It’s not uncommon to dream of turning your pastime into a full-time job, but how realistic is it? Some hobbies really lend themselves to making money, but not all of them do. And then there are fringe examples, like professional sports, where the chances of making it pro are very slim, but if you make it, the potential pay-out could be in the millions.
Hobbies that could make you money
Now, almost any hobby could make you money, just look at Instagram influencers for example. Just from using a free social media platform, these people have amassed an audience big enough to hold commercial interest for a number of different companies and a single post could range in price from $1,000 to $1million per post. Typically, most influencers will have built an engaged audience around a particular hobby or lifestyle, which could be your everyday cleaning tips, see @MrsHinchHome, or something a bit more wild like extreme motorsports, see @travispastrana. So, if you want your social media to make you money too, then you’ll probably want to pick up a hobby that can be easily shared with the world.
Illustration, design, and music
Art is something that is appreciated across all mediums, so whether you paint, play the harp, or create digital designs, your talent could end up paying the bills. But of course, there’s a range of different ways that this can happen. For example, your band could make it big, or you could find yourself in the first chair of an orchestra, or having your works sold in a gallery.
However, you don’t need a chance that’s as big, or requires as much commitment, as this in order to start making money. You could offer commissioned work as a freelancer, sell your work on stores like Etsy or eBay, or even take to the streets and make money by busking – in some areas of London you could earn up to £200 a day!
How much you could make differs too wildly to estimate, and it depends on a huge number of factors, but it largely hinges on how many people find what you do appealing. If your version of music is recording pigeons and using their noises to sing the national anthem, your profit potential is probably quite limited.
This follows quite closely on from art, but there are a few more ways that you can turn photography into a hobby that pays. For example, if you’re good under pressure then becoming a wedding photographer could be a great way to earn a bit of money on the side. The average price for a wedding photographer in 2019-2020 was £1,590 – even if you only do a couple a year, that’s not an amount to be sniffed at.
Don’t want to take on that kind of stress? You could still earn anything between £150-£300 a day as an event photographer, working with businesses, charities, and sports clubs to immortalise their events in the form of photos. While that’s significantly less than wedding photography, it’s most likely going to be less stress as you won’t have a bride or groomzilla to deal with, and a few events a year should keep paying for your hobby.
Handmade products have surged in popularity over the last few years, and nothing shows just how great the demand is like Esty – the online shop designed for handmade, vintage, and custom gifts. In 2012, Etsy’s annual revenue was just $74.6million, but by 2019 this had increased more than 10-fold to an impressive $818.79million. While some of this can be attributed to the store increasing its presence and improving its customer experience, it clearly highlights that the demand is there.
If you love making things, then it could be worth doing some research and seeing if what you make is unique, if there is a market for it, and if the price your competition have would still provide a profit. This is the tricky bit with crafts, as value is subjective, and you’ll need to include your time as well as the cost of materials.
Writing could provide one of the highest returns on investment for any hobby, based on the fact that it takes very little to get started. You could do it for pennies with just a pen and some paper! So, where you’d need to make more than the cost of your equipment and supplies with other hobbies, with writing you can just sit down and start spinning a tale. There’s lots of different avenues you could take, from writing a novel through to freelancing your linguistics for editing and proofreading.
Thanks to digital publications, it’s not as costly or time consuming to have your work published as it used to be – provided, of course, that you want to take that route. However, in order to make any real money from writing, you’ll need to build an audience and have a decent uptake of your work.
It doesn’t all have to be creative either, you could help write research papers, put out reviews for anything from local attractions to services, or even freelance for businesses to create copy that converts readers into buyers. With writing you simply need to lean into your strengths and find a niche that works for you.
Become a handyperson
If you like tinkering with bits around the house, mowing grass, painting and decorating, or love the idea of putting Ikea flatpack together all day, then you could look into becoming a handyperson? In the UK, the average hourly rate for this job is £11.03, or roughly £21,651 a year. So, based on that, if you wanted to earn money for your tinkering every weekend, you could bag yourself another £704 every month, all while fuelling your hobby.
Being a handyperson also means that you’re likely to save money when it comes to repairs and maintenance on your own property, and the more you do the more you’ll learn! Maybe you’ll find out that you really love carpentry, in which case you could increase your hourly earnings to £13.41 – meaning your weekends could be worth £858 a month. Not bad for doing something you love!
There’s a real buzz around beekeeping (pun intended), as there’s a huge number of benefits to having bees – from saving the planet to harvesting your own honey. In fact, there’s been a hive of activity in urban areas with more and more people introducing bees to rooftops and gardens. But keeping bees isn’t just good for the environment, it could be good for your wallet too.
If you go to any farm shop, you’ll probably see a range of honey being sold by local suppliers – some of these could be hobbyists – and the price could vary from £4 a jar up to £10! How much you charge for your honey is tricky, but if you can sell your honey with a local supplier then you may be able to charge a premium price.
Keeping Bonsai is said to be an extremely relaxing hobby, although it takes a lot of maintenance, care, and hard work to get them just right. But here’s the kicker – many people like to jump ahead to the part when the tree already looks like a tree. And if you don’t mind putting in the time to get it to that stage, then you could be onto a nice little earner.
It’s worth noting though, that this will take time and patience as it could take you three to five years for your plants to grow into bonsai trees. You’ll also need to be looking after a large number of trees in order to make a return – this could be anything from 20 to 100. Plus, the type of tree you grow will impact the profit you make as some may only sell for £10, while others may go for £1,000 or more.
If you already love following the comings and goings of the stock market, then investing could be a great way to try and turn that interest into profit. With an understanding of how things work, and plenty of time on your side to do the research, make the trades, and carefully balance your plans, you could take a DIY approach and pick your own investments with the aim of making a profit. Before you commit though, it’s important to understand that with investing, there’s a risk you could end up with less than you initially put in.
However, there is an easy way out if you’re not confident in doing it yourself or if you don’t think you’ll have the time. You could choose to invest with a robo-investor, like Wealthify, where your investments are decided for you by experts, you simply need to choose how much you want to invest, and pick an investment style to suit your needs. You can then enjoy the thrill of watching the impact of the markets on your investments, keep up to date with the latest performance, and see how your Plan is doing.
The tax treatment depends on your individual circumstances and may be subject to change in the future.
Please remember the value of your investments can go down as well as up, and you could get back less than invested.