Is your hobby a drain on your budget? Would you like it if your hobby paid for itself, or even made you a few extra bucks each month?
I have a friend at work who is really getting into beer brewing. He’s been experimenting with different kits, recipes, ingredients and techniques and has found a real passion with it.
His kid-like enthusiasm got me thinking about how he could expand his hobby into something more, so I suggested that he start a blog to journal his progress, recipes, and notes. He might be able to make a little extra money and/or get his beer supplies given to him in exchange for writing a review, and depending on his plans to turn his beer making into a business, he might even be able to get some tax write-offs for his supplies, beer making space in his home, etc. Needless to say, a couple of hours later, he’d bought a domain name.
You should definitely consult with an accountant and attorney before starting any business or claiming deductions on your taxes for a home based business, but I can speak from experience that a home based business centered around your passions and hobbies can pay for itself.
My personal struggle to learn how to market a home based business became a quest for marketing knowledge. Experimenting with marketing became my hobby, which developed into a passion of teaching others how to build and market their small business. It’s given me a very nice extra paycheck every month, led me to my career in social media and saved me thousands of dollars in tax deductions over the past several years because it.
There are lots of ways to both save money on your hobby as well as possibly turn it into an additional stream of income.
Save money on your hobby:
Don’t pay retail for the supplies you need for your hobby.
- Get on the email list of the companies you buy your materials and equipment from, so you can be notified of their sales and coupons.
- Visit sites like eBay and Craig’s list to find used equipment for sale.
- Look for promo codes and coupons online.
- Forums often contain industry secrets as far as where to find the best deals related to your hobbies and many allow you to subscribe to certain threads or topics so you know when they’ve been updated.
- For example: my friend set up so that any time the words “beer” or “brew” are posted in the FatWallet forums, he gets an email. This allows him to snag the best deals before they’re gone or to jump into a conversation with other home brew enthusiasts.
- If you’re looking to turn your hobby into a business you may be able to apply for a tax id number to purchase your supplies wholesale.
How do you monetize your hobby?
Building an email list, Facebook fan page, Twitter following and a blog can give you the ability to round up a community of people who are also interested in your hobby. That community is valuable to companies who are looking for people interested in buying their products and services.
Here are a few of the ways that companies will reward hobby bloggers:
- Companies often pay bloggers for advertising space on their blogs, e-zines, or newsletters.
- Companies may offer free products in exchange for a written or recorded review on a blog.
- May companies pay commissions on the sale of products that affiliates, or people who help spread the word of their products or services, generate through word of mouth advertising.
Here are a few other ways that a hobby blogger can make money:
- If you are creating a physical product, you may be able to sell it on a site like Etsy, Craig’s List, or eBay.
- If your hobby requires specialized knowledge or skill you could teach others how to do it or how to do it better.
- Sell step-by-step instructions, recipes, guides or patterns that you have made.
- Sell your time coaching or consulting to people who are trying to learn your hobby.
The “recipe” for a successful hobby blog
- I highly recommend you have a self hosted WordPress site. That means that you buy a domain name and hosting from a place like GoDaddy and install WordPress blogging software on it. It is very easy and most hosting companies can walk you through setting up a WordPress blog through their support desk or you can hire someone to set it up for you for around $60-$70.
- To start building an email list, you could use a free service such as MailChimp or a paid service like Aweber. They will give you a form you can put on your blog to gather leads. I recommend you write a free report, a list of resources or tips or some other kind of free gift that people will be willing to exchange their email address for.
- Write on your blog as frequently as possible, staying focused on the topic of your hobby. You could write about products, techniques, resources, your personal experiences, etc.
- Follow and friend people who are also interested in your hobby on your social media channels. You can find them by typing in descriptive key words about your hobby into http://search.twitter.com and use the Facebook search function to find Facebook groups on your topic.
- You can also expand your circle of followers by creating a Facebook group and a Facebook page of your own on your topic. You can create a free Facebook landing page very easily using the website ShortStack.
- Share your blog posts on Twitter, Facebook, and to your new email list so your friends and followers know when it’s been updated. If you have great images, perhaps you may consider launching a Pinterest campaign too.
- Be patient, it may take some time until people start to follow your blog, but if you’re updating it frequently and sharing helpful information, people will have a reason to visit. In addition, applying a bit of SEO best practices, could help.
- When your blog grows in value as you add more and more helpful articles and you’ve gained some loyal readers, you can start to approach the businesses whose products and services you use and invite them to advertise or offer to review their products.
With a the right actions and a little bit of effort your hobby could result in a home based business that allows you to get paid doing what you love. Who knows, it could lead to a whole new career like it did for me!