“You should sell this on Etsy!”

A small critique of the pressure to monetize your hobbies

Admit it, you’ve heard this before. Either for a friend or for yourself, you’ve at least had the thought of using talent to make extra dough.

It just makes sense: you’re putting time aside during the day to do something you love, so you might as well be paid for it. Making candles with no intention of selling them after would be, in this world, a waste of time.

After all, you already lost all the time and effort to get you to a point where your designs are good enough for profit. So why not make up for it and start a small business as soon as possible?

With the rise of social media and online businesses, everyone can have a side hustle now.

E-commerce sites like Etsy also make it easier for creatives to sell online.

In a society where we are defined by our professions, we take a chance at monetizing everything we produce.

When people introduce themselves, the first thing they usually say after their name and age is their profession. There is a sense of accomplishment in adding “small-business owner” to their resume, instead of a hobby.

However, a hobby is traditionally defined as “an activity that someone does for pleasure when they are not working.”

Essentially, that’s how our first hobbies started with after-school activities. But as we grow older, activities that require skills but don’t directly generate income tend to be put on the back-burner.

So what happens if we decide to use our leisure time to work more?

Hustle culture takes over and we feel like failures if we’re not working towards a goal.

After all, this is what we are brought up to believe in this capitalist economy where people are praised for working hard, and shamed for being lazy.

As I think about my past interests as an adult, I can’t help but realize that I tried to turn all of them into side hustles.

When I was interested in makeup, I looked up how to become a make-up artist and was ready to make that a side job.

And since I always loved to plan my friends and family’s birthday parties, everyone around me encouraged me to start an event planning business.

We are always encouraged to find a career we love. If you hate your job, you’re viewed as unsuccessful, because, as they say, “if you love your job, you won’t have to work a day in your life.”

But when you turn your passions into work, your pastimes become chores.

Work includes deadlines, customer service, stress, and putting in effort even when you don’t feel like it, whereas a hobby is a voluntary choice to put time aside to do something that makes you forget about work.

When you turn a hobby into work, you might simply not enjoy it as much.

There is also an aspect of privilege that we tend to forget about. Making money from a hobby takes talent, and in order to grow and harvest talent, you need practice.

It takes time and practice to get your hobby to a point where it has monetary value.

And in a capitalist society where time is money, not everyone can have the leisure of taking time to pursue their hobbies.

This is all a vicious cycle that makes us lose sight of the reason why we start a hobby in the first place: an escape from work.


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