Should you turn your hobby into a career?

We’re all guilty of the occasional daydream where we imagine quitting our jobs and turning our passions into our careers, but loving a hobby, is not the same as finding it fulfilling as a career. For some people transitioning their hobby into a career is a wonderful and fulfilling step whilst for other’s it can take the joy out of that hobby.

Here are some simple things to think about before deciding if it is the right change for you. Remember, it is a big decision and there is no rush.

1. Try the 10% rule

This is something I would suggest everyone does before turning their hobby into a career. Test out using 10% of your working time what it might be like to do as a job. Loving yoga is not the same as being a yoga teacher, likewise, loving cooking is very different from being a chef. Hold some free classes for friends or offer to cater for a friends party and get a sense of if you still enjoy it.

2. Can you monetize your hobby?

Think about how you can monetize your hobby and what your potential earnings might be both immediately and long term. Does it require extra study? Can you afford it? On the flip side, would money be less important to you if you were doing something you loved? Or would monetizing your hobby compromise that hobby itself and what you enjoy about it?

3. Is it the right time to change careers?

Whilst changing careers can always be a risk, there are times in our lives when we have more flexibility to try something new than others. Are you at a point in your life where you could take a short term pay cut to try your hobby as a career? If it means working evenings or weekends alongside your current job initially is that an option?

4. What is it about your hobby you love?

Identify what it is about your hobby that you love so you can make sure that you will still have that part when you turn it into a career. If for instance, you love taking beautiful photos when travelling, would you still love photographing a wedding if that’s what you need to do to monetize it? If you love reading, would you enjoy running a bookshop or would it lack the actual reading part you love?

5. What other skills might you need?

Are you going to work for yourself? If so, you might need to promote yourself to get sales, is that something you are comfortable with? Do you need a website and to use social media and if yes, is that something you are comfortable doing or learning? Thinking about the other skills required outside of the one you already have and if you would be willing to learn these or pay other people to fulfill them for you.

6. What have you enjoyed or disliked previously?

Take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle to create two columns. Then take every job you have had previously (whether it was working in a bar or as a lawyer) and write down in one column all the things that you loved about that job, and in the other column the things you disliked. Once you have done this for all jobs, look for recurring themes, then ask yourself, will turning your hobby into a career give you more of what you liked and less of what you disliked? If for instance, lacking autonomy or creativity is a common problem, turning you hobby into a career might help you solve this. If, on the other hand, you’ve disliked when there has been a lack of direction or you have had to work by yourself, will turning your hobby into a career mean you are part of a team and community or more flying solo?

7. Can you try it part-time?

Think about if it is something you can test out part-time before launching yourself fully into it to test the waters. Does it require you quitting your job, or could you scale back your hours a bit or use your evenings and weekends?

8. What would you have to give up?

This is very important to think about before pursuing your hobby as a career. You want to make sure it is worth the sacrifices for you. You might be sacrificing time away from family, working in a team, finances, security or work perks. Balance this with writing down what you would gain as well and work out if the balance shifts enough in your favour.

9. Can you handle the criticism?

Friends and family will all have an opinion on you looking to change careers which can be both positive and negative. If there are doubts or questions, can you handle this? And further down the line, if you are selling either your own skills as a service or a product, if a customer is unhappy or criticises you, is this something that you will take very personally? How will you handle it? When it is your business baby that you have poured sweat and tears into creating, it can be much more personal and harder to take criticism than within the workplace.

10. Are you persistent enough? Do you like change?

It is likely that your business model will evolve as you work out what works for you and what your customer wants. Are you someone who likes routine and to know what is happening, or does flexibility and adapting your business excite you? Success takes a lot of hard work and most people don’t get their business right the first time. It will require tweaking and then more tweaking as the world around you changes.

11. Will you still enjoy it?

This is a key question to ask yourself. You might love the occasional day crafting, but would you enjoy making the same product again and again?

If you do decide to take the leap and decide to turn your hobby into a career, GOOD LUCK!! As the saying goes, sometimes a change is as good as a holiday….

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