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