©iStockphoto.com/Robert Kohlhuber Credits: ©iStockphoto.com/Robert Kohlhuber
Earn money from your hobbies with online sales
Michelle Matsui had always dabbled in different crafts and arts, but had never taken her love of making things seriously until she signed up for a screen-printing class a few years ago. That was the beginning of her homewares business, Kempton Jones, which specializes in hand-screened tea towels and other uniquely designed crafts.
Getting started was fairly easy, Matsui says. "A friend encouraged me to try a craft market," she says of Kempton Jones' beginnings. When that was a success, she created an Etsystore and now sells at a number of crafts shows, as well as online (through Etsy and her own website) and is starting to buildrelationships with local retailers.
Her advice for would-be craft entrepreneurs? "Enter local crafts shows to get feedback from buyers and other vendors," she says. "The community is very helpful and you can learn from others in the business."
One of the real blessings for micro-micro-businesses, especially crafts makers, has been etsy.com. Matsui endorses it enthusiastically, no matter how small or large your ambitions. "You will immediately get in front of thousands of potential customers, and you can control how much you want to invest in it."
Matsui adds that it's smart to set up your own PayPal account -- an easy and safe way to conduct financial transactions online -- and that you shoot your product photos in bright, indirect light for best results. Online sales are only one way to turn your talent into a money-maker.
More ways to earn money from your hobbies:
If you're an experienced yoga practitioner and have a room in your home that is large enough to accommodate half a dozen or so beginning yoga students, start by putting signs up around the neighbourhood, advertising times and dates.
For routines, you can purchase yoga DVDs or create your own. Keep classes small; you'll want to be able to monitor your students to make sure they are doing the poses correctly. If you're more serious about yoga teaching, consider classes and accreditation through associations such as Ashtanga Yoga Canada.
For courses that lead to accreditation or a certificate of some kind, you need proper qualifications, but anything you can structure a class around, you can teach -- from basket weaving to photography. Ask at your local community centre how to go about setting up classes there and what qualifications, if any, are required. Local community colleges often offer learning-annex-style courses with minimum teaching requirements.
For crafts such as quilting, knitting or sewing, consult a retail store that specializes in these crafts whether they hold classes, and what teaching qualifications, if any, they require.
There are actually many ways to earn money with your writing, though making a living at it requires hard work and dedication. Neighbourhood and community weeklies often buy unsolicited stories or essays, or will pay you to cover local events. There are dozens of small journals that publish poetry. Do a Google search of "poetry markets for Canadians" for submissions guidelines for dozens of potential poetry buyers.
It's easier than ever before to publish and sell your novel yourself. Smashwords.com is just one of several sites that not only give you a forum to publish your work, but a means of selling it as an e-book to prospective readers.
Starting your own blog is a useful means of either telling your story to the world, or as a forum to sell products or services. One of the most straightforward methods is through Wordpress, which gives you all the instructions you need for setting up a blog and/or website.
Money making ideas abound, whatever your talent. Talk to friends who may have turned a hobby into a way to make some extra cash, do some online research and then get started. What are you waiting for?