Over the years I’ve seen many people decide to take the leap and go self-employed.
In fact, experience tells us that periods of economic downturn like we’re undergoing often result in an increase in self-employment.
If you’re toying with the idea of turning your favourite hobby or greatest passion into your livelihood, here are some of the important questions you need to ask yourself before taking the leap.
Hobbies and the work/life balance
Nobody should be dreading waking up in the morning. You deserve better than being stuck in a job you hate. One thing’s for sure, if this sounds like you, then you should plan your escape route – whatever it may be – as soon as you can. Why not turn your hobby into a career?
You often hear ‘if something seems too good to be true, it probably is’, but when it comes to choosing a career path, it’s not quite as black and white as that. That big decision of whether to turn a hobby into a career is a godsend for some lucky folks, but for other poor souls, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Whether you’re looking to go freelance, set up a limited company or become a sole trader, making your hobby your livelihood can be a messy business.
Hobbies are really important for personal growth and enjoyment, and the last thing you want to do is turn a form of escapism from the hustle, bustle, and grind of everyday life into something stressful and pressurised.
So, which category do you fall into? Well, it depends on what type of hobby you have, and whether you’re the right person for the full-time career version of it. Hopefully, you’ll have a better idea after taking these pointers into consideration.
Reasons why you SHOULDN’T turn your hobby your career
Anyone who’s ever gone self-employed has had to contend with the lingering “What ifs?” that come with breaking out on your own, leaving behind the steady nine-to-five and the guaranteed monthly paycheck.
When it comes to working with one of your greatest passions, however, there are a few extra questions and doubts that will inevitably run through your mind. It’s not always pleasant facing these concerns, but you need to be sure that you can handle them before you turn your hobby into a career.
The novelty might wear off
Have a long think about why you enjoy your hobby so much – is it because it’s an escape from the mundanity and monotony of working?
Taking it up as a profession could very well remove any sense of novelty and spontaneity it used to have. Is the activity going to be as fun when you’ve done it over and over? Or to put it differently, would your favourite song still be your favourite song if you had to listen to it multiple times a day, every day?
No room for mistakes
Monetising your hobby means that you’re seriously reducing the margin for error. The freedom to make mistakes becomes much more restricted when you’re answering to a paying customer who expects the very best from you every time. On that note, do you really have the composure to deal with someone who thinks they know better than you, telling you how to do the thing you’ve been passionately doing for years?
Having a creative slump
If your dream job relies on you being creative, be wary that that creativity can always dry up, leaving you workless. The best people in every industry experience their own form of writer’s block at some point, but will you be able to put food on the table if you’re not producing to your normal standard? There’s a very high chance that you won’t find your situation quite so relaxing after all.
Reasons why you SHOULD turn your hobby into a career
Enough with the negative thinking, though – it’s true that there are things you need to be wary of when you turn your hobby into your career, but there are also dozens of exciting positives, too.
You’re hitting the ground running
If you pick a job in an industry you’re truly passionate about, you’ll have a head-start knowing who you’re aiming your service at, what your competitors are doing, and what problem you’re solving. With a genuine interest in the progression of your field, you’ll hopefully not get complacent with your market research, or fail to keep yourself up to date with the latest skills and training, either.
Pushing yourself forward
Some people are just way more productive under pressure. Having targets and bank balance looming over you may also serve as a catalyst to you really upping your game and becoming a go-to industry expert. With plenty of expertise and opinion to share, you could promote your business through your social media presence, blogs, interviews and even podcasts.
People will often ask you – if you’re doing your hobby for a job, what will you do for a hobby? Well, get another hobby, of course! It’s a bit patronising to assume that removing your primary vocational interest will result in you aimlessly clamouring for a way to fill your spare time.
Read more. Learn more. Make things. See people. The world’s your oyster (providing that you actually end up with any spare time!). Life is way too short to not spend it doing something you enjoy. Sure, you might start to take it for granted, but as Confucius (apparently) said, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
Someone, somewhere in the world will inevitably be doing something similar to what you’re aspiring to do, so why not reach out to them? If you don’t want to awkwardly approach local competitors, speak to someone online on the other side of the world. Although, in my experience, local freelancers can often become valuable allies and even sources of leads or collaborators.
Also, ask your friends for advice – they know you the best and will have your best interests at heart.
Alternatively, you can always dabble in some e-learning. E-learning has been on the rise for a number of years, offering accessible tutoring on a range of different skills.
Fools rush in
Just because you love doing something, doesn’t mean you’ll be better at it than your competitors, or that people will pay you to do it. Regardless of your chosen profession, it’s wise to pick up some clients in your spare time before going in headfirst and turning a hobby into a career. Testing the milk is always smarter than taking a massive glug and realising that it’s gone off. Don’t forget that freelancing on the side means you’ll need to pay tax on your extra income.
Self-employment, for its many advantages, takes a great deal of self-discipline. Only you can truly answer the question of whether you have the passion and patience it takes to succeed. But with all this in mind, if you’ve read this entire article and are convinced that turning your hobby into a full-time career is the right move for you, then congratulations. This may well be the best decision you ever make.
Ready to get started?
If you’re ready to take the plunge and go self-employed, I can help. Not only can I form your new company on your behalf, but I can also advise you on the best accountancy packages tailored to your business and the unique challenges you’ll face.
If you’d like to learn more about how I can help please get in touch. I’ll be able to answer your questions, help you figure out what package and services would be right for you, and help you take your next step into the exciting world of self-employment. And the first meeting is always free.