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My 3.5 Hobbies that Make Me Money

Turning your hobbies into paying gigs

By Steve B HowardPublished 2 years ago 7 min read
My 3.5 Hobbies that Make Me Money
Photo by Josh Appel on Unsplash

There is the old saying, “do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life”. Probably true, but if you can only do the things you love part-time or if the things you love doing don’t pay enough to cover your bills then you will probably need a day job like me.

It is a bit disheartening at times for me since I certainly don’t love my day job (teaching English in Japan) all that much, but having 3.5 hobbies that pay at least a little bit each month takes the bite out of my day job somewhat.

So, what are my hobbies?


I’ve been writing short stories since 1997. I started earning money from it in 2000. Since about 2013 from book sales and then in 2018 on Medium I’ve been earning about $10-$100 a month from my writing. Not much, but last year while writing for News Break from Jan-Aug I did manage to earn about $10,000, by far the most I’ve ever earned from my writing. Maybe I could earn a lot more if I really knuckled down and wrote to make money, but then more than likely I wouldn’t be writing what I like to write (mainly fiction) and I wouldn’t enjoy doing it anymore.

Stand Up Comedy

I started doing stand up comedy about seven years ago. The guy who runs our little comedy group here in Nagoya has been a pro for over forty years and feels it is very important for his comics to earn at least something for their effort. I don’t earn a lot, but in terms of how much I make per hour doing comedy and how much I make teaching, stand up comedy actually pays much better. Unfortunately, we can only realistically put on one show a month in Nagoya. And even those have been hard to do the last few years because of Covid 19.

But out of all of my hobbies stand up comedy has probably been the most exciting and fun. I’ve done stand up comedy in Nagoya, Aichi, Gifu, Fukuoka, Tokyo, and Salem, Oregon. If I had to chose just one hobby to do as a full time job stand up comedy would probably be the one.

Gods Unchained (online crypto-currency game)

This is my latest hobby. I guess I’ve technically been a gamer since 1977 when I got an Atari for Christmas when I was seven years old. I don’t think gamer had even been coined at that time, that’s where it all started for me. Maybe even before that since I remember playing Pong at a friend’s house, which came out in 1974, I think.

But until I started playing Gods Unchained about eight months ago I’d never earned a dime from any of the video games I’d played. I did dump a small fortune in quarters into arcade games in the 80’s though.

Gods Unchained is an online card game very similar to Magic the Gathering and Heartstone that gives you the chance to earn tokens called God$ while playing the game and a chance to win NFT cards that can be sold to other players or collectors. Early on I got extremely lucky and won a card that I was able to sell for about $700 worth of ETH. I’ve also managed to win about $200 worth of God$. But, I’ve also spent a lot of ETH and GOD$ in the hopes of getting cards that are more valuable or help me play the game better. I think I’m still about $300 ahead at this point though. It is hard to say though since 2022 has been absolute murder on crypto-currencies and their value has dropped considerably.

I love playing the game though and I imagine since it requires me to concentrate, use strategy, and do simple quick calculations in my head it is probably good for my old brain.

Fly Fishing

I mentioned that I have 3.5 paying hobbies and you have probably been wondering where the .5 comes from. Well, as I mentioned, I wrote for News Break last year from January to August. Actually, from January to March I was mostly just cutting and pasting stories I had already written, some of them decades before, into News Break and publishing them. Then in March News Break changed the rules and said they would only accept local American news stories. I’m originally from the Seattle area and I also lived in Northern California for nine years from 1985–1994, but I’ve been living in Japan since 2003. Pretty hard to write local news stories about Seattle or San Francisco when you’ve been living thousands of miles away from both places for nearly two decades. But, News Break’s confusing and often contradictory rules did state that writers not currently living in the US could write for them. So, that’s what I started doing.

I have been fly fishing since 1993 (yes, after I saw the movie A River Runs Through It). So, I started writing 25 stories a month about all the different places I have fly fished in Northern California and Washington State. Hence, the .5 part of the 3.5 hobbies that earn me money. My time spent fly fishing allowed me to write stories about it (local news according to News Break) and make about $5000 in three months. Which would probably cover about half of what I’ve spent on fly fishing gear since 1993. I did love writing all those stories, but they also required a lot of time to research since my memory is far from perfect and some of them have changed considerably since I last fly fished there in the early 2000’s.

Those are the 3.5 hobbies that earn me at least a little bit of money. It is very unlikely that I will ever get rich or even make a living from any of these. Only about 2% of writers make a living at it and I imagine that is probably true for most creative types. So, my writing and stand up comedy probably won’t ever lead to much, but the good thing is, I can continue to do both of them as long as my brain continues to function. Which means, I might be able to keep trying until I’m in my 70’s or even 80’s.

Gods Unchained could potentially be the fastest and best chance I have to earn a lot of money, but it could also be worthless as well. It is really hard to say what will happen with crypto-currencies and NFTs at this point. Right now the game is pretty exciting to play and the potential to earn GOD$ and NFT cards is a big motivator for me as well, but if the whole crypto and NFT world tanks at some point I doubt I will continue to play Gods Unchained as much as I do now. And even if I did start making really money at it I’m not sure my wife would be too happy if I told her I was quitting my day job to become a professional gamer.

And finally my last hobby and the one I would have loved doing professionally the most, but would also be by far the most demanding at least physically. I’ve known a few fly fishing journalists and writers who make a living writing about fly fishing. To write about it means you have to spend a tremendous amount of time doing it. That means all the traveling to places to fly fish, enduring all types of weather, and sometimes even risking your life (even as a hobby I’ve had a few close calls). Even though between 1993 and 2003 I was probably on the water at least 2–6 days a week I think I would probably burn out if I was doing it professionally every day year after year. And since I’m living in Japan now, not really a country famous for fly fishing, I highly doubt I could make a living doing it and writing about it anyway.

As they say though, money isn’t everything. I enjoy doing all 3.5 of these hobbies whenever I can even if they don’t pay, so I’ll keep doing them as long as I can.

goalshow tohappiness

About the Creator

Steve B Howard

Steve Howard's self-published collection of short stories Satori in the Slip Stream, Something Gaijin This Way Comes, and others were released in 2018. His poetry collection Diet of a Piss Poor Poet was released in 2019.

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  • PhyllisSmith5 months ago

    Your diverse hobbies showcase a passion-driven approach to earning, from writing and stand-up comedy to gaming and fly fishing. Balancing enjoyment with some financial return adds fulfillment. Each hobby contributes its unique joy, whether in creativity, strategy, or the great outdoors, making for a rewarding journey.

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