When retiring early, you’ll want to have as many income sources as you can. One way to get more is to turn your hobby into an income producer.
Today I’m going to take a hobby for a lot of folks, woodworking, and show you some different ways you can make money. The blueprint I’m going to show you can work for almost any other hobby as well.
1. Write a Blog
First of all, what is a blog? A blog is a website or webpage where you publish your own articles. You might post an article daily, weekly or monthly and the goal is to share your message and thoughts with the world. Now you’re probably asking yourself, like I did two years ago, “How does someone make money by writing a blog?” One quick search online about making money on your blog and you’ll find that there are people out there that are making a lot of money. Full disclosure, this is not a get rich quick scheme. It takes time to build up an audience. Not all the sites out there that teach this make it sound as challenging as it can be. But, once you do have an audience you can succeed with your own business as well as decide to even add in affiliate marketing.
How is it done? Let’s consider our woodworking example. When you write a blog about woodworking, you’re going to discuss the different projects you’re working on. Perhaps go into detail with pictures and videos and show the various techniques. You’ll also discuss the different tools you’re using. Once you build up a large enough audience you can use affiliate marketing to generate income from another company. Affiliate marketing is earning a commission by selling someone else’s product. It has absolutely no effect on the price to the customer. It’s a way for the company to say thank you for referring the customer.
For example, you could sign up with Home Depot’s affiliate program here: https://www.homedepot.com/c/SF_MS_Affiliate_Program_FAQs
Then let’s say that you are using a Dewalt planer from Home Depot on a project. You can do a review of the Dewalt planer on your blog and attach your affiliate link for Home Depot for anyone who wants to purchase it. If one of your followers goes through your link and purchases the planer for $579, you’ll receive a 3% commission from Home Depot. If you have one person buy it through your link, you’ll make $17.37. What if you have 20 people buy it? You’ll make $347.40.
There are thousands affiliate programs available for you to use. You can find them on websites such as Clickbank or going to any corporate site and search to see if they have an affiliate program.
Amazon is probably the most well-known and has recently found ways to incorporate their affiliate relationships into all types of media. You’ll hear companies sharing their amazon link all over the place now. Even Podcasters, adding their amazon affiliate link into the voice over ads so that buyers who are listening earn them income without paying any extra for the products they were already going to buy.
The digital world is always changing and evolving and it can definitely favor the little guy.
What do you need to do a blog? You’ll need your own website which can be setup these days very easily. You’ll need a computer and an internet connection. Technically you don’t even have to have your own internet. You could write the blogs offline and just jump online at a coffee house to publish them or even on your smartphone.
2. YouTube Channel
As a woodworker, one of the best ways to grow your audience is with YouTube. I used to love watching the New Yankee Workshop with Norm Abram because much like The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross, it allowed me to sit back, relax and enjoy the effortlessness of a visual learning process.
Did you know that Youtube’s search engine is the second largest search engine on the internet, behind only Google, it’s parent? That’s right, people use and search Youtube so often that it gets higher traffic than BING or Yahoo search which cover the entire internet.
YouTube will pay you a small amount depending on how many views you have to your channel. Now this will take a while to build up because it’s based on how much traffic you are getting to your channel. For example, let’s say that you have 5000 views a day, you might expect to make somewhere between $2,000-$5,000 a year. YouTube is often changing its algorithm, so these numbers can change.
You can also do affiliate marketing on your channel. For instance, you could do a video on that same Home Depot planer that we spoke about above and link it in the description.
What do you need to start a YouTube channel? A computer, access to an internet connection at least sporadically, and a smart phone or digital video camera. Smartphones now have video editing apps right on them, and can publish straight to youtube. Depending on how involved you want to get into editing the videos, or if you prefer a regular computer, you may also want to use video editing software which gets easier and easier to use nowadays.
3. A Podcast
A podcast is an audio show that can be uploaded online and shared with the world. Think of it as an on demand radio show that can be listened to on a computer or mobile device. And they are self-published and free to publish. As a woodworker, you could discuss different tools, techniques and interview other woodworkers. You can sell your products or someone else’s. Running ads for sponsors can bring in revenue. Remember my comment earlier about the Amazon affiliate program – you’ll hear tons of podcasters these days using their Amazon link name in their verbal ads – they make a commission on what their listener was already going to buy and the listener’s buying experience is identical.
What do you need to start a podcast? A computer, internet connection, media recording software and a microphone. I’m starting a podcast very soon and I have spent $100 total for the equipment to get started. Not a big investment for a part of my hobby business.
4. Online Course
An online course is an educational course that can be sold and taught online. Now you may not think of yourself as a teacher, but I assure you that the grassroots movement with online education has been thriving for well over a decade, and it’s made up of everyday people who have valuable things to share. Many courses are informational even, so that you don’t have to be on camera if you don’t wish – you can simply share your computer screen while you talk.
As a woodworker, you could do an online course on the basics of woodworking, advance techniques of woodworking or do a series on building a complicated piece. It’s really about finding a topic that you feel people will have an interest in, doing a series a videos on them and then simply offering them online. You don’t even technically have to have your own website. There are sites such as Teachable and Udemy where you could upload your online course to and sell it to folks all around the world. I’ve seen online courses priced from .99 cents to over $5,000.
What do you need to start an online course? A computer, internet connection, a good microphone, some computer video software and, depending if you plan to appear on the videos, a smartphone with a camera or digital video camera.
5. Membership Site
A membership site is a private, members-only website where members pay a monthly or year fee to access premier content, get advice, and enjoy other benefits. For a woodworker, this could be a private space where you and your group work on a certain woodworking project each month. Through videos, you could walk people through, step-by-step, the process of constructing a project as well as assisting your group along the way. And members will have future access to additional training or offerings you make for the membership.
What do you need to start a membership group? A computer, internet connection and a free platform such as a private Facebook GROUP (not page) or your own website to host the membership group. You might need a camera and editing software if you are doing videos.
These are just five of the ways you could take a hobby and create an income stream from it. There are many more. I used woodworking as an example, but you could substitute gardening, knitting, classic car restoration, etc. Speaking of knitting, I should also mention Etsy.com which is the worlds largest online craft-center. Many stay at home part timers and retirees are making great money selling the crafts they love to make.
At the end of the day, there are not huge costs involved to get started doing any of these. It just takes time to build up a following and that takes being consistent in what you are doing. (Spoiler alert: that’s where most people struggle – the discipline to stay consistent and organized, especially those coming from a job mentality and aren’t used to managing their own business… but I digress… that’s likely for another blog)
I’m turning 50 years old in December and much of what I mentioned above, I’ve learned in the past two years. You are never too old to learn this stuff. Don’t talk yourself out of it. A quick search online will give a lot more depth on the ideas I have shared with you.
There are people right now that are getting started on these projects and in just a few years they will be making good money. So, if you’re looking for a way to turn a hobby into something that can provide you income, I’d suggest looking at your current hobby and see if you can create an income stream using the five techniques above.
And did you notice that they leverage the internet? What better way to retire earlier and live free than to have income streams that can be managed no matter where you are in the world, as long as you can connect to the internet when needed.
Live free my friends