Photo by Tai’s Captures on Unsplash

In 2016, I was laid-off from a job I held unto for dear life. To say it was one of the most devastating experiences of my life would be an understatement. I was shattered, I’d hit rock bottom again. At that time I wasn’t exactly sure what my hobbies were, but back in the good old days, before social media, I used to journal a lot. And so in my pain, writing became an outlet for me to express myself, writing became my therapy.

One thing led to another and today I have a book in stores. Being an author has opened up so many opportunities for me both internationally and locally. And so, you’ll never know where your hobby can take you till you decide to explore it. Some people are so surprised that I wrote a book but am more surprise than anyone else that I wrote a book. I still pinch myself everyday to be sure its real…

As Blaine Lee Pardoe said, “No matter how frustrated you may feel, there is always a way out. In every situation that arises, we choose to be powerful or powerless. It may not always feel like it, but it is a choice.”

Therefore, if you are looking for alternative ways to make an income in these trying times, your hobbies should be the first place to start looking. A good hobby can be entertaining, educational, fulfilling and can make you money too. While people don’t typically get into hobbies to make money, some of them can become a stream of income if you take it seriously enough. 

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A hobby is generally defined as an activity done in one’s leisure time for pleasure but this is no longer going to be about leisure but about making an income, planting trees for the next generation basically. Yes, of course not all hobbies can be monetized but that’s a story for another day.

Depending on how you direct your hobbies and interests, you can get anything from an just an extra income to a full-fledged business all by doing something you might’ve done anyway.

Many of us have activities/hobbies we pursue as a side hustle but nowadays, side hustles are becoming the main hustle and one of the advantages of turning your hobby into a business is that is gives you freedom to be your own boss, it gives you control and more importantly it can make you significantly happier. 

A study done by the StartUpLoan Uk shows that a business based on a hobby has a higher level of job satisfaction, and of those who have actually launched a hobby-based business reported to being more happier.

It’s important to emphasize that having a hobby is not enough, you have to be willing to hone and perfect your craft to its finest. Make Google your friend and become as knowledgeable as you can about your hobby and the business side of it. From cookery to fitness, there are countless examples of successful profitable businesses set up based on hobbies.

If you prefer visual content, then watch the video version of this article on YouTube. Otherwise, keep reading…

Here are my top 13 hobbies with great income potential you can explore:

  1. Reading: Are you an avid reader? If so, imagine turning your love of books into an income! There are several ways you can go about this. You can build a strong online presence and become a freelance book reviewer, reviewing books for authors and giving authors the publicity they so desperately need. You can also start a book blog, in which cases, not only can you get paid, but you can also have affiliate links to which you can recommend your favorite books and earn a commission. An avid reader has an eye for detail and so another option to make money is to start an editing service, where you can read and fix errors and help writers/authors improve their work.
Image Credit: Nicky Verd

2. Writing: Maybe instead of reading, you enjoy writing. If you have a story or information inside you waiting to be told, you can write a book. You can either publish your book in print or as an e-book. People take books more seriously than almost any other form of writing. Being a book author gives you a level of credibility like almost nothing else and I can say this because I have experience it in real time as an author myself. Writing can take many forms as well and we’ll discuss the different forms as we go along the list of hobbies.

3. Makeup Artist: For some people, this comes naturally. You are the face expert, literally. You know every detail. You know skin tone, the shape of the face and makeup colours matchings like no one else. You know how to measure the distance between the cheeks, nose and forehead. People drool at the sight of your impeccable makeup skills. Your friends constantly queue for makeup tips from you, yet you are still an unemployment statistic. Yet you are still going around with a CV looking for a job. Why not turn this hobby/gift into a business? Lots of people don’t have time to shop for makeup; some don’t even know what or where to buy. And so, in addition to being a makeup artist, you can step it up and fill the gap by mixing the right makeup for different skin tones and selling beginners’ make-up kit-bags or advanced kits bags. You also have a great eye for fashion and style. You can add personal stylist to your make-up skills and build a unique business helping high profile people shop, put together outfits and do their make-up. So, get your business cards, social media handles and brand yourself accordingly.

4. Drawing/Art: If your hobby involves artistic endeavors, there are many ways you can turn your creativity into income. You can sell your finished products on the internet or consign them to local shops. Most importantly you can get paid to teach others how to enjoy the hobby by creating an online course on drawing or start a YouTube channel and create drawing tutorials for the mass audience. According to Statistics on the Top 10 Most asked questions on Google, “How to Draw?” comes at number 3. So, its time to take your drawing skills seriously.

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5. Photography: Is your camera strapped to you at all times? Pictures are a great way to relive the fun memories that happen every day. There are many ways to make money as a photographer. You can create a photo studio in your home. You can even specialize in children or pets. or photography for your local sports, you can do pregnancy photos, newborn photos, local events like fundraisers or parties in general, you can be a wedding or event photographer. The beauty of this hobby is that the opportunities are endless. Another way to make money from photography is you can sell your photos to online photo resources.

6. Cooking: Cooking is one of the hobbies you can share with the world in a variety of ways, from starting a blog, a Youtube channel, or Instagram account dedicated to recipes to diving in all the way by starting a restaurant business, or creating your own recipes or cooking products. You can even hit the road with a food truck business. According to Google, 59% of 25-to-34-year-olds take their mobile devices to the kitchen to find and practice new recipes. There’s definitely a market of DIY chefs looking for content and recipes online.

Photo by Maarten van den Heuvel on Unsplash

7. Comedy: This one is a fun one(Knock, Knock…Who’s There?). Some people are natural-born comedians for whom comedy may be less of a hobby and more of a lifestyle. Are you good at making people laugh? Why not take that sense of humor and use it to build an audience on the internet? Do you know what the hottest memes are right now? You can probably think of several Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, or Twitter accounts that amassed large audiences simply by curating memes and viral videos or tapping into a niche of humor that no one else was serving. Comedy is one of the more creative ways to make money on this list and here’s how. Once you have an audience, you can partner with brands to do sponsored posts or turn your best running jokes into t-shirts and other products. You can also start a Youtube channel for your comedy.

8. App Developer, Web Developer or Graphic Designer: This is one of the skills I highly recommend in my book that people should learn. I put them together because wherever you find one you usually find the other. Kinder like best friends type of thing. These are skills/hobbies you can learn online on your own if you have the passion for building apps but don’t really know how. Companies are constantly searching for a branding process that communicates what they do. For creative entrepreneurs who want to work with other business owners, you can offer design services where you help businesses design basic branding materials like logos, fliers, newsletters, magazines, information sheets, letters, advertisements, etc. We live in a digital world where every business needs an online presence. This is an industry that will never die especially now with covid19 forcing even the most traditional businesses to embracing digital transformation. Web design and mobile apps continue to be a huge and rapidly growing field. New apps are launched on a daily basis and if you have a unique idea, you can create your own apps to sell. Offer your services designing websites and apps for businesses. As you grow you’ll need a strong portfolio of work and a stellar website showing what you can do. The stronger your technical skills, the better your chance for success. So keep perfecting your craft via taking short courses online or watching tutorials on Youtube.

9. Blogging: Is there a subject you are particularly passionate about? Start your own blog and become a member of the growing ranks of thought leader who are providing solutions to real life problems. It can be business, finance, politics, health, fitness, entertainment, cooking, IT or just about any category you can think of. Throw yourself in the creative world of writing and you’ll never know where it can lead you. Before my book became a book, it started as a blog. When it comes to writing, it’s good to write from a place of passion. You can start a blog about food, fashion, makeup, animals, love, teen pregnancy, dating, parenting, marriage, celibacy, personal development, poetry, personal finance, debts, etc. The list is endless. Starting your own blog or website has several benefits. For starters, it’s an easy way to build an online portfolio for prospective clients to view. A second benefit is that your own site allows you to be yourself as you can freely express your opinions. After you have created your own blog, you can make money by recommending services & products that you use. This is through an “affiliate link” that pays you a referral award when somebody signs up through your unique link. In addition to building an online portfolio or earning money from affiliate income, you can also use your site as an online store to sell just about anything.

10. Start a YouTube Channel: This is still very much part of blogging, the difference is that the content is produced via videos not text. If you would rather video than write blog posts, then consider starting a Youtube channel. Just like in blogging you can cover any topic you’re passionate about from finance, politics, health, fitness, entertainment, cooking, IT, etc. In some ways, you could say that video is the future of the internet. Whether you make videos about food, fashion, makeup, animals, love, teen pregnancy, dating, parenting, unbox cell phones or reviewing the latest gadgets it’s possible to build an audience. You can earn advertising revenue on these videos through Google AdSense, and once you get a channel established, the income can be really great. The highest-paid YouTuber earns…..

11. Tutor: Are you academically smart? How about tutoring primary, high school, or college students? more than ever, there’s need for personal tutors because of the effect covid19 pandemic is having on schools. Most schools are closed, some reopen then shut down again leaving students and parents frustrated about the academic future of their children. And so, you can step in and solve that problem by offering home lessons to those who are interested. You can charge hourly, weekly or monthly, whatever works for you.

12. Start a fitness program. Are you a fitness junkie? You can channel that energy into a venture where nutrition, the anatomy of the body and your wallet are also covered. People are willing to pay good money to have a certain body. You really don’t need to own a gym yourself, you can train people through your local gym or in the comfort of their own homes, or even from a park in your neighbourhood. Just start and brand yourself accordingly. One of the most popular New Year’s Resolutions is usually health and fitness goals and now with the lockdown and gyms mostly on lockdown, there is an “evergreen” demand for one on one fitness classes.

Photo by LOGAN WEAVER on Unsplash

13. Fashion Design: Do you easily spot trends in fashion? Do you have a creative flare and an eye for colour? Do you have a certain connection with garments? You don’t necessarily need any special certifications in fashion design. Passion, curiosity and a taste in clothes can fast-forward your growth in the industry much faster than a certificate. If you are handy with the basics like a sewing machine and know how to make basic alterations to clothing, you could be well on your way to being the next big thing. That’s how some of the world’s great fashion designers started, with nothing but passion and a sewing machine. This is a business you can launch from your bedroom. Create your own unique styles and put your name on it. Study the industry until you’ve got it all at your fingertips, watch tutorials on dress-making, watch videos of successful fashion designers you look up to. Have a Facebook or Instagram page to showcase your designs. You can even start a fashion blog to write about fashion, with a blog you’d become an authority and go-to person in your niche. Don’t be afraid to put your name on your branded items and slowly work to get your brand featured in big stores and boutiques. Think big and start small. If you can alter a shirt, you can design a shirt.

An inspiring story of Hannah Dale who achieved the holy grail of making a living from her hobby.

When Hannah Dale was laid off from her job couple of years ago, she was three months pregnant. In her own words she said, “I had little money, my mother was diagnosed with cancer and soon I had a baby to look after,” Her hobby, watercolour painting, gave her a much-needed feeling of release. “I could switch off my brain when I painted. It was therapeutic and relaxing.” she said.

She started selling her paintings to local shops in her small city, but discovered she was earning only the equivalent of £1 an hour after costs and commissions. Then she realised she could make a lot more money if she printed her designs on greetings cards. “That was a lightbulb moment for her because of the scalability of the idea.

Ten years later, her watercolours of animals and birds have been printed on everything from stationery and tableware to wallpaper and cushions. Her business, Wrendale Designs, turns over £3m per annum and employs 20 people. In an interview, Hannah said, “I’ve achieved the holy grail of making a living from a hobby, but it wasn’t easy,” she adds “There were times at craft fairs when I sold one thing all day. It would have been easier to get a job, but I was determined.”

And so back to you reading, are you willing to put in the work required to turn something you already love doing into a source of income? 

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