#932 Monetize Your Skill or Hobby

1 Feb

Photo via flickr by (l-r) Breibeest and Images_of_Money.

Photo via flickr by (l-r) Breibeest and Images_of_Money.

If your day job is only bringing in enough cash to get by, then why not use your skill or hobby to make some money on the side? Money you could use to build your savings, pay for your vacation or fix something that breaks without panicking. You might even be able to quit your day job if your business takes off.

I knew a woman who was wonderfully gifted at making handmade cards. She was incredibly creative, and I would buy her cards in an instant if I saw them in a store. I hate Hallmark.

Photo via flickr by lindsay.dee.bunny.

Photo via flickr by lindsay.dee.bunny.

But she spent most of her free time playing online games. It made her happy, but it wasn’t adding to her bottom line. Making her cards also made her happy and could add to her bottom line, but she didn’t make them much. Although both she and her husband worked, they had a very tight budget.

I knew another woman who was similar in age and had a similar job. She spent her free time making soap and tote bags that she sold at craft fairs. She sold out most of the time. She and her husband both worked as well, and although they lived modestly, they had room in their budget to travel, buy expensive tequila and do other things that made them happy.

Differing budget and spending practices aside, it was undeniable that the craft side business made a big difference between the two women and their level of budgetary comfort.

Handmade crafts are a big seller online and at craft fairs, but other skills like mechanical, computer or writing skills can also be monetized. For anything technical, be careful of licensing and legality issues.

Here are some tips for starting to make some money on the side…

  • Get your resume, portfolio and website in order first. You want to be able to present a nice package to clients. Doing the set up beforehand will make it easy when someone bites and wants to see your work.
  • Decide on your pricing structure and don’t shortchange yourself. dollar signEstimate the time and resources a job will take. Overestimating the amount of time something will take is always better to avoid an impatient client and a not-even-worth-it hourly rate on your part. If you’re making handmade crafts, then calculate the cost of materials and time.
  • Don’t forget about taxes. You have to pay taxes on all income you make, so make sure you’ve got a system to keep track of and pay your tax bill.
  • Go through referrals and your network first. If you start with putting the word out about what you do, then your network will probably dig up something no matter how obscure the connection. Once you start doing work, happy clients can refer you. You may never have to use websites that make you pay to find freelance jobs.
  • Know where your industry goes. etsy-logoIf you want to advertise to the world about your services, know where your industry is looking and where they lurk online. Blasting something out on Craigslist might not get you as good results as posting on an industry-specific board, forum or service.
  • Not just online. If you’re a crafter, there’s not just Etsy, Artfire, Bonanza or the like. There are lots of craft and industry fairs where you can sell out in one Saturday or get a wholesale account so that you’re never even in retail.

Selling whatever service or product you specialize in can not only make your love your work (finally!) but also love what you can do with the extra income.

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