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5 Hobbies You Can Actually Turn Into a Career

Sep 02, 2016

There's no end to people - and online stories - telling you to chase your dreams and turn your hobby into a career.

And why not? It's easy advice to give.

Of course, actually making that transition happen is an enormous challenge. And once you do your hobby all day, every day, with your livelihood at stake, it quickly can become just a job.

But let's say you're thinking about taking the plunge nonetheless. Is your hobby one that actually has a decent shot at earning you enough to pay your bills and save for retirement?

If you're a collector of niche items, probably not. If you're a home brewer, there's a better chance, but you'd be entering a field with exponentially growing competition and high start-up costs (along with plenty of legislative hurdles).

But if you like to dabble in one of these fields, you might just be able to make a living without facing tremendous start-up costs.

Chris Morris is a South Carolina-based freelance writer.

Female photographer shooting couple at wedding ceremony on the beach
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Photography

A good photographic eye can open the door to a number of new career options. Basic studio work (taking family and children's portraits at a chain or independent shop) is always a possibility, though it's not likely to be a high paying one.

Glass Door says the average salary hovers in the $9-$11 per hour range, depending on location and the studio you choose.

Successful wedding photographers make considerably more - topping $100,000 per year. (It helps, of course, to have connections in the wedding industry, since referrals are key.)

Also, don't overlook corporate photography. Residential and commercial real estate agents both need to make their listing look good to potential buyers/clients.

Woman sewing patterns
Adam C Bartlett—Getty Images/Image Source

Crafting

If you're finding your homemade bows, handbags, t-shirts or other items are increasingly in demand with friends - and friends of friends - there might be a full-time job in it for you.

The rise of online shops like Etsy have given craft enthusiasts a well-known outlet to find new customers. And some hobbyists, like Alicia Shaffer, are turning that into a business making nearly $1 million per year.

To achieve success, though, you'll also need to have good marketing and customer service skills - and be sure to hire a quality photographer to best showcase your product.

You're not just competing with other Etsy shops - you're competing with established retailers.

And don't forget to advertise your products on other services, like eBay, as well. That can be an important secondary revenue and marketing stream.

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Caiaimage/Robert Daly—Getty Images/Caiaimage

Exercise

You've worked hard to get yourself into shape and lose the weight that bothered you - and found, along the way, that it made you a happier person.

With a little work, you can transform that excitement to a full-time job.

Personal trainers earn a median salary of more than $56,000, but you'll need to do some additional homework before you make a career of it.

Find a certification program that's accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies - and be aware that it will likely take you several months to earn that certification.

Once you've got your bonafides, it's up to you whether you want to work at a health and fitness club, a medical fitness facility, a specialized facility or start a private business.

Young woman recording video
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Making and Editing Videos

Some people may say you're wasting time by making silly videos or splicing together film clips to recreate a hit song on YouTube.

But the growing importance of online video might make these sought-after job skills.

Companies are constantly looking for new ways to market their products - and a viral video is one of the best ways to do so.

Production companies can be good places to hone your corporate skills, but the bulk of the jobs in video editing, not surprisingly, are in California and New York. Those are also two of the states with the highest mean salaries, but the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) also notes that Colorado, Virginia, Tennessee, Illinois, Michigan and North Dakota offer high average mean wages.

Carpenter
Carpenter fixing door moulding, rear viewGetty Images

Home Improvement

Shares of Lowes and The Home Depot have both soared over the past five years - in large part because of the growing number of people who enjoy tackling home improvement projects.

If you're looking to take your weekend hobby and make it a full-time profession, general maintenance and repair workers made a median salary of $36,630 last year, according to the BLS, with more specialized jobs earning more.

Carpenters earn an average of more than $42,000, while electricians saw a median salary of just under $52,000.

Certification isn't always required (though it's not a bad idea). And you'll have to learn to sell yourself and your services. Like any hobby-turned-career, self promotion is essential.

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