Turn Your Hobby Into Green
Guest Blog: By Lilly Nelson
My brain is always going at three hundred miles an hour without stopping, even when I try to sleep. A hobby is a great way to slow my mind down for fifteen minutes and let me relax. I am in no way a hoarder, but I do have a lot of hobbies that find their way onto tables and couches in piles that diminish as I finish a project only to swell again. My friends occasionally complain about my less-than-perfect house. They then remark on the “beautiful scarf” and ask me how much to make one for them. Game-set-match to the hobby hoarder. Twenty dollars richer and all in my spare time.
I have been making money off my hobbies for years, starting in High School. It’s a fun way to make a little extra spending cash in my spare waking hours and it pays for my hobby. If you keep reading you will find some considerations you might want to make before becoming a hired hobbyist. The hardest part of this is getting started, but once you do, you might never go back.
Don’t be Choosey
Be creative. Do you have extra ingredients after baking a special cookie for your neighbors during holidays? Great. Take some extra to your son’s soccer game and sell them for a dollar a piece with some hot cider on a cold day. Making money using your hobbies is about making money while doing something relaxing that you already excel at. Do you want to make money as a painter? Great! Do you paint? No? Now is not the time to pick a hobby out of a hat. Don’t drop big bucks trying to learn something you think you’ll make big money at. You might spend all that money to find you have no skill at all.
Free Market Strategy
Before you buy a billboard and print up your business cards, let me tell you a story. I built my mother a mobile chicken coop, also known as a “chicken tractor,” in June. She lovingly dubbed it “The pecking Palace.” Complete with tin roof and vinyl siding, it’s perfect for her eight egg layers. I ended up building two more for her neighbors, and I still don’t have a business card. What does this prove? Word of mouth is a beautiful thing. I made a Halloween costume entirely out of duct tape. For Halloween 2012 I already have two costumes to make. I sold a scarf today sitting in the break room at my office. I don’t have a business card, I don’t advertise. I just craft in public. It’s free.
Give the People What They Want
People change throughout the year. Sure it’s perfect to get a jump on the competition, but to sell knit hats and gloves in the middle of June is a nearly impossible task. On the flip side, I love to make knit hats in the shape of animals. In the mall this year I counted four kiosks selling the exact same thing. Am I discouraged? No, I just learn to balance things out. During the spring and summer I sew more often. During the early fall and winter, I knit. One more thing, make sure people want your product in the first place. Yes, the blanket with sleeves folks did a great thing with the Snuggie. Who knew? But that doesn’t mean your handmade Eco-friendly pet tap shoes will fly off the shelves.
I’ll Tell You When I’ve Had Enough
In the past five years I have made money building chicken houses, painting nurseries, sewing ballroom dance gowns, decorating wine bottles, and countless other things. Why so many different hobbies? I pick things up easily, but also, they stopped being fun. No matter how hard you try at some point your hobby will stop being fun, and start being work. When this happens you need to finish the project, and then quit the hobby. You may choose to pick it up later, but when it stops being fun it is no longer hobby for profit. It’s work.
Some people find a new career in their hobby. Some, not everyone. Don’t think of quitting your day job any time soon. In the end you’ll be fortunate if you make a profit of any kind, but some are able to support their hobby. I find myself in the fortunate few who can go into a craft store and not spend a dime of the money I make at my day job, and that is a great feeling. Are you relaxed now?
Lilly Nelson is a Jill-of-All-Trades. She is a professional actor, certified CPR Instructor, dancer, domestic, and much more. Thanks for reading.