I know several people who record voiceovers from home. They don’t consider themselves professional voice actors and don’t have professional soundproof studios. They’re not bad at what they do, but will doubtful end up voicing the trailer for the next Transformers movie. They record local radio commercials here and there, perhaps a phone greeting now and then, and that’s it.
And they’re happy with that. To them, it’s not a career; it’s a hobby, a past-time, a side gig.
Others I know love writing children’s stories. They write and write and write, but don’t spend much time revising, editing, or learning how to write. They might send a manuscript out to a publisher once or twice; when the rejection note comes back, they don’t send anything else out for the rest of the year.
And they’re happy with that. To them, it’s a hobby, a diversion, a creative outlet.
That’s ok, too!
But what happens when you start treating your voice acting, writing, or other career as if it’s a leisurely pursuit?
Chances are, it won’t stay a career.
A lesson in health & beauty products
My wife recently became an independent consultant for Arbonne Skin and Body Care. As a health care professional, she tries to eat well, live sustainably, and be as healthy as possible. Since Arbonne products are all-natural, botanically-based, vegan, and gluten-free, she fell in love with them. In addition to skin care, hair care, bath & body, and cosmetic products, they also offer nutritional supplements and protein shakes (which I have to admit, are surprisingly good).
Consequently, when the woman she was buying them from suggested she sell them, too, my wife decided to take the plunge and go into business for herself.
The reason I mention all of this is because of the training the Arbonne folks give their consultants. They have conference calls, Skype sessions, and all kinds of one-on-one discussions. And in one of the very first training conference calls my wife participated in, the speaker shared this little nugget of wisdom:
“Don’t expect to make money if you treat this as a hobby.”
Now, she wasn’t trying to turn anyone away from selling the products. If someone wanted to simply sell some products on the side, maybe try some samples, and get a percentage off their orders, that was fine. She just didn’t want them to be disillusioned.
They wouldn’t be making the money that a career offers.
Rather, the speaker suggested, treat your position as an Arbonne representative seriously: get your business cards made up and pass them out proudly, talk to local businesses and other groups who might be interested in the product, and approach your conversations about Arbonne with the same attitude you would if you were working for someone who wasn’t you!
Because when you are your own boss, as many of us have learned, it’s easy to cut yourself slack and not work as hard as you should. You can make up excuses for why you didn’t have time to do this or that. You can find all sorts of reasons why it was OK to do something you shouldn’t have – or not do something you needed to.
Businesses grow; hobbies don’t
Last year, I shared a post about things worth doing, worth trying, and not worth your effort - in other words, knowing what you like, what you’re good at, and what you’d rather not do, and embracing that knowledge. Likewise, if you’re going to take up a hobby, do it for the enjoyment of it! Learn it, practice it, and have fun.
If you’re going to begin a career, then learning, practicing, and having fun are also important steps…but so is taking it seriously.
For example, I’m a voiceover professional; I audition every chance I get, I provide clients with quality service, and market myself to the best of my ability. I also write children’s literature, and although I have yet to get that elusive book deal, I do have a poem being included in an upcoming children’s anthology. I am constantly sending manuscripts and cover letters out, going to workshops and conferences, and trying to improve my writing.
I have a lot of fun, but I take what I do seriously.
A business grows; as you develop skills, contacts, and clients, you strive to get better, meet more people, and work with more clients. A hobby, on the other hand, exists for your enjoyment and nothing else. Sure, you hear about people who had a hobby that they built into a business – but the only reason that happened is because they started treating the hobby like a business.
They got serious.
Are you serious?
Are you auditioning for everything you’re qualified for? Are you making an effort to learn how to write better? No matter what your pursuit, are you putting everything into it?
If not, then what you’re doing is a hobby…and if that’s all you want it to be, that’s fine. We all need hobbies, and to each his own.
But if it’s not supposed to be a hobby, then ask yourself what you can do differently. What you can do more efficiently. What you can do better.
After all, if you don’t take your career seriously, you shouldn’t expect anyone else to.
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