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Turning your hobby into a career - good or bad thing?

Updated: Jun 29, 2020

This article popped up on my Facebook newsfeed a short while ago.

From the minute I saw the title, I thought “uh-oh, this is sooooo going to be me”. And my god it was. It’s something I’m super guilty of. Over and over again.

And it particularly spoke to me as I’ve gone from a lovely new Photography hobby (not that new, more like ‘reignited recently’) to turning it into a career/business instead of just enjoying the hobby. Here we go again.

I’m a project person. I always have a ‘project’ of some sort on the go. Some have been ridiculous, some useful, some fun. But I always have to have a little pile of notebooks handy for when inspiration strikes and my poor husband rolls his eyes as a new project has started. A new notebook gets scribbled in repeatedly. A new domain name is purchased ‘just in case’. And a new business plans starts forming in my head alongside it.

There have been some successes. I started studying our family tree over ten years ago, and through doing so made some earth shattering (yet brilliant!) discoveries that changed mine and my family’s lives forever.

I had a little interest in pole dancing for fitness, which lead to many years of fun, life long friendships, incredible fitness (I miss that figure!) and taking part in shows and national competitions (never won anything, but I faced some huge fears!).

My little project of hiring fancy dress costumes from home and building a website turned into a proper shop a few years later after I was made redundant, and even got me a visit to 10 Downing Street (read more about that here if you want to

The photographer/model/make up artist networking meetings in Bristol, that started off as a few local people getting together. Then I got involved, carried away (as per usual) and turned them into these massive big events with coverage in a national photography magazine (still have copies of that article somewhere). It got too big. It lost it’s charm.

Then there’s our house renovation. Mostly my husband’s project, but very much encouraged by me. Great idea when I was a few months pregnant. We started work when I was 6 months pregnant. We’ve just finished. Our daughter was two in October. We’ve lived on a building site for most of her life.

These are just a few. The ones I’m proud of. The ones that taught me things and made me who I am today. The ones that became a ‘something’.

Then there are the failed projects. Various other websites I started just because I enjoyed building websites and wanted to mess around doing it. Too many to count. They didn’t really stick around long once I realised they weren’t going anywhere. I can’t remember most of them.

But that’s what I do. I get a new project, I get a sniff that it could be something, I get carried away. I lay awake at 3am plotting world domination.

So when I read that article’s headline (I’m getting back to the point finally!) I thought “oh my god i’m at it again, aren’t I!”. It was a reminder. Just the headline. This is what I do. This photography thing? It’s another one. Here I bloody go again.

And then I actually read the article.

It was a very illuminating read with a very interesting point. It’s not just me that does this. And actually, it’s almost expected now! Examples in that article are so true. So so true. I’ve heard people say to me over and over again “you should do this for a living” about my hobbies. Train to become a pole dance instructor. Work as a genealogist. Become a marketing consultant. Open a restaurant... a shop. Become a photographer.

To be fair, the photography thing has been said for a very long time. My husband has said it on a number of occasions, sometimes years ago. Before I got my new camera. Because in and out of my working life I’ve been involved in it one way or another through most of my jobs and hobbies. Both in front of and behind the camera. Working in marketing so understanding what’s needed from the cloent’s perspective. So I do, in all fairness, have a lot of knowledge and experience in the industry. More than I realise I think, because things pop up that I’m surprised I already know that answer to.

But yes, I too have been surrounded by the well meaning friends and family suggesting it becomes a job. And I have definitely been someone who says it too. To many people. A lot!

But does it ruin your hobby? Should you take your little bit of fun you do, just for you, and make it into your job so you can’t use it as an escape anymore?

Yes and no is my thought.

I agree a lot with the article. It’s certainly my experience. Absolutely. My fancy dress business went from being a fun project to 24/7 life. It took over everything. My work life, my home life, my dreams, my relationships. There was no break, no respite. But it was also one of my biggest accomplishments (thanks to my supportive husband and family, or it would have been one of my biggest failures!).

So I’m forced to consider whether doing it all over again with my photography will become the same thing? Will my whole life, both work life and personal life become only about that? Will I lose all the enjoyment I get from it? This time, I don’t think it will.

I learnt a lot about having that fancy dress business. I learnt that I don’t want a business to take over our lives to quite the same extent. I value family time a lot more now we have our daughter, and I need work that I can pick and choose part time hours around my family.

So yes. I am doing it again, but I’m going to keep the genealogy as a hobby, and throw away those pages in my notebook with plans for the website I want to build. Still might write the book I have roughly planned out though. Just for fun!

Photos courtesy of Kim at Bang Tidy Photography - Thank you Kim!

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