Why hobbies are quickly becoming careers

Careers and hobbies both involve hard work, why not make them one and the same.

by bret.silverberg, published 01/16/2014
Snowboarding Maybe you’ve read that article from The Onion, you know, the satirical one about finding your passion and only doing it on nights and weekends. But why shouldn’t you love what you do for work — and still make ends meet. Wouldn’t you flip the whole “working-to-support-my-hobby” routine if you could? Dan Schawbel, author of Promote Yourself: The New Rules For Career Success, has made his hobby his life’s work. But, as he cautions, it didn’t happen overnight. In the mid-2000s, he worked for EMC during the day, but spent the rest of his time blogging, writing a book and in general creating his brand. He says he put in 100 hours per week in those days, and still works to sniff out every possible opportunity today. The “working-to-live” approach, he says, is falling out of style for some in today’s world, and people are making their hobbies their careers whenever they can. “It’s becoming harder to do work that you hate,” he says, “and if you’re just in it for a paycheck, you’re not going to get that job.” Of course, the challenge differs depending on what your hobby is, and not everyone is willing to take the risks sometimes associated with such a move. But Alison Doyle, job search expert for About.com, says now is a great time to pursue one’s hobby as a career. “There are so many different work options now than there were in the past,” she says. For example, you could test the waters through a Kickstarter campaign to fund your new career aspiration. You could even try to run someone else’s Kickstarter campaign, which could transition into full time work, she says. Love to ski? Work on a mountain. And for you musicians, check out this opportunity with a church. Freelancing is also an option for many — Doyle says this is particularly popular for public relations professionals these days. There’s even room to go the job-by-day/hobby-by-night route. Doyle offers an example: She knows someone who worked in merchandising for a big retail company, but had a desire to be a yoga instructor. She worked hard at her day job, and asked to cut back her hours at the company so she could put more time into her yoga certification and the work required therein. Based on her performance, the retail company offered her the flexibility she needed so she could get certified. But this example could also serve as a warning, Doyle says. “You need to be careful,” she says. “You likely need a paycheck coming in, maybe benefits. You need all the resources to set yourself up. That dream isn’t going to translate to something tangible right away, and it’s probably not going to happen overnight.” It’s about figuring out what would work best for you, Schawbel says. He’s decided that at age 30 his days of working full-time for one company are over. But he knows that he has to put in as much work as possible to take his business — and ultimately, his professional passion — to where it needs to be. “I expect it to be hard, and that expectation isn’t ever going to go away,” he says. And actually, Schawbel believes the hobby vs. career argument is moot; that you have to be passionate to be successful in doing any type of work. “If you’re not 100 percent focused, or you continue to do work you don’t like, it’s going to affect your personal life anyway,” he says.
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