Most of us have hobbies and most of us could use more money. Chances are the hobbies you do in your spare time could generate some extra cash. Ideally, money-making hobbies should be things you don't have to sink a lot of money into, and things you'd be doing anyway, even if there were no profits. Cheapism.com rounded up seven hobbies that can make money, even as you're having fun.
If you love pets and want to make some extra money, be aware that Americans spend more than $50 billion a year on pet services, and a piece of that could be yours. The most obvious animal hobby to turn into a money-making pastime is walking dogs. Satisfy your hankering for bonding time with some four-legged friends by offering to take people's dogs out while they're at work, charging $10 to $30 per walk depending on the neighborhood. Pet sitting and boarding may require more effort on your part but can also be fun and lucrative. Sitting usually involves going to people's houses and checking on their pets, while boarding turns your home into an alternative kennel while people are away. Rates run from $20 for a home visit to $100 for night boarding. Websites like Rover and DogVacay can help you get started.
Since its founding in 2005, Etsy has allowed crafty folks to make money from their artistic hobbies. If you enjoy creating homemade jewelry, candles, clothing, paintings, textiles, or anything decorative, you can set up an Etsy store and sell homemade goods. The site charges a small fee for each listing, as do some of the payment options such as PayPal and Direct Checkout, but once you get a few positive reviews you can start profiting from your crafts. Etsy is a high-traffic site and it claims that its sellers made more than $895 million in 2013. You probably shouldn't expect to make a killing given the sheer number of sellers, but you can improve your chances of making sales by posting high-quality photographs of your products and using social media and SEO tricks to market your creations.
If you're in good shape and enjoy exercising, you can make money off of your healthy hobby. Millions of Americans are obsessed with losing weight, and there are plenty of people willing to spend money on physical fitness. Gym memberships are expensive and often go unused. Consider marketing yourself as a friendly alternative to the gym, arranging to meet clients at a park or recreation center as a low-key personal trainer. If you have expertise in a particular sport, consider coaching a team or offering private lessons for a fee. Schools, club sports, and YMCAs hire team coaches, and while they might require a substantial commitment of your time, they can pay pretty well. You can also offer to give private lessons in swimming, tennis, or whatever sport you like. You get to practice your hobby, meet people in your community, and stay active, all while earning some extra cash.
If you're one of the millions of Americans who plays video games, your hobby could pay off. Although it's probably unrealistic to expect to make a career of it, you can make extra money with your gaming skills. Active gamers can write and share their opinions and expertise about their favorite games. Consider setting up a blog, posting regularly, and monetizing it through AdSense and banner advertising. You could also write an eBook sharing your knowledge and then publish and sell it through sites like KillerGuides. YouTube is another good option. The most viewed YouTube channel of all time belongs to Swedish gamer PewDiePie and the gaming sector of YouTube is one of the most active and profitable. You can make and post "Let's Play" videos, where you comment while playing games, and then enable YouTube monetization to earn money from views. Commenting on others' videos and using social media can help build a following. Finally, if you enjoy multiplayer online role-playing games, you might look into the practice of "gold-farming:" stockpiling valuable in-game items and selling them for real-world currency. Note, however, that there are legal and ethical controversies surrounding gold-farming, so do some research before diving into this one.
If you love gardening, you're not alone: in 2012, the Scarborough research group estimated that 164 million Americans garden. These folks are clearly onto something, because many studies demonstrate that cultivating plants helps relieve stress and improve physical and mental health. As a bonus, a gardening hobbyist can make good money by selling harvests with very little investment up front. Vegetable gardens, for one, are a popular way to earn extra income from horticulture. Indeed, the National Garden Association suggests that a $70 vegetable planting can yield $530 of profits. You can sell surplus vegetables at farmers' markets, festivals, and roadside stands. The USDA maintains a registry of local farmers' markets, and check the HobbyFarms website for tips on setting up your own roadside produce stand. Some local restaurants might even purchase your vegetables or herbs. In addition to produce, you can make money from the flowers growing in your garden. You can sell home-grown flowers at florists or farmers' markets, earning a little extra cash from a relaxing and healthful hobby.
There's a part of YouTube called BookTube which makes it possible to earn money from simple videos about books. While so-called Beauty Vlogging and Gamer Vlogging are quite popular, with stars such as Michelle Phan and PewDiePie attracting millions of subscribers and enjoying lucrative careers, BookTube is less well publicized and apparently less competitive. Most participants simply set up a basic video camera, sit in front of a bookcase, and talk about the books they're reading and plan to read. Reviews and author spotlights are standard fare and the community seems to be very supportive. Thoughtfully commenting, doing mutual shout-outs, and participating in "Readathons" via Twitter and Goodreads can help you build a substantial number of subscribers, and once you do, you can monetize your channel. Monetizing happens through YouTube, and it's estimated that you can make between $2.50 and $5 per 1,000 views, plus more based on your subscriber count.
If you're an enthusiastic shopper and would like to offset some of your spending, there are ways to profit from shopping. Selling vintage items is a good option if you enjoy browsing flea markets and thrift stores. Etsy requires that vintage items be more than 20 years old, while eBay is less restrictive. Both are lively marketplaces with lots of transactions. Be sure to take good pictures of your goods, use social media like Instagram for marketing, and research prices. If you have a good eye for vintage products, you can start generating profits from your shopping hobby. Another option is mystery shopping, where companies hire you to patronize their businesses and evaluate services. To get started, Lifehack recommends that you do ratings frequently and thoughtfully on sites such as Foursquare and Yelp and try to build a following, and then apply to mystery shopping gigs (but beware of scams). A mystery shopper typically makes between $10 and $20 per assignment and sometimes also gets a free meal or product discounts.