Monetizing Your Hobby
By Noella Gatos / March 1, 2014

In the late 1960s, when Wally Amos wanted important people to know about his start-up cookie business, he personally took to the streets of Los Angeles driven by the well-heeled and passed out just-made, still-warm chocolate cookies to people stuck in traffic. The cookies were a hit. By 1975, with the backing of entertainment industry friends like singer Helen Reddy and comedian Bill Cosby, Amos opened the first Famous Amos Cookie Store.

Success came quickly. The store in southern California sold $300,000 in cookies the first year and $1 million the second year. "In 1975, I decided I would like to do something for satisfaction instead of for the money," he told USA Today. "Little did I realize I would be a launching a career as an entrepreneur."

At a time when jobs don't pay as much as they used to, an increasing number of people want an alternative way to increase their income, while also having fun. Those who are semi- or completely retired are also trying to monetize their hobbies and fill their time. Maybe some of them will get rich. But, regardless, they are able to harness their passion for something and share it with others.

Are you crafty? Maybe you knit baby clothes, like a friend of mine in Seattle, Washington. You give them as gifts to friends who are impressed by your ability to design and execute bonnets and tops like nothing else in the marketplace. That kind of approval is the encouragement you need to go further by establishing a market for your goods on Etsy, Artfire, Bonanza, and/or eBay. Seek out local art fairs, which are numerous in fall and winter months. Visit baby boutiques and sell directly to them. had a series of good tips about monetizing a hobby. Teach others to do what you love, whether it's making the perfect soufflé, playing the flute, or public speaking. Do this at a college, a continuing education program, a senior center, or a community center. The city of Plantation, for example, offers a number of classes on a diverse range of topics, including chair yoga and tai chi.

Write about what you love, either in a blog that you update regularly or an e-book. Then lecture in your region about the topic. There are many groups that are always looking for speakers, from the Kiwanis and Rotary Clubs to the Mental Health Association of Broward County and specialized groups of collectors and creators, like the Gold Coast Watercolor Society. Try libraries, too. Even museums might be interested in your topic, if you can make it fit with a current exhibition, for example.

You can also appraise, repair or fix items related to what you love. If you know how a piano must sound in key, from having played the piano all your life, you might become a piano tuner. Or, if you have collected baseball cards since childhood, you are in a position to assess the real value of someone else's treasures.

There are many means by which money can be made from the pursuit of a leisure-time activity. Talk to your friends about doing so and they may have more ideas for you to implement.

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