Do you have a special hobby you are passionate about? One that you look forward to participating in after a long, hard day at work? Have you ever thought…”If only I could do my hobby full time?”
The famous quote from Mark Twain, “Find a job you enjoy doing and you’ll never work a day in your life” has always intrigued me.
Is there a possibility of doing something you truly love to do (a hobby) and have it support you and your family? Can the amazing artist who just loves to draw, earn an income that he/she can rely on?
I reached out to several creatives who have, in fact, been able to take their hobby love and indeed, put money in the bank.
Each one was asked three simple questions:
- When did your hobby first make money?
- When was it?
- How did it influence how you are today?
Let’s take a moment to see how they have designed an opportunity to monetize their hobbies.
Growing up I was always a fan of monster movies, comic books, anything related to the sci-fi genre. I was obsessed with the theme of science gone wrong. Frankenstein was a particular favorite. It's no wonder I would grow up to create the world's first lifestyle brand for evil geniuses, super villains, and mad scientists.
The comics I drew as a kid featured robots, aliens, zombies, and other imminent threats to humanity. I had to find a way to earn a living using all these things that I loved but what did they have in common? Then it hit me… A mad scientist laboratory! One that assembled autonomous robots, executed experiments by reverse engineering alien DNA or that dabbled in chemical concoctions resulting in a zombie outbreak.
With this revelation, I set out to build my brand. I donned a bright green lab coat, constructed my underground lair, and began filming video content for YouTube. There I would create all the crazy characters and creatures from my imagination. Soon these creations manifested into a line of art prints, books, apparel, novelties, and collectibles.
It took some time. Even the most ambitious evil genesis will tell you world domination doesn't happen overnight. I supplemented my income working as a staff artist and with client projects. All the while, in the background, creating the type of work I loved and the business continued to grow. Turns out there are a lot of other people out there who love that stuff too.
For many years Scott has made a living as a freelance illustrator and graphic designer, developing creative solutions for a number of corporate clients. Though he loved using his creativity to bring awareness to other company’s products and services he longed to do something more. He created Serkworks Art Labs to create a unique world for comic enthusiasts. Visit his YouTube channel for a glimpse into his world.
Do you love Macaroons? Well, delicious and wonderful things can happen when food and hospitality are combined together as a family tradition. As a tribute to her grandparents, Genelle Drayton decided after years of working in the corporate world to start her own business using a delicious family dessert treat that she fell in love with growing up.
From the Sweet Dames website:
My appreciation for cooking and entertaining came naturally from my Bahamian born grandparents Henry & Daisy Dames. I have fond memories of our home being the place where neighbors came for good food, laughter, drink and party. My hope is to create a product through Sweet Dames Artisan Confections that brings a similar level of joy and fun to people's lives.
Growing up, Genelle’s home was always filled with company, great food and making people feel good. She knew in her heart that she always wanted to bake. She states that starting her own business is the hardest she has worked in her whole life, but truly enjoys what she does and is happy she made the leap of starting her own business doing something that she has always loved to do. This business is rooted in love and tradition and is sustained by offering yummy goodness in every bite.
Sweet Dames was created as a tribute to Genelle’s grandparents and their love of entertaining guests. She never knew that at the age of ten when she was asked to bake something for someone’s 100 party guests that it would some day become her life’s dream and reality. If you are hungry for some delicious delectables, visit Sweet Dames Artisan Confections.
Crafting is my therapy and is essential to my happiness and I’m so glad it is also my way of making a living. After a hard time with depression I found in crafting the purpose of my life. Today I’m thankful to share my passion for Cartonnage, the art of box making, with thousands of women around the world. But cartonnage wasn’t the first craft I got paid for.
When I decided to get back to crafting, I started a knitting business, where I was selling hats and scarves in craft shows and online. Soon I realized that wasn’t the best craft for me and then I fell in love with cartonnage the moment I made my first fabric covered journal and fabric box. Then, I started selling pieces ready to go, personalizing them.
Not much later I got a chance to teach this technique in a quilt store. It has been 6 years since then and today I have established an online business (ColorWay Arts LLC) where I sell Cartonnage DIY kits, tools and supplies and where I teach the Joy of Cartonnage via online courses. Recently I started a Cartonnage Club with more events and programs on the way.
Today, the depressive times are over, I don’t even remember how my life as a Food engineer was before starting and following my heart and creating my business. I spend my days doing what I love and what I’m passionate about, and I’m always excited to share this joy of crafting with more people. Since I started, I have learned a lot and have improved in all ways. I love being inspired by fabric and creating lots of unique designs for all fabric lovers.
Claudia is a Brazilian-American artist living in Michigan and working with the traditional art of making boxes covered with fabric or paper called Cartonnage. Founder of ColorWay Arts LLC, she designs fabric boxes and cases and teach this amazing technique at quilt stores, quilt guilds and also through her online cartonnage school. She has authored the book “Cartonnage Basics & Beyond – The complete guide to make fabric boxes”. Learn about her online Cartonnage school.
Terry & Ginny Temple
“Is this going to be something we actually do or something we just talk about?” piped the eleven-year-old voice of my daughter from the back seat. My husband and I turned and looked at each other like we had been caught. We had talked about the idea of starting a new business for quite a while at this point. We were out in the car that day looking at options for a small office space for my husband Terry to teach vocal lessons, a hobby that he had recently discovered and loved.
He was, at the time, employed as a full-time church musician. He also directed music at a local children’s theater. It was in this capacity that Terry found that he had a knack for helping young performers sing. His children’s theater rehearsals opened his eyes to a job that he loved whether paid or not.
As the primary bread-winner of the family, it was a huge risk to start a new business so it took us a long time to move forward. Finally, one day, I saw an office space that was advertised as a sublet on a month-to-month basis.
That day, we visited to the tiny two room office. One room was barely big enough for Terry and a keyboard and a student. The other room could hold a few chairs and a tiny couch. We figured that if students don’t come, we have only lost a month’s rent!
Terry decided that day that he would work his church job and then give a few voice lessons in the late afternoon. Overnight it seemed, students began to call and Temple Music Studios was born.
Shortly after we opened, a good friend who was a local performer and a successful businessman gave us valued advice. He warned us that “creative types” like us will often dream themselves into the poor house with grand plans for their new business. He advised Terry to continue to see students until his lesson schedule became so packed that it and his small waiting room was uncomfortable. Then, and only then, was the business ready to expand.
Because we hadn’t over extended ourselves and because we both had other incomes, it wasn’t a stressful start to a new business. The stress was found much more in finding the confidence to do it. Eleven years later, we are now Temple Music and Performing Arts. Slow, steady and singing a happy tune!
Temple Music and Performing Arts in Scottsdale, AZ is owned and operated by husband and wife team, Terry and Ginny Temple. After graduating from College with studies in performing arts, their daughter Emily now teaches dance alongside her parents. Their vision is to provide an environment to teach and train young performers in voice, theater and dance performance.
I initially discovered that I could combine my love of crafting and build a personal business via a stamping direct sales company (Stampin’ Up!) in 2004. I worked hard and built a large community of crafters and taught craft workshops/classes.
A family move from California to Idaho was needed and I had to adjust how I worked my business. I started blogging in 2007 when there were only about 3-4 other stamping blogs. I thought that if I could continue to inspire my Idaho customers with creative content, they would continue to order. I had built a large customer base. It worked for a little bit, but online ordering was not yet available through the company.
I quickly had to reinvent myself as our family was dependent on the income, so started my own online shopping site by designing project and instruction tutorials for stampers and posting them for sale on my blog. I continued to build my business in Idaho at the same time and consistently posted creative content. I generated a lot of new customers and fans from across the world as sending electronic files was a new thing for creatives. Making money for sending out tutorials was pretty cool! I have literally sold tens of thousands of tutorials. As I became more established as an online resource for project tutorials, I started posting the products needed to create them and my U.S. sales soared. It was a great ride…until Pinterest came along in about 2011. Pinterest was visually delightful, and everything was free! It became harder and harder for me to create original content and justify charging for it.
After a lot of research, I left that first company after 16 years of hard work and I transitioned to a different direct sales company. My business was already online, and my customers were introduced to another product line they could shop from and they loved it. Sadly, after a very short time, that company closed doors. Yet, again I needed to make another adjustment to my business model. I decided that I would go into affiliate marketing for some of my favorite stamp companies. My blog was well established with 1.4 million readers a year so I figured someone might buy something! With cross posting to Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook, I am able to create with products from my favorite stamp companies and use my blog as home base where I link back to for the sale. The good news is these companies ship internationally, so my base has broadened quite a bit! Using and understanding hashtags specifically on Instagram has allowed me to find new customers and further broaden my reach.
As with all things, I’ve learned several lessons along the way, but most importantly learning to be adaptable has allowed me to continue to combine my passion for being creative with the ability to support my family financially.
Becky Roberts of Inking Idaho is a lover of all things paper crafting and has been teaching and sharing with others since 2001. With 17 years in the direct sales world of stamping and paper crafting and 13 years blogging full time she has recently branched out on her own as an affiliate marketer and influencer for several retail brands.
My hobby first made money as soon as I pitched my handmade goods to a local retail store. Once I witnessed the positive reception, it motivated me to make it my full-time career! The same went for the other aspects of my business.
My brand is Crafty Chica and my mission is to spread positivity through creativity. I have multiple branches to my business: Influencer campaigns, craft tutorials, teaching workshops, handmade goods I sell in my online store as well as my Phoenix boutique, speaking engagements, authoring books, freelance writing, consulting, and product design.
The experience influences all I do because it pushes me to innovate and take risks, and to never think a goal is too big. I've always had the mindset of the big picture and then reverse engineering to make it happen.
Kathy Cano-Murillo is an author, artist & founder of the award-winning brand, CraftyChica. She spreads the gospel of glitter – literally through her DIY projects and figuratively through her speeches, workshops, books, and essays. A former syndicated columnist for The Arizona Republic, she is now a full-time creativepreneur which has led to multiple Crafty Chica mass retail product lines, and collabs with Coca-Cola, HSN, HP, WordPress, Disney & many others.
I have always called myself an accidental entrepreneur. From the time I accidentally started a yoga studio to the time, I started a Women on Adventures meetup group that turned into a 5 figure business. It was all unintentional but led to my business education and showed me that passions could turn a profit.
Women on Adventures began as a hobby. It was something I started for myself to get me off the couch and more active. I wanted to hike, go bowling, take a yoga class, but I didn't want to do it alone. I was full of fears and trepidation. The meetup group I started on a whim one night grew to over 2000 members in just six months. I was blown away by the response. My intention wasn't “I'm going to make some money off these ladies” It was more about covering my time, expenses, and protecting my energy. So in less than a year from starting the meetup group, I turned it into a membership-based business.
Since then, Women on Adventures grew to have outposts around the world. We have adventured not only in my local community of Phoenix, AZ but have traveled to San Diego, CA, to learn to surf, Durango CO to dog sled, and Luxembourg and Japan to hike. It has changed my life, and I know through the feedback of members that it has changed them too.
In February of 2020, I decided to wrap up WOA and focus on other endeavors. I am turning my hobby of writing, photography, and hiking into a new business. You can find me at The Intrepid Project, where we explore the idea of how women, specifically empty-nesters, can be more intrepid and explore the world.
Jenny Zink writes about sobriety, hiking, and travel. She is always challenging herself to try new things even if they appear to be hard at first. She faces her fears and moves forward. Jenny invites anyone who has those same fears to join her!
Evidence is In: The Quote Is Proven!
Mark Twain correct when he said work doesn't feel so much like work when you love what you do.
The inspiring stories above confirm to us a hobby can indeed be turned into a viable source of income with many growth and learning opportunities along the way.
Taking on any business venture requires risk, faith and a lot of hard work. If you believe the restraints of deadlines, schedules and hard work will change your love of what you currently enjoy doing as a hobby, then don’t take that leap.
On the flip side, if the thought of turning your hobby into a business makes your heart do the happy dance and you’re willing to put some sweat equity into it, then you just may well be on your way to going from hobby to money in the bank.
Lynn Leusch is avid crafter and reporter all of things crafty. Follow her on her own blog at Create Scout and look for more input here on Love People + Make MOney.