model you liked.
  3. Find Internet marketplaces. It’s not just eBay anymore – places like Etsy and others are making it easier than ever to sell whatever it is you’re making or creating to people who like to enjoy it.
  4. Look for local markets. While your product may not have a global audience, or sports big barriers to entry, there’s nothing quite like personal charm. Sometimes a little shmoozing at your local farmer’s market may be just what someone needs to convince them to give you money for your efforts.
  5. Don’t set high expectations. When some people first realize they can monetize their hobby, their dreams run wild and make them want to quit their day jobs. While there’s nothing wrong with a little positive energy, don’t be disappointed if you don’t make millions. Either it’s a monetized hobby, or it’s a full-fledged business – you can’t have the profits of the latter without the additional risk and effort.
  6. Build a brand. Most creative folks have one thing that they do very well that characterizes them – a personal touch that makes their product unique, a “brand” so to speak. Don’t ignore this – embrace it! Your personal brand will help you spread news about your products by word of mouth. “Hey, did you hear about the lady who paints chipmunks in snow??” – you get the idea.
  7. Make your product unique. If building a brand makes your product unique, so be it. But many times, we need a little extra oomph to clarify to the market why they should purchase something we made. Ask yourself – “what makes this better than any other one of these someone can buy?”

With a little bit of luck and a whole lot of passion, you can build your own little hobby business and make the things you love in life pay off.

Photo by Kristea

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