When hobbies are no longer fun

July 17th, 2017

At some point in my life, I began making an important distinction about activities I was passionate about. Which ones are purely for myself, and which ones am I willing to be paid for? Ideally, it’d be great if they overlapped, but it’s not always the case. Money changes things. It changes your expectations; it changes your clients’ expectations; it can make you hate things you used to enjoy.

During college, I freelanced in webdesign to make some extra money. Sometimes it felt great to be able to make different designs, and some of my clients were wonderful. Some were absolutely miserable to work with, and some would ask me to make hideous designs. I was working with people I didn’t like and making designs I was not proud of. Shortly after graduating, I stopped completely because I couldn’t stand it anymore, and I had a full time job already. If I am to continue webdesign, it needed to be for myself, no one else.

I’ve also had people on multiple occasions bug me to take on baking or cosplay commissions and to open some sort of shop. I know it might seem like “easy money” since it’s something I enjoy, but people don’t realize that it’s not that simple nor is it always desirable. For one, tending to a shop and keeping up with commissions is a lot of work. Two, I already have a full time job that depletes my energy almost every weekday. And three, when do I get time for myself?


Cosplay is a good example of this. In the past, I’ve made costumes for friends, so we could do group cosplays together. Recently, I helped a friend make his first cosplay. I did these things because I wanted to (and I suggested them), but at the same time, I was slightly frustrated at how it took away time from making my own cosplays. I also realized my heart wasn’t fully into it. It started feeling like a chore when I was working on someone else’s cosplay instead of my own. Moving forward, I’ve decided to do a lot less of this to really focus on my own cosplay projects.

Photography, on the other hand, is one where I’ve chosen to overlap them. I still do a lot of photography just for myself, but I have extended this hobby to be a partial job as well. Photoshoots are one of my favorite things to do, and though I offered them for free at first, I eventually began charging for them. It means I have to deal with payment and model releases now, but I felt my time was more valuable than that. This is why I’ve also decided to go the paid stock photography route instead of submitting to free stock sites. Photography manages to be a hobby where even if I get paid for it, it doesn’t feel like a chore.

And so, I’m not saying that I don’t want to make money off of hobbies at all, but it is important to me to decide which ones I’m willing to do it for and which ones I’m not. As a personal preference, I don’t want to take on baking, cosplay, or webdesign commissions, and I don’t want to write sponsored blog posts. I do, however, want to continue taking on paid photography jobs. I also enjoy doing programming and software development as both a full time job and something on the side.

Do you feel this way with your own hobbies? Are there ones you plan on never making money off of?

12 Responses to “When hobbies are no longer fun”

  • Tara says:

    It makes sense that you wouldn’t want to make money off of some of your hobbies because it does take away the fun. Being paid to do something does become a chore, even if it’s something you normally love to do. I’m the same way, and that’s why I never bothered to monetise my personal blog. Maybe my food blog, but that took a back seat because of my own job and the daily commute X_X;

    I think it’s a great idea to do the stock photos jig. It actually doesn’t feel like a chore compared to like the cosplay commission. Good on you for knowing that there are some things where you draw the line to earn money. By you already having a full-time job, it’s really enough financially.

    This post made me think about things. Thanks for writing this!

  • Vicky says:

    Once you start getting paid for something, you kind of start having an obligation toward it. So I totally get how the hobby becomes less fun when you’re obligated to do it rather than you do it when you can to blow off steam or relax or have fun. I had the same feeling toward web design. My parents were always asking me, “why don’t you just do it for your job if you already spend so much time on it?” but doing it for other people just didn’t feel the same as doing it for me.

  • Hiro says:

    I feel the same. I have been contemplating starting a consulting job at some point for various services that I already do for my full-time job, or a hobbies, but I think most things get their joys sucked away as soon as it’s a chore and something not done purely for enjoyment. I enjoyed making websites and setting up web presence for friends and acquaintance, but would I really enjoy it if it’s random people? Especially those who aren’t very kind? Probably not. And to have my livelihood and paycheck depend on fickle schedules and oscillating job opportunities, at the mercy of people paying invoices on time. I’m not so sure. But it is definitely a dream to have what I love be my job… I’m just afraid the spark will disappear if I try.

  • Nancy says:

    You make a great point about how hobbies can become chores when you’re not taking it in the direction you want. It’s great to make extra money but not when you have to face frustration like dealing with people who make you go out of your way or not really making the most out of your output. Years ago, I thought about doing some freelancing but easy money but it’s not all that (for me, at least)…

    It’s good that you’re picking out where you want to get some money, like going through paid stock photography or photoshoots. At the end of the day, it’s all on you and enjoying the things you do matters more!

    I had an opportunity to do some freelance consulting on the side but had to face people who are hard to deal with and I felt like I had no time for myself. I had to stop all communications @___@. Though because of that, I now decided my rate is going to be much higher so if someone REALLY wants my time, it’s going to be $$$. I guess in this case, it was more in the matter of me needing “me” time after work. Kudos to people who can handle making money out of their hobby but it’s definitely not for me at the moment!

  • Pauline says:

    This was super interesting to read. Thanks for sharing Cat!

    I understand why you wouldn’t want to charge someone for hobbies you enjoy because it does start feeling like a chore and you’ll not enjoy it as much if it starts feeling like that. It might even get to the point where you start to just neglect it completely because it is a chore to you and then something that used to bring you joy is now something frustrating and drains you.

    I sort of can relate with webdesign and development. I started doing some webdesign and development work during my placement and although I loved it, I love how I got to implement it into my job, I started feeling frustrated by my lack of control (in particular cPanel access which I usually have (on my own blog) to find any bugs causing my theme to break or the database to break) It was also frustrating working on themes, that I wasn’t necessarily proud of.

    It’s always great to have another income stream but questioning its value in particularly when you have a full time job already, is so important.

    Found this post very insightful and made me think about my own situation – thank you for sharing <3

  • Amy says:

    I understand this completely. From experience I know how turning something you love into work can make it less enjoyable. I’ve done freelance work before where the topics have been really dull and just taken all the fun out of what I’m doing. I think it depends on the hobby and the type of work to be honest!

    I’m lucky that I get to write for a living, in a way that still creative and fun. Even though I’m writing for someone else, I love what I’m doing, and I’m lucky enough to get the chance to work on my own projects as well. And I still enjoy coming home and doing my own writing as well!

    I can understand why you wouldn’t want to turn making cosplays into a job. Making the cosplays you want to make is fun, but making them for othe people is a lot of pressure. Plus, I’m sure some customers wouldn’t be great to work with.

    Glad you’re enjoying photography! I imagine that’s a really fun thing to work with other people on!

  • Rezina says:

    I agree that money changes things. I think, like you said, it also depends on the situation and the hobby. Also, very true when thinking about hobbies in relations to interacting with others. I totally think about which hobbies I enjoy doing for and with other people and which ones I don’t enjoy doing with or for other people.

    And it’s great when you can turn a hobby into a career but sometimes that doesn’t always happen.

    How would you feel about gaming? I know in some countries, pro gaming is totally a thing. I guess it also depends on how much time you are willing to dedicate towards a hobby. Like, I enjoy drawing but I don’t know if I would want to do it more than a couple of hours, haha.

    • Cat says:

      I don’t think I could do pro gaming! I’ve done several tournaments in the past for a few different games, and it adds so much extra pressure. I don’t think I could put that much time into training and competing, haha.

  • Cassidy says:

    I definitely feel the same way about Web Design. Or at least I’m starting to. I haven’t done any work for other people but I do find myself getting slightly discouraged when I compare my work to someone else’s. My concentration at school is web design but to be honest, I don’t think I want a paying job where I have to do it. I’m afraid it’s only going to take the fun and enjoyment out of it.

    I also craft in my spare time when it’s convenient or when I genuinely want to do something for myself or someone else.

    Reading never gets old though. I could do it in any situation and be contempt with it.

    But I don’t blame you for liking some hobbies more or limiting yourself when it comes to doing them. I think that’s the best way of ensuring that they don’t get old.

  • Michelle says:

    You are good at what you do but I think you realized that in order to have passion for yourself in those hobbies, you must enjoy them and if you don’t, why bother with those hobbies? I am glad that I could be of help with the development of your photography business because not only do I trust you, I value you as a friend and know that you know your limits to what you consider fun or not.

    Reading, listening to music, playing with Marley, and playing video games never gets old for me but there are times that I have to take breaks or it overwhelms me.

  • Cristina says:

    I can totally agree, money takes all the fun sometimes. I am currently designing for money, and even though I enjoy creating themes sometimes is frustrating. I usually have days when I am inspired and days when I have no idea what to do. And it takes time to get inspired to do something great, and I have deadlines. That is not fun anymore because I become stressed out that I won’t finish in time, that I won’t have a good idea.

    Also, I like drawing, and I draw a portrait of a friend for her birthday. Of course when my friends saw that portrait they instantly wanted me to make some for them. It put pressure on me and took away the fun of drawing.

    I will definitely stop designing for money when I will have a full time job, because it can be stressful at times, but on the other hand I will miss the feeling of completing a job and knowing you gave your best so people’s money weren’t paid for nothing.

  • Chynna says:

    Omg, I remember when I got my second internship as a Social Media Manager and it actually ended up with me hating social media. It was then I realised I can only handle my own social media networks and actually enjoy it, but not other people’s ? So you’re definitely right in saying money changes things!

    My hobby is writing, which I am trying to turn into a full-time career but for now, I’m still launching. I’ve a few freelancing gigs here and there and thankfully the clients have been good to me, which I think is important for me because it could turn into the whole social media situation again and I definitely don’t want that to happen!

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