Turning your hobby into a career – a future of chocolates, coaching and networking events

Once all our production has shifted to low labour cost countries, will all that is left be people who have made their hobby into a career? And will that pay the bills?

Our society is a so-called post-industrial society. Production is shifting to low-pay countries, everything has become more mechanised and economies of scale and efficiency are deemed more  important than making sure everyone has something to do. Ever more people in the Western world are unemployed. Supposedly our society is service-based and knowledge-based, but not everyone is suited to this sort of work. More and more people in Western countries are being labelled failures, unable  to fit the mould at school or play an active role in the knowledge economy.

Meanwhile, in developing countries more people are finding jobs doing things we used to do here; manufacturing, production, making our clothes. As educated people in developing countries learn the skills needed in knowledge-based societies, even jobs in IT and call centres and the like are moving wherever labour is cheaper.  The wages they are paid are not enough to keep somebody in the West, but there they are relatively well-off. At the same time, traditional crafts are being lost as people spend their money on manufactured goods and Western-style manufactured goods.

Following your passion and living the dream

Paradoxically, many people in the West are being encouraged to ‘follow their passions’ and make their hobby into a job. All of a sudden, people are trying to sell the things they used to produce just for fun. There is a plethora of people trying to sell their wares, at craft fairs, through retail outlets or online, through platforms such as Etsy. Cottage industry is booming. But how many crocheted animals, beaded bracelets and hand-crafted soaps can we buy? How much of this is friends buying from friends? Surely there aren’t many people who can earn enough doing this to make a living?

What about a career in coaching?

Then there are the service-providers. The people who are passionate about make up or massage or feng shui and want to set up in business. But how many customers do they realistically have and will they come back? How many mobile hairdressers and beauticians can a town support? Not to mention the multitudes of coaches, for everything ranging from Art Coach to Walking Coach to Life Coach to Professional Organiser. I once attended a brainstorming session where I was the only person there who wasn’t a wannabe coach. As I’m writing this, I am struck by how many of the people ‘following their passion’ are women; men are still on the whole constrained by the 9 to 5 mentality. I can’t help thinking that a lot of the women who have one-person businesses are really doing it for what used to be called ‘pin money’; it’s still more or less a hobby.

As Amazon and online shopping take over, the varied shops in the high street are disappearing. For many years now, there has been a predominance of shoe shops and phone shops and not much else. Now I’m seeing increasing numbers of non-essential shops selling home decorations and luxury goods such as hand-made chocolates, alternating with cafés and small restaurants with ‘home-baked’ cakes. Probably all run by people who want to make their hobby into a career. All very well, but is there a market for all this hobbyism? I like to support local traders, but there are only so many chocolates I can eat.

A future of chocolates, coaching and networking events

I worry about where this is all leading us. With the pressure to make everything cheaper and more efficient, more of the work is done by machines and computers or people in far-off lands. What is left for the people in the Western world to do? As the population ages, more people will have to go into the caring professions, whether they want to or not. But even there, the pressures to cut costs have reduced the number of jobs and the time available for nursing staff to look after patients. So will we be left with a society of hobbyists, endlessly hawking home-made cakes and beauty treatments and indulging in coaching sessions to take away the boredom? Will we all spend our time meeting up at networking events, trying to persuade other hobbyists and coaches to sign up to our latest course or webinar or join another event where we will meet a selection of the same people, doing just the same thing? Probably. It’s happening already.  It’s quite fun, actually, but it doesn’t pay the bills.

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One Response to Turning your hobby into a career – a future of chocolates, coaching and networking events

  1. lostinavalonor says:

    I do think that there’s a lot of success for those hobbyist who turn their dreams into careers—here in the US, at least. However, we’re that very society who is bored out of our skulls for the next big high so it’s no big deal to hand over a week’s worth of grocery money for someone’s funky art project. Even sicker is the fact that in a month or two we’ll hate it and shove it into the yard sale box in the garage. I’ve had success on varying levels with two hobbies. I’ve done online sales for over 10 years—picking things from yard sales and thrift shops to resell online at Etsy or eBay. I seem to have an eye for what will sell, having bought an old cereal box from the early 80s and reselling it, empty mind you, on eBay for $104.00. I love to go thrift shopping and these online shops give me a chance to enjoy my hobby but get rid of all the evidence so I don’t become a total hoarder! I’m often making 3-400% profits on my sales. I’ve also been blogging for pay for three years now and am making the same amount of money that my husband did before he took this IT job here in Arkansas last year. It’s definitely a hobby sort of thing—only 5-6 hours per week brings me up to $1500 or so a month. In our family, this does often end up being my “pin money” because my husband is now working a good job—the second highest paying the country, actually—so the money is “fun money”. But, it could definitely support us, if needed. I have several friends with successful cottage industries. I will say that many of them do seem a bit ridiculous—selling people hundreds of dollars each of nail wraps per month, for instance. However, some are very useful and needed—like my friends who make chemical-free cleaners or raise chickens. I think those who live off their earnings in a cottage industry have a couple secrets: one is that they usually have more than one business going so that all profits combined will bring in enough income to live on. Secondly, I think they have learned to live more frugally than the average person in their social/economic class. For instance, they tend to have gardens, limit processed foods and store-bought menu items, walk instead of drive and stay home often, they don’t have tv, and sometimes avoid cell phones, as well. They shop yard sales and thrift shop for essentials, and have the art of bartering down to a science. These are some excellent thoughts—I’m glad you’re blogging again!

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