SIDE HUSTLE | noun
A piece of work or a job that you get paid for doing in addition to doing your main job.
My side hustle has become Rebecca Sarah Studio. I've created a 'brand' as a sister to this blog, making and selling prints, pottery, and paintings. I manage an Instagram business page, trying to work with (or maybe fight against?) the algorithm, I put money into adverts and into Etsy listings. I enjoy it, and I would identify myself as a creator. It's a dream of mine to one day have my own studio at the bottom of the garden; big glass walls and ceilings, surrounded by trees, the blue sky above, whilst I cover canvases with paint, and a pile of orders sit by the door ready to be sent off. Rebecca Sarah Studio has become my side hustle.
However, I have been reflecting on the disadvantages of the rising popularity and perhaps glamorisation in turning hobbies into hustles.
Firstly, I think it dramatically affects our identity. Although I enjoy painting, when my Instagram posts don't get many likes, when I have few sales on my Etsy listings, when I don't win awards, it impacts my identity. Although I began this because it was something I enjoy, and actually I think art is subjective and nobody is bad at art, the lack of recognition and income tells me I'm not good at what I'm doing. Rather, it should tell me that Instagrams algorithms don't work for the user anymore. Rather, it should tell me that Etsy particularly is saturated with products just like mine. Rather, it should tell me that many people are struggling for money, and often people go to Home Sense or the homeware section of Primark, rather than shopping local and independent. It should tell me that there are factors beyond my control that impact views and sales.
I think there's a similar identity issue in making what you do become who you are, because when you stop doing that thing, you question who you are.
To some degree, I'm sure we've all experienced this. We so often place our identity in our job roles, our relationship status, our hobbies, and when these things stop or change, it pushes us to reexamine who we are. And so if your side hustle is being a fitness coach but you break your leg and you're no longer able to coach people, who are you? If your side hustle is creating products, but you're feeling lost for ideas and so you take a break from creating, who are you?
The way we find our true identity is of course through Jesus and through the Bible. If you're not sure who God says you are, then I'd encourage you to pray and ask Him.
A friend once told me that I am valuable for who I am, not what I do, and that phrase has stuck me with for years now.
Finally, I think turning our hobbies into hustles enforces the idea that our time must be productive, which I think can lead to burnout. Particularly noticeable amongst early Gen Z - late millennials, I think there's an idea that everything we do has to be productive, and so if you can turn your hobby into a hustle, you can turn something unproductive into something profitable. Newsflash: you don't have to be good at your hobbies, and you can do things just because you enjoy them. You can bake, paint, exercise, read, write, have deep knowledge of an area, film, fix, provide a service of any kind without sharing it and without selling it. I recognise that this is majorly 'the pot calling the kettle black'. But I do think that as a generation, for reasons that can probably be pondered in another blog post, we're conditioned to think we should always be productive... even our rest time should be productive. Which is why I think that if you're working a full time job and then you go home to work on your side hustle, you risk burn out. You no longer paint (for example) because it relaxes you and it's enjoyable to you, but because you've got listings to renew on Etsy and you need content for Instagram, and frankly, you need the money.
However, I do think there are some real pieces of gold in turning hobbies into hustles.
If you can put in boundaries to decrease the risk of burn out, it is such a joy to spend your days doing the things you love, and have the things you love provide for you financially. Again, putting in boundaries to decrease the risk of burnout, I think if your job is something you love and something you're good at, that will be your drive, your motivation, and your energy.
Finally, I don't think it's wrong to use the gifts God has given you to increase income (as long as you don't burn out and place your entire identity in it). If God has given you the gift of creativity, teaching, of strategic thinking, of physical fitness and strength, of empowerment and encouragement, and if you do these things and get paid for it - then go and create your hobbies into hustles.
Rebecca Sarah Studio Instagram: @rebeccasarahstudio // https://www.instagram.com/rebeccasarahstudio/
Rebecca Sarah Studio Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/RebeccaSarahStudio?
Image by Eugenia Mello