Lord of the Flies

by William Golding

The Hired Girl

Laura Amy Schlitz

The perfect hobby

The perfect hobby

The perfect hobby. Something you do for fun. Something that actually is fun. Something that’s really cheap. Something that might pay off. In cash.

airborne motorcycle stunt daredevils swinner/Shutterstock

To our great surprise, airborne motorcycle stunt riding didn't make the cut.

There’s the “clever” part. The average teenager spends more than seven hours each day in front of a computer, a TV, or a mobile device. Peel yourself away from the digital haze, and you might get so good at your cheap hobby that someone will actually pay you to do it for them.

To get you started, we’ve picked five perfect hobbies. They’re fun, cheap, and packed with potential. You can grow any of these into a lucrative part-time job, and they might even launch your fabulous career.

They’re not the only perfect hobbies. So if you don’t like these, don’t worry:

There’s a world of perfect hobbies waiting to be discovered. By someone clever. Like you.

High school aged photographer Feliz Mizioznikov/ShutterstockPhotography

· Why is it the perfect hobby?

Cameras are everywhere. You’ll even find really good digital cameras on smartphones. So there’s a decent chance you already have everything you need to take photos.

Of course, you want to take really good photos. You want to capture images like these, and these, and these. Well, we’re happy to report that the web has all the free resources you’ll need to grasp the fundamentals of perspective, lighting, composition: the holy trinity of the photographer’s art.

As your skill level increases (that’ll take practice, but if it’s something you enjoy, you won’t find that to be a drag), you’ll seek out opportunities to get your photos noticed. You’ll submit them to a photography competition. You’ll share them on social media platforms like Flickr and Pinterest. (This teen’s Flickr stream got him attention from several major media outlets.) You might also set up a blog to display and discuss your art.

· How would I get paid for it?

Once people see you’re good with a camera, you could let them know you’re available to take pictures for them at weddings, christenings, family reunions. You could show local businesses that you’ve got what it takes to be their on-call photographer. Here’s one high school student who parlayed her win in a state photography competition into a lucrative part-time business that includes, among other things, taking pictures of kids with the Easter bunny at the local mall.

· What’s the career path?

If you’re a superstar, there’s photography: from high-end fashion photography, to photojournalism, to portrait and wedding photography. If you’re not a superstar, then your hobby will help develop your creativity and artistry, sharpen your eye, and, if you’ve made some cash off of it, hone your entrepreneurial instincts.

girl with guitar spaxiax/ShutterstockGuitar

· Why is it the perfect hobby?

Guitars are only slightly less ubiquitous than cameras. They’re also quiet. Which would you rather hear: A clueless beginner plucking a guitar, or torturing a violin? Nothing sharpens the ear—and the mind—like the study of music.

And, lastly, well c’mon: It’s the guitar. Could there be a more perfect way to up your “cool” factor?

· How would I get paid for it?

Once you’re reasonably good, you can offer guitar lessons through a local music store, or through an online service (if it’s OK with your parents). If you’re really musically inclined, you may find yourself writing and performing your own songs. Even if you’re not a superstar, you could launch a blog or YouTube channel to showcase your musical talents and use it to promote your availability to play at social events, like reunions and weddings.

· What’s the career path?

If you’re a world-beating genius, you know the answer to that question as well as we do. If you’re not, you may decide you want to translate your musical skills into fields like music production or composing.

Either way, you’ve certainly been the hit at a lot of parties—and, just maybe, made some connections that will pay off in ways you’d never imagine. There’s a word for that. It’s called networking.

Cooking man with kitchenware over white background Masson/ShutterstockCooking

· Why is it the perfect hobby?

Here’s a hobby that satisfies two basic human needs: The need to eat, and the need to create. You don’t have to take a class or even buy a book to be a wizard in the kitchen. (Though free online food blogs, and there are hundreds of them, can be a great resource.) All you need is a willingness to practice—and eat your own cooking.

Some of the most famous food celebrities out there, like Rachael Ray, never went to culinary school, or college, for that matter. They just practiced and practiced. And through that practice, they not only improved; they also found their niche—that specific area of foodie culture where they could bring something innovative to the, er, table.

· How would I get paid for it?

Here’s one case where the possibilities really are endless. These high school seniors in Pennsylvania didn't have summer jobs on the docket, so they launched an ice cream business. This North Carolina eighth grader's hot sauce business has mushroomed into a mini-empire, with orders coming in from around the globe. And then there's the case of this high school senior who wanted to earn some money for college. His name is Fred Deluca, and he opened a little sandwich shop he called "Subway." Yes, that Subway.

· What’s the career path?

You don’t have to be a world-class talent to make a fine living as a chef. Hotels, convention centers, cruise ships, airlines, corporations, even the U.S. military, have an insatiable appetite for people who can cook. In Silicon Valley, companies like Facebook, Google, and Apple compete for the services of chefs that keep their employees happy. And if you’ve got the stuff for it, the Food Network would love to talk to you.

young woman draws a portrait ollyy/ShutterstockDrawing

· Why is it the perfect hobby?

A pencil. Paper. Those are your tools. If you’ve got those, you’re good to go. Your school may offer a drawing class. If it doesn’t (or you can’t fit it into your schedule), no worries: There are plenty of resources online to get you on your way.

· How would I get paid for it?

Depending on your strengths, you could launch a blog (see a pattern here?) that shows off your talent for illustration, or logo design, or web design, or even portraiture. This U.K. teenager sells detailed pencil-and-ink drawings of cruise ships on his website for the equivalent of several hundred U.S. dollars each.

· What’s the career path?

The ability to draw lies at the foundation of hundreds of creative professions. Designers of all kinds—of cars, of fashion, kitchen appliances, billboards—are handicapped if they cannot draw and draw well. Even image design software like Photoshop and Illustrator hasn’t rendered drawing obsolete. As long as that word design remains in use, so will the ability to draw be a skill worth having.

illustration of boom in television on abstract background Vectomart/ShutterstockVideo Editing

· Why is it the perfect hobby?

Heard of YouTube? Drop in the ocean. Nearly one million minutes of video flash through the web every second. It takes just five minutes for the equivalent of every single movie ever made to ricochet around the internet.

So jump in! Today’s entry-level video editing software enables a novice to conjure the sort of visual magic once only created by elite professionals. A lot of this software is online and free. Add to this the almost limitless web tutorials on video editing and you’ve got yourself your ticket to the show.

· How would I get paid for it?

Any number of ways. You can make and edit your own videos, post them to YouTube, and earn anywhere from a pittance to a fortune from the advertising revenue. This teen’s YouTube empire became so big that she quit high school to oversee it full time. (Not recommended.) You can create informational videos, and promote your skills with “demo videos” on your website like these teens did, using a web-based animation platform. (Their going rate starts at $1800 for each minute of animated video.)

· What’s the career path?

Video editing is a world of its own, but a world that keeps getting bigger: Corporate and government demand for video production is projected to quadruple over the next four years. And if you decide you don’t want to become a professional editor, you’ll still have honed technical, creative, and perhaps even comedic and musical skills that will benefit whatever work you end up doing.

What's your version of the perfect hobby? Let us know!

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