Got a hobby that takes up the bulk of your free time? Why not make some money at it? Hobby hustles are not only attractive because they allow you to make money doing things you love, they’re also beneficial at tax time.
How so? Money spent on hobbies are personal expenses and never tax deductible. But if you do the same thing with the intention of making a profit, you can deduct all of your costs as business expenses.
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Consider Katie, who loves to paint and spends thousands of dollars on canvases, brushes and paints each year. If she uses her paintings to adorn her walls, she’ll have a beautiful apartment. But if she lists her paintings for sale, she’s launched a profit-making enterprise. Now she can fill out a Schedule C — profit or loss from a business — and deduct those expenses on her federal tax return. Assuming she pays 25% of her income in federal tax, she saves $250 in taxes for every $1,000 she spends on art supplies.
And, presumably, now that she’s selling her paintings, she’s making more income, too.
Better yet, popular freelance marketplaces make it easy to turn your hobby into a for-profit business without the hassle of getting a business license, creating a website, or doing a lot of marketing. We took a look at Statistica’s ranking of most popular hobbies in the U.S. and matched them with highly-ranked side hustle platforms that can make it easy to turn your hobby into a side hustle.
Cooking and baking
The most popular hobby in the U.S. is cooking and baking, with 38% of respondents listing this as their favorite leisure activity. And there are dozens of online platforms that can help you turn this hobby into a hustle. Some of the best:
A site called EatWith can help you host paid dinner parties in your own home. You set the menu, schedule, price and number of people you can accommodate. The site advertises your meals, books reservations, and collects payment. You pay nothing for this service. The site adds a 20% commission to the client’s bill. (Sign up with EatWith here.)
Meanwhile, Tastemade — a media site for foodies — helps professional and amateur chefs hosts in-person and online cooking classes. Like EatWith, Tastemade invites chefs to design, price and schedule their own classes. The site simply advertises your offerings and takes a commission when they sell.
If you’d prefer to cook for take-out, you can sign up with Shef or DishDivvy. Both sites invite home cooks to offer meals for pick-up or delivery. These sites expect you to design the meal; set the price; decide when you’re cooking; and package everything for pickup or delivery.
Reading is the nation’s second-favorite hobby with 36% of respondents saying that’s how they prefer to spend their free time. There are a couple of ways for avid readers to make money. One is to review books. U.S. Review of Books pays between $25 and $75 per review. And you generally also get a free manuscript. The site’s senior editor says the typical reviewer will read 8 to 10 books per month and earn between $200 and $750.
You can also offer to review or edit books on Fiverr. This marketplace allows freelancers to offer just about any legal service through the site. You say what you do; what you charge; and how long you’ll take to complete the project. The best way to approach listing services on Fiverr is to be very specific about what’s provided in your “package.” Your best bet is to look at the site as a consumer first, evaluating how other people in your niche describe and price their services. Instead of trying to undercut the competition by price, consider what makes your offer unique and emphasize that in your profile and service offer. (You can sign up with Fiverr here.)
Whether you want to play, walk or wash pets, the go-to site to turn this popular hobby into a side hustle is Rover. Rover allows dog walkers, pet sitters, groomers and other pet-related service providers to set up a profile showing what they do and what they charge. The site advertises your service and collects payment from clients. There’s no fee to list. Rover charges a 20% to 25% commission when clients book you. (Sign up with Rover here.)
If you’re an extraordinary gamer, you can probably make a living playing games on Twitch. Not talented enough to make a full-time living having people watch you play? If you want to play games as a side hustle, consider StartPlaying. This site connects people who want to participate in role-playing games, such as Dungeons & Dragons with freelance “game masters.” Game masters determine game themes and missions. As a game master on the site, you also decide how your games run, how many players can participate and what it costs to sit at your table. You pay nothing to list a game. StartPlaying only deducts a commission when people book a seat.
Outdoor Activities & Travel
The fifth and sixth most popular hobbies, according to Statistica, are outdoor activities and travel. And while they’re different hobbies, they fall into the same side hustle category — tourism.
If you want to make money with either of these activities, your best bet is to offer local tours on a site like Viator or Tours by Locals. Both sites allow you to dream up itineraries that appeal to your interests. Walking tours, bike tours, foodie experiences, visits to museums, botanical gardens, or historic sites. You set the agenda, schedule and price and say how many people each tour can accommodate. The sites take a commission from your earnings when clients book your tours. (Sign up with Viator here.)