Could Your Hobby Be Your Job?


Do you spend a good portion of your workday waiting to get home so you can work at your hobby? Donald Sentner, president of Bethel Park, Pennsylvania-based Design Specialties, has successfully turned his hobby into a full-time job. Sentner's been interested in kit models since he was a child. ¿My high school guidance counselor suggested that I do this for a living,¿ says Sentner. ¿I didn't know this was a possibility.¿ He started working as a model-making apprentice and then spent a number of years working for others until venturing out on his own. Wouldn't life be grand if you could turn your hobby into a paying job? It can be, but there are a few factors to consider. Use these tips to find out if your pastime can become your livelihood. Is Your Hobby Marketable? Your first step in attempting to make a job of your favorite activity is to ¿research your hobby to see if it's a business,¿ Sentner advises. ¿Make sure your hobby is marketable. Being passionate about something is one thing; being passionate about something marketable is another.¿ Start by using keywords in the Monster Job Search to find out if there are jobs that correlate to your field of interest. Think It Through If you are lucky enough to have a hobby with a market, your next step is to consider whether you would be happy working in it -- serving whatever role is in demand -- rather than merely enjoying it. Nancy Hayes Bevington, vice president-client services at the Burlington, Massachusetts, office of Right Management Consultants, says it's important to consider how this type of job shift may change your feelings about your hobby. ¿When your hobby becomes your work, it may not be the same,¿ says Bevington.. ¿This change can take the fun out of what you are doing. In addition to making the product or providing the service, you now have to think about pricing, deadlines, doing it someone else's way, etc.¿ Kiersten Peterson, manager of retail human resources support for Boston-based Winston Flowers, agrees with Bevington. Peterson recalls when a departing employee told her that she had discovered that an avocation isn't always a great vocation. ¿It's not all glitz and glamour,¿ says Peterson. ¿As a florist, you are cutting flowers, lugging buckets of water and spending a lot of time in refrigeration units.¿ From the Ground Floor Up -- Again Bevington also points out that your personal experience won't necessarily be acknowledged professionally. ¿The workplace will look at you as someone who comes in with no professional experience, even if you have done this for years¿ on a personal level, she says. Can you really afford to start at the bottom again? If you are determined to work in the field, you can gain experience by working in a small shop. For instance, ¿Walk into your local florist right before a major holiday like Valentine's Day,¿ says Peterson. ¿If you need to, offer to volunteer your time. Do what it takes to get the experience.¿ Ease Your Way In Don't quit your day job, yet. Curt Rosengren of Seattle-based Passion Catalyst, a career consulting organization, suggests you ¿continue to do what you are doing to bring in revenue, while taking a parallel path to help make the transition¿ to your hobby job. In other words, get the knowledge or experience you need while you still have money coming in. For example, that may mean getting a part-time job during off-hours or earning any necessary certifications. ¿Give yourself time to succeed. It could take five years to completely make the transition,¿ says Rosengren. Keep Your Options Open Don't burn your bridges with your current employer, Bevington advises. Refrain from giving your boss a piece of your mind -- because one day you might decide to go back to your day job and spend your evenings enjoying your hobby.

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