How would you describe your dream job? For many, it’s doing something they love and getting paid for it. In order to reach this goal, you might decide to monetize your hobby (or hobbies) so as to gain income from something you would do anyway because you love it.
Earning money from a hobby does have its benefits. As a writer, I’ve taken something I enjoyed and practiced in my free time and turned it into my profession, and it’s so satisfying to have that ability.
But it isn’t all fun and games. If you choose to monetize your hobby, it can suck all the joy out of it just as surely as it can make your work enjoyable.
So before you monetize your hobby, here are some questions to ask yourself, to help start off with the right perspective.
1. Will making this hobby my job motivate me to keep up with it, or turn it into a chore that I dread?
Sometimes, monetizing your hobby gives you an excuse to make time for it. The added incentive of earning money helps you feel as though it’s worth spending extra time on it.
Other times, it turns the hobby into something you “have” to do, and kills the fun. Suddenly, it’s no longer something you choose to do just because — it’s something you have to force yourself to complete.
Ask yourself which response you are most likely to have, and keep in mind that it could be a little of both.
2. Will I put excess pressure on myself?
If you choose to monetize this hobby, are you likely to pressure yourself to produce a “perfect” result? Will that stifle your creativity or strain your mental health?
When you offer something for money, there’s an extent to which you need to meet others’ expectations. Will that make it so you don’t enjoy the creative process anymore?
Answering “yes” to this question doesn’t necessarily mean that you shouldn’t attempt to monetize your hobby, but it does mean you’ll need to be extra vigilant and able to relieve that self-inflicted pressure.
3. Am I prepared to set deadlines, meet expectations, and be vulnerable?
Again, if you monetize your hobby you will have to meet certain expectations from others. Are you prepared to change your processes at least a little in order to do this?
If it’s a hobby you’ve only practiced on your own thus far, you’ll also have to publicly share a part of yourself that you haven’t before. How much vulnerability are you prepared to show, and how much will you choose to keep private? (More on that below.)
4. What will I do if I lose interest in the hobby?
Let’s say you monetize your hobby, you build up expectations with an audience, and then you lose interest in the hobby. Will you continue to hold yourself to it, to keep up the income? Will you let yourself step back and preserve — or try to regain — your love for the hobby?
Even if you don’t end up losing interest, it’s a good idea to have a plan in place just in case.
5. What will I need to change about my process?
When your hobby is private, or simply shared with friends/family, you don’t have to worry much about outside expectations. If you monetize your hobby, you may need to set stricter expectations for starting and/or completing projects.
Will you need to set deadlines for yourself? Start planning much farther in advance than you would normally? Invest in better supplies?
6. What protections will I put in place for my mental health, creativity, and personal enjoyment?
Set boundaries for yourself so you don’t burn out too quickly. Decide what standards you’ll need to uphold, but also decide what standards you won’t worry about.
If possible, try not to monetize or publicize every single aspect of the hobby. Set aside some time and space for yourself to rest and to create solely for enjoyment. It’s tempting to try to monetize everything you do, but that drains the fun even faster, and wears you out chasing income every second of the day. Keeping part of the hobby private helps remind you that this is something you choose to do because you like it, instead of just an obligation.
Final considerations before you monetize your hobby.
None of these questions are designed to discourage you from making money by doing what you love. Rather, they are to help you prepare to do so. Knowing what to expect of yourself will help you avoid frustrations and maintain enjoyment for longer periods of time.
That said, do consider if you truly want to monetize your hobby, or if doing so will kill all the love you have for it. The last thing you want is for your favorite pastime to become a chore that you dread.
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