The state of the modern economy lends itself to a lot of interesting ideas about personal investment. Specifically, the rise of “gig” jobs, “side hustles,” online earning opportunities and the like have given people the sense that by investing a little bit of extra time in a personal interest of talent, they can better their financial standing.
In the strictest sense this is true, although it’s still important to realize that extra work does not constitute an investment. There are numerous ways to diversify an investment portfolio: You can buy into stocks, bonds, and funds, establish savings arrangements, buy options and annuities, and even trade in cryptocurrencies and traditional commodities. In one sense of another, each of these options amounts to entrusting your finances to assets and resources with growth potential. This cannot be said of the pursuit of a hobby as a side venture.
What can be interesting to explore, however, is how an additional revenue stream through a hobby or personal passion can help to fund an investment portfolio. According to a 2019 survey, more than half of all Americans believe they don’t earn enough money to be able to invest. At the same time however, some of the most common advice on how to invest with limited funds is to go ahead and get started — putting just a little bit of money into a portfolio as soon as possible so that it can start to grow, and then adding to it when you can. This is difficult advice for many to follow, particularly in younger generations. But it’s where a side income stream from a hobby or personal venture can come in handy.
If in theory you rely on an ordinary job to pay the bills, monetizing a hobby or interest as a “side hustle” can provide at least some extra income. You may need some of it to address basic needs, and of course you’ll be taxed on it as well. But you may be able to siphon a portion of it off into investments, such that you can get started and build up your portfolio even without having a ton of money at one time to do so.
Now, of course, comes the question of what sorts of hobbies lend themselves to this kind of effort. We won’t provide an exhaustive list here, but these are some of the ways in which many today look to earn side income:
Writing is a hobby a lot of people grow up with, be it in the form of journaling, writing poems and short stories, or even dabbling in essays and criticism. And today, with so many freelance resources available online, it’s a hobby that can be monetized in fairly straightforward fashion. Now, it’s important for people to understand that most freelance writing involves fairly modest pay. Assessments of freelance writer income indicate that only the top 1% make as much as $2.06 per word, while the middle 50% make about $0.17 per word. This can mean that a lot of effort yields relatively little pay. Nevertheless, if it’s a personal passion and you approach it strategically it can certainly yield some extra income to funnel into your portfolio.
Painting & Graphic Design
Here we can essentially repeat what we said regarding writing: Visual art is a common hobby people develop growing up, and one that it’s easier than ever to make money off of thanks to the internet. It is a little more difficult to assess general earning potential in this case, because there are many more freelance writers than there are visual artists. Nonetheless, between freelance platforms, personal site design, and social media exposure, many artists find ways to generate meaningful income streams.
Fashion & Accessory Design
The internet has also provided wonderful opportunities for those whose interests lie more in physical creativity — in crafting jewelry or other accessories, or designing fashion pieces. Whether by creating personal ecommerce sites, selling on platforms like Etsy, or even going the social media route and generating customer bases on Pinterest, TikTok, and Instagram, a lot of creators in this category are finding that their passion can yield real income. Even without establishing a full-fledged brand or online store, design sales can add up to a significant boost to investment funds.
Poker is certainly less of a true gig and more of a hobby. Nevertheless, because it can be played for real money, and because poker’s top players have famously amassed substantial fortunes in the game, many amateurs wind up taking it pretty seriously as an economic venture. There is risk involved in this sort of approach, because you always have the chance to lose money in a cash poker game online. For those who are skilled (or a bit lucky) however, the game can certainly fall into a category of personal hobbies that can yield “extra” funds, which can in turn boost portfolios.
This is an option somewhat akin to poker in that it involves betting and there is direct potential for a loss with each individual decision or venture. In fact, the argument can be made that there is more risk in sports betting because it is less “skill-based.” Even so, there are a great many options for bettors today. Daily fantasy sports can be played in most of the country for significant funds, and more states are making it legal to bet directly on sporting outcomes. Establishing regular success with these activities is rare, and demands both research and luck. Because it is a very common hobby that can produce side income though, it’s another through which some can theoretically add money to their investment funds.
Miscellaneous Entrepreneurial Pursuits
Lastly, there are personal entrepreneurial interests to consider! This is essentially a limitless category, with common startup industries ranging from “organic skincare,” to “app development,” to “monthly gift basket subscriptions.” People have all kinds of interesting business ideas these days, and while the goal is typically to turn these ideas into primary occupations, they often start out as side hustles. Early income from these side hustles can certainly be used to build up a more robust pool of money from which to start investing.
To be perfectly clear once again, we’re not suggesting that these hobbies and interests constitute investments in and of themselves. They do not. With many people feeling like they don’t have enough cash to start growing their portfolios however, it can be helpful to consider how some hobbies and personal interests like these can provide the side income to make investment more feasible. They all require work, and they’re not all guarantees, but they may just give you that little extra chunk you feel you need to get started with personal investment.