Getting a Paycheck Doing Something You Love

The summer of 1987 was a great summer for me. I was between the junior and senior years of college and had decided that I could give up the retail job that I had held since age 16. Instead, I took a job working at the Essex Institute (now the Peabody-Essex Museum) in Salem, Massachusetts.

The Essex Institute owned numerous historic houses in Salem. During the summer months, they offered guided tours of four of the houses, each dating from the 17th to the 19th century and furnished with period furnishings. As a history major, I loved those houses and I loved having the luxury of spending time in them, whether I was giving a tour or simply studying the furnishings, art and architecture.

As summer jobs go, it was the best job I ever had. I was surrounded by history. I got to share my views of history with a willing public. I got free admission to a full network of museums. I really wanted for nothing. Unfortunately, my hourly wage of $4.50 per hour was adequate only to keep me comfortable for a summer, while I was in college and still living at home. My idyllic summer also taught me that if I wanted to earn a decent wage, I needed to find something else to do for a living.

After that summer ended, I discussed with a history professor my revelation that history does not pay much. He laughed and agreed. Although I was an excellent history student, he advised me to keep history as a hobby, and to remain passionate about it, but to seek my profession in another field. That set in motion a chain of events that ultimately led me to law school, but I never forgot the pleasure I derived from being a tour guide.

We all have hobbies and interests. When I wrote that you need to Do What You Know, I did not mean to limit anyone’s thinking to the jobs that they know. Everything that we enjoy can become a job, if we work towards that goal and every hobby can become a profession.

The key is to start small.

If you are a fan of history, as I am, explore the museums and historic sites in your area. Perhaps you can find a part time job working at the site. Even if it does not pay much, you will still be getting paid to pursue your interests. If you would normally spend 8 hours per week pursuing your hobby, doesn’t it make more sense to try to get someone to pay you to pursue it?

If you love to garden and you spend a lot of time in your local nursery, try to get a part time job there for a few hours each week. If you like books and enjoy browsing the stacks at a book store, try to take on a shift or two at your favorite store. You will get paid to wander the stacks and you will probably get a discount on the books you purchase. Wherever you may like to wander in stores, look there for a job that might pay you to do so.

When I finally retire, I know that I shall try to do so in a place that surrounds me with history. If I have the energy, I know I shall also try to find another historic site or museum that will allow me to interpret history to visitors. I may not make a lot of money doing it, but I shall be getting paid to do something that I love to do. If you can find a way to collect a paycheck doing something you love, you have found the key to success.

How have you taken a hobby and turned it into a money making venture? Have you gone from training in the gym to training others? Were you once a stamp or coin collector but now a stamp or coin dealer? Have you ever tried to turn a hobby into a job, only to discover that you lost your passion for the hobby when you turned it into a responsibility? However you have failed or succeeded in making money with a hobby, let us know!

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5 Responses to Getting a Paycheck Doing Something You Love

  1. Best Bun says:

    Not to get off subject, but your post brought up a wonderful childhood memory. Every summer my DM would take DS and I on the cultural tour. The Peabody Museum and the House of the Seven Gables! Old Ironside and Beacon Hill! What a carefree time! Thanks for the trip back. My DM us a precious gift by quality family time, learning, and just plain fun.

  2. Ann says:

    Well, I left corporate to take up carving full-time, but I made plans and life happened, as they say!

    Actually, this winter I’ll have my website done. I participated in enough woodcarving shows to know that a lot of people don’t respect what goes into it, whereas at art shows, people seem to get it. My media interests expanded into stone, cold-cast bronze and clay. I found that I prefer doing one-of-a-kind pieces. Hmmmm. Guess life knew what it was doing, when it threw in some delays!

    My life is such that I’m able to do what I love and I’m confident that the money will come. I couldn’t give up creating, even if I wanted to! I’ve never been so happy or so much at peace.

    Life is definitely better than good.

  3. Jules says:

    This is a great post! It serves as effective encouragement to get out there and try to make a little money doing what we love. Even when one enjoys their career, there are still interests that may not be fully explored through their primary job. Being able to dabble in the things that really bring true, simple joy to our lives (whether for pay or not) is a little piece of heaven.

  4. Ann says:

    Jules, you are sooooo right!

    I’m one of those bizarre people whose first degree was in art, then I became a CPA and got my masters in finance and reporting. Making a living didn’t leave me time (I didn’t think) for any artwork, so, when I got back into it, it was unbelievable!

    I didn’t originally intend to leave corporate, but as soon as I started creating again, I became a happier person. If my financial situation hadn’t been such that I could leave all that behind, I’d still be a much happier, relaxed person doing it on the side.

    A person needs to pursue what brings them joy to whatever extent they can — it refreshes the soul.

  5. Pat says:

    Reading all the wonderful comments has set my creative juices to work. I love writing romance storys. And I will do this between the hum drum staleness of everyday life. Thanks to all of you for the injection to enjoy life again.

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