Monetizing A Hobby
By Roger Nusbaum, AdvisorShares ETF Strategist
One of the long running themes of this blog has been to monetize a hobby as part of a retirement planning solution. I last touched on it a month ago. The context is simple. If you enjoy doing something enough that you spend a lot of your time doing it then you are in a good position to know whether or not your hobby can in fact be monetized. Success in this regard, like most things, requires putting in time in terms of getting better/more knowledgeable and figuring how to actually monetize the thing you do.
Over the last couple of weeks I embarked on an attempt to monetize my interest in photography. I had about a dozen pictures put on canvas, two on metal and then a bunch of regular pictures made and participated in my first show over the weekend. I got a banner made at Vista Print, had to get a couple of business/tax documents and pay for a spot at the show which was at the Courthouse Square in downtown Prescott. Some of the shows like this on the square cost $400-$500 which makes no economic sense for what I am doing. The charge for vendors at this one was $125. I am scheduled for the Walker Day Art Show (the fire department’s big annual event) and that one is only $25. My all in is about $700.
A while back I mentioned that one of the fire department board members is quite successful selling wood carvings; he’s in three galleries and occasionally does shows like the one I did over the weekend. He said I should not expect to sell anything, that my objective for the first time should be getting feedback to try to ascertain whether there is a market for my stuff. I did a little better than selling nothing but did not sell a lot. The feedback was extremely positive and while that sort of thing can always just be BS, the short version is that the positive reactions felt genuine. I gave out a ton of business cards too which was not a negative.
Based on years of posting pictures here and social media, it is fair to say that the pictures resonate with people. So now I am trying to learn whether that translates into there being a market for the pictures. For now, I don’t know the answer. Taking pictures is still a lot of fun and I think it will be fun to learn whether there is any viability to monetizing it which is exactly what I had in mind when I started writing about this eleven years ago.
I’ve written a few times about having figured out how to monetize another hobby; wildland firefighting. I have not done anything with this but it would be just a matter of setting my status as available in the resource ordering system which would make me eligible to be dispatched out in several different roles. I’ve been called to go out a couple of times despite being unavailable which gives an idea of the need. The roles for which I could be called (even as a trainee) pay between $25-$30/hour except for crew member on a truck which is less. That’s for eight hours and then time and a half for another four hours for a few days to as long as two weeks. For someone who is retired, looking for a part time or seasonal gig, this is substantial but it is hard work.
As I have said many times before, at (now) 51 I have no plans to retire, the stock market is my favorite hobby by far but as a philosophical matter, I believe in having options and I believe in having the awareness of not knowing what the future you might want to do.
I’ll post updates on this as they come as any successes or failures could help anyone who might be interested in monetizing one of their hobbies.