You, like most people, have at least one hobby. Maybe you knit, paint, or create things from wood, but you aren’t making any money from that hobby. Earning a stream of revenue from a hobby seems like a distant dream to most people—wishful thinking at best—but it’s actually easier to convert a hobby into a running, revenue-generating business than you might realize.

If you want to start making money with your hobby, you need to recognize the key obstacles that stand in your way—and eliminate them, one by one.

Key Challenges

These are the major challenges preventing people from making money with their hobbies:

  1. Monetization. First, you’ll need to figure out exactly how your hobby could make you money. The most straightforward route is available for people selling physical products, such as arts or crafts—you can simply sell those items for money. If your hobby is more abstract, like playing music, you’ll need an alternative monetization strategy. There are many options for monetizing a website, including selling advertising space, relying on affiliate links, and charging for premium content, but you’ll need to settle on at least one choice and figure out what it will take to become profitable with it. For the most part, this comes down to achieving a specific amount of recurring traffic.
  2. A target audience. You’ll also need to decide on a target audience. It’s tempting to target “everyone,” since that’s the broadest and biggest category, but with so much competition, you’ll need to narrow your focus if you want customers to see you as relevant to their interests. Choose a target demographic that could feasibly be interested in what you’re selling, and try to think outside the box so you distinguish yourself from the competition.
  3. A place to sell. Next, you’ll need to figure out a place where you can sell your goods or services. You’ll probably want to have a website in place, as an anchor point for all your online marketing and advertising strategies, but you’ll also need to consider platforms and online marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, and Etsy. Alternatively, you could use listing software like Sellbrite to list and manage your products in multiple online marketplaces at once. It’s a good way to broaden your reach and simplify the management process simultaneously.
  4. A brand. Before you’re able to scale, you’ll need to come up with a clever brand for your business, or for yourself. Having a consistent brand will encourage your customers to be more loyal to you, and will serve as a platform of identity you can use to increase your visibility. Your brand should include a professionally designed logo, a memorable and catchy name, and a set of characteristics that define your brand personality and tone.
  5. A profitability model. Hopefully, you’ve already decided on a way to monetize, but that only guarantees you’ll have a channel for money to come through; you also need to figure out how you can get enough money to justify the time you’re putting into your hobby. For that, you’ll need to establish a profitability model; how much can you charge customers for each item, and how much money will you spend on materials and time putting those items together? Don’t forget to include the time it takes for you to manage your site. If you come up with a figure higher than the competitive rate, figure out a way to reduce your expenses or justify the increased costs.
  6. A plan to scale. Your business might strike a profit while it’s small and serving a reduced number of customers, but it’s going to be most profitable when it’s operating at a larger scale. How can you get to that level? It might take some time, but you’ll still need a plan in place early on. Do you want to grow organically? Do you want to rely on customer referrals? Or will you rely on advertising to drive new traffic to your website? Each of these methods has advantages and disadvantages, so you might want to use them in combination with each other.
  7. Time to manage the enterprise. Finally, your business’s success will depend on the amount of time you can put into it. Spending 15 minutes a week isn’t going to cut it if you want to strike a profit and secure a steady stream of income. Plan on spending at least a few hours a day, especially during the startup stage.

Navigating the Waters

Few people are able to instantly turn their hobbies into a successful business. Like any entrepreneurial pursuit, it takes time to develop, and months to years of steady tweaking before you get everything right. However, if you love what you do, you’ll enjoy the process—and even if you don’t strike a steady profit, you’ll at least gain experience and have an excuse to spend more time on one of your favorite activities.