Turning Your Hobby into a Business

Work Can Be Fun

February 7, 2010

Do something you love and you never work a day in your life, so says Jim Koch founder of the Boston Beer Company (maker of Samuel Adams® beer) in a recent commercial.

In 1984 Koch decided to quit his job and follow his passion which was brewing beer. Today, Koch and his employees boast in their commercials about getting paid to have fun and do what they love which is brewing beer.

Even though its beer is distributed nationwide and it is a corporation whose stock is listed on the New York Stock Exchange (with the symbol SAM), it is still a small company employing only about 350 people nationwide.

Like Jim Koch, many people either by choice, circumstance or chance, end up making a business based upon their passion. In many cases these people are so passionate about something that they can't imagine doing anything else and they go into a business involving their passion early in life.

Others often take a different route. For some it is a hobby that slowly takes up an increasing amount of free time (and space in the home).

At some point, either as a way to offset the increasing cost of the hobby and/or increasing requests from family, friends and acquaintances to purchase their output (or constant advice from the same people that they should make this a business) the hobby becomes a business.

In some instances, a stay at home spouse or a retiree, will turn a hobby into a business in order to supplement the family income.

In other cases the move to turn a hobby into a business can result from a layoff, a desire not to move when an employer decides to relocate or simple burn-out and the realization by the individual that they want more than the headaches that often accompany life in the corporate fast lane.

Bead Show Area at 2010 Tucson Gem & Mineral Show
Bead Show Area at 2010 Tucson Gem & Mineral Show
Entrance to 2009 Arizona Renaissance Festival
Entrance to 2009 Arizona Renaissance Festival

Attending Fairs and Festivals is a Good Way to Learn About Turning a Hobby into a Business

One of the best ways to gain an understanding of the hobbyist segment of the small business market is to visit booths at some of the increasing number of fairs and festivals that can be found in cities and towns throughout the country.

While some of these events are small and purely local featuring only local hobbyist/entrepreneurs, many of whom have only part-time hobby businesses, most of these events are much larger and are attended by people from around the country who work their hobby business full time.

Like the traveling merchants of the Middle Ages in Europe who traveled from town to town to sell their produce on market or fair days, these artisans travel from festival to festival displaying and selling their wares.

While the vendors at these events are primarily interested in selling their products they also enjoy talking about their business and hobby and a person can learn much about this industry and the individual's particular hobby by chatting with these proprietors at their booths. 

My wife selecting beads for a jewelry making project
My wife selecting beads for a jewelry making project
Beads on sale at Tucson Gem Show by an individual who makes his living buying beads from a factory in Hong Kong and selling them at fairs and festivals.
Beads on sale at Tucson Gem Show by an individual who makes his living buying beads from a factory in Hong Kong and selling them at fairs and festivals.

Be Sure to Shut-up and Listen if You Want to Learn

When doing this one should remember that this is the way they make their living and their reason for being at the event is to sell or promote their product.

After all, this is not only the way they make their living but, in addition to the cost of tools and materials needed to produce their product, there are also their travel costs and the fees they have to pay the event sponsor for their booths (while admission to the event is usually free to visitors, exhibitors have to pay to participate).

The best time to chat with a vendor is while you are browsing and there are no other customers at the booth. In my case, my wife usually does the browsing while I strike up a conversation. In this way they usually get to both make a sale as well as talk about their passion.

This is not so much a trick on my part as the simple fact that my wife and I look upon HubPages as a joint effort with me researching and writing the Hubs which generate extra income for us while she figures out fun ways to spend that income in places where I get ideas and material for more Hubs.

If you are truly interested in learning about the business from these vendors it is best to remember that a conversation requires both a speaker and a listener and, to make this a good conversation, it is best for you to listen and limit your speaking to an occasional pertinent question. This is not only a great way to learn the business but also a recipe for how you can be considered a great conversationalist.

This exhibitor at the 2009 Wilcox Arizona Wine Festival was promoting Alpaca Llama Raising - He and His wife left the corporate world and moved to rural Arizona to raise Alpacas for a living.
This exhibitor at the 2009 Wilcox Arizona Wine Festival was promoting Alpaca Llama Raising - He and His wife left the corporate world and moved to rural Arizona to raise Alpacas for a living.
Two Alpaca Llamas from the Desert Mountain Alpaca Ranch LLC
Two Alpaca Llamas from the Desert Mountain Alpaca Ranch LLC

Listen and Learn

If you have a hobby and are thinking about converting it into a business or if you are looking for an idea to start a business.

Visiting these festivals and chatting with the vendors can give you both ideas for hobby businesses to start as well as insight into the work, time and money involved in starting such a business.

Of course, these business owners will also tell you how wonderful it is to have such a business as this is their passion and they usually love it.

But, if you listen carefully, you can not only learn about how to get into this type of small business but also hear things that cause you to pause and reconsider.

More by this Author

  • For Profit vs Non-Profit Form of Business
    67

    Non-profit corporations differ from regular, for profit corporations, in that they are not owned by individuals and thus do not have owners to give the profits to. Instead, all earnings go toward growth and the...

  • How to Become a Mobile Notary
    23

    Thirty years ago when I was working in the mortgage lending field, obtaining a mortgage loan was a four to six or more week process. It also required a minimum of two trips to the bank with the first involving the...

  • EDITOR'S CHOICE
    Bringing Your Foreign Fiancee to the U S
    234

    With so many Americans traveling and working abroad to say nothing of meeting people via the Internet, it is not surprising that many are finding love and marrying someone from abroad. Here is how to legally bring your...


Comments 44 comments

barryrutherford profile image

barryrutherford 6 years ago from Queensland Australia

glad I tripped over this well done !


abigail33 profile image

abigail33 6 years ago from Dallas, TX

I was able to turn my hobby into a business, I use to love to sell stuff, and turned that passion into a big online business via eBay and several product websites. Now, I control my future instead of the company I worked for.


lovelypaper profile image

lovelypaper 6 years ago from Virginia

Superb hub. Great information.


rainstreet 6 years ago

i thought the post said "turn your hubby into a business". i was a little miffed at first.


bigmikeh profile image

bigmikeh 6 years ago from UK

Five years ago I started remodelling bathrooms as I'd always done this for myself, and friends. Very hard work, sometimes exhausting, but never a dull moment. Working for myself is the best move I ever made but not for the feint-hearted!


gallus 6 years ago

I think, that's the great idea, hmmm, maybe i can follow in,


bihar profile image

bihar 6 years ago from Patna

great advice. listen to your heart and follow your dreams.


Residual4Income profile image

Residual4Income 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona, USA

Great info for a beginner. The part about listening is so key! So many hobbyists think since they know so much about their craft, they know how to run a business.

In fact, most start up businesses take at least a 2-3 year commitment. If a person is not patient to learn and grow with their business they may fall into the 80% dropout rate of direct sellers or sole proprietors.

Education in the self improvement department is KEY to being successful. Finding a personal coach, coaching group, training program and completing a personal skill assessment will give the budding entrepreneur the lift they need.

Great format and info!


GojiJuiceGoodness profile image

GojiJuiceGoodness 6 years ago from Roanoke, Virginia

I think it's great when your hobby is also your business because you'll enjoy your work. It won't just be another 9-5 job! Great hub.


Jane@CM profile image

Jane@CM 6 years ago

Great advice! My husband thought about turning his wood turned vases into a business while he was unemployed. We did open up an Etsy store.


IdeaMorphist profile image

IdeaMorphist 6 years ago from Chicagoland

I am in the process of trying to do this now. Thanks for sharing the advice :)


electricsky profile image

electricsky 6 years ago from North Georgia

Any time you do something you love you're going to so a better job of it.


2besure profile image

2besure 6 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

Great hub! We live in unstable and precarious times. It is possible, to make a living doing something your love!


doublee 6 years ago

Your hub is very informative - lot of good suggestions. I decided my hobby was the Internet, I spent so much time on it - and that's why I'm pursuing an online biz. http://www.qualityresalerights.com

Here's a quote on my wall, "Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive."


electricsky profile image

electricsky 6 years ago from North Georgia

Yes some peoples hobbies turn into things that are desired on a marketplace. Hobbies keep us "doing useful things with our hands", as the bible tells us to do.

You are right. How can a person learn to move from their hobby to marketing their hobby?


FGual profile image

FGual 6 years ago from USA

Great info here, and timely. Looking to expand my writing into ebooks. Sold used books on Ebay a while back, made a little money. May get back to them in some way. Have items for sale on Lulu and CafePress, not getting any sales, not sure how to promote them. Will read more of your Hubs.


vox vocis profile image

vox vocis 6 years ago

Not easy to accomplish but not impossible either. (I rated up this hub!)


borge_009 profile image

borge_009 6 years ago from Philippines

I have been always planning on a business where I can use my hobby and skills. But maybe I need more information and knowledge...Thanks for the info.....I will truly learn from this....


britneydavidson profile image

britneydavidson 6 years ago from united kingdom

Thanks you for the information,lots of adviceon this hub. even again thank you for sharing all information with us.


britneydavidson profile image

britneydavidson 6 years ago from united kingdom

A very informative and encouraging hub. I enjoyed this. Good advice here. You make it very clear and provided some great links.


Carl 6 years ago

"Do something you love and you'll never work a day in your life." I absolutely love this saying because it is so true. If only everyone could be so fortunate.


Leandraluv profile image

Leandraluv 6 years ago from Macae, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Great Hub...I wish I could do something like this.. maybe turn my scrapbooking hobby into a business but I don't have the business sense at all! Will try and see if I can figure out somethings. Thanks Chuck for this great hub.


festersporling1 profile image

festersporling1 6 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

Good stuff Chuck. Solid advice.


Alan Choi profile image

Alan Choi 6 years ago from NC, USA

I enjoyed this. Good advice here. You make it very clear and provided some great links.


Hobby Ideas 6 years ago

Thanks for the great information. Lots of good advice on this hub.


Cathi Sutton profile image

Cathi Sutton 6 years ago

A very informative Hub! Thanks for all the links! I will be following you closely, since I'm trying to have my own business at this very moment!


Mekenzie profile image

Mekenzie 6 years ago from Michigan

My first love is writing ... I'll do that for free. :0) My second love is healthy living and I have my own business where I get to talk about health and teach people about what I am passionate about. It is very rewarding. Thanks for the GREAT hub Chuck - You are Awesome!


Handmade-Crafts profile image

Handmade-Crafts 6 years ago

Some excellent advice. Thank you for sharing with us all.


makeincomeonline 6 years ago

Great information, thanks so much for sharing this. I have always loved doing crafts and selling them at bazaars at church!


midnightbliss profile image

midnightbliss 6 years ago from Hermosa Beach

nice hub and great ideas. my passion is handicrafts and one day when i decide to settle down, i want to be a full time mom and have my own little business based on what i love to do.


Sandyspider profile image

Sandyspider 6 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

Great advice. I would love to do this.


shiketa profile image

shiketa 6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

That is exactly what I did. I love health & wellness so, I turned that hobby into a Natural Living Business!


drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida

Your advice about listening to learn is right on the mark if you want to turn a hobby into a successful business. In fact, that advice is on target for every aspect of our lives.


martycraigs profile image

martycraigs 6 years ago

I think this post is especially great for people for are looking for some sort of part-time work, a work-from-home type of opportunity, or anything else of the like. I think people sometimes underestimate their talents, but hobbies can often lead to fairly good businesses. Not to mention, success can be measured in terms of fulfillment!

Thanks for posting on this topic.


ateenyi profile image

ateenyi 6 years ago from Chicago

Informative Hub Indeed!!!!!!!!

The hub is highly informative and culminated with tremendous knowledge. In most of the cases the individuals are so much passionate about something that they can't imagine doing anything else and they go into a business involving their passion early in life. This makes them successful because they pursue their work with hard work and love. Thanks for sharing so precious information.

Keep on Hubbing


dipless profile image

dipless 6 years ago from Manchester

Thanks Chuck, an informative hub. You are very accurate you are much more likely to succeed at somthing you are passionate about than somthing you think you might be able to make money from. Thanks again.


Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 6 years ago from Upstate New York

Thanks, Chuck. A very informative and encouraging hub.


Darlene Sabella profile image

Darlene Sabella 6 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

Thanks Chuck, that is what I am finally doing in my life, I work from home writing. While at the same time I can be home with my family and pets. Great hub my friend.


brsmom68 profile image

brsmom68 6 years ago from Alberta, Canada

Very informative Hub! I am a crafter and gardener at heart - now I just need to combine the two in such a way as to earn an income from home. Plus, I enjoy writing as well...that in itself is proving to be a worthy venture.

I enjoy your hubs...keep them coming!


bobmnu profile image

bobmnu 6 years ago from Cumberland

When I retired I started a small photography business. I use the profits to by new toys and have some extra money. The one thing I have learned is that when doing the thing you love you also have to do somethings that are not as fun.

In today's job market you are finding more and more self employed people. If you have a hobby and enjoy doing it you may want to look at ways you could make money at it just in case or when you retire as a source of additional income.


breakfastpop profile image

breakfastpop 6 years ago

Terrific hub. I turned my love for floral design into a silk flower and gift business and enjoyed every minute of it. However, writing is my true love and I am happier now.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States

Chuck, Good advice. I did exactly that when starting my stained glass business.


Chuck profile image

Chuck 6 years ago from Tucson, Arizona Author

rmcrayne - it is a tough market. Each of the vendors I have spoken with in the past few months have indicated that business has been down in the past year.


rmcrayne profile image

rmcrayne 6 years ago from San Antonio Texas

We tried handcrafted items at some of our area craft fairs. In this down economy, even the "veteran" vendors were not making any money.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working