Someone on my Facebook feed recently published this New York Times article, In Praise of Mediocrity. The argument made in the opinion column is that people no longer have hobbies these days because hobbies have essentially become work. Hobbies are no longer something to simply be enjoyed regardless of skill level but rather as something that people must excel in.
In the words of the author:
“If you’re a jogger, it is no longer enough to cruise around the block; you’re training for the next marathon. If you’re a painter, you are no longer passing a pleasant afternoon, just you, your watercolors and your water lilies; you are trying to land a gallery show or at least garner a respectable social media following. When your identity is linked to your hobby — you’re a yogi, a surfer, a rock climber — you’d better be good at it, or else who are you?”
While I don’t completely agree with the author (and I don’t love the title of the column), I do think he (Tim Wu) has a really good point – so often these days, when someone does have a hobby, it feels like you need to be really good at that hobby, and if you’re really good at that hobby, how do you become great at it? How do you make it something exceptional or noteworthy or, as is often the case, something that can be monetized or publicized in some way?
I am guilty of this with people I know. I had a coworker who made these beautiful blankets for other coworkers who were having babies and I remember thinking (and probably saying), “She should sell blankets on Etsy!” Another person I know is a wonderful painter and my immediate thought is that this person needs a website or instagram or something that showcases their paintings that they can then sell. But how do I even know these people want to sell these things? Maybe they’re just hobbies that they do at their leisure without the pressure of taking it to the next level, whatever that level may be.
Why am I going on and on about this article? Because I read it through the lens of someone who blogs as a hobby.
Today’s blogging world (yes, it’s a world) is a funny place. I feel as though I always have maybe one leg or one arm in the blogging world. I’ve never been fully immersed in it so part of me often feels like the person on the outside looking in.
Have you ever seen a conference or workshop session titled, “How to Enjoy Your Blog as a Hobby?”
In my opinion, blogging is one of those things where there’s immense pressure for that blog to be so much more than a hobby. How many ebooks and conference sessions exist out there with the sole focus of helping people grow and monetize their blog? How many people get into blogging with the thought that it’s a way to make money (or travel the world for free)? Have you ever seen a conference or workshop session titled, “How to Enjoy Your Blog as a Hobby?” I haven’t. If you have, let me know.
Blogging, which certainly is and can be someone’s career (and that’s perfectly okay), doesn’t have to be a career or a side hustle. It can be just a hobby. Though, I admit that as someone who does blog on the side and has no intention of making it her career or part of her career at this point in time, it can sometimes feel like you’re missing out on doing so much more by having your blog be a hobby.
I have lost count of the number of times someone has asked me “what’s next?” with my blog, or if I have made or plan to make money off of it. And I fully admit that when I started this blog, I immediately wanted to get my blog out there as more than just a hobby. I attended many conferences with my blog business cards in hand, and I treated (and still often do) this blog more like a business than a leisurely hobby. And I did make money off of it in my first year.
I’m a thirty-something who likes blogging as a hobby, and I’m not a mommy blogger but a travel one. Even I admit it’s unconventional.
Then, for a variety of reasons, I took a big step back from leveraging my blog to pursue opportunities and make money. It became very much a hobby, but I admit it feels weird to tell people that blogging is a hobby. I’m a thirty-something who likes blogging as a hobby, and I’m not a mommy blogger but a travel one. Even I admit it’s unconventional.
But I also think, why can’t this be my hobby? I like to write, I like to travel and I have a pretty demanding full-time job, so if this is just something I do on the side without an expectation to create an e-book out of it or turn it into a full-time job, then that’s okay.
Will I ever do something “more” with my blog or define “what’s next” with it? Possibly. And that is also my choice, not because I feel pressured to take my hobby to the next level where it’s not a hobby any longer but because another idea, one I’m even more passionate about, has taken hold and I feel compelled to see it through.
But for now, this is my hobby. It doesn’t define me, it’s just something I enjoy. And though I do try to provide consistently good content on here and on social media, I don’t aim to become the next travel blogging/social media influencer. I just do what works for me.
What are your hobbies?