Now is the time to turn your hobby into a sustainable career


Have you ever dreamed of turning your hobby or into your full-time job? The current economic environment may provide many good reasons to do so, and we have five helpful tips to help you get started turning your hobby into an income generating career.

We have assisted many South Africans to identify new career paths. What we have found is that individuals feel positive, motivated, empowered, and develop a sense that they are in control of their own destiny.

By developing one’s own entrepreneurial spirit, individuals can develop a sense of stability, identify a sellable skill, and by commercialising this skill start to safeguard their income.

How can a hobby become an income?

Simply put, while a hobby is usually your passion-project that you don’t expect remuneration for, a hobby could be monetised and provide a new career direction.

It could be the same work as your day job – for example, an accountant might help friends and family with their tax returns, or perhaps you love making beautiful cakes for special occasions like birthdays and weddings.

It could be something you learned but do as a sideliner – like the programmer who teaches dance classes on weekends.

Regardless of what the hobby might be, most of these could be turned into a business opportunity, so let’s look at the tips on how to do this.

Finding your market

The very first thing to do is work out whether a market exists for what you’re selling. Whether you offer a product or a service, there needs to be some kind of market for it.

Unless you have the skill to try and create a new market, do research on the kind of market that exists. If, for instance, you like to make furniture, make sure there is interest in your unique type and style.

Your market doesn’t have to be local – investigate the types of market available to you, both in person and online.

Start slow and build

If it’s your hobby that you want to turn into a business, we highly recommend starting slow and building it up over time. Build up a client base, if possible – if you offer a repeat service for example.

If you sell a one-off product, build a reputation before taking it full time. The stronger the foundation when you turn your hobby income into your day job, the better.

While you are starting off slowly, and even when you are starting to grow at a faster pace, it is always a good idea to keep researching and learning valuable skills that will make the road ahead easier.

One of the keys to making a success of your business is to be informed, so we strongly encourage you to pay extra attention the last tip.

Finding a niche

You might be tempted to spread yourself widely at first, especially if you offer a service. For instance, a dress maker might make all kinds of clothing, from wedding dresses to school clothes.

Unfortunately, it can make it much harder to build a sustainable career this way. If you focus on a niche, you can really develop and become the best at it. If you develop a reputation as the best person to tailor a business suit, for example, then you have a dedicated customer base, as well as reputational branding.

We hear a lot about diversifying, and yes, it works – but build your brand and reputation first.

Being flexible

While focusing on a niche will help you grow a strong career, it is important to be flexible. This will help you recognise unique opportunities when you see them.

During the early weeks of South Africa’s lockdown, many small businesses and individuals sprang into action to make and sell cloth masks – this is a great example of being flexible.

Don’t confuse distraction with flexibility. If you are focused, but flexible, you can strike the perfect balance to make the most of the right opportunity.


You are going to need many additional skills to run a business that you don’t always need in a salaried job – from admin to sales. Therefore, you need to learn everything you can to make your business succeed.

There are thousands of courses, both online and in a formal setting, to help entrepreneurs and small business owners. Look for courses offered by reputable institutions or expert individuals that deal with every aspect of your potential business.

Find reputable business coaches who can help you through the process. Get the training and support you need. Make the effort and take the time to get all the education you can to help you be successful.

Lyndy van den Barselaar | Managing Director | ManpowerGroup South Africa | mail me |



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