Tuesday, September 9, 2014

No Shame in Hobby Work

Here's a thought that's been on my mind lately; there's no shame in hobby work. Claire, what do you mean by that? I mean that it's okay to leave hobbies as something you enjoy while making little to no money off of them. Seriously! I guess this is a big deal for me because I am easily caught up and my little entrepreneurial spirit sings out, "There's money to be made doing this!"

Let me demonstrate; I have a photography website. I have a forsaken Etsy shop selling para cord bracelets. I've dressed up as princesses (and High School Musical characters) at birthday parties. I even sold "Mardi Gras" beads at a Harvest Moon Festival as an 11-year-old...I made five bucks a pop off of those bad boys. All my interests seem to turn into fiscal opportunities.

This inherently is a pretty good thing. If I'm buying items for a craft, I tend to think "if I buy in bulk, keep one, and sell nine, then this craft will pay for itself." Unfortunately, I easily go overboard and never follow through. For example, I recently flipped this desk:

I loved how I spent $20 and got the desk of my dreams (after a couple coats of paint)! In fact, I loved it so much that I decided I would make this my new job: flipping furniture. I immediately starting searching for high-quality items with good lines and a better price tag. In the end (like three hours later), I jumped ship and forgot the whole idea because that's a lot of work and I had a real job and just generally, who was I kidding?

So why write a blog post about leaving hobbies as hobbies if I apparently have a hard time doing so? Because I finally left a hobby as a hobby! Admittedly! Like, I legitimately tell people "I'm a hobby photographer." 

Allow me to share my pathway to this zen way of life:

I got a camera in December 2013: a Nikon D3200. I had two lenses and I thrifted a sweet little 50 mm 1.8. My original goal in buying a camera was to become a decent-enough photographer that I could take my own baby pictures and anything else I desired. To accomplish this, and evade studying for finals, I spent hours each night (like, until 3 AM) reading blogs, pinning pins, and googling every little photography thing I could get my pointer finger on. I learned a lot very quickly. I actually surprised myself by how much I had learned in a month. I felt so adept.

Once I had my camera in manual and ditched the kit lens, I started shooting everyday. Within two months I was asked to do my first engagement session. I was upfront about my experience, but it rolled rather nicely into lots of other paid opportunities. In the months to follow, I had a nice little cliental composed mostly of performers and one-year-olds. I was out taking pictures most weekends and I loved it. I tried for a while to treat the whole thing as a hobby, but the fact was people were asking me for my rates, portfolio, business card, etc. "Sure," I thought, "If it seems worth it to other people, I'll be a photographer."

All along it felt wrong. I couldn't ignore the feeling that photography was distracting me from more important things in my life (hah, like school). I felt like I was cut out to do other things and that Heavenly Father wasn't interested in me becoming a "real" photographer.

So I gave it up. 

No, not photography. I gave up the business. I gave up advertising myself as a professional photographer. I stopped posting on my photography blog and Facebook page. I stopped portraying myself that way. Now I tell people that photography is just a hobby. 

I accomplished my original goal. I've taken my family pictures, my siblings missionary shots, computer screen savers, whatever interests me. I can go my merry way with a small taste of what it could have been like to be a real-deal photographer.

I feel great. There is no shame in hobby work. Do you know what, I like it more now, too. I don't feel a need to pump tons of resources into my craft anymore. If I wanted to get a new lens or backdrop or something, I know a thing or two, but it's nowhere as important to me as it use to be. 

Hobby implies no client-vendor relationship. It implies no customer guidelines. A hobby to me means I do what I want when I want. Take a picture of a flower? Go ahead! Paint a picture of a butterfly? Make it happen. Bake a quiche? If I'm feeling crazy!

Have you ever had a similar experience? What are your hobbies? Let me know in the comments! Like what you read? Subscribe or follow me on Bloglovin if you never want to miss a post!


  1. this is such a great post Claire, everything you said is so true. Loved it!

  2. This was such a great read for me today. I sometimes feel so guilty if I have a hobby, and its only purpose is... enjoyment. For some reason, I think life is supposed to be harder than it is?? I don't know if that makes sense. But, I completely agree. We can have hobbies! We can enjoy the creativity and not think about monetizing! And we can spend time on things that have no other purpose than rejuvenation and personal enjoyment. Thank you for your thoughts, Claire! :)

  3. Okay, I love this post. I have struggled with thoughts like this about so many things! For example, I've always loved floral design, so I thought I should try my hand at doing a few weddings. I found clients and was able to do three or four weddings. But during the last one I did, I just remember feeling so stressed out and unfulfilled and like that was distracting me from my actual career. Since then, I've stopped "advertising" like you said, and left floral design as simply a hobby in my life. And I feel good about that decision. This has happened to me a lot a lot a lot of times over the years, and yet, I've never really understood it until I read this post -- it's okay to leave something as a hobby! Thanks so much for sharing, it's like you found something in my brain that I didn't even knew was there.