Passion to Mansion: How To Do What You Love and Make A Living
This morning, overwhelmed by questions I received via Snapchat (during the open-for-public chatbox moment), I realized that most of the followers were mostly curious about one thing: how to be able to make a living from your true passion? The questions were varied from how did I start the “online-career”, to “what do I actually do during the day” and up until “how can I find my passion and work on it”. Those are not only interesting, those are important question - but first I’m going to breakdown the context here:
To be able to make a living from your true passion means:
1. (The General, Misleading Expectation)
That blog-and-magazine images of “bloggers”, “photographers”, “artists/illustrators”, “musicians” in beautiful and contemporary setting (studio, workshop, Martha-Stewart-esque living room), sharing their stories about the typical notion of “do what you love, and you don’t have to work for your life” conversation. Most of such impression came from the people in creative industry, and freelancers, and online celebrities. It’s easy, it’s pretty, it’s what everyone should do, and it can bring you to wealth and power.
2. (More Realistic Approach)
The never ending struggle of a., having faith in things that you believe in (art, animals, earth, helping people - anything) and b., being creative on how you can support your life + paying the adult bills (a.k.a getting money) without sacrificing the first point. It’s definitely not a thing that everyone must do - because sometimes, reality is imperfect - and for the best reason, for example, you have to work in Law Company where you’re 100% good at and getting paid really well so you can help your younger sister paid her school tuition (even though you want to be a gymnastic by heart) (yes, those cases are real). And no, it’s not an easy way to live - but it can look (and felt) beautiful, if you’re doing it right.
So to put it short, to be able to make a living from your “true passion” you have to first be very sure of what passion you’re talking about. “Passion” is not merely a hobby; or a creative thing you like doing - for me, passion is something in your blood - like a metaphysic blood print that guides your heart so you know what is right. (Read more about Finding Your Passion in my previous post here.) Passion is not always a fancy thing, because sometimes what you really want to do is to milk the cow and live in a small house far away from the city - it’s not always about being designer, crafter, or writer, or fashion bloggers - so let’s get that straight first before we discuss what we have to do in the business, because I don’t want you to get the wrong idea and get disappointed.
Are you still with me?
LET’S TALK ABOUT WORKING WITH YOUR PASSION. I’ve been doing my full-time blogging career on-and-off since my first blog in 2010, and creating digital content since 2011. Am I able to live and pay the bills? Yes. Am I able to enjoy what I do while getting paid for it? Yes. Am I loving my work now? Yes. Am I sure things will be forever this way? Absolutely no. What I do now seems promising, but remember; future changes everything. Let’s think back to the digital-content booming that happened several years ago and continued up until the day we are here now: it happened so quickly, but it’s fragile and we never know if it’s gonna end. If somehow digital world will collapse I absolutely must think about how I have to start everything from scratch.
My passion is writing (and photography, and designing, but ultimately: writing), so I have just the perfect skill to compete on the online content industry - I became a professional blogger (or as I would love to call it: an independent journalist - in creative industry). The whole coincidence opened a way for me to pursue an online career through my writings and photography, in which I finally able to get paid and make a living from. But without my blog and social media, I absolutely have to start differently - or work on other things.
People see it as something “natural”: one loves writing and started a blog, then fame found her and everything settled. But that’s not how it works, this is what happened: I started a blog and I liked it very much, so I keep doing it. I gained my first “payment”: a pleasure of having my writings be seen, and getting friends with new, talented people from across the country (and world). Those were a real deal for me because I really enjoyed writing and to have readers believing in me was everything. In the following time, worldwide, bloggers were started to be seen as a serious press commodity - I realized blogging was about to be a strong trend, so since I was already on it, I decided to work on it very seriously (by also pouring my heart out of what I do) and trying to create the best content I can to make a meaningful read for others - then I believe people will see it and they will appreciate it. And they do. But that’s not gonna happen without sleepless nights, sickness, receiving doubts, broke the bank account to pay the gears, learning to be tough when project cancelled, creativity blocks and dealing with failures.
Scary things can be found during the adventure of finding one’s passion, and scarier they get when you want to make the living out of it. Why? Because when you mixed between passion and money, you have to be really careful: it might change you, and the way you enjoy things. If you’re a professional painter, it’s very possible to feel the real pressure when you have a strong idealism but your clients are all about commercialism. The problem with this world is that most people who have the money, do not have the desired taste - your clients came from a very different background with you and when they meant business, they want pure business.
So here’s a list of thoughts that I can share based on the experience of making my passion into my income:
Analyze First. Sometimes what we loved the most is not the thing we can “sell”, so if you want to make money out of it, you have to be very open to compromise (not everything, but some). Also it’s important to understand the “market”: if it’s a product, how the demand looks like? If it’s a service, do people need it? Could you compete and how the risk seems to be if you decided to give it a shot? How much you have to compromise if you can imagine a future sale/project, are you still willing to do it? Make sure you have a clear consideration of the prospect so you can minimize the waste (of energy, of time, of money).
Practice In The Field. Have a taste of it supposed to be in the real field (outside our dreamy head); do you like the working hours? Can you manage and adapt to the work rhythm? Then talk to the people who have experienced doing the similar things and ask for their opinion. You may find it really interesting to do, or you will think otherwise once you’ve tried. But also do not believe what you hear - it’s going to be your decision, not anybody else’s.
Understand Your Style, and Make It Seen. In the vast digital era you have to make sure that people SEE you, and your passion should be sharpened and tailored to fit the possibility (of sales, of hiring). You do have to be good at it, because everybody else is there to watch you and many times two or three of them will try to imitate. Make sure to have a great signature that you can enjoy by heart, but will challenge others who want to copy.
List Down Your Strategies. Either your passion is about working in big company or having a studio on your own, they have to be ready for the competition. So be strategic and think about future threats (beside possibilities) because when you have thought about it, later on you can completely focus on doing your job.
Handle The Worries. To be able to focus on your passion, it will be necessary for you to separate things into two: The one your should worry and the one you can let others worry for you. In my case, the one I should worry most is my content’s quality, and the others that I can hand over will be about four things: scheduling, messaging (email, calls, chats), banking (savings / investment) and insurance. I spare a budget to have an assistant who can handle everything. From messaging to dealing with clients, to replying email and scheduling phone calls. It really saves me a precious amount of time to focus on my work. Then for the saving and investment, I work with an auto-debit system in my bank to deduct a specific amount of money from every project to be relocated into a long-term deposit account with investment offer that I can take.
Involve The Heart. Passion is not a thing you can do without being aware to what’s your heart say, so talk to it. Let it fill your creation and tells you every time you have doubts against something, because heart knows. And having your feelings genuinely participated on the work means to reward yourself with satisfaction, and to present others a result that is soulful and crafted gently.
Making a living is a journey rather than a goal, let alone having passion involved. But by realizing the challenge in the beginning I think all of us can prepare better and limit the risk that we have to face. The more important thing of all? We cared about what we want to do in life, and trying to make it meaningful. That’s enough for a good start!