We all have hobbies or pastimes that we use some of our spare time for because we find them enjoyable and fulfilling.
But you know what? Some of these hobbies/activities, if we’re willing to take them seriously, can be turned into a source of some passive residual income.
Here are 8 common hobbies that you can potentially turn to an income stream, whether it’s through freelancing, becoming an affiliate, building an audience, or simply starting a business.
1. Writing. How to make money from writing
Writing and publishing online has the potential to offer you a lot of practical value outside of being a mere hobby. You can use it to further your career and establish yourself as an expert on a topic. You can build a platform for sharing your ideas. Or you can rent out your skills.
The most obvious way to make money writing is to sell it as a service—freelancing on sites like Fiverr or reaching out directly to blogs for paid gigs. Good content writers with niche expertise are usually in demand.
However, if you have the discipline and know how to write a good blog post, then you can create your own blog-based business by picking a niche such as sport, tech or travel or cooking or fashion, etc., and build an audience over time.
2. Illustration/Design and how to make money from it
If you like making illustrations and designing you are in luck. These are skills that you can offer as a freelancer. Fiverr, in particular, is where a lot of newer artists with a variety of illustration styles find clients in need of their skills, whether it’s for marketing projects or custom portraits.
But if you’d like to maintain control, you can put your own art on things, from t-shirts to posters to canvases and sell those instead. It’s important to understand that in order to turn your art into a product, you’ll need to cater to a specific market or build a unique brand. The former is usually easier.
And you don’t need to front the money for inventory either. Print-on-demand services offer a low-risk way to monetize your art by selling apparel and home decor. You just need to create mockups of your products to list online. Once you make sales and know what designs and creative get the most demand, you can consider investing in your own inventory.
3. Comedy and various ways to make money from jokes
Are you good at making people laugh? Do you know what the hottest memes are right now?
Why not take that sense of humor and use it to build an audience on the internet?
You can probably think of several Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, or Twitter accounts that have amassed large audiences simply by curating memes and viral videos or tapping into a niche of humor that no one else is serving.
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.
4. Cooking and various ways to make money from it
Food has become an art form worthy of taking elaborate pictures and the time to perfect it as a craft. It’s not only amateur chefs who are involved but people with adventurous palettes looking to explore new tastes.
It’s a hobby you can share with the world in a variety of different ways, from starting a blog, YouTube channel, or Instagram account dedicated to recipes, to diving head-first into a business by creating your own food or cooking products. Some even hit the road with a food truck business.
According to Google, 59% of 25 to 34 year-olds take their mobile devices into the kitchen, using resources on the internet to find and practice new recipes, so there’s definitely a market of do-it-yourself chefs looking for content (as well as products) you can create to serve them.
For inspiration, check out:
5. Traveling. How to make money traveling
If you find yourself gripped by wanderlust, a list of countries to visit dominating your bucket list, then here’s a good excuse for you to engage in more frequent flying.
According to Sarah Owen, senior editor of digital media & marketing at trend forecasting firm WGSN, traveling the world as a lifestyle choice is on the come-up, and so influencers are increasingly sharing content that represents a well-traveled life, rather than just the clothes in their closet in the saturated fashion niche.
Pursuing a “digital nomad” lifestyle can help you fuel your own wanderlust as you travel the world. Not only can you make connections and bring your products to new markets, an online business can be run from anywhere you can get an internet connection.
Greenbelly Meals and Minaal are great examples of businesses where the founders are living that digital nomad life.
6. Photography and how to make money from photos
If you own a nice camera and know how to use it, you’ve got a few different ways you can make some cool money on the side.
While you can become a freelance photographer, you’re usually restricted to local events and gigs that you can physically attend.
For a more scalable side hustle, you can sell your shots on stock photography sites or as prints. Or, you can use your photography skills to grow a massive Instagram following and monetize it. You just need to pick a niche to serve or a “lifestyle” you want to capture in your photos.
Fun fact: Professional photography accounts are the 2nd most lucrative on Instagram in terms of how much brands are willing to pay for a sponsored post. And you don’t need hundreds of thousands of followers either.
Check out our Shopify’s guide on how to sell photos online for a more detailed look at how to monetize your photography.
7. Gaming and how to make money playing video games
Surprise? You better don’t be. Yes, you might be skeptical about the notion of making money playing your favorite games, but if there’s a pattern developing in this list, it’s that if you can get people to pay attention to you, then you can probably get paid to do it.
In this case, it’s the rise of the “Let’s Play” video format that has enabled us to make money via gaming, in particular, live-streaming on Twitch. Just like YouTube, you can make money by sharing ad revenue. But there’s also the potential to get one-time and subscription donations from a large community of viewers. This means the amount you earn through live streaming will vary greatly, but that it’s relatively easy to at least start making residual income.
While the amount of commitment you need to make a significant income might turn gaming into work for you, you can still have fun with it if you choose to stream a game you love and are good at and bring your personality to the table.
Gaming is a fast-growing industry with a lot of passion in it. If you’re an avid gamer who understands the needs of the market, you already have an advantage as an entrepreneur in this space.
You can consider building a business of your own to cater to the needs and interests of gamers, like how:
PC Gaming Race speaks to the superiority of PC gamers.
Corey Ferreira sold gaming glasses inspired by his own gaming needs.
8. DIY Crafts. Make money from crafts
If you enjoy working with your hands and making candles, bath bombs, jewelry, and other do-it-yourself items, why not share it with the world too?
“Handmade” communicates a certain quality, care, and uniqueness that department store alternatives often don’t. You can test the market for your products by selling them on a smaller scale to friends, family, or on Etsy, and think about scaling into a full-fledged business as you rack up customers.
In many cases, when it comes to our side hustles and what we start, it’s the things that we tend to do for free and for fun that hint at the kinds of businesses or projects that we can pursue using our own passion and interest as fuel.
So, if you have the urge to start something but don’t know where to start, ask yourself what it is you’re good at or knowledgeable about?
What do you already do in your spare time that you could turn into something more? Tell us in the comment box. Who knows somebody might benefit from it or you might get a supporter on it too!