An artist is serious when he/she takes their craft, and paints the picture with diligence. This goes the same for a recording artist.
Instead of paintbrush you have your mic and words, and your canvas is that blank project at the beginning of a session.
If music is a hobby more than a lifestyle. I would invest in the tools needed to suffice my hobby. Paying for studio time can be a waste if you are unprepared. Something you love to do shouldn’t be dependent on time. However, when the picture is painted clear as day in your head, is when you should pay for someone to sketch out the ideas.
The difference between an artist and a lserious artist” is described above. So, ask yourself is this a hobby or a profession?