Is Your Hobby A Side Hustle?


I came across an article the other day—in the Girls Night In newsletter, which I love—that touched on something I’d been thinking about for awhile—the fact that “every domestic hobby is at risk of becoming a side hustle.”

In my view, a side hustle isn’t just any part-time job—I wouldn’t consider my job at an accessories store this past fall to be a side hustle by any means—but is something that allows you to pursue a hobby you already love and get paid for your work as an added bonus (and it seems like the author of the article I linked above would agree with this definition). However, I’ve also heard the term in reference to anything that someone pursues outside of “normal” work hours. Additionally, for someone with different interests–like pursuing a career in the fashion/accessories world–selling jewelry at a store like the one where I worked would probably fall more into the side hustle category, even if it lacks the same creative element that’s involved in making the actual pieces.

I obviously talk a lot about interior design on this blog and derive so much pleasure from decorating my home. People in my life constantly ask me if I plan to pursue interior design as a side hustle, and my answer is usually this: I’d love to, but I’m scared of what could happen if I try to turn a hobby into a paying gig (even if it’s just something part-time). As Ann Friedman says in the article, “Personal pleasure is what makes a hobby a hobby,” after all.

Right now, I’m still working as a freelancer for Houzz, and it’s just about as much as I’d like to do at this point. My day job has been picking up work-wise, and I appreciate the connections and extra experience—and cash!—working for Houzz provides, but I can’t really commit to more at the moment. I also really value the fact that I can spend all day at work looking at numbers, research, and spreadsheets–which has been a big part of my new role, in addition to more creative communications tasks–but then come home on the weekends and spray paint a table or prep my apartment for a photo shoot. I love being able to tackle different types of work throughout the week to keep things interesting. I think I’m noticing this more now because my last job was much more writing-focused and while I still blogged a lot during that time, I’m remembering that I didn’t always want to come home and write more than I already had at work.

I also know that personally, once something becomes “work,” I approach it very differently than if it’s just a hobby. Even the other night, when I was lugging home a coffee table and telling my Uber driver how I planned to paint it (this lead to a long conversation about the driver’s own home improvement projects, haha), he was asking me if that was something I did—or would consider doing—as a business. I told him no, because then my standards would be so much higher! I feel like charging someone for a service adds a whole new dimension (and pressure) that can be eliminated when you’re doing something for yourself. It’s not that I don’t try my best to make something look beautiful even if I’m going to be the one accepting the end product (I am guilty of being somewhat of a perfectionist, after all!). But when money and contracts are involved, there is a different layer of expectation, in my view.

I’d love to hear what you all with side hustles think. At this point, I would consider blogging a hobby rather than a side hustle—and I’m just fine with that for the reasons I mentioned above. Does that mean I don’t get envious of full-time bloggers, like, all the time? No! But I do recognize that with contracts and payments comes additional pressure and concerns that may not have existed before. So let me know–is your hobby (whatever it may be) a side hustle or is it just a creative outlet, and what setup makes you happier?

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