12 popular activities that you can turn into a career

Turning your passion into your day job doesn’t always have to be a distant dream. Here are twelve popular leisure activities that you could actually get paid for, and some useful tips on how to get started….

1. Gardening


If you’re in the market for a new job and you’ve got green fingers, then why not consider applying for a job as a Gardener? If you love interacting with nature in the great outdoors then this could be the perfect role for you.

There are plenty of sites around the country that rely on Gardeners to look after their grounds by doing a range of tasks such as pruning, weeding, leaf clearing – as well as planting and maintaining trees and plants. Not only will you get to spend the warmest months of the year feeling the sun on your face and getting plenty of fresh air, but you’ll also reap a whole range of health benefits, including reduced stress levels, increased energy levels and improved balance and flexibility. Gardening is a fantastic opportunity to get in touch with your creative side and build something beautiful. There’s a lot to be learnt about different plant species and the more you learn, the more breathtaking the final result be.

Whilst you may want to start out working for an employer like the National Trust, many people also decide to go self-employed once they’ve been up enough confidence in their skills and knowledge. Self-employed gardeners are usually contracted by businesses or members of the public. They usually grow a client base who need regular garden maintenance, but can also do one-off gardening jobs, such as clearing or making over gardens entirely.

Ready to apply for gardening jobs?

2. Arts and crafts

arts and crafts

Do you spend your evenings and weekends handcrafting greetings cards or making unique jewellery pieces for fun? Do you fancy being your own boss? Then you may be able to turn your casual hobby into a business that you can run from home.

Years ago, it was only possible to make a living by selling your handcrafted pieces, if you were prepared to lug them to a market stall or a car boot sale. But it’s now easier than ever to sell your creations without leaving the comfort of your own home. With e-commerce websites like Etsy becoming increasingly popular, it’s literally as easy as deciding what it is you want to sell, making sure you have all the right materials to start crafting, and listing items for sale on your online shop. Then when items sell, you simply package them up and take them to the post office.

The trickiest part of selling handcrafted items can be building up a client base, so it’s useful to find a range of different ways to promote your online shop e.g. by setting up a Facebook page or an Instagram account and getting as many followers as you can. You could also start off selling your handmade items to friends and family, or visiting local craft fairs where you can show off your handy work to others and hopefully encourage more sales. It’s also possible that you may be able to sell some of your handmade items to small independent shops in your local area.

3. Socialising


If you’re a people person whose favourite activity is socialising, then there are plenty of different people-focused roles that you could take on. For some people, going to work is ideal for meeting people from all walks of life, whilst giving something back to the community. From retail work to counselling through to hairdressing, there’s sure to be something that takes your fancy – why not try one of the career paths below…

4. Woodwork/Carpentry

Wood you like to turn your carpentry into a day job? If you enjoy building things out of wood in your free time, then you could have a potential new career in the pipeline.

Depending on how skilled you are, your handy work could prove very useful to a myriad of different people. Whether you enjoy carving beautiful sculptures, creating furniture or erecting wooden structures, then you could start charging for your masterpieces or your services. If you want to sell smaller wooden pieces, then you can do so on sites such as Etsy. Or you can sell larger wooden furniture pieces on sites such as eBay.

If you’d prefer not to sell handmade wooden items, but would still like to be a carpenter then you could consider offering your carpentry skills on a freelance basis, or by becoming an employee for a construction company.

In order to be taken on as a Carpenter for a company, you may need to complete an NVQ in Carpentry at your local college, whilst working as a Carpentry Assistant.

However, if you would prefer to work on a self-employed basis then, you will need to establish a client base and build on your experience and reputation. Some self-employed carpenters are contracted by construction sites whilst others work on a job-by-job basis and are contracted by members of the public. Before you begin working on a self-employed basis, there are a few things you’ll need to put in place, such as:

  • Public liability insurance – to insure that you are covered in the event that a member of the public is injured as a result of your work.
  • Personal accident insurance – not everyone opts for this, but it can help to insure that you still have an income for a while if you have an accident and cannot work whilst you recovering.
  • Tool insurance – this is helpful for providing cover for the tools you use everyday in case of loss or theft.
Once you’re all set up, you will need to start advertising your services – the best way to do this is by creating your own website, printing some business cards and/or showcasing your work and/or setting up your own company Facebook page. When starting out, it can be useful to do carpentry jobs for friends and family and pick up jobs via word of mouth.

5. Event Planning

event planning

Are you the person that your family and friends call on when they want to plan a wedding, or a birthday surprise? Does just the mere idea that an event could be on the horizon, give you the urge to get involved? Then it’s worth thinking about a career as an Event Planner…

Event Planners are responsible for planning some or all aspects of important professional or social events. They work with clients to identify their needs and plan the event in line with time and budget limits. They can be responsible for organising details such as decor, catering, entertainment and transport, and may also be involved with ensuring that the event runs smoothly on the day.

Event Planners may work:

  • for a single company, planning corporate engagements.
  • for an agency, planning things like art events and concerts.
  • on a self-employed basis, planning weddings, parties and other events.

You don’t need any particular qualifications to get started – many employers will take people on as Events Assistants or trainees and provide on-the-job training.

If you would rather work on a self-employed basis, then you’ll have focus on winning clients and building up your experience. The best way to do this is to start by helping to plan events for friends and family or for local community groups to build up a portfolio and showcase your work. It can also be helpful to get in touch with local Event Planners to ask if you can shadow them.

Although it’s not essential to have any qualifications, it can still be useful to take an Event Management course online to boost your skill set and enhance your credibility. This will also give you more information about setting up your own business.

6. Photography


If you’re always snapping photos in your spare time, then why not consider a career in photography? It’s entirely up to you what you choose to photograph, but many people specialise in areas such as weddings, travel, wildlife or portraits.

The great news is that if photography is already a hobby of yours, you may already have a good selection of great quality photos that you can add to a portfolio (it’s best to have both a hard copy and online version), to show potential employers or clients. If you want to enhance your credibility and develop your skills further, you could also take a short photography course; either one that’s more general or something more specialised, such as a wedding photography course.

If you want to become your own boss and work on a self-employed basis, then a good way to start finding work is to start taking photos for friends and family, and ask them to recommend you to people they know. It’s also a good idea to set up your own website and social media pages where you can showcase your work, promote your services and set your rates. If you’ve never created a website before, then WordPress can be a good place to start because it has a lot of templates and themes designed specifically for photography.

You can also try reaching out to photographers in your local area to start building connections in the industry – they may be able to give you a few tips on getting started as a freelancer and are often open to mutual referrals for different photographic specialties or if there is simply too much work for them to take on..

If you’d rather work for an employer, then many companies, such as fashion retailers, publishers and holiday resorts will also hire photographers on a permanent or contract basis.

7. Music


Can you play a musical instrument? Have you ever thought about teaching someone else to play and giving them the gift of music?

You don’t need a degree to offer students private music lessons – some of the best musicians in history didn’t or don’t have music degrees. But you need to be fully competent in playing the instrument that you want to teach, as well as being patient and able to communicate ideas and concepts clearly. Whilst you need to be a competent musician, you don’t need to be a concert pianist, as it’s more important that you are able to help, explain and coach others to succeed, than it is to be a world class player yourself. Music tutors teach students how to play an instrument by teaching them about posture, finger placement, theory and music in a way that they can easily understand. They will also help to reinforce positive habits to make playing the instrument become second nature.

Students will usually have musical goals that they are looking to aspire to and, as a music tutor, it’ll be up to you to help them achieve that!

The easiest and most efficient way to start a career as a music teacher is to think about who you know – do any of your friends know someone who is looking for a music tutor? People usually rate tutors on how at ease they make the student feel and how much they managed to learn – so it usually isn’t long before students who find success with you, start recommending you to other people in their network. However, it’s also worth listing yourself as a music tutor on websites such as First Tutors or creating a Facebook page advertising your services, so that clients can look you up. You could also place business cards or flyers in local cafes, community areas and schools.

8. Animals

Are you happiest when you’re hanging out with your pet, or when you’re watching an animal documentary on TV? For animal lovers, getting paid to hang out with a few furry friends at home may seem too good to be true, but it really isn’t! You could take up a role as a Pet Sitter…

Pet sitting is a role that has always been around, but the culture of it is changing as people become more career focussed. And although more people are focussing on their careers, PDSA estimates that 49% of UK households now own a pet (with the majority of these being dogs and cats), which means there are plenty of animals out there just waiting to be walked, cuddled and loved while their owners are away!

With people now embracing more opportunities to travel for work and an ever-evolving tech industry, it is now easier than ever to find a Pet Sitter online through sites such as Tailster and Pawshake – which are useful for building up clients when you’re first starting out.

The start-up costs associated with starting a pet sitting business from home are usually low. It’s a good idea to have insurance if you decide to work independently of pet sitting sites (most will cover you when you make work booking through them, but always check first). But in general, most pet owners will just want to know that you’re reliable, trustworthy, and keen to care for their pet.

9. Fitness


Have you got a flair for fitness? Can you appreciate the value that exercise can add to your life? By becoming a Personal Trainer, you could help people take steps towards being happier, healthier and more comfortable in their own skin – which can be incredibly rewarding. It can be wonderful seeing the progress that people make in their fitness journey – especially when you know that you’ve played a part in this.

Working on the basis that we should all be able to feel good about ourselves, Personal Trainers try their best to make that happen by working one-or-one or in groups with clients to help them get fitter and stronger. They usually work in gyms or those who favour greater flexibility over their schedule may prefer to work on a self-employed basis.

You don’t need any formal qualifications to become a Personal Trainer, but it’s advisable to take a recognised qualification to improve the safety and credibility of the service you’ll be offering. Many Personal Trainers start off by working in a gym in order to network and build up their confidence first, before going it alone.

10. Writing

If you enjoy expressing your creativity through writing, then why not make it your career? There are plenty of freelance writing opportunities out there that could allow you to work from anywhere in the world.

Freelance writers are classed as self-employed and typically tend to write for more than one client at a time. Many people choose to go down the freelance route because they enjoy variety and flexibility. You can pick and choose which jobs you decide to take on and you could write anything from horoscopes to slogans, through to news articles – so it’s difficult to get bored.

You don’t need any specific qualifications to get started as a freelancer – but you will need to prove that you can write well. The best way to do this is by putting together a portfolio of your favourite pieces of work. Free websites like Issuu or Medium are great for keeping your work all in one place, so that it’s easy to show to potential employers. It can also be helpful to start a blog about a topic you’re passionate about, as this is when your writing will usually be at it’s best. 

Once you’ve created a portfolio to showcase your work, the best way to get started – if you’ve got little or no paid experience – is to join freelance sites such as Upwork, where you can apply for a range of one off writing jobs. Once you’ve had a few paid jobs, you’ll be able to start building up a network of regular clients, who may also recommend you to other employers – and so on.

11. Baking


Have you considered turning your passion for baking into a home business?

For lots of people, baking is the ideal time to combine a love of food with a creative passion – and with shows like the Great British Bake-Off inspiring millions of people every year, it’s unsurprising that more people are recognising the potential that a career as a professional baker has to offer. And success is often much sweeter when you can immerse yourself in a career that you love.

Apart from making sure you have the right equipment and ingredients, there are a few other things that need taking care of before you can sell your home-baked goods to members of the public:

  1. At least 28 days before you start selling, you must register your food business with your local council (for free). Once registered, a member of the council will visit you at home to check that your kitchen complies with the regulations set out by the Food Standards Agency. These visits are nothing to worry about – the council will just want to check that you’re baking in a clean and hygienic environment.
  2. Get permission to run your baking business at home from your landlord, home insurance provider and/or mortgage lender.
  3. Anyone who wants to run a food business should also have appropriate food hygiene training. Oddly, the law doesn’t state specifics about what this training should be, but it is strongly recommended by the Food Standards Agency (FDA) that you aim to get a Level 2 Food Hygiene Certificate, by taking a short training course.

Once you’ve completed all the steps above, you can turn your attention to the fun stuff and start thinking about what kind of baking you want to do i.e. vegan, savoury or decorative cakes for special occasions. It’s worth putting some thought into what kind of baked products would be most popular in your local area and start going about finding customers. Many local cafes and community centres are always on the lookout for locally baked products that they can sell to their customers so may be a good place to start.

12. Travel

Do you love nothing more than to travel abroad? What if you could find a career that allows you to explore new cities and immerse yourself in new cultures, whilst earning money at the same time? In today’s increasingly connected world, it may surprise you to know that there are a wide range of opportunities to do just that.

As a Flight Attendant, you could quite literally let your career take off and make your way around the globe whilst you work, providing a fantastic opportunity to tick all the countries you’ve always wanted to see off your list! Or perhaps you’d like to teach English as a foreign language abroad, in regions like Central Europe or Latin America.

There are plenty of jobs out there that will allow you to work in various locations around the globe. If you’re feeling inspired then you can read our full article here…

Have you turned your own hobby or passion into a career? We’d love to hear your story at [email protected].

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