It's never been a better time to think about turning your hobby -- that thing you're passionate about doing -- into a viable, money-generating business. In fact, according to a recent consumer survey conducted by the software-maker Intuit, about one in five people (17 percent) have actively worked on starting their own business in the past year. But, before you take the plunge and decide to turn your hobby into a business, you should make sure it's something you really love and are willing to put endless hours into, according to Robin Ryan, a career counselor and author of "What to Do with the Rest of Your Life." "You should also think carefully about whether you have the financial resources to start the business -- for instance, whether you can run it out of your home or need retail space," she says. "And make sure there is enough demand to build a profitable company."
While there are certain tax forms and other formalities that every business owner must go through once they are up and running, the good news is that the Web has made it cheaper and easier than ever to turn your favorite hobby into a business.
So what are the best hobbies for making money? Here's a look at some "hobbypreneurs" and the hobbies they turned into businesses.
Not only can it pay to sell your scrapbook creations online through sites like Etsy and eBay, you can also become a creative consultant like Tara McCormack of Tigard, Ore., who helps inspire and teach others how to profit from their hobby by holding weekly classes and workshops at her home as well as her blog www.wearethestampions.com.
If your passions include skill-based activities like working out at the gym or speaking a foreign language, you might be able to find people willing to pay you to coach them. Turn your weightlifting or marathon prowess into a personal-training or running-coach business.
Not only do most people like to receive massages -- they are also willing to pay for them. Just ask Cameo Person, who, after working at a day spa, decided to launch her own mobile massage business, Indulge Mobile Spa, that allows her customers to relax in their own home while enjoying a "spa party," which can include massages, pedicures, and facials.
Many people like to kick back and experiment in their kitchens after spending a long day at the office. When Marlene Baroli-Turati was laid off from her corporate job last year, however, she decided to turn her kitchen into her office by making handcrafted jams, jellies, and microwave potato pouches and selling them at boutiques, festivals, and online at www.DaSweetZpot.etsy.com. Jill Frechtman, on the other hand, started making her chocolate-covered pretzels as a holiday gift for her co-workers at the advertising agency she worked at in New York. After receiving much praise for them, Frechtman left her ad job to launch Fretzels.
Many people spend their nights and weekends fixing up their homes or spending time in their workshops tinkering about. So, why not turn those skills into a business? A woodworking enthusiast could, for instance, start a business repairing or building fences or decks. Or, someone with more all around interests can launch a home-improvement business. Take, for example, Bob Williams, who traded in his corporate MBA seven years ago for the chance to launch his own business specializing in refurbishing kitchen and bathrooms called, Red Oak Renovations in Ayer, Mass.
Who knew that you could turn a passion for hair bows into a business? That's exactly what Kristin Black, president of Unbowlievable, did back in 2007. Black says she started by selling her wares at her local craft shows in Washington, D.C., but, due to demand, she winded up opening a retail location just 10 months later. Similarly, Julie Gastelum turned her hobby of making jewelry and greeting cards into a business by selling her creations on etsy.com under the name of her new business Kattfive Creations.
If you're a dog lover, consider starting a dog training business, says Steven Appelbaum, president of Animal Behavior College, a vocational school that specializes in animal-related career training. He says graduates from his school have opened businesses that range from private training lessons to full-fledged doggie daycare and training facilities.
Rather than throw out all that cool stuff you like collect, think about starting a business around selling it. Consider the story of Joe Maddalena, who, as a kid growing up in Rhode Island, watched his parents, both antique dealers, wheel and deal. Apparently the apple didn't fall far from the tree, and by the time he turned 14, he had acquired more than 1 million baseball cards, thousands of autographs, and more than 100,000 comic books and original pieces of art. Maddalena has since turned his passion for collecting into a business, where he now runs Profiles in History, an auctioneer of Hollywood memorabilia and leading historical documents, such as the last known signature of President John F. Kennedy and a letter written by President Abraham Lincoln related to the Emancipation Proclamation that is believed to have a value of more than $5 million.
It's a great time to turn your passion for music into a real business, says Natalie Nicole Gilbert, a Los Angeles-based singer and songwriter. With the advent of new tools and digital distributors like TuneCore.com, she says, you can release a full album across the Web (through outlets like iTunes, Amazon and Napster) for just $25. A single song will cost you only $10. With a competent computer, you can set up a home studio for about $300 and, while digital recording software varies in price, packages like GarageBand and Audacity are relatively cheap. Alternatively, you can rent studio packages through sites like MusiciansFriend.com for under $100. If you are even more budget conscious, you can even digitize your old demo tapes and release them free on NoiseTrade.com, AmieStreet.com or SoundCloud.com.
The original version of this article appeared on AOL Small Business on 5/18/10.