More people turning hobbies into careers

Wednesday 24th May, 2017
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Industry news

There has been significant growth in the number of people in the UK turning their hobbies into their career over the past few years, with many setting up as limited company contractors or freelancers to do so.

AXA Insurance carried out a survey of self-employed workers and found that 40 per cent of those who made the move to go it alone in the world of work in Britain last year set up their new business based on their hobby. This is therefore also likely to be the case for limited company contractors who decide to focus their career on their hobby.

In fact, more than two-thirds (67 per cent) of entrepreneurs revealed that they had completely turned their back on their previous field of work when it came to setting out on their own, focusing on a different sector entirely.

However, many leave it until late in their working lives to make this move, with 88 per cent of over-55s who decide to work for themselves starting out in a totally different field to the one they have been employed in throughout the rest of their career.

While it's great that older workers aren't afraid of making this move, it does mean they may have spent years missing out on the myriad of benefits associated with contracting, including more flexible hours and the chance to set their own pay rates.

Which hobbies are being turned into careers?

Back in 2012, just 17 per cent of new start-ups were based on the owner's hobby, but this has risen to 40 per cent in a relatively short space of time, demonstrating that more people want both greater control and enjoyment from their career.

Selling items relating to their hobby online was found to be the most popular way for people to turn their personal interests into their job, with one in five self-employed workers going down this route.

AXA's research found that the next most popular hobbies to turn into a job were those related to arts and crafts, closely followed by writing, with many professional bloggers and freelance copywriters having successfully turned their passion for the written word into their full-time job.

Computer gaming was another favourite hobby often turned into a games development career, while many drew on their passion for photography or multimedia editing to turn their back on their old nine-to-five role to go it alone as a contractor or freelancer.

What's fuelling the increase in hobby-based careers?

Gareth Howell, Managing Director of AXA Insurance, commented: "British people are living through a time of great transformation in the way they live and work. The economic pressures that fuel the gig or freelance economy are well-documented, but our study highlights that there is a very real pursuit of happiness and liberty going on here too.

"People want to do something that gives them a sense of pride and craftmanship, as well as to make money. Many people can eventually earn very well out of a passion or hobby that has been developed to a high level of sophistication."

The research also showed that there tend to be different triggers influencing men and women's decisions to turn their hobby into their career. In fact, women were found to be almost twice as likely as their male counterparts to branch out into a new field when setting out on their own.

In addition, women were also more likely to start working for themselves after taking a career break - due to maternity leave or redundancy, for example, than men. One-third (32 per cent) of females followed this path compared to just 18 per cent of men.

Passion stronger than knowledge?

For those who are not experienced at contracting, but have made the move into this way of working based purely on their passion for a particular field, help is always at hand from PayStream's limited company service, My PSC.

My PSC is designed to provide expert advice and support to contractors who decide to set up their own limited company, providing them with help regarding their company admin and proactive tax advice to ensure contractors remain on the right side of HMRC.



In fact, more than two-thirds (67 per cent) of entrepreneurs revealed that they had completely turned their back on their previous field of work when it came to setting out on their own, focusing on a different sector entirely.

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