How to Make Money From Cycling as a Hobby
Many of us Admit We'll Never Be a Pro Cyclist but We Can Still Make Money From Our Hobby
Having got into the sport of cycling in my twenties the reality was that no matter how much I wanted to be the next Mario Cipollini, Miguel Indurain or Lance Armstrong I'd started far too late and further down the line I realized that I also didn't have quite the right genetic makeup to push up into the elite levels of the sport.
That doesn't mean I can't make some extra money from my hobby. Cycling is a huge industry and in the digital age it means that anyone willing to put in a little work can make some money from their passions or even be rewarded with some new kit to save their dollars for other things.
The great thing is that anyone involved with cycling at any level, from the weekend racers and sportive lovers to those of us that just love to get out on our bikes and ride. The sport has a niche for almost anyone- From BMX to road racing and on to cyclocross and cycle polo which has potential to be exploited for your financial gain.
Enjoying Cycling and Earning A Little Extra Too
Blog Your Way to More Money as a Cyclist
Start a Blog on Cycling
As much as we love to ride, we also love to talk about riding and read about riding. Like you reading this now we'll spend as much time as we spend on the bike on cycling related blogs and websites whether we're at home on the laptop with time to kill or having a quick coffee break in the office at work. You might have even seen someones website and thought to yourself "I could put together better stuff than that!"
It's easy to start a blog and sites like Blogger or Wordpress allow you to start with very little knowledge through simple templates which you can change over time as you decide just how to structure your content. The payday comes when you consider that you can monetize your blog over time by adding various different adverts through programs like Google Adsense and there are other ways you can earn through blogs such as by featuring Amazon products through their associates program.
It's also possible that as a source of knowledge you may be able to develop virtual products such as eBooks which allow you to branch out into publishing. Your blog on restoring your old TI-Raleigh team bike from the days of Peter Post may well transfer well to an eBook on restoring retro bicycles as there is a huge amount of nostalgia in the sport.
You may also be able to make money blogging about cycling through a continuity program where people pay you a monthly, yearly or one-off fee for access to your content. This might work well if you're blogging about cycling training related content.
One of the best places to checkout about how to make money blogging is Darren Rowse's Problogger site. Rowse is an exceptionally successful blogger who will help you develop a blog in ways to help maximise your income.
Video Your Cycling Exploits
Love Filming Your Rides? Start Your Own Youtube Channel
The rise of sports video cameras like GoPro's have helped a dramatic increase in cycling related videos on sites like Youtube and Vimeo. By building your own YouTube channel and developing the content you put there you can make some money simply by showing or talking about what you love.
There are thousands of cycling videos of Youtube but we all can offer something unique. It may be that your cycling club is heading to Majorca for a warm weather training camp and you can put together videos of the major descents (or climbs) which people may search for online. Or you might be a wizz with a set of Allen Keys and able to put together a selection of 'How to.' videos if you're a natural in front of the camera or happy to talk on camera.
The Ultimate Sports Video Camera
This Video Has Been Viewed Over 100,000 Times on Youtube
Don't fancy the constant need to regularly write Blog Posts- Write for Information Sites Like Hubpages
Sometimes it's easy to write one or two carefully chosen pieces on things people will be searching for without the need to start a blog and put all your efforts into making it successful. It's easy to set up an account by joining hubpages.
If you have ideas on writing about things people in your cycling niche will search for online it's easy to produce content rich webpages like this one on lots of different cycling related subjects. People are constantly searching for product reviews online and it can become a really good source of income for many cyclists. If you ride cyclocross there are always going to be people out there wanting information on specific tires for cx racing and when the Tour de France comes round each July plenty of people will be online asking about how much money cyclists in the tour de france make. If you consider what you've asked Google on cycling recently, from a comparison of 26 inch to 27.5 inch and 29 inch mountain bike wheels to a simple question on how to lose weight cycling there are plenty of people out there asking out for your help.
Sportive rides are an increasingly popular area of the sport. You could even consider writing reviews on these with detailing of the route, profile, geography, key sites and event difficulty to give others an insight into the event for future. The joy of online content is once it's online and visible you could still be earning advertising revenue from the page 5 years or more later.
Review Your Cycling Kit and Earn Money
If you've recently bought a new bike why not tell the world about it online in words and photographs. Having reviewed my new race bike a couple of years ago from relatively small British brand Planet X the RT- 57 the article has attracted over 15,000 page views. I estimate this has earnt me in excess for 50 dollars alone in advertising revenues on the page alone and I've made a little more additionally on top of that too. Those results are from a review of a bike that's only really available to the UK market. Imagine how many potential page views you could get from a high-end bike manufacturer like Trek, Specialized or Giant.
15,000 Page Views and Counting for a Review of The Planet X RT-57
What Kind of Reviews are Cyclists Looking For?
There are certain things on bikes that wear out pretty quickly and need replacement maybe on a yearly basis for every cyclist- Tires. There are hundreds of different road and mountain bike tires on the marketplace and we would all like to know which is best. If you're able to put together a good quality review for a product which is showcased favorably to the reader you may even be able to increase how much you earn through eBay or Amazon capsules on a Hubpage which give you a percentage of any sale value from anyone clicking through from your site to Amazon making your ideas for a great article on "The Ultimate Gravel Racing Tires" or "Best Disc Brakes for Cyclocross", even more profitable in the long term.
Fancy Telling the World About Your Schwalbe Durano Tires?
Typical Requirements of a Brand Ambassador
Video or blog posts showing brand favourably
Social media posts
Create content for brand website
Presence at brand events
Become a Brand Ambassador and Get Cycling Stuff for Free
There are a large amount of cycling related companies that are looking for you to assist them as a brand ambassador. They will often be looking for prominent athletes to do this so often having a results CV will help sell your potential to them.
You might often see on social media like Facebook there are posts for companies or organisations looking for individuals to represent them. A recent Facebook post by high end running and cycling clothing company Ashmei showcased that they were looking for individuals to become brand ambassadors for them and plenty of smaller companies looking to gain a footing without the expenses of sponsoring a professional cycling team are on the lookout. Whether it's free coaching services, an equipment supplier or clothing company there are opportunities to use to your advantage.
Whilst some opportunities seem amazing it's always best to be aware that whilst you might be getting free stuff (Which we all love), there is always going to be a commitment from you in return in terms of time, effort and potentially results.
Typically a brand ambassador will be used by a company to become a positive face for their product. If you hate cameras it might not be ideal for you as there will likely be some photoshoots involve to connect you with the brand and you'll need to represent them in a positive light in various media to justify their investment in you- But the best bit is always the free kit or services that you would often otherwise pay for.
Love Photography and Cycling- Take Photos at Events and Sell Them
If you love heading out into the countryside with your DSLR camera and photographing sports have you considered combining the two passions of cycling and photography? With a bit of spare time, a decent camera and a good eye for a photograph, selling photographs online can be a potential way to make a bit of extra money without a great deal of effort.
Cycling Event Photography
The rise in the number cycling events means there are plenty of opportunities for the cyclist who loves to take photographs. One of the best ways honing your sports photography skills would be to head over to a weekday evening local event and practice before heading to the car park afterwards to talk with riders and shared the photographs you've taken with them to see what they think and whether the shots work. What looks good to me might not be your kind of shot and if you want to make money selling images your cycling photographs will need to be tailored to the riders' needs.
Advice For Making Money From Cycling Event Photographs
- Don’t do it for free – You're investing time and effort into the photographs and whilst it's tempting to give photographs or data files away to people when you start off the long term goal is to make some money from them. It may be worthwhile to offer to have certain images for the riders printed to take to them at future race events and charge them a small fee for the photos as a steady stream of 50 cents a photo will add up in the long term towards upgrading equipment.
- Approach event organizers. If you take the time to approach the people running an event and add potential value to their event you could end up with some free publicity in their race program or links from them to your blog or website.
- Find a mentor – If you offer to help or spend time with someone who already does event photography (even if it's not cycling) they will be able to help you prepare. There are lots of things that you need to know and the best way to learn these things is by doing them alongside an established individual
- Consider Renting Equipment – If there's a really big event coming up with a big possibility of selling images some good quality equipment will make a big difference to your shots. Trial something like a Cannon L-Series lens to get the best quality shots without having to invest to invest thousands initially.
Create Stock Cycling Photography
You may never have heard about stock photography but it is a huge area and growing all the time as websites and publishes look for content to fit around their work rather than expensively commission a professional photographer
Stock photography is also a great passive income source for photographers and importantly the images you take today will become a major part of your income in the later years as it can become a passive income stream.
By submitting images to stock photography sites you can develop a personal library of images and hopefully you will earn some income off of each image or at least a selection of your images In no time at all you could have a huge selection of your images online to profit from.
Remember that whatever you upload should be high quality and have potential to be used for marketing or sales related material.
Build and Sell Retro Bicycles and Memorabilia
Antique and retro bicycles are rising in popularity as a new breed of cyclist gets involved in the sport with additional available income to invest in some specialist pieces and nostalgia. Whether it's Raleigh Burners or an impeccably well made steel Mercian or Pinarello.
eBay is a great site for picking up something that someone else might class as 'junk' but to a collector or enthusiast will be of exceptional value. The rise in London and other city's 'Fixie' culture also means that retro bicycle frame restoration and bike building can be a profitable passtime.
Cycling Nostalgia Sells- And Memorabilia Could Make You Money
Yet another area you could explore in your quest to make money from cycling is bicycle-related collectibles. Instead of bicycles, you could buy and sell retro cycling jerseys, posters or even bicycle parts. There are always going to be people out there with a real passion for collecting items whether they grew up watching Lance Armstrong's Tour de France domination for the US Postal Service team or a passion for 1990s GT Mountain Bikes.
Become a Bicycle Tour Leader
Cycling and holidays go great together. Whether it's a preseason training camp discovering the cycling climbs of Majorca or a week of exploration in the Rocky Mountains. Can you imagine getting paid for being a tour leader? You may have taken charge of club chaingangs in the past and the idea of being paid to do it sounds great.
Lots of companies run bike tours and there are plenty of people wanting to go on them as they do not want to ride alone. If you have knowledge and experience to make their trip both enjoyable and comfortable you have the potential to be a successful tour leader.
It helps if you live somewhere with great riding too. Living near to the legendary Sherwood Forest and Peak District I know that not far from home there is some world class road cycling and mountain biking close to home.
Having a van or large estate car always helps as you can easily ferry around bikes, luggage (from airport transfers) and riders as well as having your own 'Broom Wagon' in case the inevitable bad things happen on rides such as un-repairable mechanical problems and medical issues.
Bicycle tours are all in the planning. You could speak to a local hotel or bed and breakfast or even hire a cottage for riders for the weekend and give them an insight into local food, beer and culture.
You could even film the rides and give your customers a personal video showcasing their experience with you (Or use the coverage on YouTube to earn money additionally as per the above)
What Other Ways Could You Make Money as an Amateur Cyclist?
We're always looking for ways to earn a little more money. From photography to writing there are niches to explore and markets to exploit if you're savvy.
What ways can you think of making a little more money from cycling without racing in the Pro peloton? We'd love to know.
Thanks for reading
Liam Hallam (CyclingFitness)