How Monetizing Your Hobby May Be the Worst Thing You Can Do

DarrylBrooks by on Unsplash

We’ve all seen the ads.
Make Easy Money With…

Followed by something that sounds really easy. For me, it was, “Make Easy Money With Pictures on Your Hard Drive.”

That was 16 years ago when I first thought about making a new revenue stream with my photography.

A year or so later, it was, “Write Your Way to Easy Money.”

For you, it might be “Six Easy Ways to Make Money in Alpaca Farming.”

Whatever the ad or email said, it promised that you could make easy money with something you were already doing. Either a new way to make money at your profession, or more often, a way to monetize your hobby. Getting paid for something you love and are doing anyway. What could be better?

Well, as it turns out, a lot of things.

You have just taken something you love to do in your spare time and turned it into a job. Now it’s work. It’s no longer something you can do in your spare time if you feel like it, but something you have to do every day to keep that revenue stream going.

Every. Day.

And that is how and why monetizing your hobby may not be a good idea.
If you allow the money-making aspect of things to take over and dominate your hobby, I can guarantee you; it will no longer be fun. It will be work. I know. I’ve been there. Spreadsheets and charts and graphs, oh my. Each month becomes a challenge to beat the month before. As if somebody in the back of your brain just turned into a slave-driving boss upping your sales quota every day.

For the love of money is the root of all evil.
~ 1 Timothy 6:10

I think old Timmy hit on something there. He didn’t say money was the root of all evil, as that passage is often misquoted. Money is good. Money lets us buy new toys. And if we have some left over, we can pay the rent and buy food. Money good. Love of money bad.

If you allow your drive to earn money to overtake your desire and love for your hobby or vocation, that’s where the wheels come off. But does it have to be that way? I don’t think so. I hope not. Let’s look at an example.

One day, you decide to take up pottery. You find a local class and attend a few sessions. You discover that you not only enjoy the craft, but you’re also actually pretty good at it. The place where you are taking classes has a store, and they sell one of your pieces. So, you decide to up your game a bit. You convert a corner of your basement or garage into a studio. You buy a potter’s wheel and a small kiln.

It takes a few days to complete a finished piece, but if you design a process of starting a new one every day, and doing the next steps on subsequent days, eventually you will be producing a finished product every day. So, taking weekends off, you take five new pieces to the studio every week to sell.

And they do sell.

So, you figure if you just start two pieces a day, you can double your income. And then ten pieces. You need a bigger kiln. Then you need to hire an assistant. Pretty soon, you are raking in some decent cash.

But it’s not fun anymore.

It’s work. A lot of work.

What went wrong?

You started chasing the money instead of enjoying the craft.
So how do you fix that?

Well, the best way would be not to go down that road, to begin with. Just continue to enjoy your craft and don’t care about or pursue making money.

But remember, there’s nothing wrong with money. Money is useful. It’s the love of money that turns things bad.

So, don’t do that.

Or if you have already started, just stop.

Remember why you loved the craft or hobby, to begin with. Make it about the process, not the result. Stay in the moment and enjoy creating or whatever the hobby is. Just enjoy doing it.

Then, if you happen to make some money, great. If not, who cares? You didn’t start doing it for money. You didn’t fall in love with it for cash. It was only when it became for the love of money that it turned evil. That it became, well, not fun anymore.

Sixteen years later, I still make money from my photography. And over time, that money has grown. But it’s still not about the money. When I go out to shoot, I’m thinking about the scene and capturing it. I think about the process I will use to take it from the camera to where it ends up.
And then, a few minutes a day, I spend uploading certain ones to stock, news, and art agencies. And I take their money. But I’m not doing it for the money. See the difference?

I write every day. I love writing. I wrote before I had any idea if or how I could make money from it. And I will write if the revenue stream dries up.

Don’t get me wrong, the money’s nice. I like money. But I love writing.

And photography.

I just took up the guitar, and I’m pretty pleased with my progress with it. It turns out, I can make music. And when the hours of practice actually turns random noise into a song, I feel joy. (Maybe I’ll write a song, ode to joy)

A neighbor of mine plays professionally. They perform at least once a week somewhere. I’m not sure how much money he makes, and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t care. It’s the performance he loves. He would, and has, played for free.

Doing something you love. Doing something you would gladly do for free, but having someone pay you to do it. But don’t make it about the money. Don’t turn it into a job; a chore.

The hard part for many of us is to remember why you loved it. Like anything else, this may take practice. So, every once in a while, preferably daily, just stop and have some fun. Stop working and remember why you love what you love.

At least once a week, I write an article that I know won’t get much traction, just because I want to write that particular subject. Weekly, I take one day and photograph purely for fun. Also weekly, I take a day out from practicing the guitar and just play. So, don’t forget to stop and pet your dog.

Otherwise, you might as well take up alpaca farming.

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I am a writer with over 16 years of experience and hundreds of articles. I write about photography, productivity, life skills, money management and much more.

Alpharetta, GA

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