Is Monetizing Your Hobby a Death Sentence for Passion?
Hustle, hustle, hustle has been the mantra for years, and 2022 is no exception—according to a recent survey, 93 percent of working Americans are doing something to make a little extra on the side. Many people are using simple side jobs to boost their income, but there’s been a shift toward considering ways to make money off your hobbies. After all, if you enjoy it, it will feel less like work, right? Do you like sewing? Do you enjoy painting? Do you do woodworking in your spare time? Well, there must be a way to turn that interest into a moneymaker. You should open an Etsy shop!
Ok, hold on. Should you?
How good are you at your hobby?
Passion doesn’t equal talent. And that’s ok! Sometimes we greatly enjoy things we may not be particularly skilled at. You could need more time to develop your abilities—after all, nobody is born just knowing how to draw or cook or build. Think about the years it took you to get to where you are in your current career. Consider the skills you needed to develop to become a person with the experience necessary to fulfill the responsibilities of your position. And consider how you developed those skills—likely a combination of study, research, training, and many workdays’ worth of focus.
Let’s say you’ve spent years developing the skills needed to be an expert at your hobby. You pursued it because it was an interest for you outside of work, and you’ve taken classes and made connections and spent the 10,000 hours to master your skill…
How good are you at the other stuff?
When you monetize a passion, you have to take into account everything else that’s involved. The list can include many things, depending on where you plan to sell your hobby and how many materials and space is needed to create your product, but do you feel comfortable:
- Pricing and creating margins along with the other components of finance, including tax
- Marketing and promoting, including creating an online presence for your product
- Sales, which works hand-in-hand with marketing in getting that marketed product out to a customer
- Deciding on location—where does the creation and selling of your product live? Do you need to rent a space to work on your hobby? Where would that be? Do you need to create a website? Will you be selling at farmers markets or some other physical space?
None of this is meant to discourage you if you want to monetize an interest, but it is important to understand you are essentially starting a very small business. And when you start a small business you will need to either be able to handle these business elements yourself or pay someone else to do the ones you don’t feel comfortable with (and include that in your margins as well).
What’s your final goal for this endeavor?
Is this always going to be a hobby? Do you plan on turning this into your full-time job? Or are you just looking for a way to pay for your hobby? Planning to keep things small, selling a few products a month (or year) to bolster your current income or pay for the tools you need to continue developing your passion is one thing, but if your end goal is to leave your current career and support yourself running your own small business, well, that’s a whole other ballgame.
A monetized hobby can outgrow a side hustle, and you’ll have to decide when that happens. But it never hurts to think about what your final goal is at the beginning. If you are selling your work, you will become influenced by what people buy—it’s inevitable. Are you willing to follow the market to make sales? If you paint, and what people buy is pet portraits, do you want to mostly paint pet portraits? This is the part that could be a death sentence for your passion. The reality is, when you’re reliant on your hobby to produce all your income, your hobby can no longer be a stress-free pursuit. It doesn’t have to destroy your passion, but monetizing your hobby can definitely diminish the level of enjoyment you experience—though, a fat paycheck would probably put a smile right back on your face.