October 04, 2011

When to Keep it a Hobby

Normally, Sanders Says is all me.  But to celebrate a great new book, I'm turning over the reigns to Alexandra for a guest post that I'm sure you'll gain great value from…


Alexandra Levit, Author of Blind Spots: The 10 Business Myths You Can Afford to Believe on Your New Path to Success

Blind-Spots-Cover One of the major problems with “do what you love, the money will follow” is that often the things we genuinely love to do don’t pay anything.  These activities start off as hobbies, and perhaps they should stay that way.

Because there is no specific market demand for the products or services that arise from many hobbies, businesses associated with these hobbies tend to be unprofitable.  For example, my next door neighbor creates brilliant collages from different types of paper, but because she knows that few people would spend the money to hang a collage in the living room, she maintains a stable career as a restaurant manager.   

In his article for Entre-Propel.com, Matt Thomas says that hobbies don’t always translate into jobs.  “There is no guarantee that a hobby will translate into a set of tasks that you enjoy.  Let’s pretend you enjoy keeping fish as pets.  Does caring for fish mean you will enjoy running a retail store?  You might hate writing about fish, teaching about fish care or installing fish tank equipment for customers,” he writes.  “Turning a hobby into a business may ruin the fun of it.  Pursuing what you love for gain may lead you to perform work relatedtasks that you hate.”

Thirty-six-year-old Monique Harris is a counselor by trade.  She grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area at a time when you could still see the sea lions lounging on the pier at Fisherman’s Wharf every weekend, and she pursued her education at the California State University, East Bay.  Monique has always been passionate about photography.  “My dad bought me my first camera when I was 11, and boy did I have fun clicking away and alternating between the limited zooming options,” she says.  “When I got older, though, I realized that owning my own camera isn't so exciting when (a) I have to pay to get the film developed and (b) I did notreceive a weekly allowance.” 

Monique admits that she was discouraged from pursuing photography as a full time career because of the competitiveness of the field and the expense of training.  Now a working mom who travels frequently for her job, she recognizes the need for a creative outlet, but she’s not willing to make all the sacrifices and life changes that will be required for a professional photography career.  “This summer, I decided to purchase my first SLR camera, but I don’t have the most expensive equipment.  I shoot people at their homes to avoid the costs of studio lighting,” she says.  “I love having this hobby outside my 9-to-5.  It reminds me of how important it is to have balance in my life instead of giving all my energy to work and family.”

Monique may not make a boatload of money from photography, but she doesn’t need to.  She values the role she plays in the education sector and the financial rewards that come with it.   


Want to learn more about how you can protect your career from myths like “do what you love and the money will follow”?  Check out Blind Spots: The 10 Business Myths You Can Afford to Believe on Your New Path to Success (Penguin/Berkley, October 2011).




Posted at 9:10 AM in Business Effectiveness  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)  |  TrackBack (0)



SO true. I love writing and playing guitar, but I realized decades ago that neither would feed three kids, a dog and a mortgage.

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