There are two meanings to the question “can blogging be a hobby?” I’ll address both in this blog post.
The first meaning is asking whether blogging can be for fun and not a business? Can it be a creative outlet that isn’t monetized?
The second meaning is asking, I think, is whether a blog can be about a hobby such as quilting, stamp collecting, model trains, scrapbooking, etc.?
The answer to both questions is yes.
Let’s expand on it just for fun.
1. Can blogging be a hobby; a fun creative pursuit that doesn’t make money?
Yes, blogging can be a hobby. A fun hobby IMO.
Many great sites on the Web started as a hobby.
The costs are so low that it’s actually an economical hobby. You can get away with paying only $5 per month for website hosting. That’s it. For $5 per month you can enjoy a wonderful activity. I started with Bluehost to host my sites. I paid around $5 per month for years. I now host with Rocket.net which costs quite a bit more but due to the amount of website traffic I get, it’s necessary.
In fact, having the hobby mindset for your blog can work well. It takes quite a long time for a blog to start making serious money. If you’re desperate from the start to make a lot of money, you’ll definitely experience disappointment. I’ve been at this a long time and have started many niche sites and blogs. I’m almost always disappointed during the first year or two. You’d think by now I’d know that a site won’t earn much during years 1 and 2. Yet, for some reason each time I launch a new site, a part of me thinks it’ll be different.
With a hobby mindset, you’re just having fun writing and creating. You have no ads. You don’t bother with affiliate links. You just enjoy publishing content that you believe people will enjoy. You gain satisfaction from the creating and published work itself; not the paycheck.
No pressure to publish
When you blog as a hobby, there’s no pressure to publish on a schedule. Whether you publish one blog post per day, week or month, it doesn’t matter. It’s for fun. No pressure means more enjoyable.
Not beholden to SEO topics
What are SEO topics? They’re topics that other people search. There are millions of them. Billions actually so going after those topics isn’t exactly a stringent restriction. However, if blogging for fun, you can dream up any topic you want which is liberating.
When blogging is a hobby, you don’t have to focus on publishing on certain topics that can get you search traffic. You can publish on any topic you want.
Can you go from blogging as a hobby to building a blogging business?
You bet you can and many hobbyist bloggers do. Once traffic grows and they become more knowledgeable about the industry, they realize that a blog with traffic has earning potential.
It’s hard to resist turning it into a business. Most people aren’t independently wealthy so the thought of earning $100, $500, $1,000 or more per month from something enjoyed is irresistible.
Monetize with display ads (easy and fast)
The easiest way to start earning money with your blog is to put display ads on the site. All you do is put some code on your site or in the case of Mediavine and AdThrive, a plugin and you have a revenue-generating website.
If you have fewer than 50,000 monthly sessions, I recommend putting Ezoic ads on your site.
If you have more than 50,000 monthly sessions, I recommend Mediavine ads (that’s what I use on all niche sites).
Monetize with affiliate links
The second easiest way to monetize your blog is to link to relevant products for sale with affiliate links. Amazon is a great start. I also recommend getting a Skimlinks account which gives you access to tens of thousands of merchants instantly (once approved). I pretty much use Amazon and Skimlinks for my niche sites. Between those two, I can monetize pretty much any niche.
Can you monetize with both ads and affiliate links?
Yes, you can and it’s a really great way to go about monetizing your blog. I focus and earn far more with display ads but other publishers earn more from affiliate links. It really depends on your content. If your content has a buyer intent to it such as you reviewing products you own, affiliate links are better. If you publish more informational content such as tutorials and non-product topics, display ads are better.
2. Can you blog about your hobby?
Yes. I’m a big fan of blogs that are about a particular hobby. I have a cycling, skiing and a few other hobby-oriented blogs. Basically, I launch sites that cover topics I know about. I might as well publish blogs about the various activities I enjoy.
Why do I like hobby blogs?
- Usually, they are somewhat commercial so there’s money in them. Most hobbies require buying stuff which means there are advertisers paying to advertise. This means you can earn with your blog from both display ads and affiliate offers.
- It’s easier when you know the niche: Because I have an electric mountain bike and ride it often, I know a decent amount about electric mountain bikes. Because I ski dozens of times every season and spend a week in Whistler each year, I’m very familiar about skiing. Because I own a boat, I know about boating. So on and so forth. This does not mean I don’t publish in niches that I’m not so familiar about but it sure helps when I know and like the niche.
- Defined audience: blogs that cover a hobby have a defined audience which is everyone who is interested in the hobby. Some hobbies are more popular than others which is something you should keep in mind.
- Plenty of content options: Hobby niche sites offer the opportunity to publish all types of content: news, tutorials, reviews, Q&A, editorial, etc. I love niches that offer many content options because it makes for a robust site that’s fun to publish.
Does turning a hobby blog into a business take the fun out of it?
It’s different. Both mindsets are fun. I never started as a hobby. I started blogging for a brick-and-mortar business and my goal was more clients from the blog.
I have so much fun running my niche business it’s ridiculous. I look forward to doing it every day. I don’t work too many hours; like a hobby, doing it too much definitely ruins it. But I definitely run my business with a fairly heavy mindset toward revenue and performance. I still enjoy creating blog posts such as this and I still enjoy watching my sites grow but I also enjoy planning and coming up with strategies that will grow traffic and revenue.
It’s no different than professionals in all kinds of realms. I’m sure playing hockey professionally has a different outlook than playing it for fun but you don’t see professional hockey players quitting. They love it even if it’s a business. It’s a dream to be able to earn a living doing something you enjoy doing. I happen to really enjoy blogging and publishing niche sites; so much so I publish Fat Stacks which is my “hobby blog” about the business of blogging.
Jon runs the place around here. He pontificates about launching and growing online publishing businesses, aka blogs that make a few bucks. His pride and joy is the email newsletter he publishes.
In all seriousness, Jon is the founder and owner of a digital media company that publishes a variety of web properties visited and beloved by millions of readers monthly. Fatstacks is where he shares a glimpse into his digital publishing business.