Monetizing Your Hobby: Is It a Trap?
Updated: Jan 24
In between the dull roar of posts about the #MLBCheatingScandal last week, I noticed a Tweet from @AVDoesWhat that I found really interesting.
As the executive director of a business incubator and work space, this question hits close to home for me. Because really, isn't this where a lot of businesses, particularly side hustles come from? I enjoy making jewelry, or baking and decorating cakes, or taking pictures, so I'm going to see if I can make some money doing it?
Genius ideas are born from necessity. Top quality services are offered by field experts. Very rarely (though we do see it), does a person say, I want to own a business and I don't know a thing about pets, but I'm going to start a grooming company. Again, it happens, but it's rare.
So where is the trap?
<Insert Admiral Akbar Meme Here>
(No, I'm not taking on The Mouse today, folks.)
I believe there are actually two that a hobbyist who becomes a business owner can fall into.
The first comes from feeling that in order for a hobby to be valuable, you have to be making money from it. If you search the website of any news outlet under the sun for the word "Hobby," you will absolutely find one if not a dozen articles about how hobbies are important to the human mind and spirit. Hobbies help us de-stress. They help us make new friends. They give us a sense of pride. And, to quote one of my all-time favorite memes:
So don't let the...
memes of the world convince you that making that discarded tire pet bed wasn't worth it for the experience you got and the joy in Fido's eyes. If it makes you happy, you know what I say?
But what happens when that super-cute project becomes a social media sensation and everyone from you Aunt Janet to your neighbor Barb wants one. And more importantly, they're willing to pay you for it?
If you WANT to make or do more, and sell your hobby, you come across the second potential trap.
It goes something like this... Because I am an amazing mechanic, I know what it takes to run a successful shop or because I am a trained dance instructor, I know what it takes to fill a studio or because I can decorate cakes, I know what it takes to run a bakery.
Running a business is a skill, or more accurately a large set of distinct skills. Marketing to generate leads, sales to convert customers, setting your prices to achieve acceptable margins, creating a culture of repeat business... They are all unique areas in which the finest florist in the world just might not feel comfortable.
The fortunate reality is, though, that if you are that baker, florist, mechanic, stylist, software developer, arborist, or whatever, you can work to learn the skills you need in order to develop your business acumen and find help to fill the gaps in your skills.
So, can turning a hobby into a business be a trap? It all depends on how you approach it. And if you're ready to try walking down that road after reading this post, I hope you'll let us, here at Cohab, help.