When Hobbies Turn Into Jobs

It seems to happen to me constantly. I have something I enjoy doing. It’s just something I do during my free time. I’m enjoying doing it. Then I begin to wonder: “Can I make money doing this?” Before you can say “Business Opportunity”, I’m mentally mapping out how my business would run. I’m calculating costs and projecting profits. In short, I’ve turned my hobby into a job – even if only in my mind. Of course, eventually, reality comes crashing in.

A few years back, after I caught the photography bug, I decided I could sell posters of my work. It’d be very simple, really. (Or so I told myself.) First, I’d snap a few photos. Then I’d edit them a bit, perhaps add a catchy phrase or two to it, and post it online for sale as a poster. My monetary investment would be virtually zero as I already had all of the tools. Visions of money rolling in from poster sales danced in my head.

Then I got splashed by reality. Suddenly, I had a thought: If it was that simple, why doesn’t everyone do it? I don’t kid myself. I’m a decent photographer, but I’m no pro. I wouldn’t even call myself an exceptional ameteur. Probably a bit above average. And while I’m proficient when it comes to photo editing, I’m not going to light the world on fire with my skills. Who would really want to buy from the Slightly Above Average Photography Collection?

In the end, I abandoned my dream of running my own photo studio. I still enjoyed taking photos, but I didn’t worry about making money off of them. Instead, I focused on making websites. (Luckily, I love doing that also and get paid for it.)

Why post about this now? Recently, I found a recipe for fudge and decided to make some for a few of B’s family members for Chanukah presents. It was well recieved. Everyone loved it and the fudge was devored. B’s grandmother gave some to a few of her friends and someone even asked if she could buy some.

Now, I don’t know if this lady was serious or not, but that one comment started turning wheels in my head. Could I sell my fudge? TechyDad’s Olde Fashioned Fudge Shoppe? I found myself figuring out how much a batch of fudge cost and how much I could sell it for. I even wound up on websites that sell ingredients in bulk. (After all, you don’t want to buy your ingredients from the local grocery store if you’re using a lot of it.)

Meanwhile, we decided to make more fudge for presents for teachers/co-workers and tried a few new flavors. So far we’ve made: Plain, Creme De Menthe, Craisin, Toffee, and M&M. I’m even planning on trying a spicy fudge and pretzel fudge at some point. (A Cooking With TechyDad segment on fudge will come, I promise.) My menu was taking shape. Why couldn’t I sell it? Perhaps even online… does fudge ship well?

Reality hasn’t hit just yet, though I’m sure it will at some point. Then, all my fudge shoppe dreams will melt away and I’ll return to life as usual. (I feel compelled to add a “Maybe.” Maybe because the fudge dream is still alive.) I don’t think these are mid-life crises. I’m only 34 and I’m not dreaming of buying a Porche with my fudge empire fortune.

Perhaps it is only normal for someone to look to turn a hobby (be it cooking, photography, etc) to a money making proposition. What have your experiences been? Have you tried to make money off of a hobby of yours? If so, have you had any success? And, as one last question, would anyone want to buy some fudge?