I like my hobbies and I have a lot of them. At some point, I thought: why can’t I just do my hobbies instead of my job? You have probably had the same thought. Well, I actually turned my hobby into a side hustle and then into my actual job.
In this article, I share my insights about how to earn money from your hobby. While I have not done all of the things listed here, I have at least seriously considered making it part of my business portfolio (so I have researched what it would take and whether or not it would be profitable).
1. Start a website and write about your hobby
There is a reason for me starting out with this one: it is what I started doing. Starting a website about your favourite hobby is a super easy way of making a side income. You simply write tutorials about beginner related problems and recommend various products that are actually helpful.
You earn money from ads and from affiliate links. It is simple and a very passive way of having a side hustle. You simply write when you have the time and let the site make money while you sleep. Oh and did I say that people by websites as investments, so they are pretty easy to sell once they earn money.
If you do not like starting your own site, you can simply contact a site that you like and hear if you can write for them as a side hustle (something like 2.5 cents per word is a common rate for writers that know the stuff they are writing about).
Things you will likely need to make commission miniature painting a side hustle
- This goes without saying, but you need a domain and a company to host the site. Bluehost is the best option until your site is quite big (might take years before you need to change). When making a website as a the primary side hustle, I do not recommend something like Squarespace (too many limitations you will first encounter in later stages of the sites life).
- A graphics program like Adobe Photoshop or something similar
- You will need a good computer that can handle some graphics works and that you like typing on. For content creation, I got myself one of the new M1 Macbook Air and could not be happier with my purchase. It can easily handle everything website related and can do video creation and light gaming (and it feels good to type on)
- While creating a website and writing content is easy, making sure that traffic comes google is a bit harder. Optimizing for search is a jungle with a lot of semi scam courses out there. I highly recommend the course over at Income School – it is what I followed and it works. They take you through each step and they are so super helpful. It might seem expensive, but then you should see the prices of other, much inferior, courses. You can read my review of the Income School courses here.
Things you need to think about when doing commission miniature painting
- Making a website is not something that you grows overnight and you need a lot of patience for this to work out. Can you handle spending +300 hours before you see any form of success?
- Do you like to write? Making a website requires a lot of words, so it be something you enjoy.
- Do you like tech issues and solving them? While a website is relatively simple, once it get big and you want extra features it can be a bit of a tech issue at times.
- Is this a long term thing? If not, starting a website is likely not for you.
2. Paint miniatures by commission
If you like painting miniatures, this you have likely thought about painting other peoples miniatures in exchange for money. And yeah, you can certainly make a lucrative side hustle out of this.
The easiest way is by spreading the word that you are taking commissions on painting miniatures and then taking on a few orders. Most people will want a lot of miniatures painted in the same scheme, so painting armies is mostly the name of the game.
You will likely notice that you need to paint extremely quickly in order to make any meaningful amount per hour. After a few orders, you will know what sort of standard you can paint miniatures and whether it is something you actually like doing. Painting your own miniatures because you want to is extremely different to painting other people’s miniatures in the way they like (and on a schedule).
Things you will likely need to make commission miniature painting a side hustle
- A love for painting miniatures
- A way of painting extremely quickly (most commission painters will use an airbrush for large parts of their work
- A website to show off your work and potentially take orders. You could also write content and attract views to the site that way. For setting up a simple website you can either buy a domain and hosting via Bluehost (super good value for sub 100.000 monthly pageviews websites). If you want something this is extremely low tech, but looks good, Squarespace is a popular option.
Things you need to think about when doing commission miniature painting
- Is it possible for you to paint miniatures for very long sessions and a lot of hours?
- How would you handle customers that want something painted in a very you think is not very nice?
- Can you learn the skills to paint a lot of miniatures fast but also maintain a high painting standard?
- Will you provide the miniature or should the customer provide the miniatures?
3. 3D print miniatures and Terrain
3D printing is growing very fast and cheap high-quality printers can now be bought for your own home. Some people are not interested in getting a printed but a very much interested in buying home-printed miniatures. This is because printed miniatures can be much cheaper than what you buy from the store, but the quality is actually very close.
If you find printing fun, this is definitely something you could consider as a side hustle. There is a bit of a learning curve, but printing is actually quite easy (you can read my guide to getting started printing miniatures here)
Things you will need to side hustle as a miniature 3D printer
- A solid resin 3D printer or plastic 3D printer. Resin is best for high-quality miniatures and plastic printing is better for big terrain pieces (or miniatures that do not need to be high-quality paint-ready models).
- 3D printing files that you have the license to sell. Yes, you cannot just buy or find some printing files and sell the printed models. Luckily you can find some good monthly programs where you can get a merchant tier and get the license for selling the printed miniatures from the files (see more about miniature 3D printing files here).
Things you need to think about when printing miniatures as a side hustle
- Do you have the space for having a printer? A resin printer needs good ventilation, so this is not something you easily have in apartment rooms you use for something else.
- Can you price your prints in such a way as to factor all costs in? Your time + resin/plastic + power + files + postage. It all ads up, so unless you print for people in your local community the cost quickly ads up (and this not to be profitable for you as well).
4. Setup a Patreon and create your passion
Patreon is ideal for making your hobby into a side business. It makes making money from quite obscure things quite easy. All you need is a passion, a skill and the ability to create a small following.
On Patreon people pay you a small amount each month, in exchange for access to your and your “product”. A few examples of Patreonscould be:
- Painting art and sending small cards to Patreons each month (my friend at SilverGlass does this)
- Making 3D printing files for miniatures (which is a big business, just look at Titan-Forge Miniatures)
- Creating tutorials for your hobby
- Taking stunning photos
- Explaining super geeky stuff about your hobby (here is a Lord of the Rings lore Patreon)
- Making Comics
- DIY tutorials and inspiration
The list goes on and on. Since you have the whole world as your audience, even the smallest of niches can become profitable.
5. Start a Youtube Channel about your hobby
Yeah, this one is like a no brainer. But you might be thinking that Youtube is too saturated.
I can tell you are a few things that might make you think Youtube is a super good idea, even though it seems like everyone and their mom is a “Youtuber”:
- Competition is not necessarily a bad thing when it comes to Youtube. Yes, if there are 1000 people doing the exact same thing as you, it is bad. But you can do that thing slightly differently. Or you can cover a specific topic very well and in-depth and keep that is your niche.
- When it comes to getting traffic from search, it is a clear cut (almost) zero-sum competition. It is unlikely that the searcher will read several articles or watch several videos if the first hit gives the person an answer. While Youtube is a search engine, it is much more a browse or explore engine. Most people go to the Youtube homepage and just look at the tube suggests for them. Or they watch a video and see what else is there on this topic. If you are making similar videos as another Youtuber, chances are that your videos will pop up as suggestions on their videos. And that is the magic of Youtube.
- People want the same information delivered in different ways. When I search for something I like to hear different views and voices covering the same subject. So yes, if you can be different in a way or have your own voice, you can coexist with people doing the same thing as you. In fact, you can help each other out a lot!
Things you will need to side hustle as a Youtuber
- A good microphone. The quality of a sound on video is way more important than a good camera. For starting out get a cheap lavelier microphone like the Boya BY-M1 (like $15 bucks for good audio!). I have gone with a better quality microphone I can wear and that does not have to be connected to the camera or the phone I am recording the video on. It is called a Tascam DR10-L and that thing just works (people also really hate poor audio).
- Something to record video on. If you have a never phone I suggest you just start with that before you have made like 10 videos and know this is something you want to do. Once you know this is something you want to do, there are too many good cameras to pick from. For my use case, a small camera that could shoot good 4k video was the best option (so I went with the Sony ZV-1 Camera)
- You also need something to edit that video on. I use my custom super expensive gaming PC and on the go I can get by with using my small Macbook Air with the M1 chip.
- I personally use Adobes suite of software for editing, but that is because I use a lot of their software for different other things as well (and I do stuff on mac and PC). The free editing software on mac is good and Final Cut Pro on mac is also good.
Things you need to think about when doing Youtube as a side hustle
So getting into Youtube might seem simple, but yeah it is not. Once you jump down that rabbit hole you release how much work creating good video is (creating bad video is fast, but that is how it is with many things).
- First of all, Youtube takes time. How would you feel if for the first 20-30 videos you only got like 10 views on each? That is very likely and you should be able to work through that phase.
- You might think you are good at speaking for a crowd, but recording yourself is very different. I choke up when I hit that record button and you will as well. This is a skill you need to work at and it is not easy.
- Once you are in this game, it can get really expensive because you want new gear to make things better!
- If you do not have a lot of time, it is really hard to do Youtube well. I know, because I had to stop doing videos for a time because I just did not have enough hours in the day.
- If you ever felt like you are not super good at your hobby, that feeling will expand and explode once you try to record yourself and teach others. You need to keep that beast under control.
- For some reason, people comment on Youtube videos and for some reason, a good percentage of those people are not nice people. You have to deal with hatred and negative comments.
- How will this generate income in the end? Youtube ads earn you very little, so you need to find other methods to monetize and earn money from the traffic you are getting to Youtube. Affiliate links is a great option, but you might need to do sponsor stuff as well. Think about whether that is a route you wanna go down.
6. Become a paid Gamemaster Dungeons and Dragons
Now we are getting down to the area where I have not done things myself, so all I know is from the research I have made about it.
I have been a Gamemaster for Dungeons and Dragons groups on and off since I was a kid. Today, Dungeons and Dragons is super popular, and people will actually pay you to be their gamemaster.
While this sounds nice, I would never ever do it. You would have to charge quite a sum to make this worth your time and I think it creates a weird vibe at the table. That said, this is a thing especially if you are willing to GM for a group online via one of the online roleplay tools.
A standard rate for a 4-hour session would be something like $20. With 4-5players at the table (a very standard number of players) you would haul in $80-100. Now $20-25 an hour might sound nice, but you also gotta prep before the session.
Even when I run a prewritten campaign like Tomb of Annihilation, I at least use 1 hour for each hour of playtime and with reading the campaign cover to cover before starting up and other start of campaign prep work, it is likely closer to 2 hours for each hour of play time. So suddenly you are earning $100 for 12-16 hours of work, which is much less exciting.
Also, I would expect primo top GM’ing if I was paying that kind of price – so you gotta know what you are doing! And you would be GM’ing for randos, which seem might find very offputting (I have decided to never do it again).
All that said, this could be a great way to supplement your income if you really like to DM some Dungeons and Dragons or other roleplay games.
7. Create your passion and sell it
If you got a hobby where it is possible to create something that people would be willing to pay for, it would be an obvious choice. This is how a ton of Etsy stores operate and some turn into a legit business over time.
Be aware that you have to be really fast at creating things in order to make it an okay business in terms of what you are paid by the hour and you need to get your logistics in order in terms of shipping, return shipping, and customer complaints and the works.
8. Become a freelancer
So if you are not sort of producing anything in your hobby (so you cannot sell a product), you can sell your time and skills in many ways. If you are in the US, you can check out Jooble for various job offerings.
You can do so many things as a freelancer. Here on this site, I have two regular (great!) freelance writers that write about their hobbies. So it is certainly an option to get a hold of the owners of websites you really like and ask them if you can write for them (2.5 cent per word is a very standard fee).
If you know a lot about a super geeky topic, it might also be possible to sell your time to various companies or organisations that just want to pick your brain. I know for a fact that quotes from experts or people with degrees in certain topics can be worth a lot to a website.
If you are a bit creative you can also sell your time or skills on Fiverr. Just take a browse and see how various people are making money from their knowledge or skills.
9. Online course
This last one is a bit of a mix of various methods and works best if you have a way of promoting your course (website, social media following or Youtube).
Online courses are big and they are only getting bigger. There are a number of good sites to create your course on and they can also help you out because people are browsing around for courses (so you are more visible):
Again, I am going to recommend the people over at Income School. In their overall package (besides a Youtube Course and a Website course) they also have an amazing course on, well creating amazing courses.
While you can create a text just by writing it, it is not very helpful. You at least need good step-by-step images, but ideally, you would need video (check the Youtube section for some quick recommendations on equipment).