How feasible is it to turn your hobby into a career?

Many of us have an activity or a hobby that speaks to our soul; we get the type of satisfaction out of this that our day jobs can’t compare to. Whether it’s playing a sport or a more creative outlet, hobbies provide much more than a distraction away from work.

There are plenty of mental benefits to having a hobby. Speaking to Business Insider, Jennifer Racioppi, a health and success coach, advised delving into hobbies that allow you to enter what is known as a ‘flow state’, which is similar to meditation.

‘Flow, she explains, is the state of mind where action and awareness are merged, and you can shut out everything in the world other than what you’re focused on.’

Hobbies also build our confidence, which in turn is excellent for our self-esteem. It triggers a positive domino effect that can lead to us challenging our abilities more and taking more risks both personally and professionally.

When you think about how much time you spend at work it begs the question – why are you not doing something you love?

Part of the reason for not taking the plunge could be an unawareness of what the professional landscape looks like for your particular hobby. We had a close look at some of the world’s most popular hobbies and explored what the industry currently looks like.

From gardening to floristry

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It was reported that gardening is not only good for our physical health but also our mental health too. A study conducted by Bakker Spalding found that 88% of people found that mental wellbeing was a key benefit for spending time in the garden.

Floristry is a natural step avid gardeners can take if they want to make this a full-time role. In the UK approximately 6,000 florist businesses employ nearly 29,000 people. The value of this to the UK economy is estimated to be £1.5bn.

So how do you get into floristry? There are apprenticeships as well as courses you can do that awards you diplomas and certificates to get you started, and there are no set requirements. You can then venture on to professional qualifications. In the US, there are also vocational courses you can take to help your move in floral design and floriculture too.

According to UK data, starting salaries begin at minimum wage but increase as you rise through the ranks with highly experienced florists earning approximately £21,000. What you earn as a self-employed florist depends on the size and location of your business.

Photograph your way to success

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Photography is probably one of the most popular hobbies around the world. Whether you have access to a professional camera or you’ve adopted ‘Iphoneography’, everyone has it in them to take stunning pictures with a bit of practice.

But wanting to step it up a notch and make this your life long career can be met with some challenges. Again, there are no set requirements, but a strong portfolio will stand you in good stead. Many people work for themselves and develop their craft and niche, whilst others may choose to work their way up as a photographer’s assistant.

If you’re starting as an assistant, you can expect salaries to range between £14,000 and £18,000. There are a number of photography courses that focuses on specific aspects such as learning how to use your DSLR, introduction to digital photography and courses that professionally award you upon completion, which can be helpful when applying to photographer jobs.

According to Payscale.com, photographers earn an average of $40,000 annually in the US. This varies largely depending on the niche you are in, your experience, and where you are located. It is also worth noting that most photographers are freelancers so setting up a solid profile with excellent examples of work will be crucial in winning new assignments.

All the make-up

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The rise of make-up gurus on social media has made the market very saturated. Where we once would have sought a makeup artist to transform us, we can now access online through tutorials. People are aware of the best products in the market and are making a point to own them, which can pose huge obstacles to a budding make-up artist.

However, not all hope is lost. There are niche areas where make-up artists will always be needed. Theatre, weddings, film and professional photo shoots are a few examples where there’s always a demand for someone qualified and experienced.

Most make-up artists work on a freelance basis and make their money this way. Rates definitely depend on the contract you’re working on. Be sure to keep a portfolio and active social accounts to drum up new work. Taking courses to refine your techniques is never a wasted opportunity so be sure to check what’s out there – whether it’s an online or attendance based course. There may be opportunities to work as an assistant or doing makeup on extras on a set. This kind of jobs can usually be found through apprenticeships.

As you build contacts and your portfolio, you can move up the ranks to a senior make-up artist or even one who holds seminars and workshops teaching new talent within the industry.

Ready, steady, cook

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They say food is the way to man’s heart – it can also be the path to a lucrative career. If you have a culinary gift, utilizing this and turning it into a job can present some incredible opportunities. On a small scale, word of mouth is a great way to get started. Fleshing out a small menu and setting your own rates is a great way to get your business off the ground. Be sure to equip yourself with food hygiene and health and safety knowledge, which lends a lot of credibility to you from the get go.

If you see that there’s a niche for a certain cuisine, then it’s time to train up. Taking an apprenticeship to refine your skills or to understand how the hospitality and catering business works is a great way to obtain practical industry experience that can serve as a strong foundation for your own business. Starting salaries when working within a catering business can range between £20,000 to £25,000 with highly experienced staff earning roughly £45,000.

What the experienced have to say

A number of people have made that journey into turning their hobby into a career. We wanted to get as much insight from these risk-takers, who are all living proof that ultimately, it can be done.

Saj Devshi, who established Loopa Revision, a website with resources to help students revise believes in being sure you love what you do.

“Never gamble what you are not prepared to lose. Start small and then grow from there slowly as you will have a lot of failures initially so it’s important they are not big failures that prevent you from trying again.

‘Also, if you are turning a hobby into a career make sure it’s a hobby you thoroughly enjoy doing and want to completely master. You need to be good at what you do if you want it to be sustainable as a career so strive to be the best at your hobby or better than the majority before you try turn it into a career. This is how you outperform the competition ultimately.”

Roz Vidler who turned her love for DIY into a restoration business advises being realistic, be unafraid to make mistakes and network.

“Speak to others in your industry, assimilate information about your product and be an oracle of knowledge for potential customers,” she explains.

A similar sentiment is shared by Emma Evans from Blackbird House, who turned her hobby of screen printing into a design business.

“My advice would be to network, network, network. Get in touch with similar businesses, talk ideas and ask advice. Use social media. Follow all those who inspire you and make connections. Be brave and don’t think for too long. Just do it.”

On starting a business

Lea Rice, who established her own digital marketing business, found that establishing her own business was a huge eye opener.

“Running a business is honestly the hardest (but best) thing I’ve ever done – it requires discipline, good contacts (or the ability to make them), a lot of faith in yourself… and some more discipline! 

‘Going through the process of setting up a business was tough, but so worth it. I’ve learned so much about my industry and about myself. It’s given me greater focus and more ambition because I’m learning to be productive on my own terms. Now that I’m up and running, I’ve really got the business growth bug. Making your own money is quite addictive because suddenly there’s no cap on your earnings (if you put the work in, of course). I feel so much more in control of my life and my future. Expanding my business vision has been very character building and allows me to be proud of myself and my achievements.” 

Similar to Rice, Kristen Rees who quit her job to go traveling found that people gravitated to her writing and became a published author and copywriter at Make Me A Success.

“Business is personal and so many forget that and try to make a profit by selling to everyone and anyone, but if you market quality then you never really have to ‘sell’. Not everyone can turn a hobby into a hugely successful business, you do need to want to have your own business in the first place! If you do, then you’ll have the passion to match your business acumen and it’s an incredible combination.”

Words of wisdom

It’s always an exciting adventure when you finally begin to do something you love and one of the best moments are the realizations that not only help you personally but offer some kind of stability professionally.

Ash Phillips would question why more young entrepreneurs didn’t attend the networking events he did and eventually found out that a lot of people found them intimidating. This paved the way to him creating YENA, a website that brings together young entrepreneurs through local meet-ups

“Two things I already knew but learned even more with YENA are that you won’t be able to create a product or service for everyone and that’s ok. If you try to be everything to all people you end up being nothing much really. 

‘The people who love what you do won’t always be the best people to get feedback from. If you ask your family, for example, what they think, they’ll usually say it all sounds great and that isn’t helpful for a growing, innovative business.”

But the most important piece of advice comes from Caroline Brealey, who started her own professional matchmaking business, Mutual Attraction, after having a few successes with her friends.

‘The great thing about turning a hobby into a business is that you have one of the key fundamentals to begin with – passion.’


Author Bio

This post comes to us courtesy of Safeera Sarjoo at Hotcourses Ltd – the UK’s No.1 Education Search Engine. Safeera is the Editor of Adult Learning Content at Hotcourses. A London-based, journalism graduate, Safeera has worked in both print and online media for the sustainable lifestyle, finance, and educational sectors.


About Hotcourses

Hotcourses has been helping learners of all ages find their ideal course since 1996. With an ever-growing number of courses run by providers up and down the UK, Hotcourses also features online courses from all over the world making us the best resource on the web for finding vocational and hobby courses. We are part of the Hotcourses Group, alongside a number of other websites helping students find education around the world. Full details can be found on the Hotcourses Group website.


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