Birth Professionals

Birth – hobby or work?

I am in the process of trying to decide what role the website will have in my future life (let’s face it, 15 years is a long time to keep it going). As part of the process I’ve starting thinking about what it takes to make birth a job rather than a hobby.

To start with, I don’t think hobby’s are bad things.  I have a few I enjoy very much.  But hobbies are done for our pleasure, not to meet the needs of others.  Hobbies and jobs occupy different spaces in our lives, and demand different responsibilities. Jobs we do to earn money, again not a bad thing, and generally involve providing a service or product for others. Because a job is a way to generate income you have to think about the things you do differently.

  • You need to devote time to your job weekly, even if you don’t want to or if it doesn’t fit in your schedule.
  • You need to accept a level of accountability to the people you serve – not only to be knowledgeable, but to be available when you say you will be.
  • As a job, your work is thrust into the public sphere for criticism and critique, which isn’t always true with a hobby.

In my birth world travels I’ve met many woman who involve themselves in the birth world as a hobby. They enjoy this hobby and expect to also enjoy a career in birth work. Unfortunately this isn’t usually true. Why?  Because most birth businesses are self-owned small businesses, and the owners didn’t really know what to expect when they started a business.  If you are considering moving your interest in birth from a hobby to a job here are some things to think about.

1. Can you generate enough “business” to support your birth work as a job?  Be realistic, because an income generating activity generally requires additional time and money your hobby did not.  Will you be affected by self-employment tax?  Probably.  Will you file as a DBA or LLC — how much does this cost and how often?  How will you advertise your services? Your community may have free classes you can take through a continuing education program or the chamber of commerce to learn about the legal requirements of starting a small business.

2. How flexible is your pre-existing schedule?  Will that schedule allow you to complete the additional work needed to do your business as a business?  Think about how much time you spend each week at your hobby — what more time would you need to do this as a job?

3. Do you need additional training to be successful?  Are there additional skills you might need before you advertise your services?  What are the ways you can obtain these skills, and how long will that take. Don’t just think about birth skills — do you need to learn how to market on social media or how to balance a business financial account?

4. What will you do for income during the early months of your new business — while you are still training and/or before you have enough business to cover expenses and pay yourself a salary?  Lets be honest, if you are thinking about working in the birth world as a job, chances are you could really use that money.  But it can take a year or more of training and marketing before you are earning a good wage.  When I was first starting off it took me over a year to earn back all the money I had spent on training and supplies – and then I had to work toward more students so I could earn decent wages for my time. This is the hardest part to overcome, a source of income flexible enough that you can slowly decrease your hours while you slowly increase the time you spend on your business.

So just some things to think about for those of you just planning out your move from hobby to business.




Jennifer Vanderlaan (Author)