Is it a Business or a Hobby?

The article, Get rich or die vlogging: The sad economics of internet fame, provides a good example of how easily people can become about business.

The author, Gaby Dunn, tells us about how hard it is for even the most popular youtube video stars to make a living. It’s a solid piece of work save one thing. It never addresses the most fundamental issue.

Is it a hobby or is it a business?

Hobbies cost money and businesses make money. It can’t be both.

If it’s a business, then where’s the business plan? Where’s the analysis that says things like; if I get X views, then revenue will be Y dollars. Doing this before the first video is shot, not after digging a debt hole, would be acting like a business owner. Not doing this or doing it after the fact spells hobby.

It’s likely that even extremely popular video channels won’t generate enough income, especially if true production expenses were considered, so again what was the plan going in? The only business owner that doesn’t have solid financial plan before they start is a former business owner.

Where are the other streams of revenue? Are you a comic that uses youtube for getting booked? Are you an actor that uses youtube to showcase your ability? If so, then this is marketing and sales, and therefore isn’t supposed to profitable. It’s a cost center, not a profit center.

And before you think of this as a stand alone business, be sure to note that competition for viewers comes from hobbyists and marketers that don’t need income. That makes this a very competitive business and one that, even though I haven’t done the math, wouldn’t attract savvy business people.

The article says one vlogger has 15 streams of income. Now that’s a business person. Others would call them a “sell out” as if making a living was giving into the dark side.

I disagree.

The only sellouts, and this is true of mainstream media as well, are those that disguise the truth and say things that aren’t true or aren’t fully disclosed for money.

Main stream media accepts paid stories that transfer the trust and reputation of the branded media to the product for a price. This is selling out. This is putting the money before the viewer and treating the viewer as patsy. This is taking your good name and using it to hide the underlying truth about the piece being a sales pitch.

But straight up ads aren’t selling out at all. It’s a choice the consumer is faced with more and more these days. Commercials in no cost media or no commercials in paid media. Consumers get a choice.

What works better for advertisers is commercials disguised as media. They want that Good Housekeeping seal of approval. That’s worth money, and some will take that cash. They are sellouts. They do what I call Profit though Deception.

The economics of vlogging isn’t sad. What’s sad, to me anyway, is that so many people go into business but don’t think of it like a business.

They somehow think because they call themselves artists or similar non-business sounding names that they aren’t engaged in commerce. They aren’t in a real business, as if the rules and practices that us business professors teach don’t apply.

For all the artists and others that don’t want to think of themselves as business people, but are trying to make a buck , I need to tell you this…

If money is flowing in, your conducting business. If money only flowing out, you’re engaged in a hobby.

Confusing the two can be very costly.

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