Learn Today & Earn Tomorrow: 8 Hobbies the Web Can Help You Start for Fun

James Bruce 24-07-2013

It infuriates me when someone says they’re bored. We live in an interconnected world with the largest database of pretty much all of humanity’s knowledge at our fingertips — it is quite, quite impossible to ever be bored. You can learn literally anything on the Internet — and one of those might just go on to pay your bills someday.


Sharpening your skills online is an open door to improving the quality of your life. You could be surprised at how the Internet could help you shallow out the learning curve once you decide to start with and learn about a new hobby.

Here are my pick of 8 hobbies you can get started with online, which might eventually pay you back one day in the future.


The obvious one, but something you’ve probably scoffed at before (“oh, you write online? So you don’t have a real job then?“). Can you really make money blogging? Yes, actually, and there are a variety of approaches you can take.

For one, if you can find the right niche market or mass appeal, there are mountains of advertising revenue ready for the taking. I’d like to emphasise the point about knowing your market though. My own little gaming site earns over $500/month profit for a few hours work, and that’s with only 100k monthly page views – but I cater to iPad gamers, who have already purchased an expensive tablet device and are more than happy to spend $5-$25 on a game or two for it. The same could not be said for Android – developers often make less than 5% compared to the same titles on iOS, so the advertising revenues that you’re hoping for a slice of will be far smaller.



Even if you’re unable to directly monetize your blog, don’t forget that simply having that blog and getting yourself out there will often lead to other opportunities in life. When I noticed MakeUseOf was hiring a few years ago, I applied for the job with an archive of my own tech tutorials already under my belt – I’d never made much money from that particular site, but the fact that I could point to some high quality content and prove my writing abilities meant that I was hired – and went on to become the lead developer too. I wouldn’t be here today if I hadn’t started that little blog 5 years ago.


The main thing to bear in mind with blogging is to use it as a creative outlet for your skills — whatever those may be. Write about how to be a better photographer; publish those cookie recipes that friends and family tell you are absolutely divine; share those DIY woodworking plans – just don’t make the mistake of writing about your daily life and sharing opinions on unrelated topics, because really no one cares.

If you’re going to start with a free hosted service like, at the very least purchase your own domain name so you won’t lose all your work when you eventually upgrade to self hosted Just so you know, there’s a difference between and What's The Difference Between Running Your Blog On & With Wordpress now powering 1 in every 6 websites, they must be doing something right. For both experienced developers and the complete novice, Wordpress has something to offer you. But just as you start on... Read More .


Where to Start:

eBay Auctions / Etsy

You needn’t go out and purchase costly retail space to set up shop on the Internet; you can set up an online store for the entire world, overnight, and for very little initial cost. It’s easy to get started, and you’ll learn how to sell better in time. eBay has free listings nearly every weekend nowadays, so you’ll only pay a percentage of the final sales price.


Etsy Etsy - An Alternative To eBay For Handmade Products Read More is for those of you with more crafty abilities: if you can make something arty or unique, someone somewhere will probably want to buy it. It’s costs only $0.20 to list an item on Etsy for 4 months, with a 3.5% fee on sold items.


Where to Start?

Drop Shipping / Wholesale

You needn’t actually make your own goods, but it’s certainly harder nowadays since manufacturers have taken to listing their own goods directly. Drop Shipping means setting up a shopfront to use your sales skills without actually handling any merchandise — you sell the product, supply the manufacturer with an address, and they ship it. Wholesale means purchasing in bulk at a discount, and selling on eBay or locally, perhaps at car boots or local markets.

The core concern when starting an online store is that you’ll need to differentiate yourself somehow, because it’s very likely there are already others selling the exact same thing, cheaper. This certainly isn’t the easiest hobby to start online.

Where To Start?


Web Developer

As the architect of all things Internet, the web developers job will always be in demand. The good news is that you don’t need a degree to start – just a computer, which I’m going to take a wild guess and say you already have.

For a design-centric approach, such as customizing WordPress themes, start with HTML and CSS, move on to jQuery, then look at PHP and MySQL to develop your backend skills too.


For a scaleable custom web application, consider Node.js What is Node.JS and Why Should I Care? [Web Development] JavaScript is a just a client-side programming language that runs in the browser, right? Not any more. Node.js is a way of running JavaScript on the server; but it's so much more as well. If... Read More  – it’s still a developing technology, so building your skills with it now means you’ll be in a great position when it gains popularity in the future.

Where to Start?

Software Development

Mobile or desktop apps — it doesn’t matter; once you learn one programming language Which Programming Language Should You Learn For Software Development? When starting on the path of programming, it’s important you invest your time wisely in choosing to learn something that will both benefit you in the immediate future with visible results on your platform of... Read More , the others are pretty easy too. There are a huge number of programming tutorials available for free online, so it’s basically down to choosing a platform then following a few basic guides for the right language.

For mobile platforms, statistically you have more chance of making money if you’re developing for the Apple iOS platform, and the Objective-C language. However, there’s a mandatory $99/year developer fee if you want to actually be listed on the App Store, so keep that in mind. The barrier to entry with Android is far lower, and you’ll be programming in a more familiar and easy Java language.

For desktop apps, your choice of languages is more broad – Java will run just about anywhere but not very well, C++ is tough to pick up but much faster, and languages like Visual Basic .Net or Visual C# are a good middle ground but limited to Windows programming.

Where to Start?

This really depends on which platform you’ve chosen:


Aside from blogging, the internet is the perfect medium to practice and publish your creative writing. From Harry Potter adult fanfiction to technical manuals, there’s always a market online and lots of people ready and willing to critique your work and help you improve.


Once you’re confident enough to write your first novel, it’s easy to self-publish on the Amazon Kindle service.

Where to Start?


Assuming you have a fairly decent camera, photography 9 Blogs That Will Make You Into An Amazing Photographer There's blogs which try to cover everything related to photography; there's specialized blogs that dive into the niches; there's blogs which only talk about gear, and there's blogs by talented photographers. Read More is one particular topic thriving online. Start a portfolio to have your work seen by others, or sell your photos on a stock photography site The Top 8 Websites to Sell Your Stock Pictures You can make some money with photography by creating and selling stock photos. Considering how expensive cameras, lenses, and accessories can be, it's a great way to offset those costs. Read More . Thanks to wonders of digital cameras, you can take as many shots as you like until you get a good one. It costs nothing but time to make mistakes!
Where to Start?


I love Garageband. We use it to edit the Technophilia podcast every week – and it comes free with new Macs. Not only is it incredibly easy to sequence your own samples or use any from the supplied library, but you can also compose your own or record from an external microphone. You can play all the instruments yourself, if you want, or have your Mac play along with you.

For composing your own pieces, a cheap USB keyboard can be had for around $50, and Garageband comes with a huge selection of software instruments. Even an iPad can be used with the right adapter.

Garageband also has some great quality tutorials on how to play the piano, the few of which are which are free so you can have a go. I’d love to say there’s a free alternative for Windows, but there’s simply no comparison.


Where to Start?


Tell Us About Your Hobby

These are just 8 hobbies, of course – I’m sure there are a lot more. Did you learn a hobby online, only for it later to become a paid job? Are you learning something online now? Let us know in the comments and share your favourite resources!

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. Steve
    July 25, 2013 at 8:19 pm

    It says that you earn over $500/month profit for a few hours work, and that’s with only 100k monthly page views.

    Is that revenue from Google Adwords?

    • James B
      July 26, 2013 at 9:34 am

      No - I could never earn that much from Adsense with so little traffic, and Adsense is a disgusting network anyway (yes, I know we use it here, not my decision). I use - and my most of my inventory is sold by the month, directly to advertisers. They pay $X regardless of traffic, and I set the prices. Some have continued to sponsor the site for about a year becuase the campaigns are so well targeted. Targeting is the key in my case - 100% of my audience is looking to buy an ipad game.

  2. Victor O
    July 25, 2013 at 8:05 pm

    My hobby? Making youtube videos :)

  3. Balaji M
    July 25, 2013 at 6:21 pm

    Automation is my hobby

  4. Zhong J
    July 24, 2013 at 9:19 pm

    learning isn't something for granted when you're actually applying in reality because everyone have their basis of learning curvature which anyone is capable of. It's a fun tip that you can earn money online through a specific hobbies but shouldn't be a replacement on the job you really like.

    • MakeUseOf TechGuy
      July 25, 2013 at 7:54 am

      Why would anyone be looking to replace a job they like? More to the point, how many people actually have a job they enjoy currently (other than me?)?

      • Yosua
        July 25, 2013 at 3:57 pm

        I did, I do web design, I'm merely a learning padawan, I enjoy the process and I got my first paycheck and many more from web design.

      • Zhong J
        July 28, 2013 at 1:35 pm

        That would depend on the individual because people have different hobbies and cannot set their mind on just one career. It's true that most people find their work dissatisfying because all of it was for the money and this is a question on base of living; can your dream job support your family and kids?

        Not to mention, not every job is the same in competition, salary, popularity and for some, availability.