How do I make a living from my passion?
This is a question I personally hear all the time from friends and family who have creative and technical skills but can’t seem to figure out how to make money with those skills other than working at a job.
Many times they can’t even find work in their field, and resort to getting a job doing something completely unrelated to their passions or the career they originally wanted.
Below are the steps I took to get there and make a living from my own passions.
1. Dive In and Learn. Do everything you can to learn about your passion. If you’re really into something, chances are you already know a lot about it. However when it comes to making money from it and earning a living, it’s best to search for sites and resources of people already making money doing what you are passionate about. You don’t have to spend a fortune either, most of what you need can be found free online, but it doesn’t hurt to invest in courses and products that may give you an extra boost. Forums and sites like Quora are great resources to ask questions and get advice from people who are also passionate about the same thing. Finding a mentor or someone who is already where you want to be, and following what they are doing is another great way to learn by example.
2. Take action. Take action on what you learn right away. Don’t put off what you can do today. If you’re just starting out, start helping friends and family for free to build up a portfolio fast. You can also find clients who’ll pay you even a small amount until you build confidence to ask for more.
3. Repeat. If you continue to learn and take action in this loop you will get better at what you do. You will also start to become the best at it. If you really are passionate about your subject, this should be fun for you and not feel like work. It won’t be easy, but it should still be enjoyable. If it’s not you may be chasing the wrong passion or you’re burning yourself out and just need to take some time off.
4. Ask for money. Start charging people for your passion as soon as possible. When you start to ask for money for your services, even if it’s a small amount it changes everything. You will learn much faster, and you will get real feedback from your clients. You will also grow your experience and portfolio much faster than someone who never asks for money.
5. Start to specialize. As you start to gain experience and find your specialty you can start asking for more money. A brain surgeon gets paid much more than a general doctor for a reason. They have lots of experience doing one thing really well and can demand higher rates.
6. Raise your rates. If you haven’t already started to raise your rates, do it. By this point you’ll have plenty of experience and should have a specialty in something. If you’re unsure how to raise your rates, you can learn how to double your rates here.
7. Multiple Streams of Income. You can start this step at any time, don’t wait until you’ve done all the other steps. Work on creating as many income streams as you can, one at a time.
- Freelance jobs (Job sites I recommend)
- Start a blog about your passion – put google adsense or sign up for affiliate programs
- Write ebooks teaching people what you know and sell it using something simple like Gumroad
- Start an online course or membership site using free tools like WordPress or Teachable.
- Create a plugin, software or other downloadable product. Sell it yourself or on a site like Codecanyon
- Sell your own merchandise such as T-shirts, books, mugs, etc using Shopify + Printful or sell on marketplaces like Etsy.
Office or Remote? You don’t need an office to start. You can start from your home. Most creative and tech passions can be started from home with a computer. Once you start growing to a bigger company you can consider upgrading to an office, but most likely you will never have to. Check out the book Remote by 37 Signals. They built a multi-million dollar a year company without an office.
Should I Quit My job? Yes, if you can afford to quit, then quit. Of course this is up to you whether you like your job or not. If you’re not happy at your current job, why not follow your passion? Life is too short. You will have to responsible of course, especially if you have kids or a family to support. You can always work nights and weekends on your passions with freelancing and building passive income streams until the new income surpasses your expenses. Then you can take the leap safely. Or if you’re lucky enough to have savings or still at home with parents you may be able to take the leap sooner.
Finally, I leave you with this final quote, from Yo-Yo-Ma, a world-renown cellist:
Passion is one great force that unleashes creativity, because if you’re passionate about something, then you’re more willing to take risks.
What are you willing to risk to follow your passion? Leave your comment below!