They say that if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. The COVID-19 pandemic left many people looking for ways to supplement lost income or support themselves entirely as businesses closed their doors. This has led to a growing number of people taking their hobbies and turning them into a side hustle or even a full small business.
If this sounds like a fantastic idea to you, you’re not alone – but it’s important to understand the pros and cons of making this change. What are the positives and negatives of turning your fun hobby into a side hustle?
Pro: You’re Doing What You Love
Most of us dream of finding a job that we enjoy enough to spring out of bed to get to in the morning. “Find a job you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.” Whether you attribute the quote to Confucious or Mark Twain, the sentiment remains the same.
Finding a job you love to do can make it feel less like work and more like a passion you get to enjoy every day. Working is a necessary part of life, but that doesn’t mean it should make us miserable.
Con: It Might Stop Being Fun
On the other side of this coin is the fact that when your hobby is just a hobby, you have the option to put it down and come back later if you get bored or burned out.
If you turn it into a job, that option vanishes. Suddenly, you have to practice your hobby every day, no matter how burned out you feel. It can stop being fun fast, leaving you in the same boat as you were with your regular 9-to-5 job.
Pro: You Can Fill a Unique Niche
The nice thing about being human is that we are all unique. No matter what hobby you take up, no one on the planet can make things exactly the way you do. For example, if you’re using a 3D printer, you can make and design just about anything, bringing it to life out of plastic or other printable mediums.
You can choose to sell or share your designs so people can print them at home or sell printed and finished products. Whatever you choose to make, you’re filling a unique niche.
Con: So Does Everyone Else
There is no limit to the number of people in a given marketplace. No one else may be able to fill your specific niche, but that doesn’t mean they can’t create their niche right next to yours. Eventually, the market fills up with businesses, each occupying their niche and crowding out the companies next to them.
This is one of the things that make running a small business – especially where creative endeavors are concerned – such an ongoing challenge.
Pro: You Are Your Own Boss
One of the biggest selling points of turning your hobby into a small business is that you can become your own boss. You determine everything, from your hours to your paycheck.
If you only want to work four hours a week – and can turn a profit with that schedule – you’re free to do so. If you want to give yourself a bonus for a particularly profitable month, you can choose to do that too.
Con: Running a Business Is Complicated
There’s much more to running a small business than just making sales. You’re responsible for designing new products, choosing your materials, completing sales, and shipping orders in a timely fashion.
You also have to think about things like taxes on the internal side. Do you have to remit sales tax to the state? Do you need to make estimated quarterly tax payments? Do you have employees that you have to withhold taxes for?
There are a lot of variables you need to consider when starting a small business beyond just figuring out what your products are.
Pro: People Love Handmade Goods…
Sites like Etsy and Indiemade have done a fantastic job showcasing how much people are willing to pay for handmade goods. One survey found that 81% of shoppers choose handmade items because they’re searching for truly unique things.
Others may prefer to shop handmade because it lets them support small businesses or because they expect these products to be of higher quality than a mass-produced alternative. People love handmade items and are happy to buy them from small businesses.
Con: …As Long as the Quality Is High
This isn’t your neighborhood kid selling wobbly Play-Doh sculptures to earn money for a new toy. Shoppers are looking for unique items, but they aren’t going to buy something that looks like junk.
The quality of your product needs to be as high as, or higher than, what they could find from a mass-produced alternative. Selling junk is a fast route to failure because word of mouth on the internet is both a blessing and a curse.
Pro: The Internet Is a Vast Marketplace
Two decades ago, the idea that you could sell your products to people worldwide was something of a fever dream. Today, thanks to the power of the internet, you can sell an item to a person in your state one minute and someone across the globe the next.
The advent of e-commerce and the Internet Age has turned the Web into a vast marketplace, as long as you’re savvy enough to take advantage of it.
Creating a website and promoting it through blogging and social media is now within reach for both start-ups and small business. This has allowed new thinking and business ideas to flourish. It has also driven product customisation giving both sellers and buyers more opportunities and fun from creating and using re-imagined products. Such an area is retro games that is seeing a big boom with new technology and approaches that create enjoyment for everyone including the businesses that evolve and deliver them to local markets.
Con: Marketing Is Hard
We see ads for massive brands more than we do for small businesses because the corporations have the funds to pay for expensive advertising campaigns. Marketing is hard and expensive. You might get lucky and go viral on TikTok, but you have to rely on your marketing skills beyond that stroke of luck.
Starting your own business is akin to becoming a one-person band. You have to do everything because you don’t have anyone to delegate these tasks to.
Should You Turn Your Hobby Into a Business?
When it comes down to the brass tacks, the decision to turn your hobby into a side hustle – or not – is entirely up to you. Make sure you understand all the potential positives and negatives before launching your first product.