Turn a hobby into a business like David Poulson from Rutland, Vt. did when he started his home candle making business.
PHOTO: FOTOLIA/EKATERINA FRIBUS
Linda Martin from Norco, Calif.:
Thanks to MOTHER — and to Gail Williams, who wrote the piece "The Best Home Typing Business of Them All" that pointed me in the right
direction — I now make $600 to $800 a month working at
home as a transcriber ... that is, someone who does typing
for court reporters.
Since I can't improve on Gail's write-up, I'd just like to
relate how I attained my present status as my employer's
number one typist.
First, I went to the public library (the law section) and
made a list of all the court reporters and deposition
businesses within driving distance. Then I typed up a
resume (in which I included a special note stating that I
was excellent at spelling, grammar, and punctuation) ...
and began pounding the pavement.
Everyone who interviewed me asked the same questions: Do you own your own equipment? How good is your
spelling? Do you live close by? How often are you
willing to come in to pick up and deliver work? I told them
all that I would rent my equipment at first, that my
spelling was outstanding, and that — though our homestead is
35 miles from the city — my husband could make daily
deliveries on his way to work. Luck must have been with me,
because on my first day out I landed a job.
Right away, I arranged to rent both an IBM Selectric
typewriter and a DeJur Grundig Stenorette dictating
machine. (My total initial investment was $150 ... $35 a
month for the Selectric rental, $40 a month for the
Stenorette, and a $75 deposit.)
When I went to the office for training the next day, my
boss (I work for just one company) was patient and
thorough. He encouraged me to call any time I had a
question (which is why our phone bills — for a short
time — zoomed to $50 a month). His only caution was: "I
don't care who makes the mistakes around here, just so
they're caught before the deposition goes out the door."
Taking that to heart, I asked my fellow workers to point
out to me any errors I made. (In return, I often corrected
mistakes made by the reporters.)
During that first month, I actually lost money. (I
think I made about 50 cents an hour.) But — since my
deliveries were prompt and my work was accurate — I
soon found myself getting more and more to do, so that by
the end of my third month I was making $3 an hour.
Later — after purchasing my own equipment — my
It's now a year since I started transcribing, I'm making
$6 to $9 an hour, and yet I can still garden, bake,
and care for the children and animals. In addition, we can
now deduct a percentage of our house payments, utilities,
car costs, and gasoline from our taxes. Even better,
however, my job has allowed Ron (my husband) to return to
college for his agricultural degree.
All things considered, I wouldn't want to work any other
way. I hope other MOTHER readers will find home typing
Stanley B. Collopy from Portland, Ore.:
An article from MOTHER on hauling — reprinted in our
local daily newspaper three years ago — inspired my
brother and me to put our pickup trucks to work for us.
Two major facts prompted us to try what the article
suggested: We live in a city of 500,000 potential
customers and both of us already drive pickups. (Our
trucks had cost us only $500 each, and no further capital
investments were necessary in order for us to get started.)
We placed our first advertisement for hauling in that same
newspaper, and — though rewarded with only moderate
success In the beginning — it was through that
first ad that we inherited the lawnmowing and yard work
route of a deceased landscape gardener. (Landscaping was
promptly added to our list of job skills, and townmowers
with good service contracts on them were purchased for this
part of the business.)
From yard work, it was only natural that my brother and I
should progress to doing handyman jobs for our steady
lawnmowing customers ... such things as interior and
exterior painting, window washing, repairs on roofs,
foundations, and electrical systems, etc. This bit of
diversification cost us nothing, since we already owned all
the required tools.
Our family business grossed $10,000 In 1976, or $6,000
apiece. That may not sound like a lot, but we didn't spend
anything close to 40 hours a week at our business,
and that — for us — is what counts.
This year — with the help of a Bel Saw course — my
brother and I are adding small engine repair to our list of
job capabilities ... and this, we hope, will at least
double our current income.
David Poulson from Rutland, Vt.:
Five years ago I decided to leave my home near a large
Midwestern city (Cleveland, Ohio) and move to a more rural
area. But first, I wanted to find a home business that I
could depend on for a steady income before and after the
I was greatly encouraged by Chuck Ferrero's "How to Make $1,000 a Week Making Candies" article, and-since I enjoy handcrafts anyway
— I decided to give candlemaking a try.
With $10 worth of supplies, I made a trial batch ... and
sold all of those first efforts to my friends and
co-workers! (I worked for a company that employed over 50
women, all of whom really liked the candies I brought In
... especially since I sold them for less than half of what
they cost in local shops.) That first year, I went on to
market several hundred dollars' worth of scented candles
... and turned a good profit in the process.
I shopped around for the best quality and most reasonable
prices in scents, colors, and molds, and had soon acquired about $50 worth of both metal and plastic forms (which
last indefinitely) as well as wax (from large oil
company warehouses) and stearic acid (from a chemical
warehouse) in bulk. As a result my profits improved, along
with the quality of my products.
I found that tall, decorator candies in various shapes and
colors are always good sellers, as are candies that are
shaped like animals (frogs, owls, turtles, and so forth). I
also did some experimenting and came up with a "beer
bottle" candle (complete with wax foaming out of the top
and down the sides) that ultimately proved to be one of my
most popular items.
When I finally made my move from the city in the summer of
1973, I set up a candlemaking operation here in Vermont and
sought out small shops that would either buy my wares or
take them on consignment. The business worked as well in
Now England as it had in the Midwest.
In conclusion, candlemaking gets my vote as a great
"sideline" business for anyone who's regularly employed but
wants to earn a little extra cash. Depending on where you
live, candlecrafting could even turn into a terrific
full-time business (even though it didn't for me).