This Is The Difference Between Creative Work That’s A Hobby Vs. A Business

Photo Credit: Khara Woods

“No matter what your age or your life path, whether making art is your career or your hobby or your dream, it is not too late or too egotistical or too selfish or too silly to work on your creativity.” — Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way

As explained by the famous words of author and teacher Julia Cameron, each and every one of us has the ability to create. Whether through cooking a meal or painting a mural, imagination can exist anywhere. So how do you decide whether your creative work is meant to exist as a hobby or a career? Well, you start with the basics. As you know with business comes a specific set of responsibilities that do not apply to one’s enjoyments or hobbies. Below are just a few of the realities you will need to consider.

Creative work that’s a business is open to opinions, editing & critique.

When it comes to creative work it’s important to remember that business is rarely a one man (or woman) show. Therefore, external influence is something you’ll likely encounter to some degree or another. For writers that may mean a client or editor, while for photographers that can look like a creative director or customer. Surrounding yourself with other individuals within the creative field can lead to immense professional and personal growth. However, unless you’re capable of operating entirely on your own, you must be open to hearing the opinions of others.

Creative work that’s a business requires a deadline.

It goes without saying that businesses operate on a schedule. Therefore, if you’re utilizing your art to make money, you must be willing to factor deadlines into the equation. Feeling blocked or uninspired is not a feasible excuse when working on behalf of a business. So, dedication to your craft on a regular basis is key. For some this can be a challenge. If you prefer to only paint, write or shoot when “inspiration hits” then turning your work into a job may cause your passion to feel daunting, rather than enjoyable.

It won’t always be work you’re passionate about. 

So you want to be a writer? A photographer? A graphic designer? Then at some point you will likely be asked to write, shoot or edit something that doesn’t  make you feel inspired. However, if you truly want to succeed as a creative professional then in those moments you must be willing to add your touch to the project at hand. In many ways this is where true creativity comes in. Can you find inspiration in the initially uninspired? That is the ultimate challenge. 

It holds monetary value, not just sentimental value, which fundamentally changes the work itself.

Utilizing your artistry to build a business means putting a price on your passion. Given the amount of heart and soul creators give to their work, this isn’t always an easy topic to address. It is however, the nature of business. And lucky for you, if you stick with building your craft (and your career) you may eventually achieve more than you ever expected. After all, where there is risk, there is also opportunity.

Creative work that’s a hobby is in your control; your business is in the control of the consumer.

The term “hobby” really says it all. When creative work is something you do for fun, there are no rules to follow or deadlines to meet. The notion of “coloring inside the lines” simply doesn’t exist. And so in many ways, this keeps us feeling free to explore our creative passions. Ultimately though, there is no right or wrong way to create. If you’re honoring what brings you joy and operating from a place of authenticity, your work will reflect that energy- with or without a paycheck. So move forward with confidence knowing that either way, your art is worth your effort.