How to Make Extra Cash From Your Hobbies: Three Easy Steps

made moneyIf you’re anything like me, and most of the other people on this planet, you’d probably like to make a bit more cash. You’d probably also like to do so without sacrificing all your free time and giving up the activities which you love. A great way to put some extra dollars in your pocket, then, is to make money from your hobbies.

Impossible? All you need to do to get started is to ask yourself three questions…

Question One: What activities do I enjoy doing, which I’m also good at?
Think through what you like doing. Don’t worry at this stage whether you can see any money-making potential in it; the only criteria is whether you’ve reached a reasonable standard of competence at it. For example, if you enjoy writing (like I do!), are you able to write a coherent piece of fiction or non-fiction and have you received positive feedback on your writing? If you love to knit, can you make simple garments which look good and which fit?

It’s important to consider whether you’re good at your chosen activities because in order to make money from something, you usually need to have reached an acceptable standard at it. You don’t need to be an expert, but you shouldn’t be an absolute beginner.

If you’re struggling to think of activities you enjoy, here are a few popular hobbies:

  • Photography
  • Writing (fiction or non-fiction)
  • Painting
  • Knitting and sewing
  • Woodwork and DIY
  • Playing a musical instrument
  • Cooking and hosting dinner parties
  • Sport and exercising

Thought of a hobby? Good… now ask yourself the next question:

Question Two: What have you paid for when enjoying this hobby?
When you’re thinking about how you could possibly make money from your interests, it’s very useful to consider what you’ve paid for while carrying them out. Almost every hobby will involve some expenditure. Think about products (items which you buy) and services (often intangible things that you pay others for, (e.g. training courses, subscription to a membership-only internet site).

Some common examples are:

  • Buying books which teach you techniques
  • Buying magazines about the latest trends in your hobby (there are magazines for almost every interest)
  • Going on courses (such as a crafting course, a writing week, a cooking weekend…)
  • Buying equipment and tools related to your hobby (this doesn’t just apply to DIYers – think knitting needles and wools, sheet music and new instruments, sports gear, ingredients and kitchenware, digital cameras and software…)
  • Paying someone to train you (perhaps a sports trainer, a chef, a college tutor)

Chances are, you’ll have spent a fair bit of money on your hobby over the years. Jot down anything you’ve bought — especially things that you paid for when you were just getting started.

Question Three: What product could you make, or what service could you offer to others?

Look at the list you wrote in question two. Are any of those products or services ones which you could offer to others? For example:

  • If you bought a lot of “beginners’ guides” when you were starting out with your hobby, could you create an ebook to sell to others who are new to it?
  • If you subscribe to several hobby magazines, could you write an article for one or more of them?
  • If your hobby involves regularly buying materials, could you sell these to others (online on ebay or at a local market)?

Think about what skills you’ve learned which you could teach others. You could produce information materials such as audiobooks or ebooks, or send a proposal to a publishing company. You could run training sessions or courses, or get in touch with a local educational institute that might hire you.

If you still haven’t found any area where you can earn money by delivering a product or service to fellow hobbyists, think more widely. Does your hobby produce an end result which could be shared with the world? Every art or craft hobby is suitable here. For example:

  • If you love painting, have you ever attempted to sell your work (either producing prints, or one-off pieces)?
  • If you take great photos, do you just put them on Flickr, or have you tried selling them on istockphoto?
  • If you enjoy writing fiction, have you ever sent a piece to a short story magazine?
  • If you bake the best cakes in town, how about starting a stall at a local market?

Once you start to brainstorm like this, you’ll be surprised how many possible ways there are to make money from your hobbies. Your biggest challenge might be restricting yourself to just one!

Do you make money from your hobbies? Do you have an interest that you think you could make money from? We’d love to hear your tips and ideas in the comments.

Written on 1/09/2009 by Ali Hale. Ali runs Alpha Student, a blog packed with academic, financial and practical tips to help students get the most out of their time at university. Photo Credit: BarGal

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