From the forums:
Everyone I know always tells me I’m talented and should do something, but I’m like, yeah, ok, thanks, but too many interests ain’t a good thing since I’m just a hot mess wanting to do everything which isn’t realistic. Should I just be patient and let it come naturally or should I assume I’ll always be a hot mess wanting to do everything and still continue to try new things?
I’m kinda sick and tired of learning so many things and not finding and pursuing MY niche. Soon, when the kids go off to school, I need to start doing something decent for myself and our household. — Have You Seen My Niche?
This is similar to the discussion we had last week when a LW lamented that he wasn’t excited about the real world because it didn’t seem exciting enough. What it boils down to in both his case and yours is managing expectations. Chances are, even if you chose one niche to focus on and try to monetize, you aren’t going to magically make great — or even “decent” — money overnight. You can’t just “be patient and let it come naturally.” If you wanted to actually monetize a hobby that you’re interested in, you’d have to be assertive about it and work really hard, and even then there’s no guarantee you’d have much of a pay-off. The market — every market — is saturated with hobbyists trying to monetize their crafts and skills. Does that mean you shouldn’t make a go of it yourself? No, but it does mean you need to manage your expectations. You’d have to have something that really sets you apart from the countless other people also trying to monetize the same hobbies, and right now it sounds like you don’t even have the skill set to compete with the best, let alone a hook that might make you stand out. That’s ok if you want to simply continue enjoying a hobby, but if you are serious about monetization, you have your work cut out for you, and the reality is it may be a very long time before you see financial results.
Like you, I know a little bit about a lot of things and am not really a master at much. But two things I know a little more about than maybe the average person: stay-at-home parenting and monetizing a hobby. For the past nearly eight years I have monetized this website while staying home and raising my young kids. In a few months, my youngest will be heading to public pre-k full-time, so I am at a similar crossroads as you except that I already have the stay-at-home, part-time job (in my chosen “niche”) set up for myself. It has been a lot of work to get to where I am now, and I have to be honest: While there are a lot of perks to this lifestyle (I work from home, I’m my own boss, I do work I really enjoy, I have a flexible schedule that completely works around the kids’ school schedules), there’s a lot that is frustrating about it, too (the most universal frustration is the inconsistent and unstable pay). I couldn’t do this kind of work if my family really depended on my income to survive. Instead, my income is the family “bonus” money – we use it to pay for the kids’ extracurricular activities, babysitter nights, and vacations. And it took about two or three years to even break even on this site, so for that time I was working 20 to 30 hours a week while raising a baby/toddler and losing money in the process (paying for website overhead and babysitting costs for some of those hours). Talk about a passion project!
I say all of this to, again, help you manage your expectations. You may not be interested in pursuing blogging, but it’s likely that whatever niche you might choose to pursue will have a similar trajectory – and that’s IF you’re lucky and IF you work hard and IF you can choose one thing to focus on. Some questions to ask yourself (and maybe your spouse): Does your family need you to start earning a part-time income as soon as your youngest child is in school and out of the house? If not, how would you feel about dedicating time to perfecting your skills and craft as well as learning how to run a small business while not earning much, if any, money for a few years? Are you prepared to invest the income you might earn back into your business?
You say that soon you need to “do something decent for yourself and your household,” which I’m inferring means contributing financially to your household by doing work that you enjoy on some level. I don’t think you need to feel “passionate” about this work. I think, as I argued in this post (see the comments section), that it’s perfectly fine — and perhaps necessary – to take a job because the pay is “decent,” the schedule and commute works for your lifestyle, the boss and co-workers are nice, and the work itself is interesting enough. True, none of this sounds super exciting or screams “found my passion” or whatever, but if you have to choose between financially contributing to your household or following your bliss, the wiser choice, when you have three children and don’t know what your bliss even is, would be finding a part-time job you can do while the kids are in school, earning a steady paycheck, and continuing to enjoy your many hobbies in your free time. Maybe if you feel inclined, you could even start an Etsy shop where you might experiment with selling some of the crafts you make in your free time without the pressure of needing it to take off and support your family.
And, P.S., you aren’t a “hot mess” simply because you have a lot of hobbies. You don’t need to define yourself by one job or role and that one role alone. But if, for your own self, you feel you do, you already have one of the hardest and most fulfilling jobs of all: you’re a mom. And you’re enough.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.