Javascript is not enabled.

Javascript must be enabled to use this site. Please enable Javascript in your browser and try again.

Skip to content
Content starts here
CLOSE ×
Search
Brought to you by
Leaving AARP.org Website

You are now leaving AARP.org and going to a website that is not operated by AARP. A different privacy policy and terms of service will apply.

Turning a Hobby Into a Business

Before you start, ask yourself these three questions

Turning a Hobby Into a Business
Does your hobby have the potential to become a business?
Getty Images

Q. I have a hobby that I am thinking of turning into a business, but I'm nervous about taking the leap and unsure if my hobby can make me money. How I do I assess the possibilities?

A. Welcome to the world of the entre-not-so-sure.

It's easy to get caught in this impasse, especially as in virtually 100% of cases, a business built around a hobby won't feel anything like your hobby did in the first place.

member card

AARP Membership — $12 for your first year when you sign up for Automatic Renewal

Get instant access to members-only products and hundreds of discounts, a free second membership, and a subscription to AARP the Magazine.

Join Now

Think about it this way:

To build a hobby you need

  1. time
  2. interest, and
  3. practice

To turn a hobby into a business you need

  1. a potential market to sell to,
  2. an opportunity to fill that market, and
  3. feedback from that market.
Turning a Hobby Into a Business woodworking
Woodworking could be a profitable hobby.
Getty Images

Two different frameworks!

If you are sitting between these two worlds, ask yourself these three questions:

Question #1: Is your hobby some form of marketable skill?

People might pay you for your woodworking, computer programming, graphic designing or writing talents, but they will probably not pay you to swim, hike, or read.

Turning a Hobby Into a Business  art painting
Start a business selling your art.
Getty Images

Question #2: If so, are you willing to risk some of the fulfillment you find in your hobby for the market's judgment?

You might love painting in your backyard on the weekends, but are you willing to have someone give her opinion on how much she's willing to pay for it?


Question #3:
If so, are you trying to make a few bucks on the side, or are you trying to make a living?

Fifty dollars a month is a lot different than a goal of $5,000 a month. Understand what you want out of your business and what it might take to get there.

If you don't get to question 3, then move on and simply enjoy your hobby for the pleasure it brings you. If you did get to question 3, it's time to start thinking like a business owner.

Either way, don't beat yourself up for being an entre-not-so-sure — beat yourself up for staying one.

Bassam Tarazai is a career coach and founder of Colipera (Collective Inspiration, Personal Accountability). Author of The Accountability Effect, he runs goal-setting workshops for companies and universities.

membership-card-w-shadow-192x134

AARP Membership — $12 for your first year when you sign up for Automatic Renewal

Get instant access to members-only products and hundreds of discounts, a free second membership, and a subscription to AARP the Magazine.