Top tips for turning your hobby into profit from Brisbane creatives

The saying goes that – if you love what you do, you'll never work a day in your life.

From finding inspiration, to ways to get your work out there, and earning a little project from your creative talent, this article is a guide to helping you turn a passion project into something more.

Develop your idea

Perhaps you already dabble in ceramics and have found yourself wondering if you could make enough profit to cover your monthly coffee budget by setting up an Etsy store, or selling at a local market? The good news is you've taken the first step in discovering a creative hobby that you obviously enjoy enough to take to a new level.

For Brisbane-local, Phoebe Grealy, her passion project, Salisbury Grange (an organic seed and gardening education business) sat on hold for almost four years.

"My biggest problem was that I kept putting the project on hold," she says. "It wasn't until I quit my job that I decided to finally put my idea into action!"

"Little did I know that COVID, and a huge uptake in gardening, was just around the corner."

Phoebe Grealy, Salisbury Grange

Make time

Phoebe says free time is also a great way to provide the space for creativity.

"When I first started Salisbury Grange, rather than working a full-time job and doing my business on the side, I split time between full-time work and the business. For me, the empty space of no work allowed creative ideas to come through," she says.

"In one block of time, I wrote 12 garden guide e-books which came out of nowhere because I had the space!"

Find a mentor

Artist and owner of Dabbler Studio, Bonnie Hislop, recommends finding a mentor when you're starting out.

"Finding a mentor is a great step. They might be a friend or a professional in the field you're looking to get into," she says. "Go to events, talk to other creatives, ask questions, partake in the conversation," she says. "Let people know your plans and your wildest dreams."


Ellie Anderson, artist and manager of Work-Shop Brisbane, shares a common obstacle she sees creatives face when turning their passion project into something more - growing your audience. Her advice? Collaborate.

"Getting yourself out there is essential in these formative stages. Why not team up with another creative or organisation? Put together an exhibition of your work, or organise a creative event or fundraiser. Collaboration is a great way to meet new people and tap into other networks."

Council has a variety of exhibition and performance spaces available for creative endeavours including Visible Ink or the Creative Spaces website. Finding a space to showcase your latest photography work, host a dance performance, or rehearse, is half the battle – these spaces will leave you no excuse but to step into the spotlight.

Financial sustainability

As for making her practice sustainable and profitable, Bonnie says taking it slow and progressing in stages has worked for her.

"I think creating good work and taking things at my own pace to achieve longevity and being willing to adapt - especially in these times - has always been my style. And being keen to share and be involved in my community."

Phoebe acknowledges that her path from hobby to business is not possible for everyone and says that it can be hard to be creative or proactive when worrying about finances.

"My advice is to have enough money that can support your living expenses for at least six months if you decide to take time off to start your business," she says. "Understand that building something new takes time. There are a lot of stages along the way and not a lot can change that."

Get help with funding

In a vibrant and creative city like Brisbane, entering artistic and creative competitions like Brisbane Portrait Prize, The QUBE Effect, or applying for community grants, are another way to increase your visibility and earn extra financial investment or in-kind professional development.

Upskill with free courses

Ellie says the benefit of upskilling can readily boost your business in the early days.

"Upskilling can be your best asset. Look at courses in digital marketing and other business practices. Google offers a bunch of free online courses in this area, for example," she says.

In addition to Council's own business events calendar that supports business owners of all stages to start, run, or grow their business, online platforms including LinkedIn, General Assembly, Udemy, or Skillshare have a range of free and low-cost courses able to be attended online and in your own time. Perfect for the side-hustling entrepreneur in the making!

Make a business plan

Unfortunately, failing to consider all aspects of small business is possibly the biggest reason BrisStyle Operations Manager, Belinda Harris, has seen many side hustles fail before they had the chance to soar.

"Makers are not always business-minded even though their products may be beautiful and lovingly handcrafted," she says. "I always recommend making a business plan as soon as possible in your journey."

"Put it all down on paper. Ask yourself the 'who, what, why, and for'. Think about how much time you have to dedicate to your business, and this will help you work out if you should stay a hobbyist for the love of it, or if your idea has good bones to move forward and turn it into something more," she says.

A city supporting business and community

Council is committed to supporting Brisbane businesses and has created a range of resources and opportunities for businesses at all stages of growth. Read more online or contact our business hotline on 133 BNE. 

And if you're wanting to discover more creative ways to spend your free time, or find a new passion project, check out Brisbetter Explore for ideas and inspiration.

Related links

Date posted:
Last updated: 27 August 2021
Topics: things to do

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