Starting Small – Cost Neutral Hobbies

Since the theme for this month is baby steps, I’ve decided to find ways to make my favorite hobbies a cost neutral exercise. This would allow me to continue to enjoy my down-time if money gets tight when my husband goes back to school and to experiment within the available markets. I will be using them as a base to develop costing and pricing methods as well as polish my marketing and records keeping skills.

Amusingly, ‘running a home business’ could also count as a hobby since I enjoy creating and maintaining systems as much as anything else!

At the moment the two hobbies that cost me money are working with Model Horses and Dual-boxing on World of Warcraft. While neither of these aren’t things I have to have, they are things I enjoy doing– hence the investigation into finding ways to make them ‘free’.

Model Horses – $varies (Material Costs)

Custom Model Horse

My Model Horse hobby is a very extensive once. It covers the factory models – created by larger companies, artist resins and chinas – created by a single artist or a community of artists, miniature tack and props (saddles, stadium jumps, four-in-hand harnesses, etc), and artists who paint and modify models.

These models and props are then entered into competitions where they are judging on their collectability, compared to the breed standards of real horses, or are evaluated for workmanship.

Custom Model Horses

While there are many folk within the hobby who focus exclusively on collecting and trading Original Finish model horses, I find myself much more drawn to the customization of the models. I paint and modify the sculpting on resin and mass produced plastic models, turning them into both realistic and fantasy equines. This is the portion of the hobby in which I ran my last small business, and although I never turned a particularity large profit, it was a lot of fun.

As I am getting back into the hobby after several years away, I am getting a feel for where the markets are. Even with the recession it looks like there is still a market for the types of custom models that I normally paint… but there may also other areas I can expand into. I’ll need to look over my notes and then do some market testing on the forums to see what people would like to see.

Posts for this hobby can be found under the tag.

World of Warcraft – $30 a month

World of Warcraft Dual-Boxing

There are currently millions of players across the world who participate in this Massively Online Role Playing Game. Blizzard’s company policy is not to allow the use of copyrighted images or material by anyone (save for a few large companies). However this hasn’t stopped people from creating guides on how to make gold, play specific classes, level as fast as possible, etc. There are also programmers who design add-ons for the game, and artists who sell custom portraits of Warcraft characters or other small artwork.


I’m not sure if the artists are technically legal, since they are depicting Blizzard characters as accurately as possible– but I suspect it’s because they don’t make enough money for Blizzard to worry about. I did send them an email asking if they ever made exceptions to the ‘company only’ rule, and if a sole proprietorship counted as a ‘company’…  and they never responded. I’m not interested in testing the legal waters, so the only artwork I’d be doing would be dependable by parody.


Add-ons are required to be free, per Blizzard’s rules, so the only income from developing and maintaining those are in the form of donations. This is a freeware approach to programming and while it might make a little money on the side, it’s not enough to keep most programmers interested in the projects over the long term. If I do any coding, it will most likely only be to improve my own gaming experience.


The guides/e-books are the only thing that I can see as being worth the time and effort, but with the next expansion coming (Cataclysm) there will be massive changes to the game. It’s safe to say that most guides will need to be rewritten once it launches, so it might be best to hold off on those for now.

For now my plan is to simply focus on learning as much as I can about my hobby subset, which is playing more than one character at once. This is called Multi-boxing, or more specifically, Dual-boxing, but is done on one computer. This subset is a much smaller portion of the overall player-base, so for now I will be focusing on making my blog as informative as possible and hopefully I’ll be able to add Google Addwords or something similar at a later date.

Posts for this hobby can be found at Perish Twice tag.

And that, my dear readers, is an overview of the two hobbies I hope to make cost neutral. For this month I’ll be working on getting good content out on Perish Twice and, plus doing research into both markets. See you next week!

Martha Bechtel

My name is Martha Bechtel and I write fantasy and science fiction stories, paint small model horses silly colors, cast resin and plaster magnets, code random code (and Wordpress plugins)... Come on in and join in the fun!

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