5 Skill-Based Hobbies
That Generate Real Income

See also: Entrepreneurial Skills

For centuries, human beings have been converting their favorite hobbies into money making ventures. Amateur cooks, artists, writers, and others have found success in selling their wares and talents. The concept is based on the notion of doing what you love and letting the money follow.

In the modern age, some of the most profitable hobbies include website design, real estate investing, writing, taking online consumer surveys, and making gourmet foods. There is a high demand for all five goods and services, but it's important to study the marketplace and make a detailed plan before jumping in.

Earning income from an activity you already enjoy doing is a win-win. Here are some ideas to get your imagination revved up.

Designing Websites

Using basic computer and coding skills to design websites is an in-demand skill. Many college students and retirees take on this lucrative hobby to supplement their income or begin building long-term careers as full-time designers. However, for hobbyists, website design offers multiple advantages, including time flexibility, the chance to learn as you work, and higher-than-average pay. The beauty of the arrangement is that most can learn the required skills online via free tutorials and instructional videos. Startup costs are close to zero, and it's relatively easy to bootstrap a marketing campaign via social media platforms.

Real Estate Investing

For millions of working adults, real estate is a full-time professional career path. But for even more people, it's a hobby that has the potential to deliver a steady stream of income, even when the general economy is performing poorly. What's the difference between hobby-based activity and full-time work? Aside from the obvious time commitment variations, hobbyists tend to work other jobs and invest on the side in their spare time. Ironically, real estate’s attractiveness is that investors can bolster their portfolios incrementally every month or so. Contrary to popular misconceptions, the pursuit of profits from property ownership is not based on a one-time commitment of a large sum of cash. Instead, casual enthusiasts make regular deposits of smaller sums by leveraging the benefits of dollar-cost averaging (DCA) and similar tactics.

Keep in mind that plunking down significant sums on a one-time basis is an inherently risky method that exposes you to volatile market prices and other short-term economic events. People who follow the one-shot technique can lose big in a short span of time. On the other hand, those who follow the principles of DCA investing gain the advantage of spreading out their commitment over time. One of the benefits is never having to worry about timing the swings of the marketplace. The beauty of DCA is that all you need to do is choose a fixed amount to invest on a recurring basis, usually monthly, along with the specific real estate asset.

Some opt for shares of REITs (real estate investment trusts), property-backed ETFs (exchange traded funds), and similar assets. For those new to investing, DCA offers a simple, low-risk way to get involved and start building a portfolio, adding to an IRA, or acquiring an interest in any asset class they desire. To get started with a safe, slow, and gradual accumulation of wealth, you can review all the pros and cons of DCA online before deciding how to proceed.


While blogging is the best-known example of using a writing hobby to generate income, and there are skills needed to be a professional blogger, there are numerous other ways to turn written words into ready cash. If you have a knack for copywriting advertising content, join one of the web-based job boards and offer your services. Capable copywriters are in high demand and can earn excellent money working just a few hours per week. For those who consider writing a hobby and not a job, the e-book market is the place to be.

While pursuing e-book production as a hobbyist, remember that it takes up to a year to develop enough regular readers to turn a profit. However, millions of indie authors do well in the hot genres, which are romance, biography, how-to, self-help, and true crime. While categories change from time to time, those five have dominated the top ten for more than a decade. Focus on creating regular output and producing short e-books. On the major platforms, readers gravitate toward books they can read in one or two hours. Based on an average adult reading speed of 238 words per minute, aim for e-books of between 15,000 and 30,000 total words.

Taking Surveys

Some love offering their opinions on everything from candy and coffee to cars and kitchen appliances. The skill part of survey taking for pay is in learning how to choose the best platforms and respond to questions quickly. Take time to peruse the marketplace and identify the kinds of surveys you enjoy completing. If you love tech devices, aim for survey sites that concentrate on that segment of the consumer market. Every paid survey website has its own quirks and unique features.

Once you hone in on a few sites that meet your needs and suit your interests, spend a few hours learning how they operate, how to qualify for new surveys, and what the most profitable surveys are. Most of the quickie questionnaires pay just a few dollars, while the long-form, interview-type assignments offer much higher rates. It takes a few weeks to get the hang of earning steady cash from this hobby, but it's a legit source of income and has been around for many years.

Making Gourmet Foods

There is a certain amount of red tape and legal hurdles for food merchants. However, for sellers of food items, it's generally a matter of filling out several forms and paying a fee to the state before you can offer your items to the public. Current best sellers in the niche include homemade fudge, hard candy, brownies, and cookies. If baking and cooking are already hobbies you enjoy, consider doing a test run on a few batches of specialty sweets and seeing how much response you get via one of the online platforms. Study the websites of people who already sell specialty and gourmet foods. You can learn a lot just by analyzing the top sellers on craft and niche websites.

About the Author

Drew Allen is a financial enthusiast, seasoned blogger, music and sports fanatic. He enjoys spending time outdoors with his wife and daughter fishing and boating. He is dedicated to his 20+ year career in the banking, mortgage, and personal finance industry.