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Turn your hobby into a full-time paycheque

Julie Sandusky was working as an event planner in Denver, when she started making custom stationery on the side. She eventually turned her part-time passion into a full-time paycheque and set up her own design shop. Like many new designers, she also set up shop with Etsy to expand her reach and see if she could earn additional income. Selling handmade items through etsy.com earns Ms. Sandusky an additional $2,000 a month from her online sales.

She says websites that focus on selling handmade items are fantastic options for showcasing your work and there are many outlets for talented people. Sites like krrb.com focus on those who wish to buy and sell their handmade items locally and in person, whereas artfire.com takes a broader approach allowing artists to showcase and sell their items globally.

"Doors open up when you're online," Ms. Sandusky says, adding that having a fan page on Facebook and a presence on Pinterest – a site that lets you post images of your work that link directly back to your blog or online sales page – are invaluable tools if you're looking to turn your crafts into cash.

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It's her presence on Etsy, though, that has had the biggest impact. That led to in-store placement in boutiques around the world, including New York and Australia. "It's opened up a whole new stream of income," she says.

Investing in her own equipment to avoid outsourcing, creating customized products that allow her to set higher prices for her pieces, and connecting with other women in similar industries to cross-promote products, has increased her bottom line.

In the early stages, she also diligently tracked her working hours to ensure that she was actually making a profit, or would be soon.

Ms. Sandusky warns that it takes time to turn hobbies into part- or full-time moneymakers. "If it happened overnight, everybody would do it," she says.

Angela Self is one of the founders of the Smart Cookies money group. Read her weekly column on managing debt and saving money at the Globe's personal finance site.

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About the Author
Angela Self

Angela Self is one of the founders of the Smart Cookies, a group of five women who specialize in personal finance. They are hosts of a self-titled show on the W Network and the authors of The Smart Cookies' Guide to Making More Dough. More

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