Monetizing Fun

(This column is posted at and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

After writing about how we destroy fun and how we sometimes monetize fun inappropriately, I’d like to address this question:

Is it Healthy to Make Money At What You Enjoy?

It would seem that this question is obviously “yes”, but it’s an uncomfortable one. I’m sure many of us have known people that turned fun into a job, many of us have done it ourselves, and it’s not an easy situation. Forget if you can make enough money, the stress the loss of joy, etc. can be enough of a pain.

It’s an uncomfortable question – could the idea of enjoying our job, of profiting from fun, be a bad one?

Let’s sit with that one for a moment. Go ahead, think it over.

Now that you did that, my answer is “yes, it’s OK to make money at what you like, but as long as you stay aware of your situation”

When you realize you can monetize fun, I’m bang along side it as long as you’re aware of the situation and pay attention. Check in with yourself when you start down this path, and check in reguarly and review where you are. I do this every month to every few months, often when I feel like my fun/work balance has gotten out of balance.

Here’s the checks you want to make:


Are you trying to monetize fun for a good reason? Will it advance your life and that of others? Will it make you happier? Will it, logically, make you enough cash to be worth it (if you care about it)?

Check in with yourself reguarly if you’re doing this fun-for-money thing for the right reasons, it can change. I’ve found cases where I was doing certain projects out of habit – not for any good reason.


There’s two questions to ask when it comes to the value of fun:

  • Do I know how much value my fun-for-money brings me or can bring me? That helps me understand if its worth it financially (and for the sacrifice of making fun more of a job).
  • Do I know the value of my fun without the pressure to monetize it? That helps me decide if its worth monetizing or I just want to hang out and have fun.

Know the value of what you’re doing both in money and personal fulfillment. Check in reguarly, because it can change . . .


Can you turn your “hobby-job” back to just a hobby? Can you, when you want, turn that “profiting from fun” switch back on? Can you just take a break?

Keeping this fluidity is important. It lowers the chance you’ll trap yourself, and helps remind yourself you have options – so you don’t feel trapped. Sometimes, after all, the worst trap is just thinking you are.

Personally, this question helped me realize I just like to write. I’d be doing it no matter what.


If you’re going to monetize your hobby, you’ll want to ask what the endgame is – when would you decide to not do it or decide you fulfilled your goals. Could it be “funning” your way to a new job? Being a paid author? Publishing so many books? Doing it until you die as you like it?

Have an idea of your long-term goals, even if your long-term goal is “just see if I still wanna do this.” When you have an idea of an endgame it lets you evaluate your progress towards it and prepare for transitions that may come when you reach that end state.

However, having an endgame also lets you know when to stop. Maybe the endgame won’t work and you change it. Maybe it’s not worth it anymore. Know what you want if only to know when it’s no longer a good idea.


So, go ahead, make money at your hobbies. Just make sure you have checkins to on these subjects to see how you’re doing on your goals, motivations, status, and so on. Be ready to make changes depending on your finding, and give yourself the freedom to do so.

This way you’re able to adapt and change and be happy – be it from making money, having fun, or a balance between the two.

Steven Savage

Thoughts On Fandom Pathology

(This column is posted at and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

I recently read a great Tumblr post (yes, I use Tumblr, where else can I get snarky Overwatch memes) about how writing was a way to reduce anxiety. This led me to a realization of how hobbies help us deal with stress – and hurt us.

Reading this reminded me that my writing is often a great way to deal with stress – I find it relaxing. Admittedly publishing is often stressful, but writing is quite enjoyable. Even when I’m not in a writing mood, I find once I get into the rhythm, I feel much more relaxed afterwards.

Even when not writing, there’s something relaxing about plotting my next story or blog post or book. I began to ask why was this.

I came up with a few conclusions.

  1. I like writing. Nuff said.
  2. If I’m having a bad day, writing occupies my mind, uses my abilities, and thus they’re not being used to think about how lousy the day is.
  3. I have a sense of achievement from my work, and thus if I feel bad, I feel better about myself.
  4. Writing connects me with people, giving me something to discuss, edit, work with them, share.
  5. My writing contributes to the rest of my life, building a skill, ensuring I’m published, creating options.

I’m sure you can relate. Writing makes me feel good due to a number of reasons, and I’m sure you have similar experiences with a positive hobby or interest.

Being a person who will analyze the heck out of anything, I then asked “why do some people’s hobbies lead to pathology?” If my writing interest yielded so much benefits, why do other interests lead to fanwars, harassment, and enjoyment becoming anger?

This is a complex subject and I’m not going to discuss all the elements, but focus on a few of my more intense insights.


First, the fact my writing connects me with others is a positive. To have others in my life relieves stress (to put it negatively) and enriches my life (to put it positively).

For some people, I think they may have items #1, #2, and #3, but their interests don’t connect them with others. This may be fine if that’s what they want. However if this isn’t voluntary, or they’re not aware of it, putting in time on an interest that doesn’t connect you to people may limit their social sphere. With limited social spheres, one is more vulnerable to stress.

So though your interest may have benefits, it may have social negatives. For some people, pouring themselves into an interest that leaves them disconnected may make their overall life worse.

(However we often need space, so remember that may be a positive)


Just because your interests bring you social connections, sadly, doesn’t mean their healthy. How many of us have seen, dealt with, or been in pathological communities based around hobbies and interests?  I’m sure we all have.

Even if your interest provides a number of benefits, even if it connects you to people, those connections may not be healthy or involve too much pathology.* In some cases you may be better of without the community.

It’s not just “does my interest connect me to people” it’s “does it connect me with healthy people and communities?”

We’ve all seen what happens when it doesn’t.


One of the major things my writing brings to me is a sense of larger connection. People read my blog posts. My books mean speaking and educating and of course making money. My skills are transferable to the job.

My writing connects me to the larger world.  That’s a good thing for everyone

I’m not talking just job and skills-wise – that’s my thing. A good hobby may help you build confidence or give you insights into things like history or improve tactical skill or be fun to chat about at parties. If your interest does “more” than just be relaxing and confidence-building and social, then it means you have a more unified, cohesive life.

But what happens if a hobby or interest lacks these connections? If it’s not transferable in some way? If it doesn’t enrich you as a person? If it’s of highly limited interests to others? In this case, it might be pathological as you’re putting a lot of time into something that may have limited benefits.

We should evaluate our hobbies by how they benefit us. “I use it to blow off steam” is fine if you’re aware of it.  “I’m just goofing around” is fine if that’s what you want.  Its just that sometimes this can go wrong when what you get from the fandom isolates or limits you.

I’m thinking specifically of the people who often annoy us in fandoms – people who spout trivia as a dominance ritual, or brag about game skills that are irrelevant outside of the game. The people who have put a lot of their time and interests and identity into something – but that thing has little to no relevance in the rest of their lives . . . and act like it’s the most critical thing in the world.

But – and you’ve seen this – these people act like it’s the most critical thing in the world.

This is why it’s important to evaluate our hobbies and interests, both to know and maximize the benefits, but also know if we’re down a rabbit hole. If we start caring about this side thing and its limited sphere and fandom, we’ll be disconnected from the world and perhaps get more disconnected. I’m sure we’ve all been there.


I think the ultimate expression of Hobby Pathology occurs when people’s hobbies lead them to a limited social sphere (those in said hobby) and that interest occupies a lot of their time without connecting to the rest of their lives. Soon you have something fun that becomes self-limiting and self-reinforcing – and with a community that feeds on itself and acts as a pressure cooker.

Such communities also tend to reward bad behavior. Because the important social signifiers are about said interests – not life, the big picture, the larger world – they become more important than things like actual civic behavior. If you’ve ever watched a fan war you know what I mean.

Finally, these tight-situations of almost “self-culting” seem to attract bad actors as it is. When you have a group and know the signifiers to communicate, you can easily propagate bad ideas or just build your own little fiefdom for yourself. People leave, more bad actors come in, you get the idea.


My ultimate conclusion here is that we should be conscious of our interests, to maximize their benefits, but also be aware they might lead us to pathological isolation or limited social connections. When one’s interests are of limited relevance outside of that hobby, and lead to a limited (or nonexistent) social circle that’s a sign there may be problems.

On the other hand when you can say “I am gonna do this to get away from crap” with full self-awareness, great.

I clearly need to study this idea more, but I think I’m on to something.

– Steve

Geek Job Guru: Full Management Alchemist

Org Chart

It’s time we have The Talk.

OK, that admittedly isn’t clear, which is the point because this is a lame attempt at humor before a serious situation. This is The Talk about Management.

It’s probably not what you think. That, by the way, is my attempt to lure you into reading in case the lame humor didn’t work.

Let’s talk Management

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