Economic Impact of Hobbies in America

An activity that gives one pleasure and makes one feel relaxed is termed as a hobby, it can be anything, from a simple habit of reading daily after a tiring day before hitting the sack or something complex like gardening or cooking delicious meals. But the fact that one does not feel tired, in fact, if anything, the activity gives one a feeling of unwinding and letting go of whatever bothers them throughout the day. But are you aware that hobbies are not solely a means of relaxation?

Now it has also become a source of steady income for many. Imagine earning from somethaing that does not feel like work at all.

The Revenue Generation Via Hobbies

With the accessibility of the internet, the opportunity of e-business or e-shop has made it simpler for many individuals to take a leap of faith and turn their hobbies into a lucrative businesses. An interesting fact worth knowing is that in the USA one-fourth of Americans are engaged in conventional hobbies like plantation and art and craft. Many have successfully turned these hobbies into businesses worth billions of dollars but certainly all that required a lot of effort on the part of the hobbyist. According to a survey conducted by Statista, some hobbies that are very common in the USA are cooking, reading, and keeping pets. The table below shows the top 10 American hobbies as per the 2022 research by Statista [1]

Top 10 American hobbies in year 2022

Ranking

Hobby

Percentage

1. 

Cooking or Baking

39%

2.

Reading

36%

3.

Keeping Pets

34%

4.

Video Gaming

32%

5.

Outdoor Activities

31%

6.

Traveling

28%

7.

DIY Art and Craft

26%

8.

Gardening and Plants

24%

9.

Socializing

24%

10.

Board and Card Games

23%

Hobbies are not just benefiting for the individuals but on an economic level, they contribute reasonably well to the GDP, create employment and become a medium of successful businesses. An example of these could be reading, on average, a reader spends around $114.1 per year on buying books (as per 2022 statistics) or take, for example, the hobby of cooking, one cooking expert who started the channel as a hobbyist on YouTube, by the name of CharlisCraftyKitchen earns around $ 127k per month through her channel.

From Hobby to Successful Business

The multimillion-dollar business

Those aspiring hobbyists who want to turn their hobbies into business but are reluctant to do so should let go of their worries and dive in as anything done with passion yields result. Disney, a business worth $200 billion in 2020 was started with Walt Disney’s hobby of drawing.[2] Another story of a hobby becoming a successful employment opportunity for the hobbyist is of Alicia Shaffer, she was passionate about boho chic style. A mom of 3 started selling on Etsy and soon was earning around $60000-80000 a month.[3] While businesses related to hobbies provide direct employment to hobbyists, they generate income opportunities for many people in one way or the other.

How Hobbies Help Generate Opportunities

Mrs. Field confectioners

Who do not crave Mrs. Field’s gourmet cookies all the time? We all do, but do you know this housewife did not know that her hobby of baking will one day become an enterprise worth $200 million?[4] In fact, her husband was not even sure if she would manage to sell her cookies, but she proved him and everyone wrong with her determination. This multi-million-dollar business provides job opportunities to 4000 people now. The same is the case for Amazon, a company that started off as an online reading/bookstore that turned into one of the go-to e-stores for anything and everything, providing job opportunities to other hobbyists, manufacturers, retailers, wholesalers, writers, voice-over artists, sortation associates, warehouse associates, customer representatives and every remote job such as advertisers, virtual assistant, product listers.

Hobbies and Self-Employment

The hobby of content creation

People have been earning from their passions for quite a long time. From selling their art in galleries or streets to performing and earning as street artists, hobbies have paid the bills of many artists. But the internet and social media have made it easier for people to reach the right audience who will pay them for something they like doing. Readers have started their book clubs online and even started libraries that charge a minimum monthly fee. Some even sell their brownies and cookies online and earn more than they did when they were working as corporate employees. Michelle Schroeder-Gardner started a diary during her MBA years.[5] Her “Making Sense of Cents” was so successful that she paid off all her debt for college and both, she and her husband left their jobs as this freelance gig was making them more money than their jobs.

Entrepreneurship and Hobbies

Entrepreneurship and Hobbies

When one does something that they love and that work pays their bills too and allows them a luxury of a good happy life, one feels obliged to share the happiness and encourage others to follow their hearts as well, that is the reason why hobbyists become better entrepreneurs, they can easily run a venture as they find joy in their work. The table below shows some successful Entrepreneurs who love their hobbies so much they made a business out of them.

Hobby

Business

No. of Employees

Monthly Profit or Net Worth

Baking

BakedIn: A successful baking kit business started by IT colleagues in 2013. [6]

53

$17M per year.

Making Aeroplanes

The Boeing Company

140,000

$66.6 billion a year

Cooking with Grandmother

Reggae Reggae Sauce

25

$45 million net worth

Art and Craft

The Hedgehog Hollow. [7]

25

$50.303 net worth

Writing and Illustrating

K J Kruk 

Less than 25

<$5 Million revenue

Traveling 

Eat Walk Learn 

6-10

$1-5Million revenue 

Hobbies and Their Benefits to the Country.

America’s love for hobbies can be measured by the fact that the hobby industry plays a vital role in economic growth. In the USA Arts and craft is one hobby through which the USA earns $763.6 billion a year. This figure is more than what the country earns through transportation, agriculture, and warehousing. Besides contributing to the economy of America, the art hobby becomes a source of employment for 4.9 million people, generating an income of $370 billion a year.[8]  Not only that but the hobby even allow more export than import. In 2018  $20 billion were earned through art export by America. One can measure the importance of the hobby from the fact that craft hobbies generated a revenue of $ 38 billion in 2016, and made $110.67 billion in 2019, showing the craze Americans have for hobbies.

Impact on Retail Sales and E-commerce 

The logo on e-commerce shop

According to Statista, the hobby sector generates around 9.6% of the total e-commerce and retail revenue and this figure is likely to increase to 12% by 2025 in the USA. The platforms like Zazzle, Etsy, Shopify, and DeviantArt provide hobbyists ample options to exhibit their work and sell it to a wider audience. Etsy earned $2.3 billion in 2021 mainly through its marketplace alone. [9]

Ancillary Industries Profiting from Hobbyists’ Spending

Hobbies even help ancillary industries to make it big while helping hobbyists in their crafts. From Whatsapp to Discord, many aid hobbyists in one way or another. Although Whatsapp started as a communication app, many businesses now use it as their priority to send marketing messages to potential clients or even to display their catalogs. According to a survey, people read messages much more often than they will check emails, around 80% of sent messages are opened within 5 minutes. [10] Whatsapp too earns generously through businesses.

Technological Innovations for Hobbyists

From Instagram to Facebook, every social media platform now works to allow small businesses to thrive. Being low on funds, hobbyists often use technology to advertise, touch up and showcase their work. The one reason why platforms like YouTube, TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram are designed not solely for individuals but businesses as well. Now that everything is digitalized, even hand sketching is done on digital drawing pads instead of computer screens. To aid the artists even more, now portable printers are hitting the market as well. In fact, those into model making can now even buy themselves a small 3d printer to convert their art into miniature pieces.[11]

Collaborations between hobbyists and professionals 

With social media playing the biggest role in making hobbyists popular, many big enterprises collaborate with artists to encourage their art and benefit from mutual collaboration. One example of this is Coca Cola which initiated the Coke Studio with the intention to promote music. The talent of many closet singers was highlighted through it. Makeup artists always get collaboration with fashion brands and Health and Life Style Brands. Michelle Phan, a makeup artist who came to the limelight through her innovative makeup YouTube channel collaborated with Lancôme before starting her own Makeup brand. [12] Mac collaborated with Fafi, a graffiti artist recently as well for their makeup packaging illustrations. [13]

The Emergence of New Hobbies and Interests 

Man slacklining between two mountains.

The traveling and Tourism industry is gaining more attention in the past few years, one reason for the growth in these industries is the increase of interest of the millennials in fitness and traveling. The USA makes around $1.9 trillion and provides 9.5 million jobs to the people through the tourism industry. It is believed that the travel, fitness, and camping industries will be profitable businesses even in the future.[14]

Some hobbies that are starting to gain fame or becoming new trends are glamping and slacklining which is thrilling yet fun. Food connoisseur is trying their hands at creative hobbies like latte art, while stressful lives have encouraged people to learn fun and carefree arts like acrylic art, and stress-free coloring. With more people exploring music beatboxing is also becoming a new hobby for many.

Potential Challenges and Mitigating Strategies

Hobby industry has allowed many to explore new ventures and test the waters for themselves by trying to monetize something that they like to do. But when it comes to business, many times one has to go beyond their interest, for example learning new skills to make the business work, skills like marketing your products, understanding the demand and supply requirements, learning to manage finances, and managing time as well. Sometimes hobbyists have to keep track of trends and modify their work accordingly. 

Finding the right material at a reasonable price can also be very challenging as mostly, these small ventures are self-managed and cannot bear the heavy material cost. The products from such ventures are usually priced more than the market price as the businesses demand on per customer basis and not mass production.

Conclusion

Having a hobby is necessary to remain stress-free as hobbies play a major role in the mental health of the individual. Now with everything at your fingertips, it is easier to showcase your work to the masses and gain fandom through social media platforms. So, if you have tonnes of products that you made with all the love, let’s not allow them to stay in the closet, put them on your pages and make a lucrative business from your craft.

References

[1] Most popular hobbies & activities in the U.S. 2022. (2023, March 7). Statista. https://www.statista.com/statistics/997050/most-popular-hobbies-and-activities-in-the-us/

[2] Schmohe, A. (2021, June 12). From David to Goliath: 8 brands that started as hobbies. The Vector Impact by Vector Marketing. https://www.thevectorimpact.com/brands-that-started-as-hobbies/

[3] Shaffer, A. (2021, January 13). Alicia Shaffer: How a mother of 3 built the second best selling handmade products shop on Etsy. Medium. https://imaliciashaffer.medium.com/alicia-shaffer-how-a-mother-of-3-built-the-second-best-selling-handmade-products-shop-on-etsy-660bba35cbf3

[4] Debbi fields net worth. (2022, June 9). Celebrity Net Worth. https://www.celebritynetworth.com/richest-businessmen/ceos/debbi-fields-net-worth/

[5] Miller, Z. (2018, November 15). 14 people who turned their hobbies into million- and billion-dollar careers. Insider. https://www.insider.com/million-dollar-hobbies-careers-2018-6#michelle-schroeder-gardner-making-sense-of-cents-1

[6] Online business card printing and flyer printing. (2019, February 6). instantprint. https://www.instantprint.co.uk/think-big/how-to-start-a-business/6-people-who-turned-their-hobby-into-a-business

[7] Just a moment… (n.d.). Medium – Where good ideas find you. https://medium.com/authority-magazine/ten-entrepreneurs-share-how-they-turned-their-hobbies-into-successful-careers-22e574e35e2

[8] The arts contribute more than $760 billion to the U.S. economy. (n.d.). National Endowment for the Arts. https://www.arts.gov/news/press-releases/2018/arts-contribute-more-760-billion-us-economy

[9]150+ Etsy statistics: The global creative marketplace. (2023, June 24). MarketSplash. https://marketsplash.com/etsy-statistics/

[10]15 benefits of using WhatsApp for business. (2023, June 21). Brevo (ex Sendinblue). https://www.brevo.com/blog/benefits-whatsapp-business/

[11] Hoffman, T. (2016, January 4). The best 3D printers for 2022. PCMAG. https://www.pcmag.com/picks/the-best-3d-printers

[12]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michelle_Phan#:~:text=In%202010%2C%20Lanc%C3%B4me%20made%20Phan,monthly%20beauty%20product%20subscription%20service.

[13] Sophia. (n.d.). 8 Arty makeup collaborations that will blow your mind away … Allwomenstalk. https://makeup.allwomenstalk.com/arty-makeup-collaborations/

[14] Industries that will thrive thanks to millennials trends. (2021, June 30). CB Insights Research. https://www.cbinsights.com/research/report/millennials-industries-thriving/