December 24, 2018

We pick up hobbies for a lot of reasons. Sometimes it’s passion, sometimes it’s catharsis, and sometimes it’s 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?” If you’re into a hobby, there’s a pretty good chance that there’s some market for your niche skills.

Related reading: How to Find a Profitable Niche >>

A graphic showing the progression of hobby to business. Panel one shows a potted plant growing money and asks "What's the ROI of your hobby?", the middle panel shows the small plant grown into a tree and asks "Is your hobby scalable?", and the final panel is an image of stacks of gold coins with a sprout coming out of it and asks "Are you in a profitable niche?"

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 your time spent making your products.

Is Your Hobby Scalable?

“Scalability” is a word you hear a lot 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 as demand increases for your product, how are you going to be able to meet demand? Can you speed your process up? Is there a way to automate cross-stitching? Is there something else that you can sell that is a one-time creation that 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.

10 Profitable Hobbies That Can Make You Money

Hobbies are a great way to relax and de-stress, but they can also be a source of income. If you have a skill or talent, there's a good chance that you can use it to make money. These are just a few 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 to consider.

1. Writing

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.

2. Photography

If you're a talented photographer, you can sell your photos online or to stock photography websites. You can also use your photography skills to create a profitable photography business.

3. Design

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.

4. Web Development

If you know how to code, you can use your skills to build websites and web applications. You can also freelance as a web developer or start your own web development business.

5. Video Editing

If you're good at editing videos, you can use your skills to create videos for businesses, websites, and social media. You can also freelance as a video editor or start your own video editing business.

6. Social Media Marketing

If you're good at using social media, you can use your 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.

7. Investing

If you're good at 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.

8. Blogging

If you have something to say, you can start a blog and make money from advertising, affiliate marketing, or selling products or services.

9. YouTube

If you're good at creating videos, you can start a YouTube channel and make money from advertising, affiliate marketing, or selling products or services.

10. Podcasting

If you're good at speaking, you can start a podcast and make money from advertising, affiliate marketing, or selling products or services.

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

The best way to make money from your hobbies is to choose something that 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 other people in your field.

Be Patient

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.

Choose Strategically

Before going all in on a hobby, choose wisely. You’ll want to select a hobby that you’re interested in and passionable about, but you’ll also want to strategically select a profitable niche that people are interested in. We will get into this in the next section.

Are You in a Profitable Niche?

You probably already have a good idea what niche your hobby falls into. Most people already look for like-minded folks who share their hobby, whether that’s cross stitch, researching family trees, woodworking, local sports, or more.

A lot of entrepreneurs even combine their hobbies when starting their small business. 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 to 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 is 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.

A screengrab depicting a sample of search results from Facebook Groups.

And they’re not all grandmas who are 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, it looks like 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.

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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 ecommmerce 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 not as many 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.

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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.

An example of keywords related to cross stitch by volume and competition.

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 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.

A list of keywords related to cross stitch patterns and kits that suggest more attainable goals.

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

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.

A graph showing the popularity of cross stitch patterns vs. embroidery patterns.

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.

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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.

A look at the cat cross stitch pattern competition.

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.

Make Your Move: From Marketplaces to Creating Your Own Online Store >>

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.

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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.

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AJ Morris
AJ Morris

AJ is a WordPress expert and product marketing manager. He has a bachelor's degree from Central Michigan University, a master's degree from Michigan State University, and has spent two decades building, designing, and managing WordPress websites. He is a seasoned WordPress developer focused on HTML, PHP, SASS/SCSS, Grunt, Guard, and JS. AJ is also experienced in LAMP and LEMP stacks.

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