From hobby to passion to career – 7 examples

Swiss Alps - travel photography

Swiss Alps – travel photography

Following up on the last post on going from hobby to career, my friend Beth-Ann commented on the need to bridge the gap between hobby and passion.  This bridge is necessary before one can even think about transforming the hobby into a career.

In that post, I gave a few examples of some activities which, on the surface, do not have the potential of becoming solid careers.

In this post, I will list seven such examples and how those can be converted into solid careers.

Before that, there are two requirements for such conversion (from hobby to passion to career) to be possible:

The first is the bridge that Beth-Ann refers to. 

One must build a bridge to get from the hobby (part-time, leisure-time, occasional attention, “interest” – credit to Beth-ann for this elaboration) to a passion or an obsession with the activity (which willingly consumes one’s whole being).

Without the bridge, the hobby remains something distant; picked up when one feels like being entertained and with no real motive or objectives assigned to the activity.

The second requirement is the relentless pursuit of knowledge, practice for improvement and understanding the finer nuances related to the activity. 

This part is what forces one from within to put in the time, effort and energy in order to excel in the chosen activity.

Now let us look at the examples:


I have two friends who run the 5k pretty religiously.  One of them even participated and completed the race last year battling injury.  They both have their day jobs and take some time off, usually a couple of months to train for the upcoming 5k runs.  Completing the run gives them a great feeling of accomplishment and they then cool off for a few months, before picking it up again the following year.

Beth-Ann’s friend is into running to such an extent that she trains extensively for running a marathon every month.  The friend breathes, eats and drinks running and nothing else.  She is now opening a store carrying running shoes in addition to an e-commerce site that sells specialized running gear to aspiring runners.  In other words, she successfully made the transition from hobby to passion to career.


It is very difficult not to know someone who likes to travel.  People travel, enjoy the sights, cultures and food, take pictures and then plan the next trip.

Chris Guillebeau took travel to a whole new level.  He set his goal to travel to ALL countries in the world.  Yes, ALL countries.  He accomplished it –193 countries.  Along the way, he discovered the trick of finding great deals on airfares, hotels, places to stay, best places to eat and so on.  Most of all, Chris developed a unique insight into maximizing travel at the lowest possible cost.  Chris calls himself a travel hacker and has written books on how to travel economically.  With a highly-visited blog, bestseller books and speaking engagements, Chris has successfully transformed his obsession of traveling to every country on the planet into a successful career.


One of my colleagues at work loves taking pictures.  He travels places only to take some great pictures and then shares them.  I remember him talking about the time when he took a short flight in a two-seater aircraft over the Matterhorn peak in the Swiss Alps. 

Not only did he share that picture with me, but he also printed it on a plotter and pinned it to a huge wall in his office.  That picture covers at least 6ft x 2ft on the wall and is breath-taking.

He let it remain just that – a hobby; and is content with his day-job at a pharmaceutical company.

Contrast the “hobby” photographer with Darren Rowse of Digital Photography School.  As the name suggests, Darren started off with teaching photography, then started to publish reviews of cameras, lenses and other photography equipment. is a full blown website for photographers and Darren Rowse’s mission with the site is to “provide simple tips to photographers to get the most out of their camera”.

Eating pizza

This is an example from Chris’ book, “The $100 Startup” and Chris uses the pizza eating example just as I did with the running example.

Converting the “interest” into a passion would mean a deep appreciation for pizza, understanding its make-up, different types of breads, baking styles, cheese and toppings.

In 1985, two pizza loving attorneys in California took their favorite foods and converted them into pizza toppings.  Thus they came up with chipotle chicken pizza, wild mushroom, tricolor salad pizza, tandoori chicken and Jamaican jerk chicken pizza.

Were they able to successfully convert their hobby into a career?  You bet they were.  In 1992, PepsiCo paid $100 million to acquire California Pizza kitchen and our two attorneys each got $17.5 million.

If this was just an innovation and wasdismissed as a fluke, consider the bread, cheese, baking, toppings and all the equipment that go into making a pizza.  There are numerous sites online that teach how to make a great pizza.

If one is really passionate and obsessed with pizza or any other food for that matter, and is willing to put in the effort, be disciplined and do what it takes, a career can surely be carved out of this activity.

After all, 5 billion pizzas are sold each year globally, with about 3 billion sold in the US by more than 40,000 independent pizzerias!

Watching movies

Another great attraction that people have is watching movies.  One can keep it on the surface and just have a passing interest in watching movies.  Then forget it the next morning and get back to work.

However, the obsessive person can choose to build a bridge and traverse from a mere interest into a highly passionate activity.  Yes, this is watching movies that we are talking about.

Take the case of journalist Anupama Chopra.  Her show, “The Front Row” “bridges the gap between the exhilarating world of films and the expectation of viewers”.  Viewers watch this show to get sneak peek of forthcoming films, reviews and interviews with film stars.  Anupama has also written books on movies.

Talk about being paid handsomely to watch movies. 

Playing video games

Well, if animated films can enter the Oscars, can video games be too far away from entering the Olympics?

Playing video games is addicting, a health risk and generally considered bad for a young person’s career.

But the landscape is changing.

Video games offer a large number of career choices such as story writing, game/graphics designing, programming, performance tuning, device design and innovation and communication between devices. 

Game testing is a very serious activity where companies seek out passionate “gamers”.  Getting paid for testing games is becoming very easy (check out ).  Associating your career with video games is also possible when you join companies such as Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony.

The opportunities are growing.  One needs to transition the interest from hobby to passion and then work on building a career out of the activity.

Collecting articles

Collecting stamps, old coins, vinyl records and other curios can be a hobby.

For the passionate and creative person, this can be transformed into a career as well.

Taking the old coin collection as an example, career opportunities could be one or a combination of the following:

a. Consulting expertise in valuing a particular coin, or a coin collection

b. Writing a book about coins from a certain era, or geographical region

c. Setting up an online ecommerce site, where one gathers a huge following.  This is supported by a blog where expertise on this topic is displayed

d. Setting up an online exchange or even a store where people can buy/sell their coins or collections

e. Hold periodic auctions to generate and fuel interest

A friend mentioned to me that his cousin who was into vintage cars, had an antique car which was worth more than his house!  The interesting part was that this car was not an heirloom, but one that the cousin had purchased a few years ago.  He then completely reconditioned the car (my friend: “that car’s engine is cleaner than my bathroom”) and now takes it to antique car shows.


In summary, I believe that the above examples will become the norm in the days to come.  The reason for this is the changing landscape driven by technology.  The future is here, and the biggest thing that supports such unbelievable careers is technology.

But the hobby must first be transformed into a fierce obsession that consumes the person totally.  This has to be sustained over a long period of time.  A clear vision of the goal, a strategic, challenging and realistic roadmap to get there, tons of patience and the confidence in the strategy must solidly support the venture.

Lastly, when something becomes a career, not everything will be fun and games – even for the movie-watching career.  Handling finances, system set up, customer engagement, marketing, content generation, next movie review day-in and day-out must all be tolerated and accepted.

After all it is now a career!