A smart friend asked how I could monetize a leisure activity that I was planning to indulge in. I was only thinking about enjoying some sugary breakfast cereal and her question was facetious, but immediately, my brain started ticking on that challenge. This is telling.
For many years, I’ve been involved in activities that are people’s passions and hobbies – like Ren Faire or ghost explorations. People who gather together to pursue a hobby don’t do it as a business. They do it as a communal activity that like-minded people enjoy pursuing together. So, when the idea of doing it as a business enters the picture, there’s a disconnect.
It’s this palpable disconnect that’s hard to overcome – in myself and in others. When I seek to raise funds or earn a living by offering a product related to a hobby, the immediate reaction I get is indignation. There’s a sense of “How could you want that?” Almost as if I’ve betrayed my friends by introducing the element of filthy lucre into the mix.
News Flash. I also got involved with things like the Ren Faire or ghost tours because I enjoyed them as a hobby. That’s why we have those things in common.
News Flash. I am attempting to follow the sage advice of looking first to my passions to determine how to earn a living. I’m not in a financial position to start my own Ren Faire, so that left ghost tours. That was my passion.
I’ve decided that I need to sideline that wholehearted pursuit of the ghost tours because in the last 2 years I’ve also learned that not only does my ‘earn a living’ endeavor need to be a passion, but it needs to be a partnership. The ghost tours – or the audio tour format regardless of the subject matter – is not Ron’s passion. Fine. I’m content.
Now we’re looking at how to earn a living with Optimist Theatre. We are the full time staff. It’s not a crime to earn a living working for a nonprofit. Many people do it. It’s up to us to develop the fundraising and income streams that will support Shakespeare in the Park and allow us to keep a roof over our heads. It’s symbiotic. We have a roof over our heads and we can afford the time to devote to this great work. The goal is that the time we devote to this great work produces the great work AND puts a roof over our head.
Which brings me back to my original observation. How do I monetize an activity? When I consider that question, my immediate reaction is no longer the same as that I’ve encountered from my friends. Because, Yes, I also used to have that same reaction. How could I even consider that?
Now the question is, how could I Not consider that?
Ron and I are not independently wealthy and we are devoted to Optimist Theatre and it’s programs – premiere of which is free Shakespeare in the Park. Here’s to symbiosis and karmic balance. I have to believe it’s possible.
Susan Scot Fry
Update… The obvious answer is a sugar-momma-daddy. There aren’t any of those around that I’m aware of, so instead the answer is a massively consumable product that everyone can’t wait to get their hands on. Hmmmm….