How did you turn your hobby or passion into a business?

Did your business form out of a hobby or other side gig? Reply to share your story and tips for maintaining work/life balance when work is also your passion. 




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Elisabeth (she/they)
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Message 1 of 41

Hello, I started my business from passion after I retired for being an employee for 42 years ! I hope square will help me to sell my wife’s amazing art work, original hand painted oil and ink and pen art on canvas, board and paper 

Message 2 of 41
Beta Member

I started out wanting to learn how to quilt after being inspired by my grandmothers quilts.


I dabbled for a while and started experimenting. I started moving in directions that I found interesting and new techniques I suddenly wanted to learn.  I began working with strange sewing machine ideas that worked acrylic paint and mixed media artwork that I stumbled across online. 


My quilt guild had a quilt show coming up in 2018 or maybe it was 2019. It was the first one I had helped with.   We have a boutique where members can sell their handmade creations.  On a whim I decided to add a tub of full of things, including some of the quilted acrylic artwork.


I was left kind shocked when people bought things.  One attendee tracked me down to thank me, because she told it it spoke to her.  It had a stamp that read Everything is Going To Be Alright.   I had never been touched like that in all my life.


Weeks after the quilt show, I came to call that weekend my proof of concept epiphany.  It's now several years later and I've grown and expanded everything.  I still get kind of shocked and amazed when someone buys something.   In a way, it's a little addictive 🙂  I've already got 3 holiday markets lined up and am so psyched to meet new customers and get out there.

I wok in IT full time at a university and am in my 29th year.  Computers day in and day out.


When I'm cutting, sewing or painting- it's my release from the world of IT.   When I'm setting up and running my canopy booth, it's a completely different world.


My small business is no longer a side gig, it's part of my life and in some ways more important than my IT career.  It's the balance in my life that I never had before.

Geek In Stitches, Beta Member
Square Shop
Social Media Hub
Message 3 of 41

I was still working full time but wanted to create things and sell them... after a couple of craft shows, I switched from painting boxes and other items to learning how to tie-dye - people at the craft shows seemed to buy more from vendors who sold wearables!  That was almost 25 years ago, and my tie-dye is still my mainstay at the 2 galleries where I sell.  I have also added coiled rope bowls and some mixed media to my inventory.  I retired from my fulltime job over 19 years ago, worked part time for another 4 1/2 years and have been a full time selling artist for 14 years now.  First I was doing several craft events each year, but about 7 years ago a group I belong to opened an artists' co-op gallery where we all share in the running of the gallery.  I've been selling there since we opened, then added a second gallery in a nearby town 18 months ago.  I have also had online shops, but found they weren't selling as well as in person so closed them and I focus on the galleries and one local annual show to sell my work.  I don't find creating to be "work", it's more a labor of love.  If I can sell what I make and get enough to pay for my supplies and any booth fees, etc., then I am happy.

Message 4 of 41

Im a Paramedic and needed something therapeutic to focus on 🙂

Message 5 of 41

I got laid off my job as a nonprofit program director during Covid. My husband said he would support whatever I wanted to do, but he admitted that he didn't want me to go back into the animal welfare world because it was killing me. He was right. I was burned out, and had recurring bouts of compassion fatigue the entire time I worked in that world.


I half-heartedly looked for other jobs but it wasn't long before I decided this was my chance to be a full time artist. I've loved art since I was a tiny child, and as I approach retirement age, I realized that it's now or never. So, I took early retirement, and started my art business. It's been nearly 2 years now, and I am the happiest I've ever been.  

Message 6 of 41

Definitely started out as a hobby, I came across some YouTube videos of wire wrapping and fell in love but quickly learned I didn't have that kind of talent lol. Then I came across some videos of resin and did a deep dive into that. Although I enjoy resin it's just too toxic for me to have around my small kiddos. But you know what my heart literally sang to, beads. I love beads and all their variety! There's so many different kind, so many different ways of creating something new and different. For 6 months I practiced all the different techniques and now finally got the courage to post and sell my pieces. It may never make me millions but it makes me happy and that's all I could ask for 😊

Message 7 of 41

Hi, I know exactly how you feel. My jewelry making started with beads in 2005 to take my mind off my stressful job. It quickly snowballed into making my own findings and by 2012 I was teaching myself how to solder & I never looked back. My commitment to selling, that's a whole other thing...

I wish you great success!!!

Message 8 of 41

I started making jewelry years ago and because I'm a prolific maker, I started running out of space! I enjoyed the creative process so much, couldn't slow down. So, I had to do something! I started off doing a few local art/craft shows, then kept getting asked do you have a website? Now I have a website and occasionally do shows. It wasn't something I planned to happen, it just grew organically. 

Message 9 of 41

Hi, I like that you can now sell more through website rather than going to shows. I set-up the website for same reason but so far no sales. I would love to hear how you advertise so you can be successful selling jewelry on line . Thank you 

Message 10 of 41
Beta Member

I've wasted money on all advertising. Not a single sale in 2 years. I gave up. 


I almost always tell everyone that most of what's in my booth is also available in my online store. I've got a sign that I display too. My square online store is also connected to business TikTok account. It's shared on my Instagram and Facebook pages. 


Bits and pieces here and there for a hopeful long-term gain!

Geek In Stitches, Beta Member
Square Shop
Social Media Hub
Message 11 of 41

Thank you for your feedback !

Message 12 of 41



The first thing you must decide ( as i don't know which you have ) is if you are new to selling on the web then having a free square site is only good for getting used to how to set up a site, if you really want to sell and unlock any potential you need to have a paid site through square ( one of the very best i have worked with ), you don't need the most expensive site version they do ( there is 3 versions to choose from ), the first is for just starting out really but does give you your own sites name and URL so it doesn't have squares name attached to your site ( a good start ), but doesn't offer paypal, applepay or gpay as options for payment, only squares credit card service ( which is great ), the second and best version site to pay for gives you the payment options the first priced site doesn't and is overall the best to have ( think around $22 ish dollars a month ) and the third priced site you can pay for offers only a discount in credit card payments ( which you would need to run in to $$$$$$ a day just to get any benefit from, the most important thing to remember with these sites is the free site does not get you ranked on any search engines because squares name is attached to the site so only square will be getting recognised, this is the main difference between the free site and a paid site, now let's say you have a paid site ( keep it simple and say with square ) now you are faced with the choice of paying for ads, and getting your site noticed, always go with not paying for best results first, the reason is you will be clicked off from your chosen clicks per day ratio by other site bots and the reality is no one will get to see your ads unless you spend a fortune getting on page one of a search result, remember every site that is new has to build up impressions ( this is a true way of how google value your site, every day that goes by you will build up more and more ( this also helps google in stopping fly by sites that are fraudulent ) so be real and expect your site to take at least 6 months to get going properly, you can help speed this up a bit by joining google search console, here you can put every URL page ( category, home page, and products if you like, i just list the categories for time ) and add your sitemap to google search console ( which is done by adding a sitemap and putting this code in the area google asks for, which will be done as this .... sitemap.xml, now google will automatically start indexing the whole site and will change when you add or take away items, stock, change pages etc ) you now need to do nothing else here, just check on google search console once every couple of weeks to see how it is doing, it will show you your internal and external links connected to your site, but most importantly check your sitemap if you have 1000 pages and only 54 are indexed then there is a problem, or if it looks about right then all is fine. do note it can take up to 2 months the first time you submit on any search engine a sitemap to index, so don't expect to see instant results yet, if you have done this groundwork then the next step is to build your sites noticeability, instead of paying for ads that are a waste of time generally, have a few different Facebook business pages which you can add from your private Facebook account and use different titles completely, in jewellery you can do women's gold bangles, men's gold rings, and so on, this will generate a wide variety of potential views which will help, have your site connected ( especially for jewellery and fashion ) to Pinterest and twitter or instagram etc, the reality is what's really important here is you are getting your sites URL address noticed which in turn goes to google which in turn builds up a massive base for backlinks which are free, and you will be getting noticed, join local directories ( important for customers to notice you in the areas you say you cover, do this with google my business as well, this will rocket you up the search engine ladder, again all free to do as google now takes a priority view of this, i always say having a site is like being a gardener, what ever you do will take time, the more time you put to it the better results you will get and it's not something you should expect instant results with ( on a larger scale anyway ), while you are doing these things, the one most important factor of a site are your titles ( and make sure to fill the SEO section at the bottom of every page you put on through square ), this is the real decider for everything, the best thing to do is go and search something as a general term that you sell on say google, think like the general customer would do, they don't necessarily know the exact name of what they are looking for, so as an example let's say women's gold bangles, now near the bottom ( sometimes in the middle ) of page 1 google will show you what they think you would be better looking for, so you will see as an example, 14K Gold Bangles, Gold Bangles for Women and so on, this is what you should add to your category title or an item if you prefer, so you can put it in like this.... 14K Gold Bangles for Women ( and add this extra ) for sale ( and you could add the Country you are from as well if you like) so all in it would be this....14K Gold Bangles for Women for sale USA, now in this title there is endless top ranking keywords and phrases for google to pick from and a whole range of different phrases that will go to many different searches, remember to only use up to 65 letters in your title, after this google don't look at it and that includes your sites name in them 65 letters, so if you have a long name you would need to shorten the title down, i am lucky that google actually uses my main site for googles search phrases, i was the first on the web to title my Gold Bangles category as solid Gold Bangles for sale ( with my main site, now everyone from eBay to amazon use this in one form or another ) but still rank in the top 2-3 on page 1 against the biggest sites around, but try to think like a customer would and all the info you need to put in your titles is there to be found for free on google search ( near the bottom ) after a few months you will work your way up the natural rankings ladder of google and Bing etc faster than paying for adds will ever get you noticed, and once you're either at the top of page 1 or near there, you will stay there and yes squares sites can get you there as well ( as my square site is doing now and in some categories/items out doing my main site) but it is essential you do your homework with wording categories or items for the SEO part of your site, it may sound like a lot of work and effort to put in, but really 3-4 days of looking at google like a customer would is all you need to get it right

Message 13 of 41

Hello jeweller35


I appreciate your very detailed feedback. Thank you very much !

Message 14 of 41

I started out by total accident i suppose, i had worked in jewellery manufacturing since i left school, and by 2007 everyone in the trade knew that we were a dying breed, with the rise of China dominating the global jewellery scene by 2007 and the price of gold rocketing out of control we knew it was only a matter of time before we were no more, so in the summer of 2007 ( i had an 8 year old son and had lost everything of value by then ) i had heard people who i worked with talk about selling on a site called eBay, i didn't have a pc and had no experience with them either, but my mom said she would by me a laptop for xmas ( my wife needed one as well for work ) and i remember the first thing i said to my mom was " I'm gonna make this make me money" , i had £6.09 left in the whole world to my name, xmas came and we all looked at the laptop and realised we didn't know how to even turn it on ( silly now i know ) anyway got stuck in reading up on how to sell on eBay and i was being told by the people at my works you'll never sell gold Jewellery on eBay as the people who went on there were just looking for bargains, so i decided that the internet had to be different from say selling in a shop, what's the point of selling on the web if you can go to the shop and get it at the same price, so i solid at slightly higher prices than the manufacturing cost ( as i worked at the manufacturers this was easy to do ) and i became a platinum seller with 6 months, towards the end of 2008 i decided i was confident enough to by my own site from a hasting company ( started out on the cheapest site and worked up as it grew ) as i knew with the global recession looming it was only a matter of time before we all lost our jobs at the manufacturers i worked at, but i wanted my new site to grow while i still had a bit of work, and so in January 2009 we lost our jobs and i now had to walk the plank as they say, most of my sales then were coming from eBay but i didn't like how eBay kept changing rules and putting their prices up and up, by 2011 i decided to just use my own site to sell and keep all the profit instead of having to pay eBay, i had understood enough by then to know what to do regarding SEO and begun to learn everything about the web including building my own PC'S etc, my site quickly did better than i thought it would during this period and i got people working together with me from who i knew in the trade which meant i could keep prices way lower than any retail shop could and today we are known all over the World, and as a side note i wanted to try it again in 2021 and got a site off square and i prefer square to anyone else i have used for its simplicity and i look forward to doing it all again with them

Message 15 of 41

A lot of places were not hiring when I graduated in 2020 so I began training aerial more and more. After realizing I did not want to do a 9-5 if I could help it and there was a lot of my interest in my area about what I was doing, I started my business in 2021. 

Message 16 of 41

I quit teaching school, kept teaching art and decided to open a small cafe and art studio. I have everything I need, just waiting on construction. I’m excited but getting weary of the waiting. The original deadline has come and gone and there’s still a lot to do. Thanks for asking

Message 17 of 41

I always wanted to sell jewelry and make it there was this lady her name was mama Samora and she used to teach me how to make jewelry. And I really took a shine to it I would make beautiful pieces all the time but unfortunately she did not have a lot of money so her these were very low budget then we went to shows we barely told anything but the passion for making jewelry never stopped when I became the dark I finally decided to open up my own business I tried it for a couple years and I couldn't get anywhere this was before I learned about Facebook having groups just for crafters and different shows and things like that. So I put it aside and decided that I wasn't going to do it anymore because it was tough I didn't make much money and I wasn't happy not that money was everything but I decided that this is just too expensive of a hobby for me to do., but after I had some issues with my mental status I finally decided to go back to making jewelry and you know what it actually helped me mentally call my thoughts and stop having those racing thoughts that weren't any good and also now I'm making money lots of it and I'm also going to be apart of two shows and I'm really excited I do a lot of selling on the Nextdoor app and now I'm starting to ship out stuff to people for money orders if you get a postal service money order the person you send it to doesn't have to pay a fee if they cash it at the post office.

Message 18 of 41
Super Seller

I had a 5 year marketing career before I started my own business. That knowledge was really helpful especially because it was all digital (social media, ads, branding, etc). That being said, I was working full time while starting up my business. I desperately tried to maintain work life balance but very quickly had to have conversations with my loved ones that it was not possible -

1 career,

2side business,

3 social life,

4 personal time;

Pick two.


I put a lot of time in and was laser focused for about 6 months until I had more time to allocate elsewhere. I would never change that decision and it proved to me very quickly who was going to help me through this crazy time and who needed the attention I could not provide.



UV-Free Tanning Salon Owner, Northern California (Campbell)
Message 19 of 41
Super Seller

Gradually, plus some fortunate blessings.


I am a photographer, and learned how to take school and graduation photos (high- and medium-volume work) working for a larger company, but the low pay and work environment eventually prompted me to leave.  I struck out on my own with all the skill but no clients, and finding new ones as an independent was a slow process. 


One of the clients I did earn was a graduating class at our city's largest university, and while taking their photos I learned of an opportunity to lease a small storefront located right on campus.  I learned later that was quite rare - there are not many business spaces on campus and the ones that exist are highly sought-after.  So, preparation met opportunity and it's been 13 years now of growing as a business, and I'm grateful for every day.

New Light Photography | SUB Photo | Square fan
Message 20 of 41

I'm a "seasoned" graphic designer who currently works as an executive director of creative services for a Chicagoland university. I've been freelancing for years, and have always loved to design stuff for family and friends for graduations, going away presents, Christmas ornaments, and wedding invitations and gifts.


When my oldest child was about to graduate college and start the Army's officer candidate school, I wanted to create a way for her to document all of the places the Army (and eventually life) would take herBut it needed to be portable... something she could display on a table or set on a shelf.

So I found a beautiful wooden box online... designed two maps (U.S. and world) and customized them to include all the important places in her life (towns where she'd lived and studied, places she'd traveled, and favorite vacation spots). I added some inspirational text, and printed the maps on foam core and secured them to the insides of the box. This would allow her to use thumb tack pins to mark all of her adventures. I also included a smaller box to hold all of her extra pins. Finally, I engraved the outside of the box with my logotype and her name. She loved it!

I was so happy with it that I started making similar boxes for some family members and friends who were getting married, or graduating from college. I eventually created a box for her Army commander who was about to retire. Each box was unique to their life story and situation.


Fast forward a few years, and I decided to start selling them online. So last year I created an LLC and started an online store. I added a few more items I've given as gifts (like digital watercolors), and included information about my freelance design services. The site is jcowan.design.


Things are going well so far. Since I was selling these boxes, I had to get permissions to use the lyrics... and/or find alternate text that were out of copyright. One big happy... I was happy to get permission from the writers of "I Hope You Dance" to use their lyrics on travel boxes for graduations! I think I've worked out the kinks for costs, production, packaging and shipping... and have worked with my accountant to develop a system to track my expenses, invoices, payments, etc. (I ended up using Zoho books).


My site needs work with SEO... and editing down the text. (These are my goals for the next 3 months).


I'm glad to be part of this group (just joined today) and look forward to checking out everyone's sites. I welcome everyone's feedback!

Jim Cowan

made-to-order gifts • freelance design
Message 21 of 41