Hobbies to encourage, that pays the bills


Whether you’re saving for an exotic vacation or to buy your first house, you’re not alone in keeping a tight rein on your finances. More people are scaling back today than they did five years ago, and frankly, some just aren’t able to have as much fun because of their penny pinching. If this sounds like you, hopefully you’re filling up your new-found free time with an inexpensive hobby that you’re passionate about, but never had a spare moment for before. And now it’s time to start turning that hobby into a money-making machine.

Ok, money-making machine might be a stretch. But many hobbies really can pay off if you’re good at them — and know how to market yourself. There are so many fun ways to earn some extra cash, and we’ve compiled 10 of the most lucrative. Still not sure how your new-found love of knitting can make you cash? Keep reading.


Who doesn’t like to shop? Online, at the mall and even in airport gift shops, shopping is just downright thrilling wherever the location and whatever the purchase. But whoever thought shopping could be considered a hobby, especially because if you’re good at it, it requires inordinately large amounts of cash? If you’ve maxed out one too many credit cards, maybe it’s time to start spending someone else’s money. Personal shopping is a great source for extra cash, because clients pay you to do their shopping. Duties could include finding a client that perfect dress for a fancy gala, or simply picking up medicine from the pharmacy or groceries from the supermarket. Print up business cards to hand out every time someone compliments your outfit, or offer your services to busy moms or senior citizens in your neighborhood. A part-time or beginner personal shopper might charge anywhere from R500 to R2,000 an hour, or 10 to 15 percent of the total purchase [source: PayScale.com]. However you bill your customers, you’re certain to make enough to indulge in a few purchases of your own.


“Shooting weddings can be a fun way to make some extra cash as a photographer”

Photography is a great way to make some extra cash doing something you love. You could try selling pieces at local arts fairs or even to local boutiques if you have sellable artwork. If you’re short on the cash to front the cost of printing and framing, you could always sell your work online. Be sure to brush up on copyrights to make sure you’re not giving your hard work away. Another lucrative way to use photography is as a freelance wedding or portrait photographer. Although the upfront equipment and marketing costs might be higher, the payoff can be more for this type of work. For example, with a great portfolio and marketing strategy, you could charge an average of $2,700 or more for a wedding, depending on the package you offer.


Baking is a talent and a science many people envy. If you’re lucky enough to have the skills to excel at — and even enjoy — baking, you might want to take advantage and make some money at it. The majority of people who can’t cook are usually willing to pay big bucks for bakers to provide their services. Start out by offering your baked goods at small art fairs or nonprofit events for free, and pass out your business card and ask for recommendations. If you’re lucky, you might catch the attention of a local writer covering the event. Selling your baked goods as a catering service at events does require licensing and insurance, as well as a good bit of research. But there are easier options: Sell your goods on the weekends at local farmers’ markets. As long as you’re selling baked goods that don’t spoil (like cream pies, etc.) you don’t need a license to sell at most farmers’ markets, although some do require you meet their standards and guidelines to be accepted [source: mt.gov]. If you stick to one or two items and do them well — breads and muffins, for example — invest in a creative logo and packaging, and set up a plate of samples, your products should sell themselves.

Writing and Editing

If writing is your passion, there are several ways you can use this skill to make money. First, you can throw your hat in the ring as a freelance writer. Web sites, magazines and newspapers pay freelance writers for articles, and compensate either with a flat rate or by the word, although a flat rate is most common. Some Web sites also pay based on page views or advertising clicks. Another way to use your writing online is to start a blog, where you can earn money by selling ads on your site. If you’re a great marketer, you can keep earning money from your advertisements long after your initial effort to write the article or blog. If this kind of writing isn’t for you, try selling your skills to various businesses and corporations. It’s common for them to outsource proposals, brochures, and even speech writing to contract or freelance writers. Set up interviews with local businesses and take writing samples with you. You may even consider marketing your skills to local graphic designers, who can recommend you to their current clients.


“I would pay someone to just come in here and get me organized!” Who hasn’t muttered these exact words while searching for a receipt to complete their taxes or while standing in their closet trying to select an outfit for the day? If you’re good at and enjoy organizing things, you’re one lucky duck. So share your talent with the rest of us hopelessly unorganized souls — for a small fee, of course. Put up ads on community boards, offer your services to friends of friends and have business cards made that you can hand out. You can also market your skills to local real estate agents as an unpacking and organization resource to new homeowners. And ask your clients to recommend you to their friends — word of mouth marketing is free and can be lucrative, especially if your work speaks for itself.


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