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5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Turn Your Hobby Into A Money Maker

by retirebyforty on April 10, 2013 · 44 comments

in entrepreneurs, fun stuffs, income, lifestyle

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ukulele

Do you have a hobby that can generate some income? I used to enjoy several hobbies. I wasn’t particularly good at any of them, but I enjoyed spending time on them.

We have gone though a lot of changes over the last few years and I feel like I don’t have time for hobbies anymore. First of all, we had a kid and that soaked up tons of time. Next, I turned one of my hobbies in to a money maker – blogging. That took up almost the rest of my time. Today I’m going over my lost hobbies and mourning them. :(

  • Playing video games – I used to spend hours playing video games on the computer and XBOX. That’s until my XBOX overheated and got the dreaded Red Ring of Death a couple of years ago. I decided not to fix it and gave up gaming. I love playing video games, but it just took up too much precious time. Maybe when I’m really retired in my 70s, I’ll start playing video games again.
  • Playing ukulele – I still play occasionally, but recently Baby RB40 throws a tantrum every time I pull out my ukulele. I have no idea why he’s doing this. Am I that bad? Hopefully he’ll get over this phase soon so I can play again.
  • Yoga and working out – I loved going to the Yoga sessions at my company’s gym when I was working. Now that I’m a stay at home dad, I work out at the playground and sneak in a few poses whenever I can. Recently, I started going to a drop-in yoga class about twice a month. It’s very relaxing and I feel great every time I go.
  • Snowboarding – I haven’t gone in a few years and even sold my board. :( That is me below in the good old days.

snowboard

  • Reading – Is reading a hobby? This is one thing I can’t give up. I love reading and can’t imagine life without books, blogs, and other reading materials.
  • Photography – Photography is fun and easy. I want to take some classes, but haven’t managed to find the time to go yet. The good thing about having a blog is that I can take my own photos and expense the photography equipment. I should be able to expense tuition, too, so maybe I should take a class soon.
  • Blogging – I started blogging without a lot of expectations. Once it started making some income, it turned into a micro-business. At this point, I probably can’t call blogging a hobby anymore.

Anyway, let’s get back to why you shouldn’t turn your hobby into a business.

You won’t have a hobby anymore…

Who wouldn’t want to make money from their hobbies? It could be a trap, though. When you start making money from your hobby, you’ll have to seriously consider turning it into a business. By the end of 2011, my online income started to stabilize and I was making at least $500/month from blogging. At this point, I figured out there is potential for earning more money from blogging and started to put more and more time into it. I had to treat it like a business so I can grow my online income. Once you do that, it’s a good bet your hobby won’t be as fun as before.

You’ll spend a ton of time on it

Once you start treating a hobby like a business, you’ll realize that the more time you spend on it, the more money you’ll make. Blogging is still fun, but I have 4 articles to write per week and each article takes at least 3-4 hours from start to finish. I also spend a lot of time networking, answering emails, running the backend, and working with advertisers. Some weeks, I also have extra newsletter and freelance projects to write, and that takes even more time. Currently, I probably spend 3-5 hours every day online. That’s almost like a full time job. I probably should hire some help to run my blogs.

You might not make any money on it

There are over 31 million bloggers in the US and 81% of those never make $100 from blogging. Generally it’s not that easy to make money from your hobbies. You probably should keep your day job and try making money from your hobby on the side for a while. Blogging in particular will take up a lot of time and you probably won’t make much money for a long time. Glancing at my list of hobbies, I don’t see how I can make money from any of them either. Perhaps if I get really good at photography, I might be able to sell a few pictures. That’s a long way off, though.

More pressure to over-deliver

The better you are at your business, the more customers you’ll have. If you teach piano on the side and are great at it, your students will recommend you and you’ll gain more customers. It’s the same with blogging. If you want more traffic, then you need to write excellent, in-depth articles that add value for your readers. Leading bloggers like Pat Flynn, Mr. Money Mustache, and Financial Samurai all write great articles and over-deliver every time. This is a lot of pressure to put on yourself. I try my best, but I have an off day once in a while.

You’ll have to send in estimated tax

If you’re making a good amount of income on the side, you will need to send in quarterly estimated tax statements to the IRS. The first payment is due April 15th and this will be the first year I need to send it in. Yuk! Well, I guess this isn’t really a bad thing. If you are have to send in estimated tax, that mean you are making money so it’s actually a good thing. I still hate writing a big check to the IRS though.

It’s not all bad

Turning your hobby into a money making business may seem like a dream, but there are downsides too. I would encourage you to try it on the side for a while to see if it’s viable and sustainable. Blogging in particular is quite tough to turn into a business because it takes up so much time and many bloggers never make any money. On the other hand, I love not having to go to the office and doing my own things.  It’s still way more fun that my previous job too.

Do you make any money from your hobby? Something that doesn’t take too much time and make decent income would be ideal. :)

If you are a blogger and want to be one who makes more than $100, I recommend Crystal’s book – How I make money blogging. She has a money back guarantee so you can always return it if you don’t think it’s worth the price.

 

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{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

Jenny @ Frugal Guru Guide April 10, 2013 at 12:24 am

I became a published novelist–as in, on all the bookstore shelves and even in Wal-mart and airports–and, yes, I loved writing, but it did make reading most books not nearly as fun. I don’t regret it, but it did negatively impact my reading hobby in ways I didn’t expect.

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retirebyforty April 10, 2013 at 3:03 pm

Wow, that’s great! I’m very impressed. Do you get residual checks? I was thinking being a published author would generate nice passive income. Sorry to hear about your reading hobby.

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Jenny @ Frugal Guru Guide April 11, 2013 at 5:42 am

Well, it’s not very “nice,” and it’s not taxed like passive income, and I worked very hard for it, but it does have a long tail.

I really dislike the term “passive income” for that kind of thing because good “passive” income takes very hard work! Being a landlord is WAY more passive than that. Oil and gas royalties are passive. Getting a few bucks from Slovenia and Italy is removed from my original effort but not passive in the least.

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The College Investor April 10, 2013 at 12:40 am

Making money from my hobbies is turning into a business. However, I’m now trying to separate the business from the personal so I still have a hobby. Easier said than done though!

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retirebyforty April 10, 2013 at 3:05 pm

Good luck! I have no idea how to do it now for blogging.

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My Financial Independence Journey April 10, 2013 at 3:47 am

Almost none of my hobbies has any potential to ever make money. It’s unlikely that anyone will ever pay me to read books, cook, or take walks in the park. Blogging for me sits at a strange crossroads of hobby, excuse for self edification, and hopefully some future extra income. I don’t think that I could be as consistent or enthusiastic about blogging if it was just a business for me.

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retirebyforty April 10, 2013 at 3:04 pm

I’m sure you can make money from cooking. :) You’ll probably have invest a lot more time and effort into it though.

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Glen @ Monster Piggy Bank April 10, 2013 at 4:35 am

I’m like you, I can’t even imagine how many months of my life I have spent playing video games. I had lots of fun doing it, but I am glad I spend my time in other ways now.

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retirebyforty April 10, 2013 at 3:04 pm

That’s why I need to figure out how to get my kid to avoid video games. Not sure how though. Boys just love it.

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Greg April 10, 2013 at 5:23 am

I just posted about something similar to this last week. I make money with my hobbies via guitar lessons and soccer refereeing. Looking to do the same with real estate and I would call blogging for me more of an experiment at this point, rather than hobby or business. Actually, I don’t call any of them a business, more like ventures. If one takes off, then I will do more consideration from there.

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retirebyforty April 10, 2013 at 3:06 pm

Great side jobs! I’m a terrible teacher so I think that’s out for me. I’m just too impatient.

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Jane Savers @ The Money Puzzle April 10, 2013 at 6:34 am

I love to drink tea while reading newspapers from around the world online and I love to nap. No real money potential there.

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Michelle April 10, 2013 at 6:57 am

At first W wanted to go into flipping cars as a business, but was told that if he truly appreciates classic cars that he should not do this because he would HATE it. Great post!

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SavoirFaire April 10, 2013 at 7:45 am

That means your are making ~$5.00 – $8.00/hr blogging?

Are you finding it worth your time?

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retirebyforty April 10, 2013 at 3:07 pm

It’s still fun for me so it’s worth it. Some month is better than others too. I think the longer you stick with it the better the reward will be. We’ll see.

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SavoirFaire April 11, 2013 at 7:21 am

That’s encouraging because as you know I’m in the process of doing my own blog on retirement. It’s not my first blog but it will be the first one I plan on being very serious about. Still in the learning and planning stages but creeping closer to launch.

I’ve been observing and learning a lot from you as well as a few others out there, but you were my original inspiration from a few years ago. I appreciate all the feedback you’ve been giving me, it’s helping a lot.

I imagine that your per/hr rate will increase over time and look forward to your insight on achieving your anticipated success.

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retirebyforty April 11, 2013 at 10:41 pm

Good luck! The per/hr rate varies from month to month and it has been very good occasionally. It would be great if it’s more consistent.

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William Cowie April 10, 2013 at 7:46 am

Reminds me of my wife when we were still in college. She loves animals, and considered a veterinary career… until someone pointed out that the only animals she will see will be sock, injured or dying.

My hobby has become writing. Time will tell if that can be turned into anything making money… :)

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John S @ Frugal Rules April 10, 2013 at 8:44 am

I shudder to think of the amount of time I wasted playing video games in my younger years. I would rather to keep my hobbies as hobbies and enjoy them as opposed to turn the into something I try to make money off of. Part of the reason why I blog is because I enjoy to write and it’s the major thrust of our business. I’ll be content with that. :)

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Bill @ RLD Investments April 10, 2013 at 9:21 am

These are some good observations that a lot of people never think about. The biggest one to me is the fact that if you treat you hobby like a business, by definition it is no longer your hobby. Once you have that change in your mindset, you may not enjoy doing it nearly as much. If that was one of the things in your life that you used as a way to relax, now you probably need to find something else.

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Jeffrey Trull April 10, 2013 at 9:25 am

Let’s go to Ground Kontrol! I’ve never been, and it would be perfect to get some gaming in before your 70s!

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retirebyforty April 10, 2013 at 3:09 pm

Sure. Let’s do it soon before it gets nice. It’s right near your office right?

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Do or Debt April 10, 2013 at 10:56 am

My hobbies have made me money, indirectly. My hobbies learning languages as well as creating theatre, have landed me almost all of my jobs. I love it! Having those jobs though, do hinder my time to do those things for leisure. I have mixed feelings about blogging. I find it a hobby and love it, but I don’t know if I want to make it a business, which is why I’m hesitating on the self-hosting front. I don’t think I want to advertise, but I would use it to parlay more work, like staff writing, etc. I know I need to take the jump sooner or later, but once I spend money (buying domain, self-hosting, etc) on a hobby, then it does seem like a business. We’ll see….also @Jeffrey….you guys should go to Ground Kontrol. That place is so rad! A retro arcade with beer?!

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retirebyforty April 10, 2013 at 3:11 pm

What a great way to get jobs! The problem with blogging is that people get burned out. A little income give you the incentive to continue. Otherwise, we can write 2-3 personal finance articles every week for years on end?

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krantcents April 10, 2013 at 11:51 am

Some of my hobbies such as stamp collecting, antique furniture restoration and coin collecting have all increased in value, but I have not seen a penny. In some ways, it is like my blog very little cash flow, but it has more value. Not everything will have an immediate or any pay off.

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Nick @ AYoungPro.com April 10, 2013 at 12:05 pm

This is a really interesting perspective Joe, i’m glad you didn’t just go with the “turn your passions in to profits” angle. Certainly monetizing hobbies can be both frustrating and time consuming.

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retirebyforty April 10, 2013 at 3:11 pm

Turning your passions into profits is good, but it’s been written about to death. :)

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Manette @ Barbara Friedberg Personal Finance April 10, 2013 at 12:40 pm

Our businesses started as a hobby. My first blog is a personal journal of my family. It grew and earned a little money so I created more blogs of different niches. Though I am still passionate about my writing, I do not consider blogging a hobby anymore as I am now earning good money from my blogs. It is no longer a hobby. It is now my job. But I do not worry about it because I still have another hobby — gardening. I know I can also make money from my garden by selling my plants and fruits but I do not do it. As a way of giving back to Mother Nature, I simply give away my plants and its produce to my friends and neighbors.

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retirebyforty April 10, 2013 at 3:12 pm

That’s great! I think once the kid goes off to school, I’ll have more time for other hobbies again. Gardening is a great hobby.

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eemusings April 10, 2013 at 1:28 pm

I make a bit of money blogging, which is the only hobby I’ve ever made money off. If I was better at music I suppose I could teach.

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retirebyforty April 10, 2013 at 3:13 pm

I’m not very good with music and I’m pretty sure I can’t make money off it. I’ll encourage our kid to start young and get proficient at one instrument though.

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Squirrelers April 10, 2013 at 8:09 pm

When MUCH younger – as in, early teen years, I transformed my baseball card hobby into a money-making situation. Or, at least I tried to do so. I actually set up a table at a collector’s convention/show, and tried to sell a bunch of things. Pretty adventurous for a kid at the time! Then I started driving, got interested in things any other teenage guy would be interested in, and the hobby/business angle disappeared.

My second act is blogging, as an older person. Still having fun!

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Cherleen @ My Personal Finance Journey April 10, 2013 at 10:47 pm

I believe that a hobby is done during our free time as a form of relaxation and destressing ourselves. It is fun to know that you can earn from your hobby; however, if a hobby becomes a moneymaker, it is no longer a hobby. It becomes a business/work because you now have a duty to deliver the goods/services, issue receipts, and pay tax.

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Mike April 11, 2013 at 6:05 am

The only “hobby” that I have that earns money is from mobile app programming. Everything else that I do is primarily for fun at this moment in time. It gives me something to do while I am job hunting for a better paying job.

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Little House April 11, 2013 at 6:46 am

My hobby makes money, but I try to categorize it as a “hobby” still. It helps that Mr. LH has pitched in to help with the “business” end of it. I don’t think I’d enjoy it as much if I had to deal with all the loose ends.

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retirebyforty April 11, 2013 at 10:40 pm

It’s great that you have some support. The business end can be a drag sometime.

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The College Investor April 11, 2013 at 10:17 am

True! when you turn a hobby into work or an income generator, you’ll lose all the fun that comes with it, because of the pressure and the need to make it earn more.

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AWB April 11, 2013 at 1:27 pm

Multiple micro-businesses also leverages hobbies. However, the marketplace is very competitive and saturated with a lot of people with similar goals and objectives. In reality, actually generating an income via a hobby often takes substantial elbow grease and a little bit of luck. Knowing what works and what does not also helps; that is where blogs such as this and other sources of information prove helpful.

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Felix Lee April 12, 2013 at 8:21 pm

I’ve always believed that having a business that you enjoy or is a hobby is a good foundation for a business to last. It is just like blogging for me wherein you have to be comfortable and enjoying with the niche you chose and eventually words just come out naturally.

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KC @ genxfinance April 15, 2013 at 3:30 am

I know some people who turned their hobbies into a business and are pretty successful. But sometimes, it’s quite difficult to separate the two.

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Buck Inspire April 16, 2013 at 5:45 pm

How’s you learn to play the ukulele? I can play a few chords, but that’s about it. Strange Baby RB40 reacts that way. Blogging is my hobby that makes a few bucks here and there. Can’t leave my day job just yet. But there are times it does feel like a second job. Can’t forget to have fun with it. I’m trying to decide if my day job holds me back from making my blog more successful. Interesting struggle. Nice post!

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retirebyforty April 17, 2013 at 8:24 am

Hey Buck, I knew how to play the guitar a little bit so it was easy to learn the ukulele. There are a few clubs here and it was fun to go meet people when I first started. I wouldn’t trade a good day job for blogging. :)

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Rob @FinancialSprout April 18, 2013 at 2:59 pm

I make a tiny bit off of my blog, but I just started in January so it hasn’t started making much yet. In the future I want to find a profession in music, because that is both my hobby and my passion. If you find a job you love then you’ll never work a day in your life. You may enjoy your hobby a little less, but you will still enjoy it.

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