7 Hobbies You Can Turn Into Successful Digital Businesses

By Cari Thompson

Estimated read time: 5 minutes, 55 seconds

While hobbies are the perfect way to escape our everyday responsibilities, all of us at some time or another have said to ourselves, “I wish I could make money doing this.”

Think about it—it’s the best of both worlds. You get to do what you love and make money at the same time.

But then there’s the logistics—creating a website, setting up an online store, checkouts fulfillment, managing subscriptions, tracking sales, and about a million other things you never think about when starting a digital business.

But don’t worry; those details are easy to take care of (especially when you have the right partner … wink wink). We just want you to focus on creating digital products from your favorite past times. So, let’s see how you can turn your fun hobby into a digital business that brings you both happiness and an extra stream of revenue.

1. Graphic Arts

There’s something so calming about creating visual art. Whether you draw new designs in Illustrator, doodle on your iPad while watching TV, or keep your camera ready to capture the perfect shot, you’re probably creating images that other people find interesting and valuable.

And the great thing about graphic design, illustration, and photography is that it’s super easy to turn your art into digital products. Just create hi-res JPGs or PDFs of your images, and they’re ready to sell in your own online shop.

One thing you want to keep in mind is that since you’re selling the actual files instead of a physical print, your customers have the power to use your image however they want. They can throw it on T-shirts, mugs, canvases, mousepads, and just about anything else you can think of. So, make sure you’re comfortable giving up control of the images you sell.

2. Music

You don’t have to be a pop star or a classically-trained musician to make money online with music. Sure, you can release a full album with original songs, or you can create beats and samples for other artists to use on their tracks. Or maybe you are a great musician, but lyrics aren’t your thing. In that case, you may want to look into creating stock music.
Just like with graphic arts, if you decide to create beats, samples, or stock music, you have to be prepared to give up artistic control. Once you sell your music, you no longer decide how and when it will be used.

If you’re looking for some inspiration, check out inMusic. They sell audio software, samples, DJ software, etc. While their audio solutions push the boundaries, their international sales and conversion rates are pretty impressive too.

3. Cooking

As soon as the stay-at-home orders when into place, everyone felt a real doomsday-preppers vibe. Which caused people to get into cooking in a big way. I can’t even tell you how many of my friends posted their homemade bread adventures on Instagram and Facebook. And let me tell you, not all attempts were successful.

That’s where all you home-cooks come in. Those of us who are cooking challenged need home cooks who actually enjoy cooking to show us the ropes.

The simplest first step is to create a blog or YouTube channel where you share your favorite tried-and-true recipes. In those cases, you can make money through advertising or sponsorships.

If you want to create a digital product to sell on your own website, meal plans with shopping lists area a great place to start. All you need to do is create a simple template that you can update regularly and upload the files to your site. If you’re really motivated and have tons of great recipes, you can create and sell your own digital cookbooks.

4. DIY

For all you do-it-yourselfers, an online business usually looks a lot like Etsy. But we’re not talking about selling physical products. So, you’re going to have to change your mindset and get creative. Think: tutorials.

While you’re not going to send out your handmade macramé plant hangers, you can sell the instructions for your one-of-a-kind design, or create a YouTube channel where you share step-by-step instructions.

And just like everyone is going crazy making homemade bread, people are getting serious about home improvement projects right now. So, if you’ve recently completed, or are about to start, a really cool home project, document your journey and share your finished product.

Again, you can either create a blog or YouTube channel and make ad revenue, or you can set up your own online store and sell digital versions of your tutorials.

5. Gaming

If I’ve learned anything from my 6-year-old, it’s that there is a very real demand for video game content.

If you want to become a professional gamer, there are a lot of options. But if you want to keep gaming a hobby and make some money on the side, the most obvious choices are to start a blog, podcast, or your own YouTube channel … and I’m sure my son will watch it.

Here are the main formats for gaming content:

  • Videos with commentary and added effects
  • Tutorials on how to play games
  • Game reviews
  • Live stream games (for example, “Let’s Play” style videos)
  • Recorded playthroughs of a game

6. Writing

Aside from freelance writing on sites like Fiverr or Upwork, there are two main online business options for writers:

Blogging

In order to create a successful blog, you have to find the right niche. What makes you or your story unique and worth telling? Once you find out what that is, start writing and building your audience. From there, you can start earning ad revenue or make deals with relevant sponsors.

Publishing ebooks

It’s never been easier to write and publish your own book. And with the popularity of Kindles and tablets, you can avoid the hassle of printing altogether. Once you’ve written your book and formatted it with the help of a self-publishing site, you can choose to sell your book on Amazon or your own site.

7. Travel

It seems silly to talk about travel right now but indulge me. For those of you who love traveling and are having withdrawals with the pandemic, now may be the perfect time to put your past travel experiences to work.

Create your own site or YouTube channel with must-have tips and tricks for different travel destinations. Whether you choose to sell travel itineraries or share fun stories or hidden gems in exotic locations, people are desperate for an escape right now. So, you can either let people live vicariously through your past travels or help them plan for their next trip.

No matter what hobby you decide to monetize, the first thing you need to do is research your market and find your niche. Once you know your audience, it’s just a matter of doing what you love and sharing it with others. And if you need help creating your digital storefront and checkout process, you know where to go.

Cari Thompson

Cari Thompson is a copywriter, online marketer, and blogger. She studied marketing and advertising and—drum roll, please—music at Brigham Young University. Cari started in traditional advertising as a media buyer then transitioned into the online world through buzz marketing, blogging, and copywriting.

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