One way I’ve kept my car hobby on budget is by creating new income sources. My background is in fine art. My “day job” is teaching high school art. As long as I have been able to pick up a pencil, I have been drawing something… usually cars or airplanes. My High school senior portfolio was all about cars, and somehow I was also able to get my college professors to let me paint mostly cars as well.
I did my artwork as “InfamousJim’s Automotive Artwork” (I have shifted onto a new side hustle and have been largely ignoring the art side lately, though I do still have quite a stockpile of pieces that I put up for sale here and there)
If you can identify some sort of product to create or service to provide that is relevant to your hobby it may serve you very well. Also, if your angle overlaps your professional skills you’ll be able to use your career experience to create a better product. Bonus: You will have the audience and connections already built up among your friends in the hobby.
I have been overwhelmed with the generous support that I have received from my local racing community. I have sold off a great deal of my old collection, with some friends buying several of my pieces. (You know who you are, thank you!) Selling off pieces from my art collection essentially covered the whole cost of my upgrade from “track car” miata to full on Spec Miata.
Just a word of warning, while it is important to let people know what you do, try to avoid going over the top with marketing your side hustle at the track. Don’t make it ALL you talk about. There are few people at the track you may meet who will instantly try to push goods or services on you… there are a few more who won’t give you the time of day unless you have cash in hand to buy something from them. Some of these people are there because it’s their business, and their livelihood depends on it… but there are plenty more who find that balance and offer great services to their friends without harassing everyone all day long.
I saw the most success with selling off completed pieces from high school, college paintings, and work I created for shows. I had built up so much work that selling off stock helped declutter. Some people commissioned large, extremely detailed paintings… they took a ton of work but ended up working out well for me.
Not every aspect of my side hustle worked out all that great. I ventured into making sketches of people’s cars on commission. My prices were generally high, but the process was very labor intensive between sketches, communicating with the clients, creating the final drawings, and shipping/delivery. I was able to stay reasonably busy, typically finishing each commission as another came in… but people didn’t want to pay a whole lot of money, and when I counted up my hours I was barely making $10/hr on most jobs. While I do really enjoy drawing, the stress of dealing with both my own high standards and sometimes unreasonable customer expectations were making me resentful of the whole process. I have since stopped doing commissioned sketches.
Side hustles work best when you keep your setup costs and overhead low. When I was doing marker drawings I would buy one or two fresh markers per job so I could keep my tools fresh but not put out a ton of money. When I decided to stop doing commission sketches, it was no loss. A side hustle should be pretty cheap and easy for you, if you find yourself stressing out or losing money, try something else.
What are you waiting for?
Do you have an idea already? If you sit on an idea too long, somebody else may come up with the idea and jump on it, the time to start is now.