Many a professional web designer started out as a self-taught hobbyist who got hooked and thought, “Why not get paid for this?”
It’s just one example of a passion (or obsession) that can be translated into a money-making venture.
Some hobbies that begin as a labor of love may evolve into a full-time careers, while others are more likely to provide just supplemental income. Either way, if you can make some cash from an activity you love, it’s a good thing.
If you hope to turn your hobby into a large business or a small one, go at it like a professional. Research your field thoroughly, interview others who do the work to learn how they got started, and make a thorough business plan. Whatever you do, don’t touch retirement savings to get started. Instead, read “Ask Stacy: Where Do I Find the Money to Start a Business?”
Here are 25 hobbies with business potential:
1. Web design
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You’ll need a strong portfolio of work and, obviously, a stellar website showing what you can do. Freelance designers use many online job markets, including Elance and Craigslist, but another way to get started is by working locally and growing your business through word of mouth. The stronger your technical skills the better your chance for success.
2. Coaching tennis or golf
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If you’re an outstanding amateur athlete you may be well-suited to train others. The best coaches also are patient and personable, with a special ability to analyze others’ movements. Considering coaching? The United States Sports Academy, which offers certification programs, has a free course, Introduction to Coaching.
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Unlike freelance writers, who are paid by clients, bloggers make income from ads on their sites or affiliate marketing, commissions for promoting products. You’ll want to identify a focus, or niche, for your blog to help readers find it. Some popular blog topics are food, family, technology, politics, entrepreneurship, and personal finance and travel. Blogging isn’t all you’ll do, though. To get your blog noticed you’ll also need to become expert at marketing.
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Cartoonist Alyssa Alyssaerin explains how she transformed her hobby, drawing, into a full-time job by offering cheap services at Fiverr. She offers some insights in this Fiverr article and audio interview into how marketing basic, inexpensive services helps her meet and land clients who often go on to buy upgrades that boost her fees.
5. Yoga instructor
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With stand-up paddle-board yoga, hot yoga, naked yoga, stiletto yoga and winery yoga classes — to name just a few — you’d imagine that yoga teachers have a good expectation of employment. Be cautious. Yoga is extremely popular, but it turns out that teacher training outpaces the growth in new students says the Wall Street Journal. By all means, enjoy teacher training and start a business or teach yoga for a studio or gym. You may bring in some spending money, but probably not enough to live on. “Lucrative careers in yoga are rare,” the Journal concludes. Then again, you’ll probably get in great shape trying.
6. Personal chef
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Personal chefs earn between $200 and $500 a day, according to the American Personal & Private Chef Association. If you live to cook, it’s a career to aspire to. The industry is growing, the association says. Understand what you’re getting into before you get started: Chef training can be expensive, grueling and difficult, and working in a professional kitchen is nothing like cooking at home. Check out: “How to Turn Your Love of Cooking into Extra Cash.”
7. Antiques trading
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Your passion for antiques could be your ticket to making money. Antiques auctioneer and appraiser Wayne Jordan makes a case, in Antique Trader magazine, that unlike many small retail businesses that are under the gun from competition by big box stores, antiques trading remains the territory of mom-and-pop businesses:
You’re not selling commodities but unique items that can’t be purchased just anywhere. You’re selling history, nostalgia and fantasy.
8. Jewelry and crafts
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In an era of mass-produced products, a premium is placed on one-of-a-kind items made by human hands. Etsy, the online marketplace for handmade candles, wreaths, container gardens, jewelry, cards, soap, bath salts, pot holders, toys, clothes and other crafts, gives artists a way to dip a toe in the water. Set up a “shop” there or just assess the competition, prices and viability of selling your products. The Week offers these tips on “How to Make a Living on Etsy.”
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A treasured recipe for fudge, toffee, shortbread, jam or scones has been the inspiration for many a business that began with small batches made at home. Martha Stewart, for one, started a multimillion-dollar company with a catering business run from a (professional) kitchen in her basement. Health codes often require goodies sold for public consumption to be made in a commercial kitchen. But don’t let that stop you. Restaurants and commercial kitchens often rent space to other bakers who use the kitchen in off-hours. The Small Business Administration tells how to start a home-based baking business.
10. Child care
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If your home is the place where children love to gather and you adore entertaining and teaching them, your love of little people could become a day job. Whether you start your own day care or buy into a franchise business, the demand for quality child care will remain strong as long as parents work away from home. Child care is a highly regulated business, for reasons of safety and health. Be prepared to submit to police screening and inspections and apply for licenses. Small Business Trends tells what’s involved.
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Does your heart sing with joy from putting a messy sock drawer in order? It’s hard for most of us to imagine, but a few talented people have a gift for making order from chaos. Professional organizer Geralin Thomas’s hyper-organized Pinterest board is loaded with lists and tips on getting started in this field, including an article, “6 Steps for Starting a Professional Organizing Business.”
12. Writing and editing
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Dozens of avenues beckon would-be writers — technical writing, advertising copy writing, ghost writing and blogging are a few nonfiction pursuits and, of course, writing fiction, from literary fiction to bodice-rippers.
Freelance writing opportunities abound online. The problem: They rarely pay much. No matter how good you are, more training helps and inspires writers. Check into classes at community colleges. Or try the many free classes at Elance University, training arm of UpWork (formerly Elance), a large marketplace where freelancers, including writers and editors, compete for jobs.
Freelancing pays best for writers who are subject-matter experts in areas like law, medicine, science, finance or technology. Khan Academy offers free classes in math, sciences and technology. Use a free trial at Lynda.com to sample classes on writing web content, ad copy and the like. You’ll need “clips” (published articles) to get started on your career so clients can see your work. Aol.com lists 25 sites that pay guest bloggers to post.
Avoid paying for ebooks, online courses and websites. It’s hard to judge the quality of these and many are a waste of money. Run from “training” that promises to share the “secret” to a writing career.
13. Pet sitting, walking or grooming
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A love of critters great and small has got many pet lovers starting their own businesses now that they can advertise and book services online with such sites as Rover.com or DogVacay.com. Others buy into pet-sitting franchises. Read “Making Extra Money: 7 Steps to Start a Pet Sitting or Dog Walking Business.”