Hobbies being turned into income

October 31, 2008 1:27:55 PM PDT
What used to be thought of as online hobbies are turning into important sources of income for families hit hard by the economic downturn.

We learned that using something as simple as your hangers can turn into a product you could sell -- and have fun doing it. And a designer light fixture that sells for $660 at a popular design store could be made with a ball of string and some glue. Think of the possibilities.

"I'd say any hobby you've had where people have said 'I can't believe you can make that' - you can turn that into a business," said Shoshana Berger, Ready Made editor-in-chief.

In this unstable economy - it might be time to reinvent yourself, but instead of feeling down about the times -- the folks at Ready Made Magazine in Berkeley say think of this as an opportunity to turn your hobby into cash. And if you don't have a hobby -- that's ok, their magazine and others like it shows that ideas come from unlikely places - all the time.

"People are constantly tinkering, constantly coming up with something new," said Berger.

There's even a website where crafty people can sell their creations. Etsy.com is like a crafts fair online. Everything on the site is handmade and attracts a worldwide audience. Christina Williams of Castro Valley is one of the vendors on Etsy.

"It was really overwhelming at first. I didn't really know where to start," said Williams.

The stay at home mom doesn't have a lot of free time -- but she decided to put a couple of her notecard designs on Etsy just to see what would happen.

"I think it was three days into it, I sold three things to one person," said Williams.

She now has customers as far away as Singapore and is making about $500 a month in profits.

"If I wanted to make more money, I could devote a lot more time to it. Being a stay at home mom and having other obligations during my day - I do my best to put what ever I can into it," said Williams.

The only rule in this world is not to limit yourself; even the hangers in your closet can be turned into a fancy looking chandelier.

"We have a fairly mass culture where we can all buy from the same stores, we can have the same Ikea coffee table our neighbor has, and that's a little homogenizing. We all want to feel like we can put our personal stamp on things in our environment," said Berger.

A study in the UK found that 64-percent of people have recently sold their possessions, taken on extra work or have turned their hobby into a money maker as a way to deal with the tough economic times we're facing.