Making money from a hobby
Planning on making money from a hobby?
The idea of writing an article about making money from a hobby came from a conversation I had with a good friend at work. Before I bore you with a story, I want to drop a few jewels first and then I’ll tell you my buddy’s story of getting into business.
I and many others have dreams of beginning a business and being self-employed…. including you (you wouldn’t be here if you don’t). Unfortunately, we all can’t “just do it”, contrary to what the Nike commercials tell us. What we can do is work towards it. Inch towards it. As you gain inches (knowledge), you’ll amass feet (experience), and those feet will grow into yards (credibility), and when you add up those yards….. you get the idea. If you want to start making money from a hobby, take your hobby to the next level a few steps at a time.
Want to own your own restaurant? Play in the kitchen! Experiment! Come up with unique recipes. Discover your own secret spice combinations and sauces. Sell food that you make to your neighborhood. They will let you know if your food is restaurant ready. It’s better to get experience in your field by any means before getting into business. Take it another inch and set up a simple webpage or dedicate a Facebook page to promoting your food selling events. Tell people to sign up on your mailing list to friend you on Facebook to receive information on when the next meal sale will be and where. Move a foot and expand your delivery borders so more people will taste your food (that’s what heat bags are for). Take another inch and donate your time and expertise to local churches looking to fund raise (as long as they are willing to let you advertise a little). From there, you will reach more people and build a following. Those people will let you know when you are ready to take it a step further. Just make sure every inch is documented. That documentation will look great when you are finally applying for your first (and possibly only) business loan. When you want to make money from a hobby, it’s best to have objectives that can be reached by these little steps. Hobbies besides cooking can follow the same formula. Arts and crafts are an obvious example.
Testing the water helps when your doubt and fears, especially of the unknown, get the best of you. Treat your business idea as a hobby that CAN make you money in your spare time.
On to Michele’s story. She’s a friend that I see every so often at work. A lawyer and newly married to a buddy of mine, Jay, who just started his career as a pastor. Now Jay has been approached many times to marry some of the engaged couples within his church, and of course he does so, often. Because Jay and Michele are very popular and involved at their church, they are usually asked to lead in constructing events, both church and non-church related. Michele has been a guiding force in many of these events. Now, whether she is very skilled in the art of setting up events and throwing parties, or if she has just been increasingly lucky, all of her events were success after success. Each topping the last. And with Jay handling more and more wedding requests, who do you think is being asked to plan the wedding and the reception? You guessed it. Michele has been planning many of the weddings that Jay has been asked to minister so far. To Michele, this was nothing more than a hobby for her and she charged nothing for her services. Instead she takes “donations”, whatever the couple getting married felt like giving. She’s done well at making money from a hobby that she’s not charging for.
I asked Michele if she ever thought of getting into business as an event and wedding planning. I asked her if she ever thought of leaving the security and safety of being a lawyer for the unpredictability of being a businesswoman. After a brief pause for reflection, she tells me that was her dream to be a wedding planner. She felt like she had a knack for organizing and enjoyed the feeling she got from seeing people happy and having fun, thanks to her. What stops her from beginning a business based on a hobby she’s obviously good at is her fear that she would fail as a business owner in that industry.
Instead of finishing this story, I will end with this. We all have feelings of doubt. Some of us doubt all the time, but all of us do it at some time (how cheesy was that). It is a security measure. If we never feared or doubted, we could potentially ruin our lives. Unfortunately, those doubts and fears attack our dreams and our potential, and in turn, ruin our lives. Fear can be beaten, ladies and gents. Sure, getting into business is a scary endeavor. You can go a long way with baby steps, or just steps to an objective. Take your time and absorb the experiences. Getting into business will come easier when you pace yourself.
Michele and then discussed what she can do to mirror the operations of a similar company without actually beginning the business she envisioned yet. My suggestion to Michele was to start by continuing to view wedding and event planning as a HOBBY but to treat it as a business by organizing and documenting her experiences. Did something unexpected happen? Write it down. What part of setting up the event was most expensive? Write it down. Where could I have saved more money for the client? Write it down. I told her to make a portfolio, just as wedding planners would (and should if there are some that aren’t…) and to build referrals. Get hand written (if possible) testimonials. Getting testimonials on video are just as good (they can be posted to your website). Interview the guests (briefly). Now Michele is a lawyer so she hit me with the idea of having anyone interviewed to sign a release. I know, sounds extreme right? It’s not if you are a business owner protecting your “assets”. As Michele gets comfortable, then she can make more minor additions to her strategy. If she outsources specialized work such as photography, she could negotiate deals with photography studios.
Meeting a few little objectives at a time will go a long way for Michele when she wakes up one day and decides that making money from a hobby such as hers is the only way to go. Her transition shouldn’t be as much of a shock because of the experience she has built up. And the tangible evidence that she can handle the demands of potential clients, all in her portfolio.