21 Hobbies You Can Turn Into a Business

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A young woman baking
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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 translate into a money-making venture.

Some hobbies that begin as a labor of love may evolve into full-time careers, while others are more likely to provide supplemental income. Either way, if you can make some cash from an activity you love, it’s a good thing.

Following are many hobbies with business potential.

1. Cooking

person chef cooking in a home kitchen
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Personal chefs generally earn between $200 and $500 a day, according to the American Personal & Private Chef Association. If you live to cook, it’s a career worth aspiring to. The industry is growing, the association says.

To learn more, including tips for getting started, check out “How to Turn Your Love of Cooking Into Extra Cash.”

2. Web design

Web developers looking at screen
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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.

Freelance designers use many online job markets, including Fiverr and Upwork. Another way to get started is by working locally and growing your business through word of mouth.

3. Pet-sitting, walking or grooming

pet sitting
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A love of critters great and small has led many pet lovers to start their own businesses, using services like Rover to find clients. Pet businesses have suffered from the coronavirus pandemic so you’ll need to consider that effect when you think about starting your business.

Here’s an article explaining how the online pet-sitting network helps connect sitters and pet owners.

To learn more, check out “How to Make Extra Money Pet-Sitting or Dog Walking.”

4. Home inspecting

home inspector
Mila Supinskaya Glashchenko / Shutterstock.com

If you are handy and know your way around the inner workings of a home, you might be a perfect candidate for a career in home inspecting. In “13 Tips for Buying, Selling or Renting a Home Amid a Pandemic” we look at changes in the real estate market due to the pandemic, including how home inspectors are adapting to keep everyone safe.

Generally, inspectors are licensed by states and can receive training or certification through national industry organizations like the American Society of Home Inspectors.

5. Jewelry and crafts

woman making jewelry
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In an era of mass-produced products, a premium is often placed on one-of-a-kind items made by human hands. Etsy — an online marketplace for handmade candles, jewelry, greeting cards, soap, 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.

To learn about other avenues like Etsy, check out “4 Ways Creative People Can Make Money Online.”

6. Event planning

calendar on a computer
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Not only is event planning demanding work, but the coronavirus pandemic, with restrictions on gatherings of certain sizes, is also a big consideration for this kind of work. Still, people may be looking for newer, safer ways to celebrate these days. And if you’re a super-organized, creative type who is imaginative and has strong people skills, you might be able to find new ways to bring people together.

Unsure how to get started? Post your services on Fiverr. Although Fiverr gigs may not pay much, you can ask happy customers to write testimonials describing your work. Use them on your website and in your marketing.

7. Retail arbitrage

eBay website
IB Photography / Shutterstock.com

Some people make serious money by buying stuff at liquidation and clearance sale prices and then selling them online for a higher price. These sellers may not specialize in any particular items or categories of goods. Rather, they are experts at knowing what sells well and at finding it at low prices.

For a primer, check out “How You Can Make Extra Money Buying Locally and Selling Globally.”

8. Photography

photographer at work
Rawpixel.com / Shutterstock.com

If you’ve got the equipment, talent and energy, get out there and compete with the pros by shooting portraits, weddings, graduations and other events. High school and college graduates may be graduating virtually or at home this year, but these ingenious pandemic-era celebrations are just as deserving of being memorialized.

As with many freelancers, self-employed photographers must also become adept at marketing, and that includes creating a beautiful website to showcase your portfolios of work.

For more details, check out “4 Ways Creative People Can Make Money Online.”

9. Drawing

cartoonist in glasses drawing at his desk
Prometheus72 / Shutterstock.com

In this Fiverr blog post, a cartoonist explains how Fiverr enabled her to transform her hobby into a moneymaker.

She details how marketing basic, inexpensive services helps her meet and land clients who often go on to buy upgrades that boost her fees.

10. Baking

African American man baking.
WAYHOME studio / Shutterstock.com

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 example, once ran a catering business 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.

11. Antiques

Andrey Armyagov / Shutterstock.com

A passion for antiques could be your ticket to making money. Auctioneer and personal property appraiser Wayne Jordan has made the case, in Antique Trader, that unlike many small retail businesses — which face competition from big box stores and online retailers — trading in antiques remains the territory of mom-and-pop businesses. He writes:

“You’re not selling commodities but unique items that can’t be purchased just anywhere. You’re selling history, nostalgia and fantasy.”

If you can find a way to sidestep the risks of opening a brick-and-mortar retail business right now, you might be able to turn your passion into cash. The Spruce, for example, tells how to buy and sell antiques online.

12. Writing

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Dozens of avenues beckon would-be writers — technical writing, advertising, copy writing and even writing fiction.

Freelance writing opportunities abound online, but rarely pay much. No matter how good you are, more training helps and inspires writers. Check into online classes at community colleges.

Freelancing often pays better for writers who are subject-matter experts in areas such as law, medicine, science, finance or technology.

You’ll need “clips” (published articles) to get started on your career so clients can see your work. There are loads of places to look into, depending on your area of expertise.

13. Collecting

model toy cars
Aisyaqilumaranas / Shutterstock.com

When the collecting bug bites, it’s a hard — and expensive — passion to shake. Some collect salt and pepper shakers, others baseball cards or comic books.

Your love for collectibles can make you an expert. And expertise offers the ability to buy, sell, trade, consult and advise — all for a profit.

14. Bookselling

old books
Siaivo / Shutterstock.com

The internet caused a revolution among those who sell used books. Prices have been driven way, way down, even for rare and collectible books, one longtime bookseller told me. That’s because a customer today needs only to walk into a bookstore with a smartphone to check for a better price elsewhere.

On the other hand, a bookseller today does not need to maintain a storefront. Booksellers can work from home.

15. Financial planning

financial planner working with an older woman
Kinga / Shutterstock.com

If your hobby is investing and planning your retirement, becoming a certified financial planner could be a natural second career choice.

It offers a good living and the freedom and flexibility that many people wish for, especially after they’ve spent years working for a company.

The job isn’t just about research, investing and planning, however. One of the primary roles is working with clients, often educating and reassuring them.

Some professionals do their work through videoconference, phone and sharing documents virtually, a perfect fit in these days of social distancing.

Preparation for getting certified includes a college degree in financial planning or a similar background, a rigorous examination and some professional experience or work as an apprentice, according to the CFP Board of Standards.

16. Hosting

woman opening up her home
maroke / Shutterstock.com

Your cinnamon rolls are to die for, and you love nothing more than creating a cozy, hospitable environment and hosting guests. If so, you may be made for the role of bed-and-breakfast host.

The COVID-19 pandemic has dealt a bad blow to the hospitality industry. And rules vary by state and region. Still, the hope is that, eventually, the travel industry will return.

Just remember this: If hosting is one part blueberry scones and happy guests, another part is midnight plumbing repairs and the fact that you may have nowhere to hide from demanding customers.

You might want to think about dabbling in this lifestyle by offering a portion of your home — all or part of it — through Airbnb.

17. Boating

Woman on a boat
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Many are the weekend sailors who dream of chucking the 9-to-5 life to become a charter boat captain, fishing and sailing for a living. If you live in — or move to — a seaport where fat-walleted tourists are abundant, it can be a reasonable goal.

You may have to wait a while for tourism to recover, but waiting out the pandemic at sea may not be such a bad thing.

18. Blogging

woman working at her desk
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Unlike freelance writers — who are paid by their clients — bloggers make income from ads on their sites or affiliate marketing, generally meaning commissions for promoting products.

You’ll want to identify a niche for your blog. Popular topics include:

  • Food
  • Family
  • Technology
  • Politics
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Personal finance
  • Travel

Blogging isn’t all you’ll do, though. To get your blog noticed, you’ll also need to become adept at marketing.

19. Property management

a property manager holds keys
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Do you love fixing everything you can get your hands on? Becoming a property manager might be a way to get paid for doing what you enjoy.

The work is varied, from finding and screening renters to making repairs and doing grounds maintenance. To manage a single property, you might not need much more than being handy, organized and adept at online research. But managing many properties can mean you’ll need business and real estate skills.

The website of All Property Management, a network of professional property management services, has links to state requirements for property managers. The real estate world has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic but the demand for housing continues.

20. Video editing

a senior edits video at a desktop computer
PHILIPIMAGE / Shutterstock.com

Maybe you’re the kind of creative type who compiles and edits friends’ and relatives’ photos and videos into short films. Perhaps you’re thinking you’d like to break into the field professionally.

Upgrading your skills is the ticket. It may eventually be necessary to enroll in classes. But before you spend money on tuition, take advantage of the many free resources online.

21. Desktop publishing

Worker sitting at a computer
Rido / Shutterstock.com

Desktop publishing involves using software to create handsome, professional-looking books, brochures, posters and advertisements. Writers and amateur graphic designers who are comfortable in a digital environment may find a career transition to desktop publishing to be the right fit.

You can train yourself at your own pace while continuing in your current job. Lifewire lists top Windows programs used in the field.

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