If you’re looking for an easy way to start making money online, look no further than your favourite hobby.
There are thousands of people around the world who have turned their hobbies into successful online businesses.
These people have become so influential in the business world that a new word has been coined to describe them: Hobbypreneurs.
Selling crafts on Etsy, a global marketplace for unique and creative goods, is a popular and simple way of making money from your hobby.
The website currently has 1.9 million active sellers and and 31.7m active buyers, so it’s a little bigger than your typical weekend craft market.
Etsy is a popular outlet for artsy, creative types who make handcrafted or artisanal products. It’s also a top pick for profitability after giants Amazon and eBay.
You might have read the success stories from people who have developed their hobbies into full-time jobs, making upwards of $50,000 a year on Etsy.
This is a quote from California mother Alicia Shaffer, founder of the Three Bird Nest store on Etsy, which makes up to $70,000 a month:
“The first couple of weeks, the Etsy shop got a few orders, but at that time it was a hobby and a way to make a couple extra dollars.”
There’s no reason why you can’t do the same with your hobby.
Hobbies that make money online
The most common question people have is: Which hobbies make money online?
The answer is simple: Your hobby.
The truth is that, with some creative thinking and business savvy, all hobbies have the potential to generate money.
You might have learned to knit or crochet beautiful beanies while watching your favourite Netflix shows in bed.
Or perhaps you’ve always enjoyed woodwork and spend your weekends in the shed crafting unique furniture or kitchenware.
Or maybe you live for exploring the great outdoors and make jewellery from the colourful stones you collect on your adventures.
I could go on, but I’m sure you get the idea.
All of these potential business ideas were taken straight from Etsy. There are people making money from all of these hobbies already.
The thing is, having a hobby means you have a goods, skills, or knowledge that can be monetized.
It also means that you are part of a global community of people with the same, or similar, hobby.
In other words, you have a market to sell to.
When you’re starting out it can be hard to understand how to turn your hobby into a viable online business.
So here are a few tips to help you take that first steps towards starting your first Etsy store and making $50,000-plus a year from your hobby.
How to monetize your hobby
Learning how to monetize your hobby allows you to get paid for doing what you love.
However, it’s not as simple as going surfing every day and watching your bank balance go up (unless you really are that good).
If you’re serious about living the life of a “hobbypreneur” you first need to screen your hobbies for potential business ideas.
Brainstorming business ideas
You might only have one hobby, but most people have several.
Let’s use the hypothetical example of Sally from San Diego.
Sally enjoys paper handicrafts and is known for creating funny, personalized birthday cards for her family and friends.
She’s also a massive sci-fi movie geek and loves Star Wars.
And on Wednesday nights she does salsa dancing.
These are Sally’s hobbies. To audit her hobbies, Sally writes them down on a piece of paper and brainstorms potential ways to make money from them.
This is an opportunity to write down everything that comes to mind, no matter how ridiculous your ideas may seem.
Sometimes the most far-fetched ideas can lead to the most original and successful business ventures.
From this list, Sally identifies several products that she could make to sell on Etsy, including handcrafted birthday cards and bookmarks.
She might also be able to combine two of her hobbies and create cards and party invitations with sci-fi movie quotes and sketches on them to target a more specific niche on Etsy.
What does your hobby audit look like?
It’s possible that your hobby audit won’t immediately generate a list of great business ideas.
This part of the process is just about getting your creative juices flowing and helping you to think about your hobbies in a new light.
If you find yourself stuck for ideas, try using these prompts to kickstart your journey towards making money from your hobbies.
5 ways to make money from your hobby on Etsy
1. Sell items you’ve created through your hobby
This is the most common way to monetize your hobby on Etsy.
If you’re a creative person who makes crafts, jewellery, clothing, or artwork then you already have a product to sell.
However, just because you make decorative cushion covers for fun doesn’t mean you’re necessarily ready to start listing them on Etsy.
You want to have a clear idea of what sets your cushion covers apart from the rest.
Transforming your hobby into a viable business also means your goods need to be of a satisfactory quality.
You also need to be comfortable with the idea of creating your goods at scale, which may take some of the enjoyment out of your hobby.
2. Sell items you’ve acquired through your hobby
If you don’t have creative hobbies, you can always sell items that you acquire through your hobby.
For instance, if you’re a collector you’re going to know how to source specific items better than most.
A hobby of yours might be browsing antique stores or garage sales for bargains. Or maybe you love trawling through thrift stores buying vintage clothing.
Etsy is full of secondhand antique, retro and vintage goods that people are willing to pay top dollar for.
If you do create goods, you may also acquire materials that can be sold on Etsy, such as fabric or yarns of wool that you buy in bulk.
Think outside the box for ways to monetize your hobby and you might be surprised by what you come up with.
3. Sell skills you’ve developed through your hobby
If you’ve had a hobby for several years, you probably have knowledge of skills related to that hobby that people would be willing to pay for.
And the great thing is that Etsy allows you to list digital products to share that knowledge.
So you could write an ebook teaching people a skill you’ve learned through your hobby, such as how to screenprint for beginners, or how to do night photography.
People even sell shop critique services for hundreds of dollars, teaching people how to make the most of their Etsy stores.
That just goes to show that any skill is worth something to somebody.
What unique skills have you developed through your hobbies?
4. Sell trending items related to your hobby
A great way to come up with fresh ideas is by doing research on Etsy. You can search products related to your hobby and get a feel for what’s selling.
If you feel that you can hold your own in a large, competitive market, then you may benefit from following trends.
If you are a true hobbyist and connected to online communities related to your hobby, you may be in a good position to anticipate the latest trends.
For instance, if you’re a sketch artist who sells prints on Etsy and you know there’s a new Marvel movie coming out in three months, you might consider producing a series of prints to coincide with the movie release.
It’s about being proactive and fluid, while still utilising your unique skills and doing what you love.
You can also use tools like Craftcount to see the top sellers in different countries and categories.
5. Sell complimentary items related to your hobby
Etsy is a crowded marketplace and there are hundreds of thousands of people already working to make money from their hobbies.
You might find that there is too much competition in your market. But don’t despair!
Look at what’s trending and see if you can come up with something similar or complementary that’s related to your hobby.
If your hobby is making women’s summer dresses, but there’s a lot of competition in that market, you might have more success making custom dresses for toddlers.
Think about ways that you can create unique business opportunities by looking for gaps that you can fill in trending markets.
Bonus tip: Sell wholesale items related to your hobby
Selling wholesale products or private-label goods on Etsy is also a good way of making money from your hobby.
For example, your hobbies might include meditation and yoga, so you could source meditation cushions and yoga mats and blocks from a wholesale supplier, add your own private label to them, and sell them Etsy.
You can use your unique knowledge of your hobby to source products that you know will be popular. You will also be in a good position to market to a niche you’re familiar with.
Selling wholesale products on Etsy means you don’t have to spend time making goods yourself, which is particularly useful if you’re still working a regular job.
Make a business plan
If you want to become a future Etsy success story, you need to have a plan for how to make money from your hobby.
This means breaking down the cost of making your Etsy products and deciding how much you can sell them for to make it worth your time.
You need to calculate how many items you need to sell to make $50,000 a year (or whatever your target is), taking into account Etsy’s listing and transaction fees.
You should spend time looking at other sellers on Etsy and identify ways to differentiate your products.
Can you sell yours for less? Can you add a feature that no one else has? Are there opportunities for up-selling and cross-selling?
If you are still working a full-time job you will need to decide how much time you can invest in your Etsy venture.
Once all your ducks are in a row and you have some inventory ready to go, it’s time to set up your Etsy shop and start selling.
The most important thing to remember when creating a business from your hobby is to have fun.
Because if you’re not having fun then it’s no longer a hobby.