Hobbies that make money: Turning your hobbies into cash

Ever had that twang of regret as you stumble upon old hobby supplies and you realize that you haven’t done anything hobby-related in years? Or what about another twang?

The one where you feel guilty that you’re spending money on a hobby when you could be building your empire?

You could do both. Zero regrets and absolutely no guilt.

Your hobby might just become your family’s vacation ticket or pay for your kitchen remodel. Even better, what if your hobby is the reason you can retire yourself and your spouse?

We’re talking about hobbies that make money and if you have some hidden skill or interest, it’s time to dust it off and make a few dollars while you’re at it. 

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17 Top Money Making Hobbies 

1. Freelance Writing 

Let’s face it, you either love writing or you don’t. But if you have a gift for stringing sentences together and simply love putting your thoughts down on paper (or a virtual document) you might just crack it as a freelance writer

Freelance writing can be one of the most lucrative hobbies, as full-time freelancers can expect to earn anywhere from $30,000 per year to some hitting those six figures.

What’s more, freelance writing offers a wide array of ins. You can be anything from an aspiring romance novelist to an academic with a deep-rooted love for Feynman’s works. 

The best part is you can decide whether this hobby stays a hobby or becomes your new moneymaker. 

Here’s the thing with freelance writing. You’ll find that you can totally earn a decent income with this hobby without compromising your Rich Life. What we mean by that is you don’t have to sacrifice oodles of time with your loved ones to make money from writing. 

You can easily earn great cash by choosing projects that agree with you and your schedule. More importantly, you’ll find that the higher-paying gigs offer better direction, clearer instructions, and a streamlined communication path because those clients know what they want. 

Some freelance writing fields worth looking into: 

  • Content writing for blogs and online publications 
  • Academic writing 
  • Copywriting for marketing firms 
  • Self-publishing on platforms such as Kindle 
  • Publishing through traditional channels 
  • Technical writer 
  • Grant writer 
  • Legal transcription 

So how do you start? As a right of passage, you will need to know how to research. When you search freelance writing, chances are good that you’ll come across a number of sites that offer quick wins.

The advantage to approaching this from a hobbyist perspective is that you don’t have the added weight of bills. You can sift through the information of suss out the sites and clients that will make you work for $2 an hour (yes, it still happens!). 

Instead, look out for as many free resources you can get your hands on. Work through sites such as Udemy and Skillshare to get a handle on your chosen writing path.

There are tons of great resources that will cost next to nothing if anything at all. But then, as you hone your skills, it’s worth investing in courses offered by the giants in your writing field. Especially if you’re thinking of cutting those employer strings. 

2. Blogger 

We’re well past those days of eyes rolling at the mention of an interest in blogging. While perfectly curated content has its place, we’re seeing a big uptick in the parent-style blogs, hobby blogs, and personal finance for the average Joe. 

Blogging allows you the freedom of creating content at your own pace, in your own style, and for an audience of one, if you like. But as content is continuously just being devoured, it’s worth putting in some effort to get that blog to rank a little higher on the search engines. Create a site that is easily digestible, fresh, and fully represents what you’re trying to offer. 

Before you know it, your tales of fresh, farm-style bread and how to keep a toddler busy the whole day will be eaten up like, well, hot fresh bread. 

Bloggers earn their money through advertising, sponsorships, and paid posts. This means that if you want to get your hands on some revenue, you need your site to rank well on the search engines.

It’s worth getting an SEO specialist to give your site a once-over to see whether you’re hitting all the right keywords and where your content focus should be.

The best part about blogging as a hobby is that the revenue will feel like money for jam. You’re getting paid to do what you love. 

3. Baker 

You’re the Ace of Cakes in your building and once someone has spotted your creative genius with a rolling pin and fondant, you’re the go-to guy for cakes.

You know all the trade secrets, the right ratio of rice cereal treat and cake, which modeling chocolate will withstand a little extra heat, and which temperate is just right for your sugar work. Only thing is, your nine-to-five is as an accountant for a firm downtown. 

So what are you waiting for? Monetize your baking skills and bring in some extra dough.

But bakers aren’t just relegated to showstopper cakes for weddings and special birthdays. Specialized pastries, personalized cookies, and smorgasbord sweet treats for functions are a thing. Not everyone has the patience for the precision of measurements as you do, so put those skills to work. 

Word of mouth is a good advertiser for you, so make sure to leave a calling card when you deliver your order. When you’re ready to scale your hobby, a marketing plan will be a good preface to a launch. Who doesn’t want to come to an event to sample tasty treats? 

4. Cook 

There are those who can’t imagine thinking up 365 meals per year and then there’s you, the home cook who researches locally sourced, seasonal fruit and vegetables to create a culinary feast for your family. 

Friends and family often drop comments such as, “I would pay good money for this meal!” and “Please tell me there’s more.” There’s nothing more fulfilling than sending your dinner guests home in a satisfying gastronomical buzz. 

So why not let them pay for it? Okay before you feel guilty for milking your friends, there’s a classy way to get your friends to pay for their food without you going through the enormous effort of opening a restaurant. 

A pop-up kitchen is a good place to start. Limited seats and upfront bookings allow you to plan your dishes and you can add a sense of mystery by keeping the location a secret until the very last minute. The size of your pop-up kitchen is up to you.

If you can only accommodate six guests, then that’s what you do. You can choose to scale the operation if you want but make it interesting so dinner guests get more than just food, they get an entire experience. 

You can also try your hand at catering for small events. Be sure to do research on cost, as you don’t want to over-price your meals nor sell yourself short. Catering allows you to decide whether you’re going to work weekdays and weekdays or keep it simple to just one or two events per month. 

5. Musician 

You can do more than strum on that old guitar and you tend to draw a crowd when you break out in song. In a good way. So pack away the nerves, get out that guitar pick, and book yourself some shows. 

Find local venues that can easily accommodate a soloist and start putting those pipes to work. But what if you’re great on the technical side of music? Consider offering lessons at the local schools or community center for a nominal fee.

Better yet, start up a YouTube channel and build up a decent following. YouTube offers multiple revenue streams and consistent, great content will allow you to build an organic subscriber list. 

Musicians who are good at the production side of things can also look into producing jingles, tunes, and samples for ad agencies, film studios, and other musicians. Programs such as Logic and Ableton simplify the process.

The best part is that you don’t have to be a stellar musician to create decent music on these programs. If you have a passion for the craft and the patience to learn the production software, you’re well on your way. 

6. Gamer 

Suddenly those hours spent twiddling away on your phone while waiting in line at the DMV can pay off. It’s not just competitive gamers who can make a buck doing what they love. 

Game developers are now creating games that allow you to win real cash or credits that you can spend at certain retailers or online stores. Suddenly, your years of experience playing Solitaire when you got your first PC can finally pay off. Literally. 

With a long list of games, your favorite pastime can now become a great way for some extra cash. Just bear in mind that not all states allow cash payouts. 

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7. Photography 

You don’t have to be the next Photographer of the Year to make decent cash from your photos. All you need is a good eye for composition, a decent camera, and a scene worth shooting. 

Photography happens to be a vast field that’s about more than studio portraits and weddings. If there’s a subject, you can photograph it. 

Some options available to photographers include: 

  • Newborn photography
  • Family shoots 
  • Car photography 
  • Landscape and wildlife photography 
  • Photojournalism 
  • Product photography 

You can turn any space into a temporary studio and with photography, you have a lot of flexibility to practice your craft. Your customers are also unlimited. Whether you deal directly with clients or simply do stock photography to sell online, the possibilities are endless. 

Stock photography also allows you to earn a passive income, which means that one photo can make you money several times over. The better your photos, the higher you can charge for them. Sites such as Shutterstock and Creative Market are great platforms for selling photos. 

photography beach hobby

8. Toymaking 

Whether you’re into soft toys such as felted figurines or working your hand at wooden animals, toymaking can be a lucrative hobby. While parents are a great target market, another happens to be friends and loved ones of parents who want to give unique gifts. 

When determining your cost, just make sure that it reflects the effort you’re putting into the creation of your toy. You don’t want to charge $10 for something that took you 100 hours to make. 

A potential revenue stream is personalizing the toys to create a better customer experience. Plush toys, for instance, represent a $1.25 billion industry, and if you can tap into that, why the heck not? 

9. Carpentry 

There’s more to wood than just fuel for that fire up at the cabin, and you’re willing to explore every grain and groove. Whether you’re just practicing basic carpentry such as shelving and basic frames, or you have an intricate carving set that allows you to make extensively crafted items, there’s money to be made. 

Handmade furniture can be particularly appealing to those who want unique items, and if you can make to order, you might just have a full-fledged business on your hands. 

Carpentry can include a number of product specializations, from children’s furniture and toys to exquisitely crafted furniture and frames. 

10. Auto Tuning 

Knowing how to get that big block engine to sing thanks to time in the garage with your pop is not just a great way to spend a weekend, it can also give you inroads to some extra cash on the side.

While car maintenance, in general, is better left to the professionals, if you have a knack for restoring old engines, you might just have a car hobbyist customer list a mile long. 

Put your skills to work as even just restoring one or two cars a year will make a markable difference to your bank balance. The best part is you won’t even have to forego your 9-to-5. 

11. Weekend Crafts 

Crafting can be a wonderful pastime, but if your craft includes something that just happens to be trending, you’ve got yourself a moneymaker. Whether it’s handpainted throw pillows, pottery, or an eye for putting together gift sets, you have yourself a paying hobby. 

There are a number of ways to make money with crafts that extend beyond the flea markets and holiday markets. Online marketplaces such as Etsy and Facebook Marketplace provide access to a wide audience of potential customers. 

12. Beekeeping 

If there’s ever a time to encourage the age-old practice of beekeeping, it’s now. Your organic home-based environment also accounts for a 50% more diverse plant life than, for instance, shipping bees off to an almond farm.

And that’s a good thing. Bees love a diverse garden that offers a variety of flavors, and it also encourages diverse and strong bee populations. 

But apart from the incredible pollination qualities of a beehive on your property, there is the obvious reward of delicious, sweet honey.

Organic, locally sourced honey can cost anywhere from $30 upwards for a 3lb jar. If your hive produces a good quantity of honey, it can be a great way to fund your fun money account or bump up your savings. 

13. House Flipper

You have a knack for finding the worst property in the best part of town, and then lovingly restoring it to a gem in the neighborhood. Joanna and Chip Gaines have shown us that this hobby can turn into a real moneymaker, and might even become a full-time gig.

But you’re going to have to be handy, know the ins and outs of buying a dud property, and also be prepared for some surprises. 

Great house flips take place on a small budget, in the least amount of time. The longer you have to hold on to that property, the more the costs start racking up.

14. Dressmaker 

You’re the family tailor, always helping out with hems and last-minute prom dress adjustments. But you also have an eye for patterns and fabrics and body shapes. 

There are a number of ways to make money if you’re handy with needles and thread. Your level of expertise and your interests will determine which route is best for you.  

  • Specialized pet clothes 
  • Baby clothes
  • ‘Mommy and me’ outfits 
  • Clothes for dolls 
  • Special events such as birthdays, prom, weddings 
  • Costumes for Halloween or concerts 

15. Book Collecting 

We’re not talking book hoarding that will see you keep your precious books hidden in your secret place like Gollum and his Precious. We’re talking about having an eye for valuable books that might net you a decent resale price.

Becoming a book trader allows you to spend the money to buy books, which is something a book lover cherishes. 

But it also allows you to get rid of your stash without that feeling of regret or unease. You know that the sales are profitable, which then funds the purchase of more books. If that doesn’t seem like the happiest cycle, then I don’t know a thing about book enthusiasts. 

Who knows, you might even already have a stash of books lying around that can be the first samples to make it to your online store.

16. Brewmaster 

Before you pull another draft and drink away potential profit, research good bottling techniques, branding, and labeling to get your product out there. Sure, there are licenses and permits you need to consider, but if you can get that out of the way, you might just be a main supplier for your local supermarket or restaurants. Better yet, you hardly have to spend any time on it. 

A lot of the brewing time is simply spent waiting for the beer to carbonate and reach a satisfying, lip-smacking level of “ah!”. 

17. Sell Plants 

If you’ve ever had to source plants for your house from a local nursery, you’ll know that it can quickly run into hundreds of dollars, especially if you have no base to start from. Trees and potted plants are especially pricey and if you want to do the inside and outside, you’re in for a hefty bill. 

However, if you’re that person that can simply stick a piece of twig in the ground and a couple of months later, there’s a thriving plant, your green thumb could make you a decent income.

Sure, you’ll need a bit of space, access to good soil and sunlight, and perhaps a bit more water than you’re used to. But your property doesn’t have to be the size of a nursery for you to make money. 

A patio herb garden can produce a substantial amount of herbs for resale, and local farmer’s markets and restaurants are always looking for organic, locally sourced produce. 

Vegetable and fruit patches and fruit trees can also yield a good season. But don’t just stop there. What about cultivating your aloe, ivy, succulents, and roses into pots and then listing them on gifting sites or dropping them off at the local gift shops?

There are a number of YouTube tutorials on jazzing up pots, so it’s a matter of putting 2 and 2 together, and hopefully, that will double your chances of a good profit. 

How to Monetize Your Existing Hobby 

It’s one thing to have a hobby that’s worth generating an income, and quite another to know how to make money off it. 

Step 1: Treat it Like a Business 

When you start realizing the money-making potential of your hobby, it’s important to start treating it like a business. If you’re going to be making money off your passion, you want to know that the effort pays off. 

Keep a record of the costs, the time you spend, and the financial reward. While passion projects might not net much, wouldn’t it be nice if the hobby paid for itself? Making the decision to monetize your hobby should include a healthy understanding of profit vs cost.

Step 2: Choose Your Marketplace 

Whether you’ve decided to go the Shopify route, set up an Etsy store, or simply join local markets in your community, it’s important to know where you want to sell your goods. Once that’s out of the way, you can start working on leveraging that particular platform to the max. 

Step 3: Bide Your Time 

It can take a while for your hobby to start making money. It’s just like any other business, which means you need to put in money and effort before your business starts generating a turnover. You may also need to spend some money on marketing just to get it off the ground. 

Step 4: Have Fun 

Hobbies are more than just a way to pass the time. They also provide you with hours of fun, entertainment, and relaxation. When that is no longer the case, it’s time to re-evaluate whether the monetization part of the hobby is still worth it.

If not, it’s worth checking whether you need more hands on deck, some time off, constant investments on your part, or simply a change to a new hobby. The point is to remember to have fun. 

Turning hobbies into moneymakers

Whether you have a knack for crafting trending items or simply enjoy the relaxation aspect of your hobby, there might be money to be made.

It’s not just about knowing which products will sell, but also which platforms and marketing strategies work the best for your particular talents. As long as you don’t lose the essence of the hobby. 

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Written by

Host of Netflix's "How to Get Rich", NYT Bestselling Author & host of the hit I Will Teach You To Be Rich Podcast. For over 20 years, Ramit has been sharing proven strategies to help people like you take control of their money and live a Rich Life.