Making Money from Your Hobby. The majority of articles I read about increasing your income always recommend building a ‘Side Hustle’. Their examples generally are
- Try converting your hobbies into income streams
- Write a blog
- Start a business
So the question is – when does a hobby become work? Or are you kidding yourself that your hobby makes you money, when in fact it is costing you money?
I always worry that my funding in retirement will not be enough, if inflation takes off. I would like to be able to build additional streams of income, just to provide a buffer. One obvious place to start is by monetising my hobbies. Today my hobbies are metal-working, jewellery making and blogging.
Income Stream or Cost Centre? It is definitely a Cost Centre at the minute. It also takes a lot of TIME. That valuable commodity that as a retiree, I have plenty of, but don’t always want to lose my freedom. I started this blog in September. I haven’t tried to monetise it because I am trying to find my niche. So far it has cost me $350 for my website & its hosting for several years, and many hours of my time. First I have to dream up what to write about, then I have to write it, check it, and in order to build a readership, I also need to read and respond on other blogs and forums.
Can you make money from blogs? Absolutely. Look at J Money, Mr Money Mustache, Millennial Money, Skint Dad to name just a few. But how many of the millions of bloggers make it big ? Pretty few. First you need to find a niche, then you must get some publicity, you have to gather people who are willing to part with that valuable commodity – an email address. You start to get an online following, you write regular newsletters, you tweet, use facebook, you sign up to affiliate schemes, and other advertising options to get income. And then the cheques start tumbling in. Only then you are Making Money from Your Hobby. You have achieved the dream.
That’s the theory – the reality is you also get tired. It ceases to be hobby and enjoyment and becomes like work – yes you know – the thing you wanted to get away from – the reason behind FIRE. An example of this is the recent post by J Money, where he consciously stepped off the treadmill of blogging, to look around at his life and other projects
So my question to myself is – how much of my life do I want to sit at a keyboard for, even if it brings me in money? I will be having my own personal break next month when I head to New Zealand for a month. Will I feel that my hands have been cut off, and I am itching to get back – I hope so.
Now I have used the term carefully here. I am a competent jewellery maker, but I have a real desire to make larger things. I had my first display last weekend, and my work got picked out in several of the photographs that were done of the event. I was so pleased. I was even sought after by a couple of visitors to the Makers Fayre, to ask me how much I wanted for it. They were less interested when I told them my guide price….
Which brings me back to the question of the Making Money from Your Hobby. This piece took many hours to make. First I had to think of the idea, then I had to craft it, change it, until I had something I was happy with. The raw materials – copper – is expensive. Minimum wage is about £7 an hour. I must have spent 20 hours at least on it, maybe more. I suggested £100, Time and materials were probably nearer £200, let alone profit. So even if I had got £100 for it (which I didn’t), I would still have been out of pocket. Hence until I can command £1,000+, this hobby will remain a Cost Centre rather than an Income Stream. However, this is where it gets interesting, I don’t grudge any time I spend on this, I am away in a different world, content within myself. So do I care if it is a Cost Centre? No, I’ll still do it.
On the question of Making Money From Your Hobby, this is a definite ‘possible’. However, I would have to be prepared to spend a lot of time on it, so when does your hobby become work? I took part in a Makers Fayre last weekend. I had a lot of my Metal Work on display, and some jewellery items for sale. I sold about £100 of pieces. On the other hand it cost me £75 in insurance for a year, and £24 for hallmarking, let alone the cost of materials and my time. However, if I were to seriously apply myself to this, I could see that I might be able to break even, and maybe make an income. It comes back to the discussion of TIME and how much I want to spend on it. As with metal working, I don’t grudge any time spent on this. I enjoy myself. However there are bits I find less enjoyable, such as taking pictures for online selling, spending hours manning a sales stall, keeping paperwork and filling in forms for the taxman.
So ultimately do I care if this remains a Cost Centre rather than an Income Stream – No I’ll still do it. But am I prepared to spend some time over the next year seeing if I can make it work – yes. So it may yet become an Income Stream – watch this space.
Things I might be interested in…
I was asked to put my name forward for a non-exec director position a few weeks ago, which I did. It would have been pretty well paid for 25 days work a year. However the drawback would have been that I would have been less able to get away for long periods, so I couldn’t decide to be sad or glad when I didn’t make the cut of the last 2! However I would follow up a similar opportunity again.
Skills I could make money from, but I have no desire to
I am an very experienced project manager / IT Consultant. I could make a lot of money doing IT contracting. Do I want to? No. So the answer to my – do you want to build your income question? Yes, but not at any price….
And then there is the taxman
If I start running a business, I need to pay Self Employed National Insurance. However I am already paying this to improve my state pension, (see my post here), so that for me, is not an additional cost. Then I have to keep books, complete a tax return etc. I don’t need to worry about this just now, while I am not selling frequently and making a profit.
So where next?
I’ll keep going with all of the hobbies. I will have a bit of an enforced break because I am away for January. Then when I get back in February, I will have had time to think about it, and understand how much effort I am prepared to put in. Balance my relaxed retirement with seeing if I can make some money from the blog.