Avoiding the Trap of Monetizing Your Hobbies
Updated: Jun 16, 2021
I recently took up web development as a hobby, something to do in my spare time. But I noticed when I started telling others about it they remarked, "You should do that as a side business". That was not my purpose of taking up this hobby, it was to challenge myself. I wanted to learn about all aspects of web development, not just programming.
I wondered why every time someone mentions a hobby like sewing or knitting, others push them towards monetizing it (e.g. opening an Etsy shop). It appears we all are obsessed with the idea of a side hustle and monetizing every aspect of our life.
Molly Conway, discusses this relatively new phenomenon in her article The Modern Trap of Turning Hobbies Into Hustles. And the phrase, "Do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life", but in her article she mentions the trap many fall into when they do this: they work hard all the time with no separation or any boundaries, and begin to take everything personally. Highlighting the negative affect of turning your hobby into a business.
Conway's article has two quotes which resonated with me:
"You don't have to monetize your joy", and
"It's just to say that it's okay to love a hobby the same way you'd love a pet; for its ability to enrich your life without any expectation that it will help you pay the rent"
Both of which I agree with. I will also be writing about the "follow your passion" advice: "find what you're passionate about and then find a job that matches that passion" and Cal Newport's Book, So Good They Can't Ignore You, which delves into the topic.
In my article, Building Range, I mentioned how having plenty of hobbies can not only be beneficial to your life but can also help you in your career. As I said there you shouldn't do a hobby because you think it can benefit your career, you should do it because it's fun.
I urge to avoid falling into this trap, turning your hobbies into hustles. While this works for some people, you don't always need to make everything a hustle. It can ultimately put more pressure on you in the long run. As Conway said, "you don't have to monetize your joy", sometimes hobbies can be there simply to enrich your life.
I've heard this is a common feeling with Youtubers, sometimes when you turn your hobby into work you stop enjoying it as much as you used to. Now instead of a relaxing hobby it's a source of stress . You don't get to enjoy the hobby anymore, you have to work at it and every time you do it it's for a purpose. There's no more unstructured time, to just dabble and have fun. If a Youtuber begins making videos as a hobby but later on decides to turn it into a business, their previous joy at making videos can become a burden. Now they create content because it's their livelihood, not for their own pleasure.
This phenomena is explained in Tiffany Ferguson's, video, Why Do Popular YouTubers Stop Uploading? in her Internet Analysis series. She discusses, in more detail, the reasons why famous Youtubers like Bethany Motta and Daniel Howell, stop uploading as frequently or altogether. A few reasons she listed are: pressure and perfectionism, Youtubers feel more pressured to create good content or content that is associated with their brand; self-doubt and overthinking, since this has become their livelihood they feel they need to create content that generates views. Now that their hobby is monetized it brings more pressure, self-doubt, and criticism than before. While many Youtubers find their work fulfilling others feel too much pressure to bring in views, create relevant content, and feel trapped by their "brand" and therefore quit Youtube.
This is just a cautionary tale about turning your hobby into a side hustle.
I want you to avoid this trap if possible. That isn't to say you can't enjoy your work. It's just to say you should be able to keep some hobbies and your job separate. As we've all seen during the Covid-19 pandemic with people working from home the line between personal and work becomes blurred. There needs to be a separation between the two, sometimes one blends into the other but overall you should understand when work ends and your personal time begins.
See you next week!