Last Updated on April 13, 2022 by ThoughtsStained
Apparently careers and finances are on the top of my brain, lately. (Though, let’s be real: when aren’t they?) I wrote about feeling stuck in my current day job last week (which only got spicer literally the day after that post went live). This week, I wanted to take a moment to discuss hobby hustling. Especially how it relates to the capitalist culture in America, money and the weird juxtaposition between joy and financial need.
So, let’s dive in!
There’s two types of people: those who can name off their hobbies the minute you ask for them and those who stare like a deer in headlights, forgetting they have any interests at all. (Okay, obviously there are more types than this, but bear with me.) I’m the former. You want to know my hobbies, I can list them out to you like clockwork. Mainly, they are:
- Video Games
- Playing (whether walking, hiking, dog park, car rides, adventures) with my dog
Are any of these answers surprising? Probably not. 😅 I’ve had these hobbies each for over a literal decade. I don’t remember a ton of my earliest childhood memories, but I remember moments related to these hobbies. Like reading during breaks in school or maxing out my check-out limit at my local library. The memories of writing my first short story are still clear to me, even if I can’t picture half the homes I lived in, growing up. Blogging has become second nature to me and one of the most consistent things I do.
And I will always–ALWAYS–play with a dog.
Yet, all of them, in some way, shape or form, I’ve considered hobby hustling.
I’m not sure if hobby hustling is a proper term. But I do know that hustle culture is a real thing, especially for millennials. It’s been born of out necessity, as we inherited a world where we cannot live the way we were promised. College degrees don’t guarantee a job, a livable paycheck and secure housing like it once did. It’s also arguably toxic.
An element of hustle culture is hobby hustling, or, turning at least one of your hobbies into a side gig to increase your income. You probably know of at least one person who has turned a hobby into a second job, a side gig, a hustle.
Or, you might be doing it yourself.
Me? I’m currently doing it with my three main hobbies: writing, reading and blogging. This blog actually birthed as a long term goal to help support my writing and reading, becoming an eventual author platform (same goes for why I created my Patreon). It was also born from my love of reading. Yet it’s a lot of work (unpaid) and there aren’t days where I don’t wish it was a source of income, because I do treat it like a job, in may ways. Because of it, reading has sometimes felt like a chore or part-time job, because a book blogger’s gotta read, right?
Writing became a side hustle through my freelance editing. It’s one that I love and I’m so grateful to be doing.
But, honestly, this entire post came about because my partner started streaming last October. Seeing his love for it has made me consider if I should start streaming myself. Yet, turning that last main hobby into an area of potential revenue has me hesitating.
Pros and Cons
I love video games. LOVE them. I’d argue that it’s become one of my main hobbies in my adult life. It’s what I spend a lot of my free time doing. I collect video game memorabilia. I’ve invested money into consoles and games. Becoming a streamer seems like an obvious next step. And it has a lot of pros:
- A fun community: Getting to connect with more gamers is always a win in my book!
- Something to do with my partner: I am one of the guests on my partner’s “Thirsty Thursday” stream, where we play Apex Legends with one of our best friends, Kevin. It’s super fun and I could imagine a lot of collabs in our future!
- Another platform to help support me as an author: It all comes back to this, doesn’t it? I’d love to use streaming as a way to connect with future readers and talk about books while exploring the latest RPG I’m playing, so why not get a head start on this early?
I can’t help thinking about this article, that I came across when reading a post from Nia’s newsletter, Not Confidential. She linked the article, “You Job Doesn’t Have to Be Your Passion,” and it has this quote:
There are other benefits to keeping work and passion separate. Some research suggests that transforming hobbies into work could undermine your enjoyment of these activities, as your interest gets sapped by the pursuit of external rewards like compensationLauren C. Howe, Jon M. Jachimowicz, and Jochen I. Menges, in “Your Job Doesn’t Have to be Your Passion”
I’ve been thinking about it a lot, because I’ve seen it happen with reading and writing. Though another main hobby was birthed from both of these passions (blogging), that same hobby also sometimes makes reading feel too much like a job. On top of working my day job, sometimes I have to sacrifice time spent working on my own books to edit someone else’s and make deadline.
I fear, that by turning my last “protected” hobby into another chance for revenue, I’ll change that relationship with it. Then, suddenly, I’ll have nothing that I use to relax. Everything in my life will be used, in some way or another, to create an income.
I’m…not sure how I feel about that.
So that’s why I wrote this post! Once again, not with any answers here at the end. But more musings. I’m still undecided about streaming (and obviously not just because of the initial start up cost of getting into PC gaming). Because I do think it’d be really fun. And honestly, if I could make a career that I can live off of as a content creator, doing my hobbies of reading, writing, blogging and gaming and yet earning enough to live off of without the day job?
Yeah, I’d do that in the heartbeat.
It’s doing it all on top of a day job (and grad school) that makes it so challenging and complex, I think. And, because I love the community here, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this: on hobby hustling, hustle culture in general or if you hate capitalism as much as I do.
Thanks for reading!
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Sumedha @ the wordy habitat says
Love this discussion (Nia’s newsletter edition got me thinking as well) and I relate to your thoughts about streaming! There is another factor to hobby hustling—peer pressure. I had a big Instagram account that I honestly had just for fun. But everyone I showed it to kept preaching about turning it into a business and side hustle. I tried, too. But eventually, I started disliking it and abandoned it.
I see the same thing happening with everything else. “Monetize your blog! Monetize your art!” then what remains MINE, anymore? what is free of pressures to perform? free of expectations and comparisons? I fear I’ll always be caught between wanting to monetize my passions due to pressures and keeping it free of money.
Oh gosh, I can’t believe I didn’t talk about peer pressure at all with this. I think that is SUCH a valid (and important!) point! I hate that you’re caught in this, too, but I feel creatives have always been (and might always be)?
Realms of My Mind says
Boy do I feel this. I think a lot of hobby hustle comes from the wish that your day job was more fun, so you try your hand at monetizing your hobbies in the dream that it will BECOME your day job. I keep having fleeting thoughts about trying Twitch but I just don’t know if I can be ON (socially/emotionally) the amount of time it requires to do a Twitch steam, plus I also don’t want to ruin video games for myself by stressing about them or constantly trying to turn it into “content.” I freelance wrote for a gaming news site briefly during the pandemic, and turning off the “wonder if this is a story” side of your brain is HARD. Good luck finding the balance that works for you!
Ooof, that reflection on wanting to monetize hobbies thank to your day job hit home for me, for sure. And I also connected with your idea of having to be “on” during Twitch, which I think I’d also struggle with. (Also, just the fact that tech is always a nightmare for me, so getting into a hobby that requires a lot of tech is…daunting).
Thank you for these thoughts, Caitlin!!
I found a similar after the main pandemic height and I feel you! Everything I do I think about how it could make me money and it all starts to get exhausting just thinking about. I’ve thought about it with art, reading, and of course I did my own blogging turn. And while I’d still like to write for pay, the effort it takes over the joy it brings really crashed for me.
I have to remind myself that not everything I do has to make money, some of it can just be for me and for fun! Like fun is a thing right? lol
It DOES get exhausting. And I hate how much it can sap the joy out of something. And you’re right: having things “just” for fun is also so important!
Kal @ Reader Voracious says
This is literally something that I think about at least three times a week and it never ceases to depress me. And then Old White Men tell us the world is still that way if we ~*try hard enough*~ and I feel freaking gaslit. I hate it here.
I started my blog purely out of a desire for the creative outlet and opportunity to interact with fellow bookworms since at the time none of the people I was around irl were readers. I dove into it 110% and quickly due to the nature of my personality, it became like a second job. Which, when I was miserable in my job was a great escape from! But then the inequities of support from publishers across platforms kicked in and I naturally looked for ways to monetize to keep afloat. And now I am in a place where I’ve monetized aspects and don’t enjoy any of it anymore? But like I miss how it used to make me feel so I don’t wanna quit. It’s a vicious cycle that I also hate.
Basically what I think would be great is if every person who works a fulltime job at 40 hours a week made a living wage for where they live. Entry level jobs should be truly entry level and not require degrees with terrible pay. I’d like to feel like I can create because I want to again, not to get out of debt.
Oh yes, I think I should have had a “this post will probably depress you” disclaimer. 😅
But you’re right: we are gaslit so often that it’s gotten to the point of just pure anger, every time it happens.
Same! It’s hard to balance and I really, really hope you get that joy back again, because I definitely hate how that cycle you’re stuck in now continues!
And YES. Ohmygod, yes that your last points!!!!