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How to Get Paid to Play: Turning Your Hobby Into Your Job

Hobbyists are passionate about their avocation. According to Webster’s Dictionary, an avocation is, “A subordinate occupation pursued in addition to one’s vocation, especially for enjoyment.” But what if you want to turn your avocation into an enjoyable full-time vocation? Here’s how:

Get Creative About Making Money

Successful artist Ann Kullberg always loved to draw. But when this single mother of two discovered professional-grade colored pencils it wasn’t long before her art was winning awards.

Ann knew that drawing alone wouldn’t pay the bills – at least not right away. So in the early years, she supplemented her art by substitute teaching and cleaning houses. Ann also got busy coming up with creative ways to spin her love for drawing into income. Thirteen years later Ann travels the country teaching classes, does commissioned portraits, has a contract to write a second book, and is designing colored pencil by number kits for beginners.

Ann also came up with the idea of having her own on-line magazine where professionals and novices a like sign up for book reviews, critiques of artist’s work, business and art advice, workshop listings and more. In the first four months over 200 paying subscribers signed up.

Do Your Homework

Get a notebook and label it “Shopping for a Living,” “Knitting,” “Fly Fishing,” or whatever your particular hobby might be. Then start filling it with the research you’re going to do on all the ways people are getting paid to shop, knit, or fly fish.

Associations are a great source of information. For example, if you’re into crafts you’ll find a wealth of information at the National Craft Association’s Web site including a list of craft and trade shows, a small business center, and a directory of wholesale reps. Love writing and history? Check out the Association of Personal Historians.

Book stores are filled with how-to and business-related books for just about every hobby you can think of. My personal off-the-beaten track favorite is a little book titled Knitting With Dog Hair: Better a Sweater From a Dog You Know and Love Than a Sheep You’ll Never Meet. (Don’t laugh. I read about one knitter who has a six month waiting list for her $300 sweaters.)

Along these same lines, there are niche magazines for just about everything. Check out the magazine section of any large bookstore and you’re bound to find publications like Cats & Kittens, Canoe & Kyack, and Gold Prospecting. Be sure to peruse the ads for clues as to how other people are making money from this interest area.

Get Busy

After you’ve filled your notebook with lots of neat ways to turn your hobby into your job it’s time for action. Break your larger goal down into a series of small, manageable steps. Block out time at night and on the weekends to start working your plan. Before you know it, your work will feel like play!

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  1. Valerie,

    It made me so happy to read about your reunion vacation…what a wonderful thing to be able to do…I’ll smile this week thinking of it…

    Great ideas on the notebook too – great advice for anyone diving in.

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