The Pitch

Turning your hobby into a side hustle – and how to know whether it will work

Ever wondered if the hobby that eats up all your spare time could be turned into a business that makes you money? Starting with a side hustle can be the perfect testing ground to find out.

It’s a common scenario: you’re passionate about a particular hobby and spend every spare minute you have doing it. People say you’re brilliant at it and it’s all you really want to do. There’s just one problem: you need to earn money.

Side hustles are a brilliant option here. By their very nature, they slot into your life alongside your existing job, so you’re actually earning extra income. This means you can use your side hustle to monetise your hobby – or if you want to take it further, it can be the first step in testing out whether it will work as a fully-fledged business.

Benefits of starting a side hustle

When you’re keen to turn your hobby into a job, there are loads of benefits to starting out with a side hustle. Here are our top five…

  1. A side hustle helps you develop personally and professionally – you’ll learn a range of business basics such as marketing, supply chains and accounts without needing to be an expert in any of them.
  2. It provides additional income – there may be some initial overheads, but once you’re up and running you should be able to rely on your side hustle for extra income alongside your day job.
  3. It complements the other aspects of your life – while you may have to give up some things to fit in your side hustle, it doesn’t require the same time commitment of a fully-fledged startup.
  4. It’s less risky than starting a fully fledged business – a side hustle gives you space to explore and experiment with your idea without throwing everything you’ve got at it.
  5. You can test the waters – will you enjoy your hobby as much if it’s a job or should it stay as a hobby? Running a side hustle gives you a taste to see if you really like it or not.

Signs that it could be time to start a side hustle

Are people always asking if your latest creation is for sale or wondering where they can buy your food? If you’ve already been offered money for your hobby it shows that there’s a clear market for it. This means you have ready-made customers for your side hustle and can hit the ground running.

Another clear sign is that you’re already investing money into your hobby. If you’ve already forked out the majority of your startup costs, then it makes financial sense to try and recoup some of your investment.

What types of hobbies work best as side hustles?

With the right drive and dedication, many hobbies can work as a side hustle. Here are a few of the most common ways to make money from a hobby:

Cooking

Are you a dab hand at dinner parties? Always getting compliments about your food? Cooking works well as a side hustle on a number of levels. 

If you have a flair for making the kind of food that can easily be packaged (like pickles, preserves and sauces), think about creating a small product line. You could get a regular stall at a weekend food market or sell it through local shops. 

If catering is more your thing, consider starting a regular food club, catering at weekend events or even renting some time in a pop-up restaurant that hosts rotating cooks.

Crafting

Crafting hobbies that make money include sewing and embroidery, jewellery, ceramics, woodwork and painting. In fact, whatever your craft, there’s usually a market out there for your creations. 

Thanks to online marketplaces like Etsy and Folksy, it’s easy to set up a shop and showcase your products. Another avenue to consider is teaching others your craft – short courses and workshops can fit in neatly alongside your other commitments.

Consulting

If you’re regularly being asked to speak at events, attend webinars or give advice for free, it’s time to consider a sideline in consultancy. 

Professionalise your approach by creating a simple website for your services, and use LinkedIn as a marketing tool by posting about your area of expertise.

Writing

Starting a blog can be a brilliant launch pad for a writing side hustle. It works best when you have a subject that you’re knowledgeable and passionate about. 

Once you’ve developed your content and built up an audience you can look for sponsors for your posts or start pitching ideas to publications in your chosen field.

Gardening

Most people only need a gardener for a few hours every week or two, so this can be a brilliant way to earn some extra cash on the evenings or at weekends. Flyer your local area or post on local Facebook groups to find your first customers and develop it from there.

Can your hobby be monetised?

There are endless ways to make money out of hobbies, but that doesn’t mean that every hobby has legs a side hustle.

Ask yourself…

  • Is there a market? Who are your customers, where will you find them and what avenues are there for you to sell your products or services?
  • How much competition is there? Research other similar businesses to see where you fit in. If lots of other people are offering the same thing, consider how to tweak your idea to make it stand out.
  • How much do you need to invest? Do your sums before you start. If it’s easy to sell a few homemade items with very little financial input, it’s a no-brainer. But if you need a big investment before you can get started, research what funding is available and be sure that the sales will come in to cover your costs.
  • Is there a clear profit margin? Work out how much you stand to make from each sale after you take all your expenses into account. If your profit margin is low then you may be better off keeping it as a hobby.
  • Is there development potential? Where else could your idea go in future? If you’re selling ceramics, could you offer workshops for example? Or could your cooking pop-up turn into a full-time restaurant? Even if this is a long way off, be clear about your ultimate goals further down the line.

Getting the right balance

Running a side hustle can be exciting and profitable, but there is a flipside. A hobby can wait until tomorrow, but paying customers won’t be so patient. It can be time-consuming and stressful and, for some, this can take the joy out of your passion.

For this reason, it’s crucial that you find ways to look after your mental and physical health. We’ve put together a guide to staying healthy and productive when running a side hustle which includes advice on how to prioritise your tasks, allocate yourself time off and how to recognise the signs of burnout.

Free up your evenings with Sage Accounting

Time is short when running a side hustle, so make sure you’re focusing on the work that matters most.

Sage’s award-winning accounting software helps you free up your evenings and weekends by automating your admin. 
Need extra support? Sage’s experts are on hand 24/7 to answer any questions you have. Get started with Sage Accounting today.

Hannah Jolliffe

Hannah Jolliffe

Hannah is a freelance writer and social media consultant who works with startups. She enjoys helping small businesses create content to connect with their audience and also writes on wider topics for Which?, Saga and lots of charities.

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Free up your evenings with Sage Accounting

Time is short when running a side hustle. Are you spending your time on the work that matters most?

Sage’s award-winning accounting software helps you free up your evenings and weekends by automating your admin.

Get started with Sage