Turn Your Hobby into a Moneymaking Business

You probably know a lot about your favorite hobby and enjoy it immensely. But did you know that by learning a few special skills, you can turn it into a profitable at-home business? Making money with your hobby is more realistic than you may realize.

What kind of crafts and other hobbies can be turned into a successful home business? Here are just a few:

  • Art -- drawing or painting portraits
  • Calligraphy -- creating cards, stationery and invitations
  • Candle-making -- creating candles for holidays and special occasions
  • Ceramics -- creating or decorating pottery
  • Crocheting -- making cross-stitched or knitted items
  • Doll-making -- producing stuffed animals and toys
  • Gift basket designing -- producing baskets for special occasions
  • Scrapbooking -- creating memory books with photos and mementos
  • Sewing -- making clothing, craft and home items and doing alterations

Many people who do these crafts tell me they aren't in business, they're just selling to acquaintances and taking their work to a few church or school functions a year. If you're doing something similar, you're practically in business for yourself already -- and you may be surprised to learn that those earnings are subject to taxation. So why not go the next step and start approaching your hobby as a business. You'll earn more from your efforts and enjoy tax deductions on materials and your home office.

Turn Your Hobby into a Home Business Exercise 1: 6 Steps to Begin

To get started in converting your hobby into a business, you need to prepare yourself and your work space for your new endeavor. Use the following six-item checklist to make the transition from hobbyist to home business crafter.

1. Organize your supplies
Keep all like supplies together for easy access and no-fuss assembly. For example, by keeping all your ribbon together, sorted by size and color, you speed your production and keep tabs on when you're running low.

2. Designate specific work areas
Think of each phase of making the product from step one to completion and design your work area so it accommodates your natural work flow. It helps to imagine each step as a mini production line. Set up each station with tools, materials and equipment that you need to complete that step. Also make it a habit to put the tools back in their designated spots so you never waste time searching for a misplaced glue gun or cutting tool.

3. Assemble all the materials you need
Before you start making an item, make sure you have all the necessary supplies in your work area. Every time you have to leave the work area -- whether to drive to the store or hunt elsewhere in the house -- you disrupt your momentum.

4. Never make one item at a time
In the past you might have waited until the finishing touches were done on one project before starting a new one. But by doing similar tasks at the same time (say, setting aside one day to stuff handmade pillows and taking the next day to sew them closed), you save time and the mental effort required in starting and stopping tasks. This is especially time-saving with preparatory tasks like cutting material and the like. Repeat the process for each part required to assemble the item, then you are ready for the assembly process.

5. Prepare ahead
Keep a quantity of prepared component parts on hand for each item that you sell so that you can assemble your items quickly when time is short. A good habit to develop is to prepare in slower times for your busy season. What if smack in the middle of the holiday season you run out of your best-seller? If you have the components ready, you can whip out some items at night and have them ready to take to the show the next day.

6. Plan your buying and buy in bulk
Purchasing your supplies in a larger quantity usually allows you to get discounts and freight savings. Keeping a pad in your work area to write down items that are low streamlines your reordering process. Rechecking your supply inventory and sales records regularly ensures that you're ordering enough supplies to get you through to your next order period. While these "business oriented" tasks may not seem as exciting as actually making your product, doing them attentively means you'll spend less time on them overall, save money and earn more.

By thinking strategically about your hobby, you've taken the first step toward building your crafting business! Next, you'll learn how to price your products so you're earning what you want.

Want to talk to other women starting crafting businesses? Check in with:

Adapted with the permission of Alpha Books, Barbara Arena

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