Are You Falling into the Trap of Turning Your Hobby into a Hustle?
I came across an article a few weeks ago that was posted in one of the many handmade business and marketing focused Facebook groups that I belong to. The article was titled, The Modern Trap of Turning Hobbies Into Hustles by Molly Conway and was written for the popular website (which i’m a fan of) Manrepeller.
But two things immediately got my attention.
The first thing that caught my attention was the title of this article. The Modern Trap of… Trap??
Starting a small business to help support me financially as well as provide the freedom from the 9-5 has been anything but a trap!
The 2nd thing that caught my attention before I could even click the link to read the article was the overwhelming amount of comments on the post in this Facebook group. The comments were going wild!
There were comments like, “THIS!” and “Thank you!! So good” and “WOW. This article is EVERYTHING. “You don’t have to monetize your joy” THIIIIIS”
Hang on… ::she looks around::
I was honestly so confused because I was reading these comments in a Facebook group specifically dedicated to supporting and teaching makers how to start and market their handmade businesses!!
So I choose to continue to procrastinate working on building my hustle TRAP, I mean EMPIRE to instead read the article with a headline that just fascinated me. Why is she calling it a trap??
One of the first points the author makes is, “you don’t have to monetize your joy.” This is true. I agree.
What confused me though, was the shame and bad feelings that she talked about women feeling after they had to answer “no” to the question “do you sell on Etsy?” The author talked about a women she met at a wedding, who was wearing a hot dress which she complimented her on. Then she asked her if she sold on Etsy...
The author says, “I recognized the look of a woman suddenly overwhelmed by people’s expectations of her.”
But why can’t this be a compliment? Why does this have to make us feel like we’re not living up to some standard? Why do we feel like just because everyone else is starting a business that we have to start one too?
If you just want to make a hot dress with pockets and not sell it anywhere (even though you TOTALLY could because a dress with pockets IS quite hard to find you know), then go for it!
You don’t have to sell your work or turn your hobby into a money making machine if you don’t want to though. And you’re no lesser of a member of society for it. It’s really ok!
It’s not like it’s super easy to start a handmade business. And unless you’re not also interested in the logistics of running a business like administrative, marketing and promotion tasks (because let’s face it, marketing and promotion is about 80% of what creating a successful side hustle is all about), then I would highly discourage you from trying to start a business on Etsy or anywhere else online!
The author also says, “We live in the era of the hustle. Of following our dreams until the end, and then pushing ourselves more. And every time we feel beholden to capitalize on the rare places where our skills and our joy intersect, we underline the idea that financial gain is the ultimate pursuit. If we’re good at it, we should sell it. If we’re good at it and we love it, we should definitely sell it.”
What could be better than creating something that gave you so much joy in creating, and having the option to share it with the world. Especially if what you make could help other people.
If we’re good at it, we could sell it? If we’re good at it and we love it, we could probably have an easier time selling it?
But we have choices and we also have to make boundaries with ourselves.
We don’t have to sell our joy, nor should we. I know a lot of creatives that create a product line related to their art or craft to sell and they save that which brings them the most creative joy, for themselves.
I know a lot of creatives that discover how much they love running a small business and the flexibility of making their own decisions and that becomes something that brings them even more joy than the craft.
There are so many ways to monetize a hobby or talent without having to sacrifice your joy and your values.
Please consider your business before you start it and do not wait “8 years to take a vacation”. I talk about planning out your business dream in Lucrative Leathercraft. When you start your business, make sure you know what you want and plan a strategy for achieving it so that you’ve not built a business that you can’t take a short break from.
It doesn’t have to be like that.
I have a gratitude practice (I know, I know, woo woo) that I do in the am after I meditate for 20mins (omg, double wammy!) and it usually goes like this. It’s wintertime so, “thank you for my warm socks and warm bed at night, thank you for the motivation and spark to keep working on my business, thank you for the technology that is available that helps me in my business, and thank you for my supportive boyfriend, etc… You get the idea.
But I honestly i’m so grateful for the tools and technology that we have available to be able to start a business from our living room based on a passion or hidden talent or as so many people like to say, from our pjs (eyeroll).
Monetize your hobby if you WANT TO, but don’t do it because you feel an overwhelming sense of pressure to do it.
And if you do decide to start a business, take time to create something that can genuinely help people (dresses with pockets counts!) and design your dream business that you want to run by building into the business strategy vacation time and set hours so you can take time to get fresh ideas and recharge. Otherwise, whats the point? You might as well go back to working a 9-5, right?
As a woman and a maker who sells her work, I felt compelled to respond and i’ll take a comment like “do you sell on Etsy?” as a HUGE compliment any day of the week!