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Make money from your hobby

Felicity Hannah
by Lovemoney Staff Felicity Hannah on 16 December 2012  |  Comments 6 comments

Do you knit scarves? Decorate cards? Make candles? You can turn your hobby into an added income and make money from it.

Make money from your hobby

It’s a lucky person whose job is also their passion, and for most of us, it’s just a dream. But across the country, cash-strapped Brits are turning their hobbies and side lines into fully-fledged businesses. Could you?

What can you do?

Perhaps you’re wondering if you have any skill or hobby you could turn into cash. If you’re not naturally crafty, you might assume this isn’t for you.

But many people have skills that have real value, they just don’t realise they could be making money from them. Can you knit? Ply a needle? Take a decent photograph? Write an interesting blog?

If you spend your evenings at the gym and various boot camps, you could even consider joining the rapidly-expanding TA, although, we’re not sure we’d call this a hobby, since you do risk going to war.

Whatever your skill, maybe you could be making some extra money.

Made with love

Emma Lawrence is a good example. She’s a hard-working occupational therapist and also mum to a lively toddler.

She’s always had an interest in sewing, card making and candle making, but it’s only since her daughter came along that she’s stepped it up a gear and launched her business – SO MAdE with love.

Emma explains: “Since having Sophia and going back to work full time, I’ve been looking at work I can do in the evening, when she’s in bed. Eventually, I’d like to be in a position where I can drop my hours at work, spend time with my daughter and do my crafting in the evenings. That’s the real goal.”

So what difficulties has Emma encountered so far? “I’m still getting an idea of what people want and what they’re willing to pay. I also spent quite a lot getting set up and buying materials, so I’m not exactly making a fortune yet.

“It was a bit scary making something and charging money for it, so I’d make things for my daughter at first and then show people. Some said that they’d buy something like that, and they’d show it to their friends. It’s sort of grown from there.”

Emma is doing what she loves and making sales, but is it worth the time she spends? What’s the money like? “Really, if I dared work it out then I don’t think I’m actually making minimum wage from my crafting. That’s something I hope will change as I get more established.”

Right now, she’s not spending what she does earn; it’s all being saved to help the family move house.

Make making money your hobby

If you don’t have a saleable skill, how are you at sales? Could you buy low and sell high? Spend a few hours selling other people’s work at craft fairs and school fetes, or via online auction sites?

For example, Jenny is also a mother and works full time. But at weekends, she sells picture frames in the shape of words, mostly to families looking for unusual gifts. She’s not trying to reduce her hours at work, just to make a little extra cash to treat her family.

Could a similar set-up work for you?

Where to find help

There is a wealth of information available online to help hobbyists who want to sell their products. 

For example, Netmums has some useful case studies of mothers who’ve turned their hobbies into functioning businesses, which will be useful to men and women.

The website smallbusiness.co.uk has information on starting up, building a website, working from home and marketing.

You can also find guidance on the Gov.uk website, including forecasting your business finances and writing a business plan.

This might seem like overkill if you’re just planning to sell a few painted egg cups via Facebook, but reading up on business strategy can help you avoid pitfalls and unnecessary losses.

Developing some business nous

Of course, having a saleable skill is just part of the challenge. The other is finding your business feet, and it’s not for everyone.

For example, Emma has found that it’s tempting to overspend on materials, but then sell her products for too little. As a craftswoman, she’s a perfectionist, but admits she still lacks confidence when it comes to setting prices.

It’s not enough to have a talent, you need to form a sales strategy, price up your wares and work out exactly how much your hard work is likely to earn you. If you simply start selling your produce to friends for vague prices, you could even find you’re losing money, or earning an absolute pittance.

Tell the taxman

If you’ve started earning on the side, there’s one thing you can’t skip – and that’s talking to the taxman.

Even if you’re just undertaking a little bit of freelance work outside of your full-time employment, you must tell HMRC you are earning money on a self-employed basis. In fact, even in the early days when you’re not making any money, you need to register once you’ve started making sales.

There’s information on getting set up as a sole-trader or new business on the Gov.uk and HMRC websites.

Can you save money crafting?

Not all of us have Emma’s skill with a needle, or the patience to spend our limited spare time making enough items to make it worthwhile.

However, if you do have a crafting talent, you don’t have to use it to make money – you could always use it to save cash instead.

For example, Lovemoney’s own Rebecca Rutt recently looked at cutting down on Christmas spending with home-made gifts.

If you can make your own high-end clothes, gifts and cards, you could save money on expensive products.

Finally, you could be like me and turn your hobby into an endless challenge that you feel bad about never completing – by starting to write a book. If it helps, some people do seem to be making money through self-publishing.

Do you make money from your hobby? What are the challenges you’ve faced? Or have you tried and failed to launch a business off the back of a hobby? Share your thoughts and experiences with other readers in the comments below.

More on ways to boost your income:

Task Pandas: make money by doing odd jobs

Make money this New Year's Eve

How to boost your loyalty card points

The tricks that mean I'm £1,350 better off this year

How to make money in the evening

Rent A Room scheme: tax-free cash from your spare room

How to win more from the lottery

How to be successful at a car boot sale

Can you make money by blogging?

Can you make money by self-publishing?

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Comments (6)

  • electricblue
    Love rating 769
    electricblue said

    Anyone in business or self-employed has a passion for what they so so it's also their hobby. I sold electronic components to friends when in primary school and electronics has on and off made me a living ever since. If you only work to earn a liviing and don't enjoy your profession you're an idiot with no idea how to value your life.

    Report on 16 December 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • Mike10613
    Love rating 626
    Mike10613 said

    Knitting Christmas stockings would be a good way to make a few quid for Christmas now. :)

    Report on 16 December 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • Arblaster
    Love rating 43
    Arblaster said

    If you only work to earn a liviing and don't enjoy your profession you're an idiot with no idea how to value your life.

    This statement is ill thought out. I will tell your about something that is well-known in history to illustrate how stupid your comment is: the arrival of sound pictures. If you owned a small picture house and could not upgrade it to sound, you had to close it down. There were orchestras, ensembles, or at least a piano in a picture house. So there are all those musicians out of work. And then there are the actors...with their foreign languages and accents, and their poor timbres. No matter how passionate you are about your work, chances are that the march of time will turn you into an old has-been.

    Some of the work I did in my youth has been taken over by machinery and by an influx of immigrants from Eastern Europe. I have had to reinvent myself. But there are many people out there who do not have my talent.

    Report on 17 December 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • yocoxy
    Love rating 152
    yocoxy said

    "You're an idiot."

    "Not everyone has my talent"

    Good to see that consideration for others and modesty are alive an well at Christmas.

    I assume EB would advocate staying on the dole until the perfect job come along?

    Report on 17 December 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • electricblue
    Love rating 769
    electricblue said

    I have worked in numerous industries both employed and self-employed, but only in fields I enjoyed. If you set yourself up in life as a 'one trick pony' then yes, you are an idiot. If money is your only driving force and you want to climb to the very top of a profession then make sure it's one which is needed in perpetuity. I have NO sympathy for people who have a poor skills set and then can't find a job. There is a particular work ethic which runs in families where people will study or retrain to find employment in something they have a passion for. This is nothing to do with talent, it's about not bleating on about how hard life is and expecting the world to employ you. When I hear all this self-pitying nonsense about how hard it is to find work I remember a Vietnamese guy I knew who left his country as a refugee in the 80's leaving behind a massive business, a Mercedes and all the trappings of wealth. Within a decade he had built up a huge business in the UK having worked in the most menial jobs without complaint. If you want the perfect job, make it for yourself and ideally start with something you would do as a hobby.

    Report on 17 December 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • Arblaster
    Love rating 43
    Arblaster said

    @Electric Blue

    Don't think I don't have any sympathy with what you are saying. I was merely pointing out that you might love what you are doing, you might be the best in the business. But technological advances and changes in fashion will make your profession extinct. There were no silent films after the introduction of sound. When was the last time you saw a typewriter mechanic? How many professions are going vanish in the wake of 3D printing? You may have done one thing all your life, and suddenly you are out on your ear, and all that is in front of you is an NMW job stacking shelves.

    There is something that you might like to enlighten me on. It is this posting from yocoxy:

    "You're an idiot."

    "Not everyone has my talent"

    Good to see that consideration for others and modesty are alive an[d] well at Christmas.

    Have I got this right?

    Is yocoxy intimating that on 25th December your idiots suddenly become as wise as the Magi, after being stuck-on stupid for the other 365 days of 2012?

    As to modesty:

    Is yocoxy saying that an operatic bass can only hit a low G at the family sing-song round the piano after Christmas dinner, whereas at Glyndebourne the rest of the year he can reach down to a B flat?

    As they say in Penny Lane, Liverpool: "Very strange."

    Report on 18 December 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves

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