Hello, my name is Frances and I’m a professional blogger. By professional, I mean it’s a real job. My blog is registered with the DTI and the BIR. I have official receipts. I pay my many taxes. What was once an enjoyable hobby is now a legitimate income-generating venture. I never would’ve thought that this would happen when I started my blog—with the fancy-shmancy name of TopazHorizon.com, no less—more than ten years ago. If I had known it was going to become a big business, I’d have given my blog name more thought!
That’s the thing with any hobby—you start it for your own personal pleasure, not because you’re thinking of how it can make you money. So what do you do when it becomes bigger than you expect? Should you turn it into a business?
Here’s how to tell when a hobby should become a business:
- When you’re spending a lot of time on it.
Hobbies are usually the things we do when we can find pockets of time away from our hectic schedules. But when it starts eating up your day, you should consider earning from it. After all, what is it they say? “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
If you can make your hobby earn money, then not only will you look forward to work every day, you also won’t hear your family and friends complaining about you spending too much time on your knitting or baking or surfing!
Bridal fashion designer and floral bouquet entrepreneur Michi Calica-Sotto may already have a lot on her plate but her love for stand-up paddling [SUP] gave her more ideas. “I spent at least three times a month, [from] 8am to 5pm, paddling. Other weeks it was more. Two weekends a month in Anilao,” she said of her devotion to her hobby. “I also spent two hours a day searching the internet for news on SUP, say, where next to paddle, new gear, forums.”
With all that time Michi spent on stand-up paddling, she decided she should use that time earning money, too. Hence, her business selling equipment like boards, paddles, and leashes. She also offers tours and classes on SUP.
- When you’re spending a lot of money on it.
I started blogging because it didn’t cost a thing. As a writer and editor, I already had a computer and an internet connection. But as I became more serious with blogging, I began investing in good cameras, buying clothes for #OOTDs, and spending a lot on Uber attending events. Hobbies can be an expensive pastime!
Michi agrees. She lists the initial costs of SUP: “A board is P60,000, a paddle is P8,000, and a leash is P1,600. Of course there were the outfits at P20,000. Then we must count the overnight stays in the beach, about P10,000 at a time.”
She accedes, “I realized my hobby did cost a little something, so it was wise to make some money to sustain it, later on to really promote this sport, as it is the fastest growing sport in the world. SUP is in the rise in our country.”
- When there’s no one else who seems to be doing it.
For Tab Abad, it wasn’t really a hobby but an obsession with being well-groomed that pushed her to start her waxing business. As a young girl, Tab enjoyed keeping herself neat. “I love grooming. Growing up, I always had a kikay kit. I’m very hairy so you can imagine my arms! I would always make the hair straight so it does not look magulo. As young as 14, I was already threading my brows, the hair in between. In fact, I would always tell the girl at the salon, ‘Just clean it, don’t give it a shape,’ because what did they know of shaping during that time? I just want everything neat and orderly.”
Tab was able to enjoy being neat and orderly when she worked at cosmopolitan Jakarta, which had grooming salons. Until she realized she wanted to go back home. “But going back home meant I would miss all these services I was enjoying in Jakarta,” she said. “So I decided to ask the franchise of the business for Manila because I needed to make sure I would have some place I can go to for the rest of my life. This I know would make me happy!”
It also made her lots of money.
Tab put up The Strip and Browhaus, a string of successful waxing and grooming salons, at a time when no one was talking about specific grooming services. Everyone either went to a big salon or did hair removal themselves.
Tab said, “This was one way to help generate opportunity. Opportunity wherein one would not need to go abroad for greener pastures… Back then, there was hardly any niche or service-specific salon. These services were always taking a back seat in salons, and those that tried still didn’t have that international quality to make it really good and fantastic.” Seeing that no one was offering what she wanted, Tab created a business that catered to her needs. Filipinas who loved a hairless smoothness thanked her forever after that!
- When your family and friends and their friends start asking you about it.
Some hobbies are so fascinating or require a unique skill that people can’t help but notice it… and want it, too.
Anna Chavez never thought her childhood hobby of “lettering” and doodling was going to become a business. While in the thick of her corporate job, Anna took up the pen more seriously. “A few years ago, around 2014, I suddenly realized I missed having a creative outlet so I started to immerse myself in the craft again.” She became so good at calligraphy that her family and friends saw an opportunity for her to earn from it.
“It was my cousin, Ghia Pastoral—owner of The Write Impression, which I think is the best invitation and stationery supplier in the country!—who gave me the idea and encouraged me to put my hobby to good use. In early 2015, she started giving me clients for envelope addressing and referred me to her clients along the way.”
With clients lining up for her services, Anna took the plunge. “It was the most opportune time since I was planning to quit my corporate job of 13 years and finally be a work-at-home mom. So together with my own accounting business, which I also started in 2015, I decided to make calligraphy a full-time job.”
- When you’re consistently earning from it.
Last but most telling of all is the money your hobby is making you. Some hobbies make money for a season, like during the holidays when enterprising moms would bake extra goodies or create extra crafts to sell to gift-seeking shoppers. If your hobby’s income goes beyond the season and people are hankering for your products and services all year, then time to make it legit.
At a workshop for enterprising entrepreneurs I attended a few years ago, financial writer and businessman Fitz Villafuerte told us that if we’re consistently making at least P5,000 a month, then that’s the signal to put up a business. Since my blog was regularly earning way more than that, I realized that this little hobby could actually be our family’s main source of income. That’s why my blog is now a business!
A hobby that becomes your business truly is a dream come true. Every day, I am amazed that I get to do what I love. The entrepreneurial moms featured here agree.
Michi is happy her stand-up paddling business lets her work on the beach. Tab is ecstatic that she not only enjoys being perfectly groomed anytime she wishes, but also relishes the fact that many Pinays have access to those services. Anna admits that it’s not all roses. “Of course when projects start piling up, it becomes very exhausting, that when all’s done I would refuse to pick up a pen for days or weeks! But in the end, my love for writing (literally!) wins me over. And I keep reminding myself that not everyone is as lucky – earning from something I love to do, at the comfort of my own home.”
Check out what these enterprising women are up to:
For stand-up paddle tours, lessons and gear, contact SUP Central Tours in Coron 6390 188 6609; Soloviento Caliraya 09188911968
For invitation calligraphy for weddings, debuts and corporate events, logo design, and other paper products, contact Calligraphy by Anna on Instagram: @CalligraphyByAnna and firstname.lastname@example.org.
For stories for working moms by a working mama, visit Topaz Horizon [http://www.topazhorizon.com].