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7 Hobbies You Can Turn Into a Second Career

For Tony Tremonto, it started with a love of sports memorabilia and a desire to save money.

The Phoenix resident had been spending $65 to $85 each time he wanted a piece of his memorabilia framed. Tired of spending so much, he decided to try his hand at framing the items himself. That led to working out of his garage and the realization that he could offer on-the-spot framing at sports cards shows, where athletes granted autographs.

Tremonto, 52, soon left his job in property management and pursued the framing business full-time. In 2013, his company, Studio ADT, opened its first retail shop. "My goal is to have small satellite offices around Phoenix," he says.

And it all happened because of a hobby.

Whether you are looking for a change of pace, need a new job out of necessity or want to supplement your retirement income, turning a hobby into a second career can make sense. Here are seven hobbies with good revenue potential.


If you're already the designated family photographer, you may be able to parlay that experience into a career. You could work at a studio, but many photographers choose to work on their own. Weddings and family portraits are popular subjects, but other professionals in the field do corporate work or create stock photos.


Practically any crafty skill can be used to create a second income. Etsy is home to many crafting businesses, but other people prefer to sell direct to customers, offer their products in local shops or travel to craft shows. You don't even have to craft items from the ground up to make this business model work. Alicia Shaffer, estimated to be one of the most successful sellers on Etsy, reportedly made $1 million in revenue last year by importing headbands, scarves and other items she embellishes and sells in the U.S.


Tremonto isn't the only one who's gone into business because of sports collectibles. David Morgan, 30, of Big Rapids, Michigan, makes enough from buying and selling football cards that he can stay home with his kids.

"As I was collecting, I needed to find a way to support my hobby," Morgan says. "But I ended up making more than I needed to. There was obviously a market."

Morgan initially traveled to card shows, but now does all his business on eBay. He tries to buy in bulk and specializes in pre-1980s players. His inventory includes tens of thousands of cards, which he says is necessary considering most cards sell for only a few dollars.

"[The value] is generally not what you think it is," Morgan says. "Expect 20 percent of what the price guide says."

Although Morgan makes money off football cards, any collectible with value could be turned into a second career using the same strategy of looking for low-cost items that can be sold for a profit.

Pet Services

Do you love animals? Dog sitting and dog walking are two options for second careers, and don't assume you can't make much with these jobs. With websites such as and offering a turnkey way to promote services, you may be able to earn more dog sitting than at your day job.

Cooking and Baking

Families don't always have time to make healthy meals, and some are willing to pay a premium for others to do the work for them. That means those who love cooking may have the opportunity for a second career as a personal chef.

If you enjoy baking, you may find a market for whipping up treats that busy moms only wish they could make themselves. That's how Jamie Golden makes a living. She owns Jamie's Sweet Revenge and sells cake pops locally in Birmingham, Alabama, but also online to customers nationwide.

Since state and local laws regarding the sale of food can vary, check your local regulations before starting.


If you're a person who loves crunching numbers and creating budgets, you could have a second career helping others manage their money.

Phoenix resident Kelsa Dickey, 33, found she was spending most of her weekends and evenings helping friends and co-workers sort out their money issues. After realizing this work left her feeling energized and invigorated, she decided to quit her office job and start Fiscal Fitness Phoenix to provide financial coaching and budgeting services.

"I'm not a risk-taker," she says. "My husband and I planned this for a year. [We discussed] what would my schedule look like, what would I charge and how many clients would I need to pay the bills."

Dickey and her husband had an emergency fund as a backup and decided to give the business a year to flourish before re-evaluating their plans. However, she says family and friends helped spread the word about her business and her schedule quickly filled.


Although many people envision writers as crafting the Great American Novel, fiction is only one of many writing options. Professional writers may focus on nonfiction, copywriting, advertising copy or other specialties. They may be employed by publishers or work on a freelance basis. In addition to writing, editing is another second career option for wordsmiths.

Tips to Get Started

Transitioning a hobby to a second career isn't necessarily a fast or simple process. In many cases, hobbies turn into businesses that require people to become proficient in a variety of skills from marketing to inventory management.

Dickey recommends taking the following steps before trying to turn your hobby into a business or second career:

-- Before quitting your current job, try living on a lean budget that resembles the income you could reasonably expect to earn from your hobby.

-- Take some vacation time and use it for a trial run of your new endeavor. This will help you determine if you can stick to a schedule and enjoy your hobby enough to do it full-time.

-- For those who will be self-employed, practice stating your prices confidently. Dickey says many people, particularly women, are quick to offer discounts or otherwise backpedal on their stated prices.

-- Get organized and set goals before leaving your current job.

-- Tell family, friends and former colleagues about your plans and ask for referrals.

Both Dickey and Tremonto moonlighted for years before taking the plunge into business full-time. "You often hear the first five years of business are the hardest," Dickey says. "Try to do as many of those years as possible with some stability from a full-time job."

Tremento also suggests going into your new endeavor with limited expectations in case it doesn't turn out as planned.

"Once you start focusing too much on the money, you could lose your passion," he says.

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