There are two schools of thought when it comes to turning your hobby into something you do as a form of work. For some, it’s the ultimate goal – doing something you love all day, every day, without having to squeeze it in around the vagaries and stresses of your regular job. For others, a side hustle is the fastest way to kill your enthusiasm for something once it becomes a source of income, and as a result, possibly a source of anxiety and strain.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of us have suddenly had more time to devote to our hobbies and for many of us it’s been a necessity, as we search around for another income avenue to supplement work that has dried up or disappeared altogether. While I was fortunate enough not to be in that position, I still wanted to figure out a way I might be able to help others get through their time in isolation.
I have too many hobbies to count – but first among equals is trivia. I love going to trivia nights, running games and quizzes for my friends or simply testing myself on various facts or figures, it’s one of my major passions. So as lockdown commenced, I thought – why not turn my long-dormant Instagram account into a place for trivia, quizzes and puzzles in order to help others get through this period of isolation?
Your Audience is Out There
When I posted my first quiz, I pretty much assumed I’d have a bunch of unfollows and little, if any, response, but instead the response from followers and strangers alike was really gratifying. The initial post talking about what I was doing and why I was doing it got a nice response and even if the subsequent posts didn’t get a lot of likes or comments, the amount of messages I received from people telling me they were doing the quizzes every day over lunch, or that they’d kept them going during the little moments of downtime, was great. That only spurred me on to post more, and my Instagram has now become a little bit of a trivia haven on the Internet.
(The amount of feedback I got privately also indicated to me that likes and comments are no indication of levels of engagement.)
In addition, I began running Zoom trivia nights both for private groups and a regular public one on Sunday night as long as lockdown continued. A couple of those were designed for charity and raised money both for the Dog’s Refuge Home of WA and Australian indigenous charities.
Support Can Come From Anywhere
A couple of different media outlets picked up on the fact I was posting these quizzes and directed their readers to me with a link and also tagged my Instagram. This was a completely unexpected response and another good example of how creating engaging content is far more likely to earn you attention amongst your followers than trying to sell things.
I wanted my trivia activity to be a charitable thing so I made no money from it, but the surprising benefit it did provide was the amount of people from my past it enabled me to reconnect with. Old friends, former colleagues and even passing acquaintances became people I interacted with on a regular basis, and that in many ways was worth more than any financial gain!
Your Content is Valuable
I’m confident that if I’d chosen to try to monetise the content I was posting, that would have been distinctly possible. Many people reached out to offer to pay for trivia nights, and while I asked them to donate to worthy causes instead, it was nice to hear about how highly valued the service I was providing actually was.
What the experience proved to me, albeit on a very small scale, is that regular content is much preferable to no content at all, especially if that content is designed to entertain or help your followers (rather than simply sell a product)