If you’re looking to make some extra money, side gigs like babysitting and Uber are great options, but they aren’t the only ones.
Whether the pandemic quarantine ignited a love of baking or the excitement of shopping in stores again hasn’t worn off, you can find ways to turn your interests into paying opportunities.
Online platforms such as Facebook Marketplace, Etsy and Instagram as well as the revival of flea markets — often with a trendy, indie twist — offer novel ways to make money on your favorite crafts and activities.
17 Hobbies That Make Money as Trendy Side Gigs
The following popular hobbies that could make you some serious money.
Buy old furniture, housewares and/or tchotchkes, then resell them for a profit. The concept is straightforward, and it’s sometimes referred to as upscaling or upcycling when you work a little magic on the item to bump up the price tag.
Sara Chen, a teacher turned interior designer, is a master of upcycling. She focused her early efforts on flipping furniture, hunting for antique, mid-century modern dressers online via Facebook Marketplace.
When she finds a good deal, she buys it, sands it, paints it, primes it and resells it — usually for triple or quadruple the purchase price. She’s able to make $3,000 a month consistently.
Her secret (besides serious painting skills)?
“Post as many pictures from different angles as you can,” she told The Penny Hoarder, noting that taking photos is her favorite part of the flip. “It’s also probably the most important part.”
Make sure they’re high quality and in good lighting. The more the better.
It takes time for dough to rise.
Baking, because of the equipment required, is a hobby that can be difficult to scale into a side gig or a business. But over the years, The Penny Hoarder has talked with several bakers who made it work and a few who started during the pandemic. You can lean on their advice no matter what stage you’re at.
Sarah Tennant started baking as a hobby when she was 14 years old. She decided to try to earn a profit from her skills by taking ad hoc requests from friends, family and referrals.
In her guide for The Penny Hoarder, she outlined how her cakes, which she priced much lower than professionals, still brought her in $400 a month.
College roommates Sarah Chappell and Julia Finfrock found success with their sourdough side hustle called EarlyRisers. In October 2020, the duo started out selling plain sourdough for $7 a loaf.
As orders increased, they started experimenting with flavors, adding chocolate-chip, rosemary, garlic and other flavors to the menu. These speciality loaves sell for up to $11.
“It was a lot of trial and error,” Finfrock told The Penny Hoarder.
Finfrock and Chappell are among some savvy college entrepreneurs who found inventive ways to make money while in school.
Thanks to online marketplaces like Etsy and Amazon Handmade, crafting is seeing a huge comeback. And we have plenty of ideas for you to cash in on its popularity.
Local fairs and online marketplaces are ideal places to sell easy-to-make holiday decorations.
Some examples of low-cost decorations include:
- Scrap wood stocking hangers
- Sock snowmen
- Pumpkin spice soap
Of course, you’re not limited to holiday decor. You could also try your hand at DIY greeting cards or handmade wedding invitations. When you’ve decided exactly what you want to make and sell, keep costs low by finding cheap crafting supplies. Dollar stores are a good place to start.
To find a nearby market or fair to hawk your creations, search Festivalnet.
Millennials love plants, according to Money, the Huffington Post, CNBC, Business Insider, the New Yorker and apparently the entire internet.
Further proof: A plant aesthetic has blossomed on social media, especially Instagram. The hashtags #plants and #plantsofinstagram have tens of millions of posts. Outside of the local market scene, a lot of small-scale operations use Instagram to sell their plants.
Selling succulents probably isn’t going to allow you to quit your day job, but it may pad your savings or help you pay down debt.
One gardener, Stephanie Spicer, made $1,200 in a single season. In her guide to selling plants, she outlines exactly how to choose, fertilize, present, price, advertise and sell them.
5. Knitting, Sewing, Quilting
Boo, fast fashion trends. Yay, making and altering your own clothes. As sustainability becomes more of a conscious decision for many consumers, skills like knitting, sewing and quilting are seeing renewed demand.
If you want to start out small with handmade clothing, blankets or accessories, Amazon Handmade and Etsy are two of the best places to sell online.
If you want to lean into the gig — beyond a few online sales — there’s some money to be made.
Retired geologist Pat Martinek found a way to monetize her weaving and spinning skills through her side business The Fyber Cafe. Martinek raked in $10,000 a year by using chiengora, aka recycled dog fur, to create garments and keepsakes.
“It is warmer than other fibers, so a scarf or sweater made with chiengora can help you withstand the most brutal temperatures,” she said.
Ella Trout, a New Englander, is another example of how to cash in on the handmade trend. She founded Puppycat co, her sustainable fashion side hustle, a couple years ago.
She started by screenprinting her dog and cat designs onto T-shirts, but changed her business model over the years. Now, she sews and alters clothes to be more environmentally sustainable.
Trout uses Instagram to sell her creations, and she told The Penny Hoarder that her handmade clothing and accessories earn her up to $1,500 per month.
6. Leverage Your Library
Libraries are one of the only remaining places where you can just exist. For free. There’s no expectation to spend money. That alone should be reason enough to visit.
As an additional incentive, libraries offer access to a bunch of interesting things beside books that can help you launch a side gig or business. Tools, baking equipment, seeds and even high-tech are often available at no cost through a process called interlibrary loans.
“Maybe you want to make a cow-shaped cake. You don’t have to buy that cake pan,” said Bob Anstett, of Broward County, Florida’s library system. “You can check it out from a library.”
In addition to the fun stuff you can rent for free at your local library, Anstett explained that some libraries have expanded to home community workshops called makerspaces or innovation labs. These spaces offer up all kinds of equipment for locals to tinker with and use to hone new skills.
“You can come in and take a basic class at [our makerspace] and use our sewing machines,” Anstett said. “Used to be that you were called a knitter or a carpenter or a woodworker. Now, you’re a maker.”
In an age where you might not handwrite much more than your grocery list, calligraphy as an artform has risen in popularity.
If you’re just starting out, you can keep materials simple with a basic pack of brush pens. You can find them in stores for less than $10. You can also find calligraphy guides and YouTube videos to help you practice and explore different font styles. Once you get comfortable, you can move on to experimenting with dip pens and other methods.
Once you’ve invested in supplies and developed your style, you can make money writing wedding invitations, creating home decor such as framed quotes, designing business logos and more.
Take pictures of samples to showcase your work, then create listings on websites like Etsy and Fiverr. You can also promote your calligraphy skills on social media sites like Instagram and TikTok, where hashtags about calligraphy receive millions of views.
The amount of money you’ll make depends on your price per product. You can get between $2-5 for each handwritten wedding invitation envelope, depending on your skill level, intricacy of the font, time involved or number of lines.
If you find yourself reaching for a camera or your phone when you see a pretty sunset or a cute dog, you can sell those photos online. There are several websites in search of various types of photography. You can submit stock photos, create online galleries or put your photos on merchandise.
If you’re more interested in taking pictures of people, why not try setting up a photography business? You can set up a Facebook page, then ask friends and relatives to let you photograph them to build up your portfolio.
Decide what to charge for sessions, then you can hand them a flash drive or sell the prints online. You can even specialize in pet photography or boudoir photos.
Unsure of your technique or what equipment to buy? YouTube is a great resource for people looking for photography tutorials.
9. Flying Drones
Drones are one of the newest hobbies to gain the public’s attention, since they offer a fun way to see a different perspective. They can also be a smart way to make some extra cash.
You’ll have to invest in equipment and costs associated with your drone business, but you’ll have several options as you take to the sky.
If you’re looking to expand your photography venture or want to start off with a unique offering, try drone photography. You can use the aerial shots for real estate photos, wedding videos or landscape photography. You can’t jetpack over a lake to get a good shot, so send a drone up there for a new angle.
You can also use drones to do farm surveys, building inspections, drone deliveries or business advertising.
If it’s something you’re passionate about and you have the skill, you can even make money from elite drone racing!
10. Surfing Online
Do you find yourself spending hours scrolling social media or browsing the web? You can use that time to do paid online surveys or test websites. Companies hire testing websites to get opinions, and that’s where you come in.
Here are some of the survey websites to choose from:
Each website has its own system of surveys, points and rewards. It’s not a reliable way to make any significant income, but it can be a fun way to earn gift cards.
If you’re looking for a step up from surveys, try website testing. With these websites, you’ll want to set up a PayPal account and invest in a microphone if you don’t already have them. Some will also want you to take sample tests before you get started.
Payment amount and frequency will vary between services. Take your pick from these websites:
If writing is your passion but you can’t get around to writing that book you’ve been planning, try freelance work.
There is an online or print publication available for almost every interest, and they all need content. Review a publication’s submission guidelines and pay rate, develop your pitch and send it via email to your chosen publication.
If you do have a finished book in hand, you can self-publish it online. Services like Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing and Barnes & Noble Press allow authors to upload books to their services.
Though as a self-published author, you’ll have to cover any expenses like editing and book cover design on your own.
12. Collecting Items
Do you have a stash of your old toys still lingering somewhere in your parent’s attic? Maybe you’ve inherited your grandma’s jewelry box, but her chunky pieces aren’t quite your style.
Your forgotten Furbies and old jewelry have something in common — they can earn you some cash.
Vintage jewelry can be pretty easy to find at places like thrift stores or estate sales. You’ll want to do research on the types of pieces. Older jewelry will have different styles depending on the time period it was created in and will have signs of wear due to age. Authentic jewelry will also have specific markings to help identify it.
A lot of vintage items can sell for big bucks on websites like eBay. Try your hand at stamps, collectible books, coins, action figures, sports memorabilia or dishes.
Not every collectible has to be vintage. Funko Pops seem to be at every toy retailer, but you can find store exclusives, Chases and other varieties that can be sold for higher prices on Amazon or Pop Price Guide. The right Pops can sell for thousands of dollars. Limited edition toys and board games are also great modern options for collectors.
When collecting jewelry pieces, toys or other items, you’ll want to consider its uniqueness, condition and popularity if you want to be profitable.
13. Watching Sports
Are you a sports fanatic but collecting baseball cards isn’t really your thing?
If your town has local sports leagues, you can get paid to watch the games in person by becoming a referee. The pay varies by organization — Little League won’t pay as much as a college game. You’ll also have to meet some requirements, depending on your chosen sport and organization, such as training and tests.
You’ll probably have to deal with angry fans, but you get to be right in the action of a game you love.
If you like the idea of getting paid to run around, you’re not limited to just refereeing. There are several ways you can make money while exercising, from apps to jobs.
The apps A Healthy Wage, FitPotato and StepBet have you bet money to reach your weight loss goals, while Evidation gives you points that can be exchanged for real money. If you dabble in cryptocurrency, try Sweatcoin — you’ll earn their Sweat currency with your steps.
For a more active income, try your local gym or YMCA for any opportunities to teach exercise classes or host a paid class yourself. Get people — and yourself — moving as a dance instructor or personal trainer.
Traditional employment like babysitters, dog walkers, park rangers and delivery drivers are just some of the jobs that can give you a workout while you work.
Ready for some retail therapy? Get paid to shop by becoming a mystery shopper or working for a grocery delivery service.
If you have a few retail stores in your area, use that to your advantage and get a variety of assignments as a mystery shopper. You’ll pose as a regular customer, interact with the business and deliver a report to the company you’ve received your assignment from.
Companies like Shipt, Instacart and Amazon Grocery Fresh will pay individuals to fulfill and deliver grocery orders that customers have placed.
With Shipt and Instacart, you can set your own schedule, then get orders from an app on your phone and get shopping. What you earn depends on how many orders you complete.
If pets are your passion, you can get paid to take care of them by becoming a pet sitter or dog walker.
Here are a few websites that you can use to sign up as a dog sitter/walker:
If you’d rather strike out on your own as a pet sitter or dog walker, there are a few steps you’ll want to follow before you can get started to get the most out of your business.
- Get certified. The organizations Pet Sitters International and the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (NAPPS) both offer courses and certifications. You’ll have to pay to get the certification tests, but you’ll have an advantage for your business. The courses also provide great information, like how to administer first aid to pets.
- Get insured. You never know what can happen, so it doesn’t hurt to have coverage. Pet Sitters International and NAPPS memberships both can get you discounted insurance rates.
- Set your rate, schedule and preferences. Like any business, you’ll want to decide beforehand what your services are worth, what your hours are and how you want to run your business. If you want a limit of three dogs per job, it’s best to have that mapped out before you begin.
17. Content Creation
If you have a hobby that you love, you probably also enjoy talking about it.
You can start a blog, YouTube channel, podcast or social media page to share your passion and expertise with others and get paid to do it through advertising. You can even teach online classes through websites like Skillshare.
Content creators can make money through ad revenue, subscriptions and merchandise sales.
Once you’ve picked your platform, you’ll want to follow these steps to be a successful content creator:
- Pick your topic. Do you want to write a blog dedicated to book reviews or run a YouTube channel with car maintenance how-to videos?
- Do some research. Is your topic in the news or trending on social media? What makes your topic or point of view relevant?
- Know your audience. Who do you want to reach? Knowing who is the most likely to come to a Keto recipe blog or true crime podcast will help you tailor your content to your audience. As your content gets traction, you can also look at the analytics of your viewers for insight.
- Practice. If you rely on video editing or photography, get familiar with your software. Write drafts of your blogs and podcasts before you publish.
- Promote yourself. Use networking, social media and SEO tools to get your content out into a wider audience.
- Post consistently. Give your audience new content on a regular basis so you’ll keep them interested.
Contributor Jenna Limbach writes on financial literacy and lifestyle topics for The Penny Hoarder from her home base in Nevada. Former staff writer Adam Hardy contributed to this report.