Every now and again, we’ll hear from a customer or client a story that goes a little something like this.
“I started doing it for friends and stuff and they said that I should start a business doing it. And I thought, wow! Yeah. I really do like doing this. I really could do this for a living!”
So they set about the process of getting started.
They are bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and full of hope that this thing they really like doing and their friends say they’re really good at really could become their ittybiz.
(Many good businesses are started this way. I’m not hating.)
I thought that I’d take a moment to address this issue now.
I like sex.
Under the right conditions, I very, very, very much enjoy having sex.
I suspect I’m not alone in this.
Additionally, when I have sex, I often get good feedback from my partner.
Very nice things are said.
Given that I like sex so much, and given that I get such great feedback, it only stands to reason that I should seriously consider a career in prostitution. Right?
Here’s why a job at the local bawdy house might not be the best career choice for me.
We’ll make a list. It is by no means exhaustive.
1. The things you like doing for fun with friends are not necessarily the things you like doing for pay with people you hate.
If I just loooooooove getting my snuggle on with my honey on a Saturday night, that does not necessarily mean I would enjoy spanking a man in a diaper and pretending I was having the time of my life.
If you just loooooooove giving website advice over the cupcake table at the PTA fundraiser, that does not necessarily mean you would enjoy giving website advice to assholes who fight you on everything and never pay their invoices on time.
2. What is sustainable in short bursts is not always sustainable throughout a 12-hour work day.
One of the reasons having sex is fun is because it’s a novelty, a pleasant diversion from the day-to-day. Yes, it’s at times demanding and taxing. But it’s worth it because it’s a bit of a treat.
One of the reasons giving website advice is fun is because it’s a novelty, a pleasant diversion from the day-to-day. Yes, it’s at times demanding and taxing. But it’s worth it because it’s a bit of a treat.
Turn the sex or the websites into the day-to-day, and you lose a lot of the pros, and gain a lot of cons.
3. When you’re not getting paid, you can quit any time.
When you’re having sex for free, you’re allowed to stop.
If you get a little past your comfort level, or your partner is asking for too much, or you’re not having fun anymore, or you’re too tired, or you’ve got a wicked headache, or you’re just not in the damn mood, you can stop having sex.
Same with website tweaks.
When you’re doing it for free and you’re past your comfort level, or your friend is asking for too much, or you’re not having fun anymore, or you’re too tired, or you’ve got a wicked headache, or you’re just not in the damn mood, you can stop handing out website advice.
When you’re getting paid, nobody’s much interested in whether or not you’re in the mood.
Also? Golden handcuffs. Once you’ve quit your job to become a full-time hooker, it’s hard to just change your mind.
(Tee hee. Handcuffs.)
4. The feedback you get from friends is not the same feedback you’ll get from clients.
If I’m having sex with someone and they’re not paying for it, they are strongly motivated to give excellent feedback for a few reasons.
One, they’re socially conditioned to say nice stuff, even stuff that’s nicer than is really warranted or deserved.
Two, they’re hoping for more free sex.
If you’re giving website advice to someone and they’re not paying for it, they are strongly motivated to give excellent feedback for at least one of the same reasons.
You really shouldn’t change your life and build a company on the back of what your partner wheezes in the moments following free sex.
Same with websites.
5. The services people will accept when they’re free are not the same services people will accept when they’re not free.
If I were to offer my partner something… above and beyond… with no strings attached, the odds that he will say yes are quite high.
“Hey, do you want me to invite my four closest girlfriends over for a six-hour pillow fight and then we’ll all massage you and feed you sushi after?”
If you were to offer your friend something above and beyond, with no strings attached, the odds that she will say yes are quite high.
Hey, do you want me to spend 12 hours of my life fixing your crapbox of a website in exchange for nothing but a thank you?
But if I were to attach a $1700 tab to my pillow-fight-and-sushi idea, he’d probably thank me for the offer but politely decline, citing budgetary concerns.
Same with websites.
6. Offering sex to your friends in exchange for money feels really, really weird.
When we offer services for free, it’s really, really easy to ask people to be your client.
“Hey, do you want me to do this nice thing for you?”
It’s easy to say this to our friends, and so we do.
When we offer services for money, it’s really, really hard to ask people to be your client.
“Hey, do you want to pay me to have sex with you?”
It’s hard to say this to our friends, and so we don’t.
When you start charging, your client list tends to shrink because the number of people you’re comfortable pitching tends to shrink.
7. Last, having sex for money makes you feel like a prostitute.
When you’re giving your body freely, it feels like a gift.
It’s a joy.
It’s a blessing.
When you’re giving your body in exchange for money, it turns your gift, your joy, your blessing, into a commodity.
What starts as an offer of love becomes a pitch for a client relationship.
It’s no fun anymore.
Because having sex for free feels like fun.
Having sex for money feels like prostitution.
Same with websites.
Now, lest we all get depressed
Plenty of people can and do build businesses out of things that were once fun hobbies.
It’s a perfectly reasonable way to go.
But in the real world, when you’re deciding to start a business, there are a few questions that you have to ask yourself before you give it years of your life and tens of thousands of dollars.
If you still ask those questions, and you’re still satisfied with your answers, there’s no reason you shouldn’t turn your much-loved hobby into a business.
All I’m saying is that the presence of a much-loved hobby doesn’t absolve you of the responsibility of asking the questions.
Naomi writes more things like this in The Letter. Get it for free today. (It also comes with free marketing courses. You can’t move for free here.)