10 Ways Millennials are Turning Hobbies into Successful Businesses
Millennials have turned hobbies upside down.
Unlike previous generations that only engaged in their hobbies as a way of having fun or passing time, millennials have found ways to get paid doing what they love by turning their hobbies into successful businesses.
Activities that were solely done for fun have been transformed into income generating activities.
Love riding your bike? Why not join Uber Eats and do deliveries while you ride? Love having in-depth conversations with friends about quirky topics? Why not start a podcast and monetize it? Love making things with your hands – origami, for instance, or carpentry?
You can do monetized YouTube tutorials, and make money while at it. Love playing an instrument?
Well, you can become an online coach and make money teaching others how to play the same instrument, or you could do local gigs like parties and get paid. Love planning and throwing parties?
That’s a business right there!
In short, millennials are turning almost anything that was previously done for fun into a business.
This has been aided in great part by the internet, which revolutionized the concept of work.
The rise of platforms like Instagram, WordPress, You Tube, Medium, and Facebook has brought seemingly limitless opportunity, and millennials are taking advantage.
Below are 10 ways millennials are turning their hobbies into successful businesses.
This one must sound totally outrageous, but I’m not kidding you. Millennials are doing it and making real money from it.
As strange as it sounds, it is possible to earn from your passion for playing video games.
A good example of a millennial making money from video games is PewDiePie. Born in 1989, his real name is Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg. In 2011, Kjellberg dropped out of university and waded into the world of content creation through his YouTube channel.
His following grew quickly and by June the next year, PewDiePie’s YouTube channel had garnered over one million subscribers. By August 2013, PewDiePie’s channel was the most-subscribed channel on YouTube.
Between December 2014 and February 2017, it was the most-viewed channel. Counting up to April 2019, the channel’s subscribers have surpassed 96 million, with 21 billion views.
While PewDiePie also makes vlogs and comedic shows on You Tube, he is most noted for his Let’s Play video game commentaries. Let’s Play is a video format which documents a video game as you play it.
Unlike a video game walkthrough or a strategy guide, a Let’s Play video focuses on the gamer’s subjective experience of the game. The video typically includes the gamer’s commentary and camera view of his/her face.
The Let’s Play gamer is typically humorous, irreverent, or even critical as opposed to providing objective information on how to play the game. For instance, PewDiePie’s commentary is noted for its genuine, unfiltered nature.
Some have criticized it for being abrasive. Kjellberg is so popular that when he plays indie games on his channel, their sales rise significantly – the “Oprah effect”.
In 2016, he was named by Times Magazine as one of “The World’s 100 Most Influential People”.
So, how much can someone really make from vlogging about video games? While Kjellberg does not like to talk about how much money he makes, in June 2014 the Wall Street Journal estimated that he made $4 million in 2013. Kjellberg later admitted on Reddit that the figures were close to what he actually earned.
In 2015, he was featured at the top of Forbes’s list of the richest You Tube stars, with a reported $12 million earned that year.
The next year, with $15 million annual income, Forbes named him the highest-earning You Tuber. In 2017, his earnings dropped to $12 million.
There is more than one way to make money from YouTube gaming videos. The most obvious one is ads. Advertising has gone online, as this is where most people spend their time. That’s why many videos on You Tube are preceded by an ad.
The second way is sponsored videos. If your channel attracts enough views, advertisers will come to you with offers.
In the case of gaming, a video game company will pay you to play their game on one of your videos and give a review of the game.
Sponsored videos will earn you more money than regular ads. YouTube Premium (a paid subscription program which provides ad-free content for users who are willing to pay a certain monthly rate) is another way to make money on You Tube.
Aside from making YouTube videos about video games, some millennials also make money from their passion for video games by engaging in e-sports competitions.
You can think of it as ordinary sports like basketball or soccer, only that this time, the players are competing virtually.
There are teams, and players can even be transferred as happens in the NBA or Premier League. Want to hear something even more surprising? The players are actually paid salaries, which can go as high as $300,000 or more?
Yes. While some may view your passion for video games or YouTube as a waste of time, if you make the right moves, you can turn it into a business.
How I wish my dad had allowed me to play video games more often!
Do you have something burning to say, an interesting point of view? Do you like sitting around talking with friends or colleagues about issues that are important to you?
If this sounds anything like you, you might want to consider podcasting.
Podcasting is like radio, but without the stifling corporate structures. It is basically the democratization of radio. It’s like having a blog that operates using digital audio technology.
Podcasting, just like blogging, gives you the freedom to express your authentic self.
Podcasts were first popular among techies, but over time the general public embraced them, and today they cover all sorts of topics: music, philosophy, politics, international relations, sports, art and literature, celebrity gossip, and so on.
As with most platforms that give you a voice, the best way to stand out as a podcaster is to zero in on a niche that appeals to you or in which you are an expert.
People are more likely to consult your podcast when looking for information or entertainment on a specific topic if they know that’s your area of specialization than if you have a finger in every pie.
Podcasts mainly make money through advertising and sponsorship. Podcast advertising involves the podcaster introducing a product to the listeners and giving them a discount code.
Given the popularity of podcasts, brands are willing to sponsor entire episodes or podcast series.
Another income stream for podcasters is through the membership/subscription models.
This is where the podcaster charges the listeners for early access to content, exclusive extra episodes, and ad-free content. Podcasters also earn through donations from listeners through websites like Kickstarter and Patreon.
Podcasts are largely mainstream now and some podcasters opt to do live events, even going on tour, like bands or live comedians.
They host live events and people pay for tickets, merchandise, and “behind the scenes” access.
If giving your opinion is something that appeals to you, do start a podcast – but first, figure out what your area of specialization is going to be.
If you are a millennial who wants to start a business and is considering podcasting, check out The Millennial Entrepreneur podcast to get some ideas.
Most people would love to travel, but majority of them are not able to due to various reasons – work obligations, family, money, you name it.
What if I told you that you could live your dream of traveling the world, and make money while at it? Sound like a dream?
Well, there are several millennials who have turned their passion for travel into a business.
So, how do they do it?
The easiest way of making money from your passion for travel is to start a blog.
If you aren’t a good writer already, work on that – or look for someone who will edit your writing into something coherent and fun to read.
Since everyone dreams of travelling, those of us who are unable to do so will indulge this desire by vicariously enjoying the experiences you write about on your blog.
Travel blogs also function as travel guides.
Anyone who wants to go to Bali, for instance, will check out what their favorite travel blogger has to say about the place.
Travel bloggers tell us about the foods to try, phrases to memorize, places to visit, and warn us of things we might do or say that will cause friction or misunderstanding due to cultural differences.
One of the best things about being a travel blogger is that you don’t even have to have a website. You could actually be a successful travel blogger on Instagram like Chris Burkard, curating beautiful pictures of the places you visit.
You could also be a vlogger, doing videos from your travels.
There are different ways to approach this. The only thing constant is that you must travel a lot and document your adventures. Where or how you document them does not really matter.
Once you have established yourself as a trusted travel brand, find ways to monetize this passion. Ads and sponsored posts go without saying.
You can also forge business partnerships with hotels, airports, tour companies, tourism ministries in foreign countries, and so on.
If you get your name out there, brands will want to work with you. In other words, be so interesting, compelling, and relatable that brands start to approach you as an influencer.
You can also write a bestselling book about your adventures, the wisdom you have gleaned from years of travelling, different cuisines and recipes from around the world, and so on.
The monetization options are endless.
Before you become a trusted brand, however, you will have to travel on your own money.
You can save prior to starting, or find ways to make an income while you travel.
If you have an extra skill that can make you money during your travels, that will come in handy – for instance, being a freelance writer or graphics designer.
4. SELL CRAFTS ONLINE
Does your hobby involve making things with your hands? If you love making pottery, jewelry, pieces of art, and so on, you can monetize your passion by selling your creations online.
Think about it. If you set up a booth at your local art fair, or even a little shop in your neighborhood, how many people do you have access to? Not that many.
On the internet, however, you can sell your creations to the whole world. If you market yourself properly online, there is really no limit to the market you can tap into.
The only limit is your ability to create a trusted brand and attract as many followers as possible.
It’s important that you have your own website, as this gives you credibility.
It also enables interested buyers to check out your entire catalogue in a single online space, with no competition for their attention with other sellers.
Add a blog to the website and write informative articles about your craft. Don’t just sell. Provide back knowledge.
The more knowledge you give, the more people will look at you as an authority and trusted source. People who want to learn about making crafts will come to your blog and form a community around you.
Meanwhile, as the blog attracts traffic, find creative, non-intrusive ways to monetize it.
For instance, you could try affiliate marketing, where you direct your site’s visitors to products on Amazon that they need for making crafts. Brands that make such products can also approach you for partnerships.
If you are not ready to build a website, you can instead create a following on social media, particularly on Instagram, where you can post beautiful images of your work in different states of creation.
You can check out Jesiii’s Instagram for inspiration. You could also sell your creations on Etsy.
5. BECOME AN INSTAGRAM INFLUENCER
Who would have thought that one day people would make millions just to post pictures online?
If you love taking and posting photos, however, that can easily become your full time job. Instagram is the king of social.
Everyone who is cool and everyone who wants to be cool are all on the gram. This makes the Facebook-owned site the perfect medium for brands to reach their customers.
The problem is that most brands aren’t cool – not unless they are Apple, Nike, Coca Cola, a luxury vehicle, or a high-end champagne brand.
No one wants to follow a brand that makes wheelbarrows. No one cares about a makeup brand that isn’t Chanel, Laura Mercier, L’Oreal, or any of the other top, high-end brands.
As an Instagram influencer, you give brands a voice on a platform that prioritizes the “cool factor” above all else.
If you are cool, brands will want to associate with you, hoping some of your cool will brush off on them.
The first thing to do, of course, is to make a name for yourself. Become famous and gather a large following.
The more followers you have, the more leverage you have and the more you can earn.
Find a topic or niche or just anything that makes you stand out in a sea of interesting people. If you are a model, post pictures of yourself in good-looking clothes (partner with local stores, fashion designers, or stylists so you don’t have to buy your own clothes). If you are a poet, post your poetry.
That’s how people like Huda Kattan earn a rich living. Huda is one of the most influential beauty bloggers in the world, with over 35.7 million followers.
Once you get the followers and become an Instagram celebrity, there is no limit to how much you can earn. You can sell anything and your followers will buy it.
Write a book, create an app… they will buy, so long as your provide value.
If there is something you love doing and can do better than the average person, you can also turn that into a business by teaching people how to do it as well as you do.
I’m literally talking about just anything – dressing fashionably, talking to the opposite gender, working out, dating, building confidence, or anything else. I have even seen people make money by teaching others how to kiss.
Yeah, imagine that. If you can do something better than others, you have a business idea right there. At the moment, the coaching industry in the United States is worth over $1 billion.
Yes, you heard me right. And you can easily coach your customers over the internet, without even having to leave your house.
As with most businesses nowadays, your brand is your main source of customers. Create an online presence for yourself on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, Medium, a personal blog, or wherever your target audience is.
Curate unique posts and quotes around your area of specialization.
Come up with unique insights on how to solve problems people are dealing with in your area of specialization.
People will be willing to pay you handsomely if you show that you can improve their lives.
7. ONLINE RESEARCH
What if your hobby is exploring the internet? Are you the sort of person who goes online to search the correct spelling of Singapore and two hours later you know all about Singapore’s history, including the fact that there was once a time when long hair was illegal in the country, and bands like Led Zeppelin couldn’t go on tour to Singapore?
If you recognize yourself in that sentence, you might want to leverage this genuinely impressive skill to make yourself some money.
Your clients will include companies, authors, bloggers, students, and a variety of professionals who want certain information they don’t know how to find or don’t have the time to trawl through.
You can get easily online research jobs through websites such as AskWonder. To cement your reputation, you should create your own freelancer website which contains your portfolio.
Ideally, you should eventually have your own network of direct clients who you communicate with directly via email or Skype, rather than relying on freelancer websites.
8. SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGEMENT
Do people tell you that you spend too much time online, that you should go out more often, or that you post pictures of your food a little too often? Are you crazy about everything social media? Are you one of the cool kids who understand what is in and what is out before everyone figures it out? Do you often communicate in memes, gifs, and emojis instead of words?
If that sounds like you, you can actually make a living from this passion for social media.
The world is filled with brands and people who either don’t understand social media or don’t have the time to. That’s where you come in.
Approach the brands and position yourself as someone who can help them reach out to a younger audience.
Unlike influencers, you will be anonymous, working behind the scenes, handling the brand’s social media accounts, bleeding your innate coolness and social media savvy into the brand’s core message.
Naturally, you can’t promise anything if your own social media accounts have only a handful of followers.
You must therefore begin by investing real time and effort to spice up your own social media accounts and attract a huge following – when starting out, your accounts are basically your portfolio.
You can check out this article to learn more about the traits and skills you need to succeed as a social media manager.
9. AFFILIATE MARKETING NICHE BLOGS
Take your favorite topic, something you are really passionate about and create a blog that caters to the niche market related to that topic.
For instance, if you like reading, create a niche blog where you review books and give book recommendations.
You can then turn your blog into a business by putting up affiliate links.
These are links which direct traffic from your website to sites where the products you are reviewing on your blog are on sale. Every time someone clicks on a link and actually buys something, you get a commission.
When it comes to affiliate marketing, it is good to note that some niches are more profitable than others.
Profitability of niches is determined by the number of people doing searches of the keywords related to that niche on Google and other search engines.
However, the quality of the searches is important. For instance, many people may search for quotes, but they won’t buy quotes.
Instead, you should focus on a niche where people are willing to spend their money. You can learn more about choosing profitable niches for affiliate marketing here.
To succeed as an affiliate marketer, you must also be excellent at search engine optimization (SEO). If you are good at SEO, you will be able to draw more traffic to your blog, which you can then turn into buyers.
10. REVIEWING YOUR FAVORITE THINGS
We started with an unconventional business – gaming – and we will close with another unconventional business idea. It’s an idea so simple that even a kid can do it.
Don’t believe me?
Check out this kid who makes millions reviewing toys on YouTube.
Just like Ryan (the millionaire kid above), you can also build a business out of reviewing stuff you like.
This could be anything – cars, bikes, computers, headphones, gaming consoles, or anything else you are passionate about.
You need to get your hands on whatever you are reviewing and talk about it in an interesting or informative way.
People can then decide whether they really want to buy these products by watching your reviews.
Reviewers make money from ads and sponsored posts. The key to success as a reviewer is identifying a niche and sticking to it.
For instance, if you like cell phones, be the go-to reviewer that people come to when they want to check out the latest iPhone. If your niche is gaming consoles, stick to that.
Once your brand is secure, manufacturers and brands will start seeking you out and asking you to review their products.
At this point, you will have enough leverage to negotiate lucrative compensation.
As you have seen, there is no shortage of opportunities.
If you have something you enjoy doing, all you need to do is find a way to turn it into a business and start making crazy amounts of money doing something you love.
However, it is good to note that once you turn your hobby into a business, you won’t be doing it for leisure any more.
There will be client orders to meet, marketing, financial goals, and so on, and these will require lots of hard work if you want it to grow into a successful business.
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