The internet presents most of us with a seemingly endless number of activities. We can communicate, do business, socialize, make money, and of course spend money. Yet, we don’t often consider if you we might also use the internet to make money from a hobby, and it is important to both pose and answer this question.
Why? Because, the simplest answer to that is “Yes, of course you can use the internet to make money from a hobby,” yet there is much more to it. As an example, I asked a friend if they thought they might make money from a hobby using an internet channel of one kind or another. They answered, “Sure, just sell whatever you make on sites like Etsy or eBay.”
And while that is 100% true, is it the most effective way to make money from a hobby online? Here’s what I decided:
- If you want to make money from a hobby, it means you have a particular passion, or two (or ten). That means you have the basic material for affiliate marketing.
- So, if you want make money from a hobby that actually creates something, such as crafts or artisan goods, you can sell them online. However, you can also create content that helps you make more money as it relates to that hobby.
What does that mean? Content is everything from blogs and articles to podcasts and infographics that relate to, but which do not try to directly sell, a particular item, industry or niche. Content might focus on a particular issue, discuss aspects of it and even do some problem solving around an issue related to it. Within the solutions are products or services you sell, but you don’t openly say “and for the perfect answer click here”. This stops your readers from feeling a sense of trust.
Instead, the best content marketing (and affiliate marketing) is the result of someone seeming to just give away valuable or entertaining information. It has to be designed to mask the fact that it is guiding a potential buyer toward a specific action, purchase or choice.
For example, my readers know I love food and cooking, and that they easily rate of one of my favorite hobbies. Yet, food and cooking aren’t actual hobbies. Instead, I make vegetarian food, I bake bread using my own sourdough starter, and I grow a lot of food in my garden. I also dry and preserve food, collect vintage cookbooks, and even give food as gifts.
If I were to create content that had a goal of getting readers to click a link and make a purchase of a product in my affiliate network, I would never just blatantly tell them that I was doing that. Instead, I would create content that showed them something of interest and in that material find a way to urge them towards a specific step. As an illustration of that, I might talk about my love of gardening and growing my own food. I might make a step by step video to demonstrate my method of “square foot gardening” and growing herbs. However, in that video, I’d use specific tools or techniques that would make a viewer want to know more. They would use any affiliate links I made available to do that, and if they purchased the products, I’d earn income.
That example brings us to another point, then, and it is this:
- If you want to make money from a hobby, it is never just a basic approach but one with many facets or elements, and with that comes numerous ways to create streams of income.
If you are unclear as to what I mean, let’s review. I said you can make money from a hobby. You can do it in a basic way – selling things you create in your spare time. Yet, you can also use affiliate marketing to allow you to “talk” about your hobby through an array of content (blogs, social media, infographics, videos and so on). That content can then build an audience who subscribes to it, follows it and looks for it. You can then direct that audience (through the content) to affiliate marketing products or services and begin to earn income.
This can even become passive income – meaning money you make without doing anything further than creating the original content and putting it out for the audience to read and share.
Need an example? Let’s stick with my fixation on all things food and cooking. I love my sourdough baking experiments. I purchased my starter from a company that has had the same starter active since the 1800s. So, the loaves I bake each week have ancestry dating to the early years of the United States. I might blog about bread making and sourdough starters, the history of bread, and more. I might also make “how to” videos for those who are eager to get involved in this wonderful art. I could test out a variety of products from baking stones and proofers to flours and dough enhancers, writing and vlogging (video blogging) or podcasting about them.
In this way, I build trust because I sell nothing. I just talk to them enthusiastically about my love of baking bread and using the different gear or methods. They would subscribe to my video channels, follow my social networks, enroll in my newsletters and visit my blog on a regular basis.
This would be nothing more than an audience eager to hear what I had to say about my “hobby”, and who appreciated the educational or informational materials I offered for free.
Yet, I could make money from a hobby by using videos, blogs and product comparisons to build an audience. Once I had a lot of traffic, sites like Google might pay me to allow advertising on my website or blog, or in my videos and audio content. I could also make content in order to discuss something I was given as a promotional or affiliate product and earn income directly for it.
For instance, that blog about baking stones could be used to include links to my Amazon Affiliate pages for those stones, and in that way, each stone sold would net me a small profit. Alternately, the maker of baking stones might actually give me a few for free to try out and talk to my audience about in my content.
I have written a lot about affiliate marketing in the past, and this is just a basic explanation of how it might work if you wanted to make money from a hobby online.
Just take whatever it is you love to do as a hobby (it could be stamp collecting, skateboarding, travel, coding or anything else), and then draw lines extending away from it and connected to things that are actually associated with it (I used the bread story and talked about products I might use to make bread, techniques, and product comparisons).
If you make the right kind of content, it is shared by those also enthusiastic about your hobby. This creates more lines, and it is those lines that lead people back to the main site,and from there you have a number of ways to make money from a hobby. It could be through paid advertising, promotional or affiliate methods and even direct sales.
What to Sell When You Want to Make Money from a Hobby
If you don’t have an affiliate product to associate with a particular piece of content you have created, you can also find a way to use the material to promote a direct sale. This is that original way my friend (and millions of others) think of as the way to use the internet to make money from a hobby.
For instance, if I was writing a blog about a loaf of my sourdough bread and found that a specific type of flour or dough conditioning product made it taste better, I could link to it and make loads of affiliate sales. Yet, I might also sell a copy of my own eBook of recipes using those ingredients and methods.
I can also start to use the internet and my own website to make money from a hobby by selling services or online items. For instance, you can offer:
- Subscription based training
- Fee based video lessons
- Pre-recorded seminars
- Printed or digital materials, such as the eBooks mentioned above
- Digital files such as photographs and templates
- Guest writing services
Now that you understand that anyone can make money from a hobby online, you probably want to know the right affiliate options to use. There are actually more than can ever be itemized (though Amazon, ClickBank, Rakuten, Commission Junction, aka CJ Affiliate, Shareasale, eBay and Avangate are at the top of most lists).
For instance, I recently talked about ways to monetize your daily commute to and from work. In it, I mentioned that educational sites like Great Courses Plus and Audible have affiliate opportunities, too. That means you might find that your hobby has connections to a course they offer. You can use that sort of affiliate link to earn income just as much as you could the affiliate links for tangible goods.
Get Super Creative to Continually Make Money from a Hobby
I want to also really emphasize that it won’t always be so easy to see the natural ways to create content or link to things that might benefit those interested in your hobby or hobbies. As an example, let’s say that you are someone just crazy about sports such as mountain biking or pickup soccer games at the local park. You would be able to easily develop all kinds of content early on. It could emphasize technique, gear and even news out of your particular sporting world.
Then what? Well, you have to get creative. Maybe you can blog about solutions for those who are unable to access the sports they enjoy and point them towards things like ride sharing apps or websites, make content about building your own sports fields or starting their own local leagues. Doing this could enable you to offer hourly consulting, templates or business packages, instructional guides, and so on. Maybe you can make guides for “how to coach” the sport or serve as a referee. Maybe you can sell guides about keeping stats or scorekeeping.
It can initially seem like a reach, but once you put on the proverbial thinking cap, you will see that your enthusiasm and expertise in your hobbies can be fleshed out into any number of profitable channels.
Start With the Basics
Have I convinced you that anyone can make money from a hobby? If so, let’s look at a list of the basics that you need to get yourself started:
- Use one or two words to describe the hobby. Write it in the center of a sheet of paper and circle it.
- Now, use lines extending outward from the circle to identify issues, factors and ideas associated with the hobby. For instance, I could write “bread baking” in the circle and then have lines outward leading to baking stones, sourdough techniques, how to articles, other foods that use sourdough or fermentation, ingredients common to bread baking, recipes, history, and so on
- Make a list of these associated ideas and begin to map out the ways you might create powerful content around them
- Look for affiliate marketing opportunities (NOTE: Keep close track on the information you find because you may not use it now, but will as your list of topics thins and you need to get creative)
- Draft a calendar for releasing your content and look at the ways to begin building up an audience via social media (starting with family and friends is often a good way to get your material out there and shared much wider than you can imagine)
- Build social channels such as a YouTube channel, a Facebook page, and other options such as Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn
- Jump right in!
You can easily make money from a hobby just by selling stuff online, but why not consider making it your full-time job using the techniques we’ve explored together here?