Several readers have written with stories of how they make money from hobbies. Today, Scarfish talks about two ways she’s found to earn extra income while having fun.

I’m a big proponent of having self-supporting hobbies, and I have two myself.
My first money-making hobby started simply as a way to make money. I had moved to New York City directly after college for an internship (which paid only a small stipend) and was also working at Starbucks. I still couldn’t cover my bills, so I began mystery shopping for two companies.

Since then, I’ve been in two “regular” full time jobs and don’t really need the money — but I continue to mystery shop for fun, now for a dozen different companies. I consider it a hobby to watch how businesses treat their customers and I make it a point to become a mystery shopper of businesses that treat me (as a regular customer) either very well or very poorly.

Mystery shopping is sometimes thought of as a scam, because there are a lot of scam companies out there. It’s also a completely legitimate business, so it’s just a matter of differentiating between various companies. A good place to check for information is

My other money-making hobby started out solely as a hobby. After I got my first real job, I started taking belly dance lessons, something I’d always wanted to do. Within six months I was invited to audition for the company, which performs all over the tri-state area. So I am now a professional belly dancer, when I started out taking classes just for fun.

While I haven’t actually shown a profit, I’ve been able to pay for four costumes ($300 each), countless accessories (swords, wings, veils, shoes) and several months of classes that I might not have been able to afford on my regular income.
It would be hard for me to classify either of these as only “hobby” or “job”. I have to bring to each a degree of professionalism that most hobbies don’t require. However, I make more off of them than I think I could with any hobby which might help fund itself. If either one were a little more steady or regular, I could see turning it into a full time job (although, on the other hand, my full time job helps fulfill one of my hobbies too — I love to read, and I work in a publishing house).
These are two excellent examples of how one can turn hobbies, or things we like to do, into self-supporting ventures. (Or in some cases, actual profitable endeavors!) If you have a story about a money-making hobby, drop me a line at