5 Fun Hobbies that Make Money for You in Your Spare Time

How to make your hobbies pay for themselves.

In this economy, a lot of people are tightening their belts and watching their budgets. It is hard to justify spending time and money on your hobbies. However, these ten hobbies are not only fun, but they could actually help fatten your wallet if you approach them with the right attitude. Here are tips on how to earn extra money in your spare time. Make your hobby pay for itself, or even earn extra money to come out ahead -- and have fun doing it.

Earn Extra Money with Contests and Sweepstakes

Many people don't bother to enter sweepstakes because they feel that no one ever wins. But the opposite is true -- giveaways award thousands of prizes to people just like you. Contests and sweepstakes let you trade a little bit of time filling out entry forms for the chance to win everything from gift cards to cars, homes, and big cash prizes. Here are some tips to get you started:

Love to Work with Your Hands? How About Refinishing Furniture?

Woman refinishing chair
Refinishing Furniture Is a Hobby that Could Pay for Itself. Blend Images - Jose Luis Pelaez Inc / Getty Images

If you enjoy working with your hands, if sanding old wood and making it shine again is relaxing and satisfying, if you love pairing colors and fabrics, then refinishing furniture for resale could be a hobby for you.

A lot of perfectly good furniture gets thrown away every year because it has gotten scratched, banged up, or fallen out of style. Refinishing brings the furniture back to life, keeping it from being wasted or destroyed.

Plus, you and your customers can profit. You can offer custom-finished, high-quality furniture at a price far less than buying new furniture and still make money yourself.

Interested? See how to start a furniture refinishing business to find out what you'll need to get started and the pros and cons of taking up this profitable hobby.

Turn Your Green Thumb into Greenbacks at Farmers Markets

Bowl of garden tomatoes
Turn Your Passion for Gardening Into Extra Money. Elizabethsalleebauer / Getty Images

 If your passion is gardening, you can not only save money on your grocery bill by supplying some of your own food for your family, you can also raise extra money by setting up a stall at a farmer's market.

A farmer's market is a good way to make money while finding a good home for the inevitable overabundance that any well-tended garden produces.

Not only can you sell your produce directly, you can also make good money by selling things made from the products of your hobby: butter spiced with herbs from your garden, self-made pickles, canned tomatoes, jellies and preserves, and more.

If you'd like to find out how to make more money with your gardening hobby, check out how to sell food at farmers markets.

Are You Crafty? Try Selling Online

Signs with colorful letters
If You Enjoy Crafting, Why Not Sell Your Creations?. Anke Schuetz / Getty Images

Do you love to sew, knit, cross stitch, scrapbook, or paint? If you enjoy making things by hand, you could turn a handy profit by selling your creations online.

Online sites like  give you a built-in marketplace for your hand-crafted items. It's easy to sell through Etsy because they handle the payment processing for you, eliminating the need to have your own merchant account with a credit card company.

There's a market for a wide variety of hand-made items, so whatever your crafting hobby is, you can make money with it.

Find out how to get started by reading What Is Etsy and Why Should I Sell There?

Photography for Fun and Profit

Woman looking at the back of her camera
It's a "Snap" to Earn Extra Money with Your Photography Skills. Gary Houlder / Getty Images

If you don't go anywhere without a camera in your hand, you should think about turning your hobby into some extra bucks. 

Many photographers bring in extra income through traditional means like photographing weddings or taking portrait photos.

In today's internet-driven world, there's also a strong demand for great photographs. you could also create a niche for yourself by taking high-quality photos of vacation rental homes to post on listing sites, photographing items that people want to sell on Etsy or eBay, or taking pictures for professionals to post on LinkedIn or other business-related websites.

If you'd like to get some ideas for how to make more money with your photography, check out how to start a home-based photography business.

Don't Overlook the Tax Consequences of a Profitable Hobby

Trying to earn money with your hobbies could have tax consequences. Make sure that you find out whether your hobby might actually qualify as a business under the IRS' guidelines, and what to do if it does.