April 22, 2013, 4:36 am

When the Hobby Becomes a Business

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Alternative Income,Blogging,Business,Career
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Who ever thought of making money out of their passion? Is it not the best financial scenario? Making money while you do something you truly enjoy. Most hobbies and passions require that you pay to enjoy them. If you can find a way where you can be paid to enjoy your hobbies, you have just found the Holy Grail! I’m not sure it’s true. A few weeks ago, I read a very interesting article about not turning your hobby into a money maker @ Retire By 40. Joe outlined a list of reasons why making money from your hobby isn’t as perfect as you may think.


A few years ago, I would have argued actively with him. I turned my blog into a business back in 2008. At that time, I saw the same thing as Joe: I can make money online. I can make money out of my hobby. Where I’m a bit different than him is that I started The Financial Blogger back in 2006 with this objective in mind: making money online.


Where It All Started


When I start writing my blog, I knew I could make money from it. My friend (who became my partner in this adventure) was already making money from his website. He made enough to pay for his tuition fees and go on a 6 months foreign exchange student program. He never had a summer job, he was simply working online a few hours per week from his bedroom.


Then, I started to do some research and found John Chow. He had the first “make money blogging” blog I followed. When I was telling people in the Personal Finance Blog niche (we were less than 100 at that time) that I was in to make thousands of dollars per month, they all told me that I would be lucky if I could make $200 monthly! I decided to continue nonetheless as I knew that other people were making money.


Then I Started To Love the Business


This is why I started blogging: to make money. I wanted to share my financial knowledge as I thought that most people don’t get the right advice from financial advisors and journalists. The second goal was to improve my English writing skills. But behind all that, I knew I could make money from this business.


What happened is that the more I wrote, the more I wanted to write. I’ve always love writing and even thought of becoming a writer when I was a kid. When I realized that most writers are starving, I thought a career in the financial industry was a better idea ;-).


Slowly but surely, my passion for blogging and this whole “new world” started to grow inside of me. At that time, I was thinking about my blog non-stop. I used to get ideas at any time of the day and night and sent myself emails to keep track of them all. I developed a passion for building a business online.


At that point, I had reached the perfect balance: doing something I truly enjoy while making money from it. Unfortunately, nothing is perfect…


When The Passion Becomes a Job


I mentioned this on the blog already but 2012 was a crappy year for us. The combination of having a new (very demanding) job, not sleeping with our newborn, getting stuck under $10,000 of unexpected expenses plus getting kicked in the nuts by Google was a lot of downers in a very short time span.


My passion started to fade away and I temporarily lost the desire to work like a maniac on my blogs. I still liked the fact of having a company and running projects but it looked a lot like a job at one point. The obligation of writing weekly, the tracking of our income and expenses, the projection updates we are doing to make sure we are on track with our objectives… All that sounds a lot like a job vocabulary and not a hobby or a passion.


This was a rough period as I know I need this money in my budget. A good part of my overall income is derived from my online company now. It represents roughly 30% of my income; I just can’t let it go. But having a second job (on top of being a father of three!) seems just like a recipe for a burnout later on. It hurt to think that I needed to work on my company instead of wanting to.


Going Back to Basics


I can describe myself as a very difficult individual when it comes to work. I’m a real beast of productivity and do not fear completing humongous tasks within a ridiculous timeframe. However, I must be happy to do so. If I don’t have fun doing what I do, I become mediocre. I didn’t have the flame burning inside throughout 2012. This is when I started to question myself.


I had to go back to the reasons why I was having so much fun with my business and pulled them back to the top of my priority list. I love managing my business and seeing growth. Results are definitely the most inspiring factors for me. This is why I started to concentrate on how I can bring results to the table.


Cutting the crap, do what I love was the first thing I changed. I decided to write only the stuff that I want to write about. Too bad for Google and too bad if you don’t like it, I’m going to please myself with this blog!


Being part of a Master Mind Group was a clever move. I now have a weekly meeting with motivated people that help me bring results to the table. This is a true motivator for me.


Having a meeting with my partner was another great idea. Each year, we meet-up over the weekend to work on our company. We had a great discussion about the future of our blogs and our involvement. This has boosted my motivation through the roof.


Is it working?


It is! I’m feeling free to do what I like and this is probably the most important thing when you have a business or a hobby; never feel that you are forced to do something. This is probably the beginning of the end if you keep on to this route.


Do you find it difficult running your blog now that you are making money out of it? Is it changing anything to your writing style?


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I completely understand where you are coming from with this post even though my blog is still considered more of a hobby than a business since I’m making very little income.

There are times when I just don’t feel like writing but feel obligated to get a post ready to meet my posting schedule. I think some of the lack of motivation comes from seeing the growth slow down and not really knowing what to do to continue growing again with visitors and income.

I like your thoughts on just going back to the basics and doing what makes you happy. I’m going to try not to worry about the traffic growth and the income growth and just focus on writing articles that I want to write about. Eventually that motivation will come back and I’ll accomplish more towards my other goals of growing my readership, increasing income and finishing a couple projects I have in mind.

I always believe that a business would be successful if you are happy with what you are doing. Treating a business as a hobby and not pressuring yourself to always make money will eventually a good effect on how well your business will run. That is based on my own experience.

I agree it isn’t always best to turn your hobby into a career. I am an art minor and art has always been my passion, but I would never pursue it as a career because it sucks the fun out of it for me. I like to create what I want when I want to and that is very hard to do with clients, galleries, etc.

by: Financial Samurai | April 22nd, 2013 (5:04 pm)

Now that I’ve watched two seasons of the Walking Dead while on vacay, I appreciate your previous post on just keep going even more.

The one thing is, when I do something I don’t want to do, it feels great afterward! Hence I continue to do the tough things.

My blog is my hobby. I’m still waiting for when I really want to make it a business. I’m afraid of not having fun.

by: The Financial Blogger | April 23rd, 2013 (4:18 am)

@Dan Mac,
there is a fine line between keeping a writing schedule to get things done and “work” on your blog because you have too. I sometimes skip a post in my schedule now if I don’t feel I have anything good to write.

I agree with you, the key is definitely having fun in what you do. this is also true for our day job 🙂

I guess you wouldn’t create on demand based on a client’s request, right? keep your passion!

@Financial Samurai,
I can tell you are having fun writing with your blog! You writing capacity is quite phenomenal!

by: The Financial Blogger | April 23rd, 2013 (9:11 am)

oh Sam,

wait to watch Season 3, it’s the best one by far 🙂

It does seem like the perfect recipe. I mean, to make a business work you have to whole-heartedly put everything into it which will be a lot easier if you have a true passion for what you’re doing. Making money from carrying out what you love seems ideal.

Congrats on the success and glad to hear there is light at the end of the new baby sleepless night tunnel!

There are so many people that make money making this online marketing thing more complicated than it really is. I am glad you have found your mojo for 2013!

by: The Financial Blogger | April 24th, 2013 (8:30 am)


the thing with this recipe is that you have to always check if your soup is stable. Sometimes, the fun fades away and tasks take more space!

don’t worry, worse case scenario, you will start to sleep again once he leaves the house at 21 😉 lol!

If somebody wants to run a successful blog as a business AND a hobby, I think a balance needs to be reached between the two. That’s exactly what I try to do with my website (although I’m not in a strong position to speak, since my project is very new). I try to find ways to enjoy what I’m doing and at the same time make the enterprise profitable. In fact, the actual act of finding ways to increase my income is part of the fun. But maybe I’m just weird…

To be successful in anything you have got to enjoy yourself, and you’ve got to make an impact, if you can achieve these two things then the money will eventually come. I don’t mean to say that you have to completely ignore the business side of running a successful blog, far from it, what I mean is that your passion comes first and then you build a profitable business around that passions. Some passions might be completely unfeasible which means that research must be conducted to find an area that you’re passionate about and has the potential to make long term sustained money. Really enjoyed the post, thanks for sharing.