Writers: Make More Money With Your Hobbies

on July 31, 2012 in Freelance Writing Business

When it comes to freelance writing work where you have to market yourself to clients, I generally suggest not only specializing, but choosing no more than a few specialties. Beyond that, I suggest choosing specialties with similar markets so your promotional work goes farther.

But I have an exception to that rule -- when I develop my own sites.

I'm not only a freelance writer. I'm a Web publisher in my own right, with about two dozen active sites and more always in production. Some are tied to the client side of my business -- like this blog. But others aren't. They're sites developed because the income potential helps support ones like these (which I prefer not to have many, if any, ads on).

Many of those sites stem from hobbies or other interests of mine. For example, here are a few topics I cover in what I generally call "quiet sites" (income-earners that I don't heavily advertise or necessarily even tie my name to).

  • Genealogy -- something I've been heavily involved with since I was 16
  • DIY projects -- because I love taking the DIY route around the home
  • Gardening -- another interest that I've only recently had the space to pursue

Two of those are actually still in development, but the first has been live for a while. The way I see it is this: if I'm going to spend time doing these things anyway, why not earn income from them? By simply documenting my thoughts, experiences, photos, etc. I can work these hobbies into the Web development and blogging side of my business. I'm doing that work anyway, so why not tie it into my "play" time? The income from the sites gives you more money to pursue those hobbies in return. Plus, some of your related expenses then become business expenses.

So far so good. I'm documenting my DIY projects so I'll have a few ready to go when I launch the site. That's the one I'm most excited about.


Beyond your client writing specialty, do you run blogs or websites in other niches? Or have you turned those hobbies and interests into your freelance specialties? If you haven't done either yet, why not? Tell us about it in the comments.

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Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, and indie author. She began writing for clients in 1999 and started her first blog in 2004.

She owns 3 Beat Media - a publishing and client services company which operates All Indie Writers as well as several other websites and blogs including The Busy Author's Guide and BizAmmo. Jenn comes from a background in online PR and social media consulting, having owned a small PR firm for several years before choosing to pursue a full-time writing and publishing career.

Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names in the areas of children's fiction, mysteries, and horror fiction. Jenn is an active member of the Horror Writers Association (HWA) and currently serves as the organization's Assistant Coordinator of Promotions and Social Media.

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  1. Cathy Miller July 31, 2012 Reply

    You always have the best ideas. I have a domain name saved for my participation in the 3-Day Walks for the Cure. Right now, I occasionally write about it on my personal blog and have started an ebook on the experience.

    My thought was to use the site for that when I launch the ebook, but I could see doing something with it before then, Never thought about the extra income. If nothing else, it could help with my fundraising. :-) Any experience with creating products like pins, collectibles (thinking pink ribbon/3-Day stuff)?

    • Jennifer Mattern July 31, 2012 Reply

      Unfortunately my “merch” days are years behind me, so I have no idea who’s in that marketplace right now. :( But hopefully someone else here will have some ideas for you. :)

      I think this is less a good idea and more a case of finding ways to earn “lazy income.” It’s just about finding ways to do more of the things I want to do, earn money from it naturally, and have to spend less time doing the business-only things I might not enjoy so much.

      As for a site in your niche, the first thing that came to mind was posting walking training programs. That could be a big traffic driver (proper disclosures and / or partnering with a fitness professional in creating them of course). That’s a huge walk, so I imagine you have plenty of experience and tips to share on getting ready.

  2. Amandah August 1, 2012 Reply

    I have a couple of domain names. One is for mind and personal development and the other is life coaching for teens and parents (families). I’m still trying to figure out what to do with these sites. I’m drawn to working with high-risk teens and follow companies such as Covenant House. They give teen runaways a place to live along with love, support and hope. I’m not sure “how” I can get involved to get my ‘foot’ in the door. When I lived in Arizona, I wanted to volunteer with AAHS, but I had to move back to my home state.

    I bought a domain name for my sister who wants to blog a book about her adventures in daycare as a daycare worker. I wrote one blog post and have been commenting on websites to drive traffic to the site. I opened a Twitter account and have been ‘tweeting’ too. My sister and I need to sit down so I can interview her some more about her job and what it’s like. I’m using “The Help” as a model/guide for the project. Oh, the stories my sister has to tell… :)

    I also signed up with Quirky.com to see if I can get some of my product ideas made. So far, they haven’t picked up any of my ideas.

    @Cathy… Have you heard of Shopify? Here’s the link http://www.shopify.com/tour/sell-online I’m not sure if this is what you’re looking for.

  3. Cathy Miller August 1, 2012 Reply

    Amandah-no, I haven’t heard of it. I’ll check it out. I appreciate the tip. I need all the help I can get. :-)

  4. Matt August 1, 2012 Reply

    Great ideas, have a few hobbies that would like to do more with but always struggle with balancing time between sharing with others and actually doing something, ie learning something new, writing a new story, a new song, new book, etc.

  5. Amandah August 2, 2012 Reply

    @Cathy… You’re welcome!

  6. The Pixie September 13, 2012 Reply

    Very helpful article!
    I have so many passions that it is so difficult to choose a niche for my site. I find it hard to stick to one topic and I have so many articles lying in draft just because they don’t seem to fit in with the rest of site. I guess I’ll just have to make a site for each one of my hobbies.

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