How to make money from your hobby online

Hobbies can be incredibly fun and fulfilling, but even more so if you can earn some extra cash from them. Here, we explore some of the ways to make money from your hobby, whether it's arts and crafts, photography, writing or even travelling.  

Sell your creations online through eBay, Amazon or Etsy

Possibly the most obvious ways to make money from your hobby is to sell your creations. Of course, this doesn't apply to every hobby, but if you're into sewing or knitting perhaps, or maybe you make jewellery, or you enjoy painting and drawing, you'll have physical items that you can sell online. You might be surprised about how many different places offer opportunities to sell your work, so it's worth investigating which works best for you.

The first place you might want investigate is eBay, which is the most popular online auction site right now. There, you can sell just about anything, from tiny charms worth pennies right through to cars and more. It really depends on what you're intending to sell, but the problem with eBay is that so many people are selling items from all over the world that your item could get a bit lost in amongst all that.

If you do decide that eBay is the place for you to sell your creations, you'll want to keep in mind that you'll have seller fees to pay. As a private seller, you'll be able to list up to 20 items for free each month (sometimes eBay promotions mean that number rises to 100 for a limited time), but then you'll need to pay a 10% fee on the total transaction amount including postage to eBay plus a PayPal feel if your buyer pays using that online payment service.

If you intend to sell lots of your items on eBay, you may be required to set up a business account, which means fees may vary depending on the type of item you're selling. If you manage to become a particularly successful eBay seller and become an eBay Top-rated seller, you'll get a fee discount.

You might like: 30 tips for selling on eBay

There's also Amazon, which allows third-party sellers to sell their wares. These days, many people will automatically think to check Amazon for pretty much anything they're thinking of buying, so it's a good place to be when they come looking. Like eBay, however, sellers fees apply and they can be substantially more than eBay's. It all depends what you intend to sell, but as an example, if you intend to sell Jewellery you'll face a listing fee of 75p plus a 25% referral fee from Amazon at a minimum of £1.25.

How to make money from your hobby: Etsy

A better option is Etsy, (shown above) which is specifically designed to help people sell their creations. You can sell handmade or vintage items there, including art, homeware, mobile accessories, jewellery, clothing, wedding items and craft supplies. Fees on Etsy are significantly lower than Amazon and eBay, too. You'll need to pay $0.20 (which is around 13p) for each listing, and that listing will last for three months before you'll need to renew it and pay the listing fee again. You can increase the quantity of an item without being required to pay the $0.20 listing fee, but that fee will be charged when you sell those additional items. Then, when your item is sold, you'll be charged a 3.5% transaction fee which doesn't include shipping or tax.

For some people, other websites might be more suited to their particular hobby. For example, artists, designers and illustrators should check out Threadless, which offers the potential to earn you money should your designs be taken on by the company. Similarly, try Ohh Deer and Art Rookie.

CafePress might be worth a look too, offering the ability to open your own store that lets you have your images printed on t-shirts, scarves, cushions, mugs and much more, and you don't even need to deal with the printing part yourself – CafePress will do all that for you.

Sell your creations through your own eCommerce site

Of course, there's always the option of creating your very own website through which you'll sell your items. It's trickier to get your products in front of as many people that way, as you won't have the benefit of eBay, Amazon and Etsy's registered buyers, but if you're starting to get serious about your hobby and want to take it a step further into the professional realm, it's a brilliant thing to do.

How to make money from your hobby: eCommerce site

We've been using 1&1's new MyShop feature for MyWebsite, which means you can build a website from scratch using the easy-to-master template-based website builder, and then quickly and easily integrate an online store into that website (above). 

It's as simple as dragging and dropping, and if you've already got good photographs of your products after spending some time using one of the aforementioned auction sites, you'll find you're able to have your site up and running with a fully-functioning eCommerce shop built-in and a really nice, unique design within a day or two.

Additionally, MyShop offers the option to automatically create invoices and delivery notices for every order, and lets you add different payment and delivery options to cater for a wider range of buyers. There's also an inventory management system to make sure you don't sell anything you haven't yet got available to send.

What's more, as mobile usage grows it's important to make sure your website is accessible to users of smartphones and tablets, and helpful, 1&1's MyWebsite and MyShop are fully optimised for mobile.

To use 1&1's MyWebsite and MyShop, you can first try a 30 day trial to decide whether you like it, and then it'll cost you from £19.99 per month for the service, so you'll want to make sure that you'll be earning more than that to prevent yourself from losing money. You'll also need to order a domain (many of which are free as part of the package but some extensions may cost you around £2.49 each).

Within that package, you'll also get 200 e-mail addresses, assisted search engine optimisation to help you show up in Google, a library of images that you can use on your website, the ability to sync a Facebook page with your website, a newsletter service for online marketing, a £40 PayPal voucher and your online shop for up to 1,000 products.

Other eCommerce options include Shopify, Big Cartel and more that are also used by professionals and hobbyists wanting to sell their creations.

Use social media to generate more sales

In order for any of the above methods of selling your items online to be successful, you'll also want to promote your brand on social media. This includes Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr and Pinterest. You may not need to use all of these networks, but it's worth trying each of them to see how successful they are.

How to make money from your hobby: Social

If you decide not to create your own eCommerce website and instead want to stick with one of the other sites we've mentioned, it might also be worth starting a blog where you can share what you're working on and direct people to your shop. Find out how to start a free blog here.

It's important to remember that building a social audience takes time and effort, though. Post regularly, follow and interact with potential customers and other brands.

You could try running a competition to help boost followers using Rafflecopter or Gleam, for example, and you can also try sending items to reviewers on relevant blogs for additional promotion.

Sell your photographs

If your hobby is photography, using the above methods to make money is not necessarily going to be the best option. You could create canvases with your photographs on or framed prints and sell them there, but there are other options available to you too.

For example, you could sell your photos to stock image sites for a small commission. For example, iStockphoto.com lets you contribute images and will give you royalties for each file download your photo/s receive.

how to make money from your hobby: photography

The same goes for Shutterstock, Fotolia, Dreamstime and more, though some will ask for exclusive rights to your photograph so you may not be able to put the same photos on multiple sites.

Many of these stock-image sites also offer royalties on illustrations, videos and sound clips, too.

Read next: How to make money from photos on PicFair

Make money by writing

how to make money from your hobby: Writing

You can make money by writing, so whether it's writing itself that's your hobby or you could potentially write about your hobby (perhaps it's sport, travel, fashion etc), then you could be making money from that.

Whatever your hobby, we'd encourage everyone to start a blog (and PC Advisor's Ashleigh Allsopp has written about that here if you're not convinced). It's not going to make you loads of money, particularly not to begin with, but there are things you can do to monetise your writing.

For example, you can sign up to affiliate schemes by any relevant brands to ensure that any time you link to their website from your blog you have the potential to earn a cut of the money spent there by your reader.

Amazon offers an affiliate scheme which you can sign up to for free here, and by checking the very bottom of other relevant websites you come across you might find that they offer affiliate schemes too. 

Some blogging platforms also allow you to make money through advertising, perhaps using Google AdSense, for example.

A new kind of affiliate scheme comes from Covet.Me, which launched recently to allow fashion bloggers or simply fashionable Twitter/Facebook users with large followings to earn shopping vouchers by sharing links. We expect to see a wave of similar schemes and services emerging in the coming months, so keep an eye out for one that suits your interests. Find out more about Covet.Me and how to use it here.

If you want to make money from your writing in other ways, there are some websites that let you write and submit articles and reward you with cash. If you're an expert in a particular subject (which could well be your hobby), check whether that topic is available to write about on About.com, and then submit an application. If you're accepted, you'll earn money for the articles you write. 

You could also try Demand Studios, which offers the opportunity to get your writing published on sites like eHow, LiveStrong, USA Today and more and earn money from it.

how to make money from your hobby: Writing

Alternatively, if you're considering writing a novel or book, you could self-publish it on the likes of Amazon's Kindle Store or Apple's iBookstore.  Find out more in our article explaining how to make money selling books on the iBookstore.

Make money from your hobby on YouTube

If writing's not your thing, how about videos? You don't need to have the best camera in the world or be the best presenter, but putting your videos on YouTube has the potential to earn you some cash by monetising those videos with ads.

Maybe you can shoot how-to videos demonstrating skills required for your hobby that you can share with others, or if your hobby is gaming how about sharing gameplay videos or walkthroughs on YouTube for others to watch. 

Don't expect the money to come rolling in straight away – like with social media it'll take time to build your audience, but some YouTube stars earn a living (and we're talking millions per year in some cases) from making videos from the comfort of their own home. See: 10 YouTubers making millions from their videos

Read next: How to make money online