We pick up hobbies for a lot of reasons. Sometimes it’s passion, sometimes catharsis, and sometimes just for the sake of passing the time.
No matter why you picked up your hobby, you’ve probably had that one fleeting thought: “I wonder if I could make some money from this?” There is a wide range of hobbies that make money, so there’s a pretty good chance that there’s some market for your niche skills.
Before you do anything else, you need to figure out if there’s a market for your hobby. There are a few questions you need to answer to determine this.
What’s the ROI of your hobby?
Before you get too emotionally invested in turning your hobby into a business, will your hobby make money? ROI stands for return on investment. It’s how you determine if something is actually profitable.
If you plan on selling cross-stitch designs, for example, you need to at least sell your designs for more than the cost of materials and the time spent making your products.
Is your hobby scalable?
“Scalability” is a word you often hear in business but almost never in the general hobby world. The idea of scalability is that as demand increases, a business can grow to accommodate that demand.
For businesses, this often means hiring more people. If you’re just starting out with your hobby, this probably isn’t going to happen anytime soon. But how will you meet demand for your product as it increases? Can you speed up your process? Is there a way to automate cross-stitching? Is there something else that you can sell that is a one-time creation you can sell over and over?
If you can’t find a way to scale your new business, you might run the risk of lost revenue down the road due to sold-out products or from closing commissions when you have more work on your plate than you can handle.
Sell your products online, worry-free
Officially recommended by WooCommerce, our hosting is made for online businesses like yours
10 hobbies that can make you money
Hobbies are a great way to relax and de-stress, but you can also leverage your hobbies to make money. If you have a skill or talent, there's a good chance it can translate to one of the many profitable hobbies that you can pursue.
If you're looking for a way to make some extra money or even turn your hobby into a full-time business, here are 10 profitable hobbies for you to consider.
If you enjoy writing, you can use your skills to create content for websites, blogs, and magazines. You can also write ebooks, articles, and even novels. If you're good at writing, there are plenty of freelancing opportunities to make money from your hobby.
Companies around the globe need content to fill the blogs on their websites. You can work as a freelance writer crafting these blogs and even start your own agency. There are third-party sites that mass-produce blogs for several different clients. You can apply there, take a writing sample, and be onboard getting paid for your writing in no time.
As one of the hobbies that make you money, writing may require some additional skills. You’ll need to conduct research to write about a wide range of topics. You’ll also need to understand the basics of search engine optimization (SEO) and how to adapt to the tone and voice of each client’s website or blog.
Talented photographers can sell photos online to stock photography websites or use their photography skills to create a profitable photography business.
Fashion and modeling agencies aren’t the only industries needing photographers. If you’re good with your camera and love to take photos, you can be hired by real estate agents, photograph weddings and special events, and produce photo content for social media influencers.
Many people have successfully turned this hobby into a full-blown home photography studio. One of the best things about leveraging this hobby to make money is that the possibilities are endless. You can be a generalist and take all types of photos or explore more detailed niches like natural light photography. And, with the explosion of the ecommerce industry in recent years, you can even offer DIY product photography.
If you have an eye for design, you can use your skills to create websites, logos, and other graphic design projects. You can also sell your designs online or to businesses.
This is one of those hobbies that make money in several ways. Freelance designers can launch their own websites and open their own studios or work for clients through freelance job board sites like Fiverr and Upwork. However, like most creative professions, you will need to create a design portfolio to show your prospective clients.
Once you have your portfolio, you can design and launch your own studio website. If it’s too soon for that, you can sign up for an account on Fiverr and Upwork offering your services. As you begin to work with clients, ask them if you can add their work to your portfolio, and don’t forget to get customer testimonials.
4. Web development
People with a talent for coding can use their skills to build websites and web applications. You can also freelance as a web developer or start your own web development business.
Becoming a freelance web developer is a great way to turn your hobby into money in today’s business world. Companies are constantly working to improve their customer experience. The design and functionality of their website is an integral part of that equation.
Since you already know how to design a website, your biggest hurdle in launching your own business will be how to get clients as a web developer. Fortunately, there are tons of resources available to help you find clients. The main thing is to think like your prospective clients. Who are they, and where do they hang out on the web?
5. Video editing
If editing videos is your passion, you can use your skills to create videos for businesses, websites, and social media. You can also freelance as a video editor by starting your own video editing business.
66 percent of consumers say short-form video is the most engaging form of content on the internet. And, with platforms like TikTok, YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram all offering short-form video options, there’s no shortage of work for video experts.
The process of making money with video is similar to other creative hobbies like writing or photography. You’ll need to make yourself available on job boards, frequent the locations where your potential clients “hang out” on the web, and build a portfolio to help market for future clients.
Editing video is a unique, marketable skill. Influencers and business owners of all types need video to stay current in today’s marketplace, and many have no idea how to edit. The current opportunity in this niche, as well as the future growth, looks promising for anybody interested in this field.
6. Social media marketing
Social media fans can use their skills to help businesses promote their products and services. You can freelance as a social media marketer or start your own social media marketing business.
It’s important to keep in mind that it is a more formal process than posting food or pet pics on your channels. There are some other tasks you may be required to perform. You’ll need to design campaigns, conduct hashtag and trending sound research, as well as plan out a posting or social media calendar. There is a lot of strategy involved, but if you love everything social media, this gig is for you.
One of the most natural side hobbies to make money is investing. You can use your skills to make money in the stock market, real estate, or other investment opportunities. You can also start your own investment business.
Be sure to look into the laws surrounding your chosen investments in your state. Also, research federal laws. This niche can be intimidating to some, but it doesn’t have to be so overwhelming. Do your due diligence, invest wisely, and build on the skills and confidence you know you already have.
If you have something to say, you can start a blog and make money from advertising, affiliate marketing, or selling products or services.
For example, if cross-stitching is your hobby, you can start a cross-stitching blog. You’ll have to become familiar with SEO best practices like linking and keyword research, but if you write blog articles consistently, you’ll begin to see your site move up the rankings in Google.
Eventually, when your blog reaches a certain level of popularity — and ranking in Google — you’ll be able to monetize (or make money from) your blog. Typically, you can do this by selling advertising space to other cross-stitch and crafting companies.
You can also discuss the products and services you use in your own cross-stitching and sell those on your blog via affiliate marketing. The brands you use can give you an affiliate link to sell their products, and every time you make a sale through your blog, you’ll receive a commission.
Do you have a knack for being on camera? If so, you can start a YouTube channel and make money from advertising, affiliate marketing, or selling products or services.
Like writing and blogging, YouTube success does require an SEO element. You’ll have to become familiar with searching popular phrases in your niche and learning to insert them into your video titles and descriptions. It might be challenging at first, but it isn’t much once you get the hang of it.
As your channel grows and you gain viewers, YouTube will begin to compensate you based on your number of viewers. Additionally, you have the opportunity to partner with businesses that share the same target audience and sell or promote their products.
People with a gift for speaking or interviewing others can start a podcast and make money from advertising, affiliate marketing, or selling products or services. But first, you’ll need to start recording.
Fortunately, podcasters can start by simply downloading an app on their smartphone. There are several podcasting apps that will record your audio and distribute it to major channels like Google Play and Apple Podcasts.
As you continue to leverage this hobby to make money, you’ll need to grow your web presence with a website.
You’ll want to check out Nexcess’ resource on making a website for a podcast when your podcast reaches this point. You’ll learn everything you need to launch your website and grow your dream podcast platform.
Tips for making money from your hobbies
If you're serious about making money from your hobbies, there are a few things you need to do.
Choose a hobby that you're passionate about
Typically, the hobbies that make money are the ones you're passionate about. This will make it easier to stick with it and to produce high-quality work.
Become an expert in your field
If you want to be successful in any field, you need to become an expert. This means learning everything you can about your hobby and developing your skills.
Market yourself effectively
Once you've developed your skills, you need to market yourself effectively. This means creating a website, promoting your work on social media, and networking with others in your field.
Making money from your hobbies takes time and effort. Don't expect to get rich quick. Be patient and keep working hard, and eventually, you will achieve success.
Before going all-in on a hobby, choose wisely. You’ll want to select a hobby that interests you, but you’ll also want to strategically select profitable hobbies that appeal to a large audience.
Are you in a profitable niche?
You probably already have a good idea of what niche your hobby falls into. Most people are already looking for like-minded folks who share their hobby, whether that’s cross stitching, researching family trees, woodworking, or more.
Many entrepreneurs even combine their hobbies when starting their small businesses. Take, for example, cross-stitch and cats, an example we’ll follow throughout this piece.
How do you know if your niche is popular enough to make money from? You can look at keyword research, Amazon searches, social fandom, and Google Trends for guidance.
The social fandom of your hobby
One way to determine the popularity of a niche is to look at social communities like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Facebook is especially helpful here because Facebook allows users to create Groups that like-minded individuals can join.
We don’t have to search Facebook groups to know that cats are popular on the internet. The dozens of cat videos you probably see in your social feed every day are probably indicative enough of that.
But what about cross-stitching? There are dozens of Facebook groups dedicated to cross-stitching, some with over 20k members.
And they’re not all elderly stitchers interested in traditional designs. One group with over 11k members that boasts over 10 posts a day (making it very active) is called Snarky Craft Stitching with Subversion and takes a younger, more humor-oriented approach to cross-stitch.
Whether your cat cross-stitch designs are traditional or modern, there’s a cross-stitch group that fits your style. That means there’s a potential audience for your product. The members of these groups might not be looking to buy finished cross-stitch products, but cross-stitch patterns are likely something they search for and purchase.
Keyword research for your hobby
Keywords are the search queries people use to find whatever they’re looking for. There are two main things to consider for keywords: their volume and their difficulty (also called competition). These keywords can be used in your SEO strategy. SEO for ecommerce is critical to gaining visibility.
Volume is the approximate number of people searching for a keyword over the course of a month. Higher volume means it’s a more popular search. Lower volume means fewer people search for it in an average month. The difficulty is how easy or difficult it is to appear high up in Google search results for that keyword. Typically, higher volume keywords are more difficult to rank for.
Though fewer people search lower-volume keywords, they can still be valuable. People tend to narrow their searches after looking for big “head” terms because they don’t quickly find what they’re looking for. Those looking for cross-stitching patterns probably aren’t going to find patterns just by searching “cross-stitch.” However, they can look up “cross-stitch patterns” or narrow it down further to “cat cross-stitch patterns” to find exactly what they want.
Looking at the free keyword planning tool Wordtracker, we can see that “cross-stitch” has high volume as well as high competition (also called difficulty). “Cross-stitch pattern” has more than 22,000 monthly searches, but still a high competition number. If we look at “cross-stitching patterns,” we can see a similar volume to “cross-stitch pattern” but a much lower competitive number.
From this chart, it looks like there’s interest in cross-stitching patterns, and there are certain keywords for cross-stitching that aren’t very competitive. This means that there might be room for new entrepreneurs to enter the cross-stitching pattern space.
If you want to narrow it down even more, you can. When we look at the keyword “cat cross-stitch,” we see that monthly volume drops to 40-480 monthly searches, and competition becomes almost nonexistent.
This lower volume isn’t necessarily a bad thing! There might only be approximately 500 monthly searches for “cat cross-stitch patterns,” but if you sell cat cross-stitch patterns, your product is exactly what those users are searching for. If you manage to sell a $5 pattern to half of those people, that’s $1,250 per month for work you only need to do once (making the pattern).
The keyword “cat cross-stitch” provides another opportunity. Not everyone searching for that query is looking for a pattern. Some of those users are looking for completed or commissioned cross-stitch of cats.
If you offer custom cross-stitch in addition to patterns, you could make even more. If you sell 10 custom cat cross-stitch pieces for $100 each, that’s another $1,000 in monthly revenue just for doing something you love.
Google Trends tells you about the popularity of keywords over time. Using this free service, you can pit two or more keywords against each other to compare their popularity.
For example, the below chart shows “cross-stitch pattern” compared to “embroidery pattern.” If you’re capable of creating and selling both, this chart might make you choose one over the other.
Cross-stitch edges out embroidery across the chart, which pulls five years of data. “Cross-stitch pattern” isn’t currently at its most popular (the peak of its popularity was Jan. 2015), but it has consistently been searched for more frequently than embroidery patterns. That tells us that cross-stitch patterns have a larger market than embroidery patterns and would be the better hobby to pursue.
It’s worth noting that Google Trends doesn’t give you any insight into the competition or difficulty of certain keywords. It’s most helpful for looking into the general popularity of overall umbrella terms.
Searching for similar products
Keyword research and Google Trends will give you a good idea of demand but won’t tell you how many competing products are out there. How many brands are out there trying to sell to the same people? Five? 500? 5,000? What does their product look like, and how can you differentiate?
That’s an answer best solved by searching Google and popular marketplaces like Amazon and Etsy for the competition.
If you’re thinking about selling cat cross-stitch patterns and commissions, Etsy is a clear starting place for your search. Etsy is a marketplace where people sell handcrafted and vintage goods, and it’s extremely popular with consumers and creators alike.
“Cat cross-stitch pattern” might see only 500 searches a month on Google, but there are over 8,000 results for that exact same search on Etsy. Amazon boasts over 7,000 results. That’s a crowded marketplace.
Those results could be discouraging, but it doesn’t have to be the end of your business. You might find it easier to stand out by creating your own website where you don’t have to fight the Etsy hordes.
Building a website
You don’t have to sell your cat cross-stitch patterns on Etsy or any other crowded marketplace. If you build a beautiful website that outperforms other sites, you could find yourself with more success. On Etsy, you’re one in 8,000. If you build a website with the goal of ranking for “cat cross-stitch pattern,” you’re one in 94. That’s how many sites currently rank on Google for that keyword.
It has never been easier to start an online store, or add a store to your blog to sell the fruits of your hobby. You don’t have to be a developer and designer to build a functional website. Solutions like WooCommerce are affordable, easy to use, and offer thousands of themes that fit any brand aesthetic. And it’s really simple to add WooCommerce to WordPress.
Whether you’re looking for a little extra cash or to build a new career, a hobby is a great place to start. It’s something that you already know how to do and are passionate about.
Michael Kittredge turned his candle-making hobby into Yankee Candle Company, a billion-dollar brand. Nicole Snow took her love of knitting and turned it into Darn Good Yarn, a million-dollar company. It takes time and perseverance, but earning income from your hobby is an attainable goal.
Create your online store with Nexcess
If you’re looking to transform one of your hobbies that make money into a business, you need more than an idea and a website – and launching a WooCommerce store is simple. Doing it with help is even easier. Managed hosting provides a wide variety of tools and features that make store ownership much more manageable.
These managed hosting solutions offer support and a wide range of features, like cart abandonment software, so you can email customers who didn’t complete an order. Plus, hosted solutions like ours are made to be fast and great for SEO.
Learn how managed WooCommerce hosting can help support your ecommerce marketing strategies. Check out our plans to get started today.
This blog was originally published in December 2018. It has since been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.