Making Money With Your Hobby: My Story

by Tim on February 6, 2012

Music lessons: one way to make money with your hobby

I love to talk with my friends about business ideas and goals they have to ‘make it big’ someday.  But one of my pet peeves is when I hear them say, “I wish there was a way that I could make money now.”  I almost have to keep myself from staring back at them with a dazed look that says, “Are you kidding? There are plenty of ways to make money!”

Look, I’ve been there too, so I understand where they’re coming from.  It’s fun to dream about businesses that you’ll start in the future and golden ideas that are sure to take off.  But if you don’t act on something today, you’ll have an even harder time starting up your big idea later.

You see, when you start small and use what you have to make a little bit of money, it’s like building a small fire that is sure to spread.  I would have never made my first extra $1,000 in a month from a hobby if I hadn’t accepted the first $20 opportunity that came my way.  Every small opportunity has acted as a fuel in a way; and I was always able to learn from it.

Making My Hobbies Work For Me

Instead of taking a general approach (you can read something like that with my 33 Side Job Ideas) I hope that my personal examples might stir you to action on your own idea.  Sometimes hearing about someone’s own success is all you need to start on your own idea!

Music To My Ears

Some of you know that I started playing the saxophone 15 years ago.  It’s been such an enjoyable hobby that I’ll have as long as I can stay healthy enough to play music.  It’s also been a blessing to me financially with extra gigs and lessons.

Trust me, I wasn’t a professional when I started giving lessons – but I didn’t have to be.  I tutored a handful of paying students through high school and college teaching them the very basics of the saxophone.  The extra $20-$40 I made in a month was the motivation I needed to think of even more ways to make money with my hobbies.

Baking for a few Bucks

I’ve always enjoyed chemistry (was a biology/chemistry major for a brief stint in college) so maybe that’s why I’m the baker in the house.  It’s always a fun challenge to see if I can mimic or improve on a good recipe.  While I have no intentions of ever starting a bakery, I’ve used a few kitchen tools to make a little dough.

I’ve been on two major missions trips and used baking as a way to raise funds.  It was easy to bake up a dozen batches of cookies – it was also humbling to go around the neighborhood to sell them with my siblings.  The point is that we took something that we could do well and made enough to cover a good portion of our trip.  In one day of selling, we generated close to $500 in donations and support from complete strangers.

Moving to the Big Leagues

I mentioned before that working on the small ideas helped to propel my bigger ideas, and I firmly believe that.  Those small experiences set the framework for a business I’d soon build after finishing my MBA.  While I’ve since moved on, the business is still going strong and growing each month.  A friend and I had an idea to help businesses create websites and to develop marketing strategies for them.  We started small and eventually turned a hobby and passion into a business that he now manages full time.  It would have never happened if we hadn’t jumped on the smaller opportunities and used them to our advantage.

Let this be a little inspiration to you if you’ve said lately, “I wish there was a way to make more money.”  Look to your hobbies and identify what you’re passionate about.  For those who are really serious, take a look at this series on making more money with your passion.

Have you made money with a passion before?  What was it?

Tim is a personal finance writer at Faith and Finance a Christian financial help blog that provides financial insights for individuals, businesses, and churches. Outside of finance, Tim enjoys spending time with his wife, playing the saxophone, reading economics books, and a good game of RISK or Catan. Find him on Twitter and Facebook and subscribe to the Faith and Finance RSS feed.


{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

FG February 6, 2012 at 3:24 pm

It’s a good thing that my hobbies and passions tend to line up well with what I was doing as a day job (writing and software development).


Erkan Orme February 12, 2012 at 11:31 pm

Hobbies are known for being money drains, but they don’t have to be that way. Find ways to turn your favorite past time into a source of income, and get paid to play.


Geoff Clarke February 20, 2012 at 4:18 pm

As I approach retirement, I’ve become increasingly interested in how to make money from hobbies that can be done at home. Thanks for sharing your story.


MyMoneyDesign February 26, 2012 at 7:45 pm

Good stories! My “I wish there was a way to make more money” moments have lead me to seek out similar ventures: Getting an MBA, getting bigger bonuses, investing my money, and starting my blog a few years ago. The problem with most people is that they usually want an easy way to make that extra money. Unfortunately, it takes hard work just like everything else!


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