We live in the age of hustle culture. More and more people are making money via hobbies from the comfort of their own homes, and are vocal about doing so. Research by Henley Business School in 2018 found that one in four Brits run at least one business project in addition to having a full time job, and that this figure is only expected to increase.
The ability to create a legitimate business (or side hustle) from your living room, with just a laptop and wifi connection is undoubtedly brilliant, and opens up countless opportunities to us average Joes. But alongside social media posts about hustling, pushing ourselves to the limit and being the ultimate boss, articles and posts have been cropping up online that look at the other side of the hustle - how it can detract from the original purpose of hobbies, to give us joy, and put too much emphasis on financial gain and overworking.
As someone whose career has developed from a teenage blogging hobby, these tweets and blogs have got me thinking, and I’ve come to the conclusion that actually, all hobbies, whether they are money makers or simple joy-givers, are profitable.
The pressure to “hustle”
Years ago, it would have been harder to make money from hobbies. Without the online world and social media, it would have been more expensive and difficult to set up shop and find customers. The idea of earning from hobbies wasn’t as realistic, so arguably, hobbies were more likely to have been exercised for the simple purpose of providing joy.
Today, it’s easy to feel pressure to make money from your hobbies online when so much is shared about hustling, working from dusk to dawn and achieving #goals. It’s almost like hustle porn - a romanticised view of turning every aspect of your life into a facet of your career. Kashia Dunner, a Washington D.C. based entrepreneur tweeted recently: “Hobbies seem impossible because we’ve been groomed to be hyper productive so time spent earning $ is a waste.” Her tweet went viral - so we can assume it struck a chord with a huge amount of people.
When hobbies become careers
My writing hobby has blossomed into a career, therefore it was inevitable that my view towards my hobby would shift somewhat. Doing something for pure pleasure with no ulterior motive feels different to doing something for money, that’s the simple truth.
I’ve worked hard in recent years to separate my work writing from my personal writing, as I still want writing for pleasure to feature in my life. That’s not to say that I don’t find writing for clients pleasurable, but it’s a different kind of joy. However, I certainly don’t see my personal writing as pointless, or feel guilty if I decide to spend an hour writing some fiction for fun, rather than cramming in an extra bit of research for a client that could certainly wait until tomorrow.
I don’t feel guilty because I know I’m going to benefit from doing something I enjoy.
The hobby/profit paradox
What I want you to consider, is that paradoxically, genuine hobbies that allow us to relax, have a creative outlet and bring us joy, have a wider impact on our lives as a whole, including our careers. If you are someone who has been programmed to believe that hobbies are only worthwhile if you can earn money from them, listen up - because all hobbies can help us to reap rewards and profits.
A hobby practised simply because it makes us happy provides much needed balance in our lives. I feel far more fulfilled when I have this contrast in my life - a rich and vibrant work life, plus a personal project that can balance my energy at the weekend. You need time away from work in order to recharge and look back with fresh eyes - to be good at your job. It’s not healthy to hustle all the time, or to believe every activity must be explicitly productive - doing so could lead to burnout.
Some hobbies can even give us (or help us to improve) skills which we can apply to our careers, without even trying. For example, I love to read, and try to prioritise reading time in my daily routine. I profit from this hobby because reading widely actually makes me a better writer.
Just doing it for the gram?
When we do allow ourselves to spend time enjoying our hobbies, we often automatically document it on our social media accounts - we check ourselves into the gym on Facebook, or do a sneaky boomerang of our paint pots on Instagram. This is something I am guilty of, but which I’m trying to be more aware of.
Social media is amazing for many things, for connecting people, helping small businesses to flourish and for giving us an equal platform to share our views and talents, but not everything we do in our personal lives has to be documented online, or be ranked according to how many likes we get.
Part of doing a hobby just because it enriches our lives means separating it from the gratification or ego boost we get via positive reactions online. It’s easy to fall into the trap of “doing things for the gram” - but hobbies should be done for yourself, an aspect of your life where being selfish is profitable.
Embrace all your hobbies
A hobby may not directly make you money from home, but if you find it relaxing and this causes you to sleep well, for example, meaning you wake up the next day refreshed and raring to go - it’s totally beneficial and rewarding.
And if you enjoy doing something, that’s all the justification you need to do it! You will profit from the hobby because it will make you happy.
Contrast is needed in lives (work and play) so that we can look at the bigger picture and apply well balanced viewpoints to our careers, our relationships, our goals - whatever it is that’s important to you. Embrace your hobbies and remember - despite what hustle culture may have told you, they are all worthwhile and fruitful to our lives, no matter how unproductive they may seem on face value.
By Jane Newby (Written Treasures) for Let's Talk Coaching
Opinions expressed by Let's Talk Coaching contributors are their own.