Backyard birdhouse hobby turns into small business as Aussie side hustle trend grows – ABC News

Backyard birdhouse hobby turns into small business as Aussie side hustle trend grows
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A bit of a tinkerer at heart, Ben Gogoll wanted to make something for his wife's birthday so he popped out to his shed and turned some scrap materials into a rustic birdhouse.
The simple creation was a winner with his wife Frances, and when others saw it they wanted one for the garden too.
Soon the data cabling technician found himself heading out to the shed most nights and weekends to make more birdhouses to sell.
Since about April this year he has sold more than 100 of them and has been booked up with orders past Christmas.
He salvages wooden pallets, mallee timber and tin for the design and so, with very few costs, the hobby has helped generate extra cash flow and provide greater financial security during the pandemic.
"We've been selling them to people locally and around Australia… it's really just blown up, social media has been a big part of it," Mr Gogoll said.
"I definitely don't consider myself a woodworker at all. I just bang things together and I'm lucky that it gets passed off as rustic."
And it seems more of us are doing something to nurture our interests and earn money outside our main jobs.
Side hustles have been on the rise according to Rebekah Russell-Bennett, co-director of the Centre for Behavioural Economics, Society and Technology at the Queensland University of Technology.
She said that in the past five years the number of people with a side hustle or planning to start one has risen from one-in-five to about half of all Australians.
"Quite often these side hustles are started by women," Professor Russell-Bennett said.
She said most side hustles grew from passion projects, such as arts and crafts, and were low in startup capital.
"In centuries gone by, we used to refer to it as 'pin money'. Typically it's around your passion and something you love doing," Professor Russell-Bennett said.
"You might be good at painting, so you decide to paint vases on the side, and then you think it's an expensive hobby and you might sell it to make a little money to cover costs and then you discover people want to buy these things."
The rise in side hustles has been driven by people being home more during the pandemic and has been made possible by the easy access to online markets.
"All the planets are in alignment, people are stuck at home, but what's been key here is easy access to markets beyond their local town," Professor Russell-Bennett said.
She predicted these micro-businesses were here to stay and called for more government supports.
"I think we will see Generation X bailing out of the workforce far earlier than the baby boomers," Professor Russell-Bennett said.
"In some ways it's like we are returning to the pre-industrial era of cottage industries, except we are doing it with people who have far more education that people in the 1800s and with the internet, where your markets are much bigger."
Easy access to goods through social media and online marketplaces has helped people sell their products from home.
Lauren Hateley is a co-founder of online rural Australian shopping directory Spend With Us – Buy from the Bush Marketplace.
She said the marketplace was aimed at supporting rural Australians through tough times by giving them a platform to list and sell products to a rapidly growing consumer base.
"There is a huge array of products and businesses ranging from a mum who is stay-at-home and hand-making products from face masks to clothing items to food products," Ms Hateley said.
A clinical psychologist from regional Victoria, Ms Hateley said the marketplace was run with two other rural women, all as volunteers.
"Through the combination of the online marketplace and our Buy From a Bush Business Facebook group with over 337,000 members, our platform has helped tens of thousands of small businesses to keep trading and sell their products through the bushfires, drought and impact of coronavirus," she said.
"It's wonderful to see that Australia is shifting its mindset to support small businesses."
For the Gogoll family, the birdhouses sideline has brought them closer together.
Ms Gogoll manages social media and website listings for the birdhouses and creates upcycled flower presses from apricot trays.
The couple's young children love helping in the yard and have even provided voice-overs for videos posted to video sharing platform Tik Tok.
Being able to spend more time at home has been an upside of pandemic life and given them the opportunity to develop their small business.
"We're just a normal mum and dad with two kids that keep us busy, and a little extra income is a bonus," Ms Gogoll said.
"If we're not at work we're safe at home and we can still have some cash flow."
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