I am young and I don’t know everything. But I do know about monetizing my hobbies. Since graduating from school in the spring, I have been living a sustainable lifestyle fueled primarily by Magic, and now secondarily by coaching basketball. As long as I want to continue a lifestyle like this, I will find a way.
My results can be replicated, and I believe it is to the benefit of the Magic: the Gathering community and our greater human society that we know how to take our hobbies to market!
Some of you guys reading this already have great experience in hobby monetization, and I encourage you guys to include your own advice at the end of the article.
Why Would I Want to Monetize My Hobbies?[draft]Living Destiny[/draft]
It’s not about riches or fame, but about lifestyle. Your hobby is something you would PAY to do. It’s something you LOVE to do. As our responsibilities to ourselves and others pile up, our hobbies take a back seat to our money making activities. But what if those two motivating factors were the same thing?
What if your hobby paid for you to support yourself? What if it paid for you to support your family? You would have MUCH MORE TIME to do the thing that you love. The thing that you once paid to do is now paying for you!
The most important part is that now, the majority of your time is spent passionately working on something for which you can see the greater benefits to society in a meaningful and comprehensible way. If we spend the majority of our time doing the things we love (which is generally only possible if these things pay us) we are more productive and happier, and society is bettered.
Work Hard Play Hard
Work IS Play[draft]Tireless Missionaries[/draft]
If you are going to one day make a living from your hobbies, that means work IS play. No more “work hard play hard,” because those things are the same thing.
All of our time in life is spent working towards the future. The clock never stops. Not even when we are off of our day job. Every minute is accumulated and creates our story over time.
Depending on how you look at it, this is a good or a bad thing. If work is play, we are always working. But if work is play, we are also ALWAYS PLAYING!
Work For Free (Or Pay to Work!)[draft]Indentured Djinn[/draft]
I got started writing about Magic by posting tournament reports on Facebook for my friends to read. Over time, my writing and my play got better. My Facebook friends had friends, and eventually I got writing opportunities on websites which finally led me here.
If I hadn’t started off writing for free, I would never have the ability to charge for writing. Why would someone pay me to do something I have no experience doing?
I encourage everybody to do as much free work as they can. If you are a Magic player ,this means playing in lots of events, writing about it, reaching out to people, and shaking hands.
You Can’t Add an Hour to the Day Without Cutting an Hour from the Day
In Magic, my number one rule of deckbuilding is, “you can’t add a card without cutting a card.” I’ve often wished there was more space in my deck, just as I have wished there was more time in the day. But you can’t add an hour to the day without cutting an hour from the day!
Cuts can come from unlikely places. We have certain inefficiencies in the way we do things, certain time-sucking crutches we don’t need, and so on. It might mean dropping a hobby. It might mean quitting something. If that least enjoyable and productive minute doesn’t stack up to a minute you could spend on your hobby, now is a good time to swap in a new minute!
Racking up hours is important. Ten-thousand hours is an arbitrary baseline for mastery, but the idea is sound. In order for people to pay you to do something you have to be very good, and you become very good by racking up hours, and you rack up hours by cutting hours elsewhere.
Turn the Unproductive Productive
I’m not going to say you should never go out and party or stay in and watch TV—when we choose to do these things we do find value in them. If I go out, I learn what to do (or not to do) in social situations, meet friends, and exchange valuable information with them. If I stay in to watch TV, I am resting my body from physical exertion and learning something from media consumption. This is actually productive!
When I am at play, I am learning, and it is productive. At times I’ve questioned whether all my hours playing games have been productive or unproductive, but those hours eventually lead to something. It is only unproductive if I make no attempt to learn or improve.
With this mindset, it’s hard to ever be unproductive. Sometimes it’s unclear whether these activities are good in the long-term. Maybe they aren’t, or maybe value and productivity is hidden somewhere in the activity. It’s our job to either figure out where, or move on to other activities.
Our Hobbies are Flexible[draft]Adaptive Automaton[/draft]
I entertained the idea of being a professional Magic player in the truest sense—a player who makes his (potentially meager) living off of tournament earnings. There are a few people in the world who are able to do this, and it’s not impossible for any of us to do it, but there are other ways to monetize Magic.
Our hobbies are flexible—making money might be a step removed from your hobby. Your hobby might actually be the job requirement of something bigger. In Magic you could write, edit, manage content, stream and play ads, speculate on cards, seasonally buy and sell format staples, do coverage, sell deck lists, give personal lessons, and more. There are a ton of people who have found ways to make money playing this game, and there are a ton of ways none of us have even thought of yet.
There is money to be made off of flexibility in any of our hobbies. If I told you I wanted to make my living off of basketball you would either assume that I was an incredibly good player who was going to go pro, or just running my mouth. We forget that there are lots of jobs that require playing a ton of basketball—coaching and personal training to name a few. I encourage everybody to look one step beyond your hobby and see what jobs people would need done. Those jobs might not even exist yet!
Look to the Future[draft]Long-term plans[/draft]
It may take many years to monetize a hobby to the point at which you can invest in it full time. I started playing Magic in 1995. Many years later, here I am. I’m not rich, I’m still figuring it out, and I’m still planning a decade ahead. But I’m living a lifestyle that allows me to feel incredibly productive and rewarded for my work.
It may take 10,000 hours of training. It’s not going to happen over night. This means patience and careful planning over a long period. Sounds just like a good game of Magic right?
I don’t want anyone to feel bad about how they currently make money. We all gotta do what we gotta do. If it means taking up something that isn’t your calling for a while, years even, that’s fine. But I encourage everyone to have a long-term plan of monetizing your hobbies. I believe this will result in a happier and more productive society.
If you are an expert in this field already, PLEASE join in the conversation below! I want this to be an evolving resource for those of us who aspire to live passion-filled lives to come back to.
<3 Travis facebook.com/travisdwoo twitter.com/travisdwoo twitchtv.com/traviswoo Question! Comments! Think there’s something I forgot??