From hobby to career – 8 things to think about

from hobby to career

from hobby to career

In “hobby as a mainstream career”, the thought of having a hobby as a mainstream career was initiated.  With two examples, I promoted the concept of entertaining the thought.

The next step is to assess one’s hobby and then understanding whether it is capable of that conversion.  After all, a career has to have certain minimum attributes, defined quite well by as follows:

“A career is the progress and actions taken by a person throughout a lifetime, especially those related to that person’s occupations. A career is often composed for the jobs held, titles earned and work accomplished over a long period of time, rather than just referring to one position.”

To have the potential of becoming a career, a hobby should satisfy the following requirements (which are intrinsic attributes of a career):

1. Have a consistent schedule, work and time requirements, i.e. like a job.  If your hobby is watching and understanding a specific comet which shows up once in (say) tem years, then it will not be possible to convert that activity into a career.

2.  Provide sufficient income on a regular basis.  Sadly watching movies and collecting old coins will not make the cut (for conversion from hobby to career)

3.  Provide a title, enhance knowledge and build experience over a period of time.  Just think of how “road runner” would look on a business card!

4.   Be transportable from one area/region to another or from one industry to another.  This is an optional requirement, which can help lengthen a career or provide a change

Looking at the above, some hobbies such as running, playing music (as a hobby), collecting articles (stamps, currency, coins, flags, old vinyl records, etc.), volunteer work, etc. do not, on the surface, have the potential of becoming solid careers.

Other hobbies such as spray-painting, wood-crafting, taking apart gadgets, building toys, etc. have more potential.

Even if the hobby or vocation may have the potential, ultimately it is the pursuer (you) that has to make the transition from hobby to career.  Therefore, there are certain traits that YOU must have in ADDITION to the intrinsic attributes of the hobby.

Here are eight thoughts to ponder before you make the leap from hobby to career:

1.       Teach-ability – whether the hobby (which is your area of expertise and passion) can be taught to others who are willing to learn.  This relates to your ability in addition to the potential of the hobby

2.      Flexibility – whether you are flexible in converting your interest in the “activity” to something else “related to the activity”.  For example, if you are a runner, would a career managing a store selling running shoes be interesting?  Or if cooking is your hobby then running a cooking site where you talk about cooking, analyze recipes, interview cooks and even run a cooking competition, be something that you could adapt to?

3.      Commerciability – what are the various services or product transformations that will make people pay, in relation to your hobby?  For example, if you love collecting old coins, your personal collection cannot be transformed into a career.  But setting up an “old-coin exchange”, where you facilitate the purchase and sale of old coins making a small fee off every transaction will then make the activity commerciable.

To have a safety net and to ensure the activity is sustainable, think of at least three revenue streams.  In the coin collection example, having period auctions of rare coins, putting up advertisement on the store web-site, writing a book on how to estimate the value of old coins are some examples of additional revenue-generation streams.

4.      Promotability – once you convert your hobby into your career, you are very likely to become a business-owner.  Marketing, selling, promoting your activity will become a primary activity.  You must become comfortable with this activity.

5.      Scalability – think of a hobby where someone loves to collect huge rocks.  Rocks of various shapes and colors.  Big ones. Now consider storing, transporting and displaying these artefacts.  Besides, how many people would be interested in these?  Clearly, this activity is not scalable. 

6.      Understanding financials – as a business owner, you need to understand business financials.  Understanding revenue, bottom-line, margins, break-even point, taxes, debt to equity, etc. is very important.  Of course, you can outsource these to your accountant.  But if you want to grow and become successful in your new “hobby-career”, you must take this head-on.

7.      Continuous Education and Improvement – you must keep in tune with the times.  Check to see if your hobby has “special interest groups”, industry associations or other bodies that offer periodic education programs and promote the activity.  In addition to keeping you current, these programs offer avenues for promotion and building your network of contacts.

8.     Availability of related merchandise – if your hobby has some kind of related merchandise that is required, then you can set up a few other revenue streams, such as providing reviews of such merchandise or even marketing those products.  In our old coin collection example, chemicals for polishing the coins, cases for storing and displaying such coins, fine balances for weighing such coins are a few examples of merchandise that you can sell.  Additionally you can provide your expert reviews on such merchandise, comparing like ones and providing an expert judgment to help customers make decisions.

Ultimately, you must have deep passion and love for the hobby.  Only then, going to work every day will be a pleasant experience.  Remember, when it was still a hobby, you were doing it on your spare time with no time-pressure or no work objectives.  When the hobby becomes a career you will have well-defined schedules, times, objectives and targets.

Check to make sure that the joy is not sucked out of the activity, once the hobby becomes a career.

Image: (c) Kay Leadership Academy