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Writing: Hobby or Business?

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 1 4

Writing as a Hobby

For many, writing is nothing more than a hobby. 

Those who write as a hobby do so mainly to express themselves and do not expect to earn a living from their work. They simply wish to put their pen to paper and write about their day, some poems, or even a short story or two. It is treated as a hobby just as knitting, quilting or building model planes is to others.

When I was a child I can recall my Mom writing poems and submitting them to the local newspaper. She did it as a hobby and never earned much from them. I didn't give it much thought then, but see now she had a lot of talent as far as writing went. Somewhere along the way she lost interest and picked up crocheting as a hobby. 

I have a book of poems my great-uncle wrote, once again strictly as a hobby. He was an automotive mechanic by day, and wrote hundreds of poems over the years. When he was in his 70s or so, his daughter had a book of them compiled for family and friends. He didn't pursue his writing poetry as a business, but did it simply because he loved to write.


Writing as a Business

Some people may start writing as a hobby (as I did), but eventually want to generate an income from it. This takes more planning, work and perseverance than as a hobby.

The first thing to do when contemplating becoming a writer for pay is to plan ahead. This not only means planning your articles, but also how you are going to support yourself and your family (if applicable) until you are earning a full time income.

As with any business, it is wise to implement a Business Plan. Do your research and determine how you are going to earn your income, where you are going to look for writing jobs and how much it is going to cost to get set up. This is also the best time to assess your skills and which niche(s) you are most suited for. Writing about topics that interest you will be much more satisfying than if you have to turn out articles about things that require a ton of research because you have no idea about what it entails.

After planning, the next thing to do is to let others know you have a service to offer. You can start by sharing your new business with family and friends, then branch out via social networking on sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+ to name a few.

In addition to social networking, it is a very good idea to also start a website and/or blog to showcase your talents. If you decide to make a website, I strongly suggest utilizing the blog function as well. This way your updates can be done in one place and potential clients will not have to hop from one site to another to view your work. I have personally had blogs separate from my websites, but decided combining the two was more practical. It has worked out well for both my Freelancer/Author site and my Alpaca site (although the latter does not get the attention it should).

When writing for pay, keep in mind there are expenses you may be entitled to claim on your tax return. These include expenses such as office supplies and equipment, a portion of rent/mortgage and utilities and even books/magazines if they pertain to your business. For a complete list of applicable deductions, consult your revenue agency or an accountant. Most tax software also lists possible deductions for freelancers/authors.

There are many books available online and in your local library which will lay out the steps required if you decide to write for pay. They are well worth the read, but keep in mind the author's situation may be different from your own. I have personally found taking a bit of advice from a variety of people in the field is better than being biased.

In Conclusion

Whether you are a hobby writer, freelancer or author, writing can be very rewarding both creatively and monetarily (if you choose this route). The only person who can truly determine how far you wish to take your venture is you. Those who write striclty as a hobby derive great satisfaction from their creativity. Those who write for their bread and butter do it because it lets them be creative as well as provide a service for those who are less talented in the literary department.

No matter which path you choose, keep in mind that when writing starts to feel like a chore it is time to switch gears. This doesn't mean giving it up altogether, it simply means you either need a break or you need to read more. A hobby writer could easily go from writing to reading a wider variety of books, and a professional writer could switch to editing and proofreading. The change could either lead to a new chapter in life or give your creativity a kickstart. Either way, writing as a hobby or business will expand your horizons further than you ever thought possible.



Jan 3, 2013 9:47pm
A really important thing to keep in mind if you are going to write for money and treat it as a business and take tax deductions for your expenses is to be sure to really treat it like a business. It needs to be clear (if they check) to the IRS that you are really intending to make money at it as a business. Otherwise they might say it is just a hobby. You are only allowed to take hobby expenses up to the amount you have earned. I am not a tax guy, but that is my understanding... be sure to check with a tax professional.

Nice job!
Jan 3, 2013 9:51pm
I agree completely; if in doubt speak with a tax professional. That way, there are no gray areas in terms of what is or sin't allowed as a deduction.

Thank you for reading and your comment. :)
Jan 7, 2013 9:59pm
aguy makes a great point.

What I appreciate about writing to create online residual income is the low cost. If we have a computer and Internet access it can be achieved.

I agree with creating a website or blog of your own too to showcase our niche.

Pleased to read your first IB article.
Jan 8, 2013 6:34am
Thank you!

I agree with your comment regarding low start-up cost to earn money online. There are many sites which are free to create an account and you can write as much as you like. some sites are better than others, but a person should never have to pay a fee to become an online writer.

In addition to writing there are other methods as well, but I personally have found many to be time-consuming and not near as profitable as writing. The internet has given those of us who are limited job-wise (due to health, location, family, etc) the opportunity to create an income from home and not have to rely on others or the social care systems.
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