Okay, so we all want to make extra money, right? Or most of us do, I’m going to assume. Really, if the idea of some extra cash is not appealing to you, this post probably isn’t either. But if you find yourself looking for ways to earn a little extra, you’ve probably seen dozens of headlines like “27 Easy Ways To Earn More At Home!” Be warned that’s not what this article is about.
Take some time to read any of those articles and you’ll find yourself on sites that aggregate tasks to freelancers. Sure, you can make money doing that. And you know, if you find a gig like this that you enjoy, awesome.
But what if you’ve got a creative streak? Well, there might be a better way.
Cashing in on Creativity
Ecommerce. I know, another “E” word. Stay with me here though. This one might be worth your time.
You see, today you can use ecommerce (which basically just means selling things online) to turn what you love to create into a product you can sell. Really. Whatever creative endeavor you love, there’s a way to turn it into extra income!
Okay, that’s making it sound way too easy. Let’s back up a bit.
Start with the things you like to do. Focus on anything creative. Since I’m writing for a bookmaking blog, I’m going to lean toward writing and illustrating crafts. But anything can work. Maybe you craft birdhouses out of found materials. Or you patch sneakers into original works of art.
The Internet is a big place and you can almost always find people that will buy what you’re creating.
You’re going to love how simple the idea here is. I’m not promising you easy money, but this is a great way to make something from the crafts you’d make anyway (because you love being creative). Again, I’m going to stick with books because, frankly, that’s really all I know. But understand that the principles here can be applied to nearly any creative thing you can imagine.
One of the best parts about creating a book is that you don’t really have any overhead. Just whatever software you use to create the book. Beyond that, you can use on-demand platforms (I recommend lulu.com, but I am biased) to print books as you sell them.
And that’s it! You’ve got a book for sale, you’re cashing in on your creativity, right?
Well, sort of. There are two distinct aspects to making money from your creativity. The first is being creative, the second is being entrepreneurial. We’ll jump into those two in just a moment. First, let’s look a little closer at the product; your book.
For the most part, you can use print-on-demand to create copies of your book. One example I love to use is the cookbook. We’ve all got recipes. Family favorites or Grandma’s apple pie. Compiling those recipes into a book can be an amazing way to connect with the history behind your kitchen and make some extra money.
The Cookie Hack Book
This book holds 31 recipes of gourmet, easy to make, cookies. Cookie hacks if you will.
Another great example is a photo book. If you have a photogenic pet or love to take snapshots of nature, you can make a book (or even a calendar) to highlight those pictures. Or you could make a daily journal with affirmations to help other writers stay inspired. Journals alone open up a world of possibilities; fitness trackers, nutrition journals, dot journals, daily planners, and the list goes on.
Minimalist Photography Awards 2019
The Minimalist Photography Awards book is one of the few books that gives you a good insight into minimalist photography and is also a useful source of inspiration for all photographers interested in this field of photography.
I could keep going; there are just so many possibilities! And that’s sticking just to books. Set your creativity free!
Plain Wide Ruled Notebook for Girls who Love Unicorn
Cute design of unicorn cover for girls! This composition notebook used for taking notes in class or other occasions as a writing journal. It is a great gift for your child, grandchild, and student.
It’s important that you enjoy the creative part of this. From the writing and editing to the compiling and page layout. One reason some independent creators flourish while others don’t is the joy we get from the process. If you don’t enjoy making books, then creating books to sell for extra income will feel more like work than a hobby.
Creative Agenda and Bullet Journal
Bullet Journal and Agenda templates to help you explore your creative self!
Accessing Your Creativity
This is the most important part of making money writing. If you don’t enjoy the creative process involved, you’re not going to have any fun. Writing should not be a chore!
But using writing to make some extra money doesn’t mean you have to be an ‘author’ either. In my example above using a cookbook, I think most of us would hardly call that authoring a book. Or putting together your workout plan as a daily journal for other fitness-minded folks. These kinds of creations don’t immediately fit the traditional idea of a book or an author. Similarly, you might be an avid photographer. You could sell prints and lookbooks online, but you might not consider yourself an author.
That’s fine! You don’t have to be an author in the strictest sense to create a book. What matters is that you love creating and you have a desire to share what you create. From there, you can tackle the money-making side of this with a more entrepreneurial mindset.
I wrote an article recently examining the (mostly made up) term ‘authorpreneur.’ It’s a pretty deep dive into the point where creativity and business meet. The point that it all comes to is; if you want to create a book and make money, you need to be both an author and an entrepreneur.
We covered the ‘author’ part of the equation already. So now it’s time to think about how you’ll sell the thing you create. If you make custom lampshades, you might do best on Etsy or a similar site. But if you’re creating a book, tools like Lulu xPress can make selling incredibly easy. In fact, it doesn’t get much more entrepreneurial than Shopify®.
Why? Because Shopify (and similar services like Square and Woocommerce) flip the model for selling online long-established by Amazon. Instead of relying on a super-corporation to create a marketplace for your work, you can make your own! Instead of sharing profits, you pay Shopify a standard fee (as low as $9.99 a month too!) for payment processing.
That leaves you free to make a website as creative as you are! Or as simple as you want it to be.
Where I’m going with this is that you—the person who is being creative—can take total control over your creations. From the first word to the first sale, you can own the entire process. It does not get much more entrepreneurial than that!
It’s worth noting too that you can still sell your work on retail sites like Etsy or Amazon. You might have to do a little manual fulfillment (such as boxing and shipping the book) or you might have to conform some unique specifications. But you can do both!
Find Your Passion
The whole ‘gig economy’ of 2020 can be overwhelming for creative types. That’s not what I’m talking about here. Don’t approach writing to earn some extra money as a gig. If that’s what you’re after, those blogs with ‘17 Ways to Get Rich on The Couch’ are what you’re looking for.
I’m more about the Maker Movement type of thinking. Find the creative outlet that makes you happy, that genuinely brings you joy. I’m talking about really tapping into your creativity because you want to. Period. Because being creative is joyous for you. That you can take what brings you joy and make income from it is a bonus, not a goal.
How will you create something amazing (and who knows, maybe even make bank with it!)? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below. What creative hobbies have you taken to the next level?
Paul is the Senior Copywriter at Lulu, writing weekly blog posts and helping guide content for the company’s marketing. When he’s not deeply entrenched in the publishing and print-on-demand world, he likes to hike the scenic North Carolina landscape, read, sample the fanciest micro-brewed beer, and collect fountain pens. Paul is a dog person, but considers himself cat tolerant.