Is It Actually Possible to Turn Your Hobby into a Career?

By Contributor | Friday 10th March, 2017

From one extreme to the other, and (thank god) the less extreme options in between, a new world of overwhelming possibilities can often leave first-time job hunters in particular wondering what the hell they’re supposed to do with their lives.

With an estimated 80 new companies being born an hour in 2016 and that number set to grow this year, there’s an increasing trend towards graduates and job seekers taking it upon themselves to either create their own jobs or join startups in the hope of being part of the next big thing.

I met with Kate Ovens, professional competitive eater turned one of LadBible’s most recent presenters to see how she turned a weekend binge into a career path with one of the UK’s most sought after online advertising spaces. To an outsider this looks like the absolute dream job, and it is.

How did you get to where you are today?
It started about 2 years ago, I did a food challenge back in Newcastle whilst I was at Uni and then I was really bored one evening and sent it to [LadBible’s] email address. I clocked on very early that this was marketing and I knew how not serious the subject is- all I’m doing is eating food in a certain time- but it works. I think it’s just keeping a level-head with it is what makes it work. Three or four months in, I was getting approached by quite a few restaurants and I was seeing marketing campaigns done by big companies that were getting less interactions on Facebook than my videos.


I based my dissertation entirely around my food challenges, doing three videos with three restaurants and providing a 20% discount code. I was testing the theory of whether the video going viral would increase trips to the restaurant and each video confirmed that. That’s when I realised that this is actually marketing and I was getting more and more restaurants asking me to work with them. I got myself a company name and started charging for it. That’s when LadBible started seeing the potential in it. All summed up? Basically I was very lucky!


Did you know what you wanted to get into after University?
I had no clue, everyone I knew was applying for Grad Schemes that start 2 months after you finish Uni. I was so stumped by Uni itself I applied for three grad schemes and didn’t get anywhere, so I though you know what I’m not going to stress over these applications now, I just wanted to get uni out of the way and then focus on my career. I wasn’t too sure what I was doing. LadBible was totally coincidence, I’m not going to say it was down to any planning or anything it was purely luck, which I’m 1000% grateful for.


How do you eat so much?
I have no idea, I used to be a little bit chubby growing up and could eat a lot then and was a bit bigger. I lost the weight but I never lost the appetite! I think now it’s just stomach expansion and up and upping my challenges each time. I just try to keep a balance with everything else, eating healthy the rest of the time and regularly.

What’s the best thing you’ve ever eaten?
Toni’s pizzeria up in Glasgow, I did a 27 inch pizza challenge, I got close but didn’t finish it, it was just unbelievable. They’ve actually won the best pizza in Scotland with an award and everything.

(Instagram @tonispizzeria)

If you could speak to people who are thinking of starting their own company or pursuing an entrepreneurial idea rather than a more conventional route, what advice would you give?
Whoever you work with, no matter how low or high up, appreciate everything that they do and make sure the thanks and the gratitude is there. If you burn any bridges it will sting you. I’ve had three or four people who were really rude to me when I was a lot smaller and they’ve all come back to me now asking to work with me and I’ve had to say absolutely not because they were so rude to me the first time. And relax, don’t worry about it, don’t compare yourself to your friends, have some kind of income and take your time to find the right job. Make sure you’re happy and keep trying, if you work hard and you’re passionate about something it comes across straight away. Just make sure you do what you enjoy.

If you’re dreading living without the sacred student loan, wondering how to save up to start your own venture, or just for a 27 inch pizza, Loot’s budgeting tips and #LootGoals feature can help. Check out the app here.

(Instagram: @kate.ovens Facebook: