5 Ways to Make Money from your Creative Hobbies

Apparently the only way to get people to read anything is to put it in list format (darn millennials! <— says a millennial), so here’s a quick list of ways in which you can successfully monetise any creative talents you possess, but don’t know what to do with them.

1.) Microstock photography

The irony of using a watermarked stock image is not lost on me

So you like taking pretty landscape photos for Instagram? You can make money from them! Microstock photography companies, defined by good ol’ Wikipedia:

(1) source their images almost exclusively via the Internet,

(2) do so from a wider range of photographers than the traditional stock agencies (including a willingness to accept images from “amateurs” and hobbyists), and

(3) sell their images at a very low rate (from US$0.20 to $10 in the US) for a royalty-free (RF) image.

So basically, what you do with all those hundreds of photos you have stocked up is to upload them to a microstock photography website, such as Shutterstock or iStock. And then you just…leave them. Every time someone uses your image from that website, you get paid a small amount. The idea is to upload lots of useful, quality photos, because the more you upload, the more money you make. This is known as passive income and is a wonderful way to make a bit of extra money on the side whilst you do something else.

Will you be able to quit your job and live off of this income? Probably not. But it’s money you didn’t have before, from photos you were going to take anyway for the ‘Gram (ugh, I nearly shot myself typing that, even ironically).

2.) Blogging and ghostwriting

'I only collect ghost-written books.'

A lot of you probably know that you can make money from writing on the internet, but in case you didn’t know – you can make money by writing on the internet. The problem is that people tend to only take you on if you have proof of having written before, so set up your own blog, guest write for other blogs on the internet and get your name out there first. Sites such as Problogger upload new job listings for freelance writers all the time, and then there are more streamlined services such as Contena that you can use for a fee. Have a look and see if any of the available jobs are something you might be good at – there’s usually something for everyone, so just give it a try.

This is also how a lot of people pick up ghostwriting work. Ghostwriting (the act of writing on somebody else’s behalf) is actually a pretty lucrative business, especially if you have no qualms writing erotica or horror (or both!). Online fiction websites are always looking for new ghostwriters, so if you can write a couple of genre samples to indicate what you’re capable of, you could seriously make a decent bit of money from it – it could even become your full-time job.

3.) Redbubble


Do you have an eye for the aesthetically pleasing? Can you edit images, even a little? Or do you also fit the microstock photography category because you take hundreds of pretty landscape and atmospheric photos? Then Redbubble is for you! You don’t even have to be able to draw or design something from scratch (although, if you can, that opens up lots of new avenues on Redbubble).

Basically, Redbubble is one of several sites in which you provide the image you want to appear on “stuff” – they have over 40 products, ranging from t-shirts to pillowcases to phone skins and even clocks – then adjust how your image should appear on each product you want it to be on. Then you add a description, tag it appropriately to reach the widest audience, and hey presto! You can now make more passive income on top of your booming microstock photography business.

It should be noted that putting up anything “fannish” (fan art, favourite quotes, scene edits etc.) should be tagged with caution – big-name companies like Warner Bros and such often flag products on Redbubble that they deem to have broken copyright law (check out my article on this here).

The good thing about Redbubble is that you can set your commission rate for each individual product. Generally this is around 20%, which means you get anywhere between $0.50-$10 for each sale, depending on the product sold (that physically hurt me to write dollars, given that I’m Scottish, but most of Redbubble’s audience are in America so let’s stick with dollars). If you play the game correctly, and upload designs and photographs that fill a market demand, you’ll find that this source of passive income can be quite lucrative.

If you are capable of drawing and designing really nice art, there is an option to sell this art as prints on Redbubble. HELL NO DO NOT DO THIS. You’ll only get around $2 tops for each print you sell (assuming you’re selling them for $10). Instead, set up an Etsy shop and then put a link to said Etsy shop in your Redbubble artist bio. Which leads me to…

4.) Etsy

I bet you can buy these on Etsy

Okay, so this is for the folk out there with skill in just about anything, be it drawing, crafting, clothes-making, metal working…you name it; it’s probably sold on Etsy. Etsy only take 3.5% of the cost of any listing you put up, so your profit margins are immensely bigger than those for Redbubble etc. The only problem? You’re responsible for printing your prints/making your products and subsequently shipping them out. If you can’t be bothered with any of this then just put your designs on Redbubble, but know that you’re missing out on so much profit. Websites such as Instant Print (which I use myself) will print 50 A3 copies of your art for £20 (back to my home currency, sorry) and that’s for top quality, 350gsm silk card. It’s £15 for 100 A5 copies on similar paper stock. I can attest to the quality of these prints – they’re gorgeous – so if you’re willing to put the work in (and the small amount of money required to buy the prints in, poster tubes for sending them off etc.) then it truly pays off. If you print on good paper and your designs are nice, you can easily sell A3 prints for £10, so paying £20 to print 50 means that you make £945 total profit from selling them all (£1000 minus the initial £20 and the 3.5% transaction fee). Many people who started using Etsy to sell art as a hobby now focus on their art full-time, so if you’re looking to build up a career as an artist then you should really be on Etsy.

Etsy uses a tagging system much like Redbubble, but I’ve found that your art doesn’t get taken down even if it has tags such as Harry Potter or Game of Thrones attached to it, so feel free to put all of your fan art up!

Having trouble getting people to view your listings? Check out my post about it here!

5.) Comic Cons


Okay, so everything so far has been online-based, but don’t forget about the real world! If you draw fan art, comics, make geek products e.g. pillowcases, mugs, t-shirts (basically Redbubble but in real life) then get yourself down to your local comic con. Try finding out how to get an artist/vendor table online – usually you need to apply for one months in advance of the event, and there’s usually a fee attached to hiring the table, which can be quite steep for bigger comic cons, but if you have quality prints or merchandise then you’ll more than make the cost of the table back.

Comic cons have become far more prevalent, especially in the US and the UK, as geek culture has seeped into the mainstream. And this is great! People spend tonnes of money at these conventions. So whether you’re into anime, DC and Marvel comics, Doctor Who, Game of Thrones or…just about anything, really, then get drawing/crafting, and watch the money roll in.

It definitely helps to have an online presence alongside this, so get yourself an Etsy shop, art Instagram and Facebook pages, and some snazzy business cards.

And that’s it! That’s five ways to make money from your creative hobbies.

Okay, I’m clearly not good at these short listicles, or whatever they’re called. But you can’t say I’m not informative! If you’re interested in looking at my Etsy or my Redbubble page, just click here and here.

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