Can You Turn Your Hobby Into a Career?

Young Woman Painting on an Easel
Can she paint for a living?. Cavan Images/Taxi/Getty Images

Do you have a hobby—something you really enjoy doing in your spare time? Perhaps you love gardening, making jewelry, painting, caring for animals, taking photographs, performing or hiking. Like many people, you may dream of spending less time at work and more time enjoying your pastime. Maybe you can spend time on your hobby while you earn a living! It is possible to turn your hobby into a full-fledged career.

Why You Should Consider Turning Your Hobby Into a Career

The way you make a living should reflect who you are as an individual. When choosing an occupation, you must take into account your interests, personality and work-related values. Given the amount of time you spend at work, it is essential to enjoy what you do while you are there. It is mind boggling that most people don't give any consideration to the leisure activities they enjoy when they are deciding what they want to do to make a living. Perhaps it's because even Webster's Dictionary defines a hobby as "a pursuit outside one's regular occupation" (Merriam-Webster Online). You should consider breaking that rule. Not only will you enjoy your job, but you will probably be very good at it. There's a good chance you have skills related to your hobby. Why not earn your living doing something you both enjoy and at which you excel.

You may ask yourself, "Who's going to hire someone who loves making jewelry?" Good question.

With some hobbies, you may not have to wait for someone to hire you. Instead, you can start your own business. That may be the best way to incorporate your hobby into your career. Those whose pastimes involve creating things, for example, jewelry, clothing, or pottery, may do well to sell those items on their own.

Before you go forward with your plans, though, you should find out whether being an entrepreneur is for you. Susan Ward has written an article that will help you decide if you have what it takes to be self-employed.

Let's say you decide that running a small business isn't for you. You can still turn your hobby into a career, but you may have to get some formal training. Let's go back to the person who loves making beaded jewelry. He or she probably knows the latest jewelry styles, has an understanding of what styles look good on different people, and also is skilled in using the tools of the trade. Several options exist for him or her. That individual could take classes to learn how to be a jewelry designer or even get a college degree. Alternatively, he or she could become a jewelry buyer for a department store or become a salesperson in a jewelry store. He or she could also learn to become a jeweler by taking courses at a trade school or doing an apprenticeship.

Reasons Your Pastime Won't Make a Good Career

While many people have great success when they incorporate their hobby into their career, this option isn't a good one for everyone.

One reason is that your hobby may not translate well into a career. You should do your homework to make sure you will be able to make a living. You may really love spending all day doing something you would do even if you weren't getting paid for it, but reality will kick in when you can't make enough money to live on.

Another reason is that even if you enjoy your hobby tremendously, you may not have what it takes to make a living doing it. For example, you may derive great pleasure from training your 34 parakeets to sing the National Anthem, but  that doesn't mean you are cut out to be an animal trainer.

Whether you choose a career based on your pastime or on something else, you should research your choice thoroughly. If you find out there are aspects about it you would not like, stick to your day job, as they say, and save your hobby for your free time.

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