There’s almost always a way to make money with your passion. Depending on what your passion is, the time it takes to start monetizing it will vary, but using the right tools can help move you in that direction faster.
I realize that a lot of these tools are web based, but since you’re reading an online blog, I’ll assume that you understand the reach of the internet. One year ago, I had no idea how these online resources worked, but in just a few months I found a way to use them to express my passion of integrating faith and finance. I’ll challenge you to keep an open mind with these suggestions. If you already know about these tools – great! Hopefully a few of these will be new to you or at least be a catalyst for ideas that you can use to tell others what you’re passionate about.
Let’s first look at two major areas where your passion might fall:
Providing a Service
Becoming A Consultant
You don’t need to quit you day job to become a consultant. Yes, I’m using the term consultant lightly, but one of the first ways I jump started a passion of mine was to create a ‘marketing consulting’ firm (yes, I know what you’re thinking… like the world needs more marketing consultants :) ). Sure, I had no clients, no money, no leads, but I was a consultant nonetheless. My target was local businesses that didn’t have a marketing plan, so I spent a few months crafting my approach and learning as much as I could from ‘test runs’ (friends who had businesses). After a few months, we landed a client and business started to roll. After about nine months, my partner was able to quit his job and take over the firm full time.
I’ll stress this: you’ll probably never feel like you know enough about a subject to justify calling yourself a ‘consultant’ from the get go. (And if you think you know enough at the beginning…you probably need to step back and get a dose of reality) There’s no magic equation to tell you exactly when you’re ready to start your business, but after you’ve put in a significant amount of time researching and understanding your target, you just need to go for it and be willing to learn from your mistakes. It’s simple to say, and difficult to do, but it’s one of the keys to launching a successful venture.
Starting A Physical Business
So you’re passionate about making yards beautiful, baking cookies, brewing coffee, making pottery, painting houses, or cleaning windows – awesome! If your passion involves a product or a physical service, you can still start small and grow it just as you would as a consultant who sells information or their expertise.
There’s no reason why you need to spend thousands to ‘look’ professional in any of these areas. You can start small, service your niche and love what you do on the weekends or in the evenings while spending a minimal amount of money (see the strategies below).
If I could give one word of caution with starting a physical business, it would be to watch out for the overhead expenses. Your hobbies and passions can get expensive, and it may be easy to justify a few large expenses to ‘jumpstart’ your business. Just don’t get caught up in the excitement of doing what you love and start spending like you’re making money. If you get into debt to ‘make money with your passion’ you’ll quickly find that stress will take away some of the joy of doing what you love. Sure, investing in your business is important, but you don’t need to throw a computer on an Apple credit card just because you want an ‘online presence.’
Proverbs 21:5 – Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.
Tools of The Trade
Websites (and Blogs)
Yes, like it or not, having a website is almost a requirement for any business today. What’s the first thing I do if I want to order flowers for my wife? I go to the internet and look up local flower shop. There have been many times where I’ve decided to do business with someone because I felt comfortable after learning about what they do…all from their website. It’s your first impression for most people and it needs to be great.
I won’t go into details for setting up a website or blog (you can find that here), but I do want to stress how important it can be for any venture you’re starting. If you’re blogging your passion, your blog is obviously your gateway to your audience so use this tool to push out as much great content from the beginning. It won’t seem worth it at first (your readership might be really small) but you have to start with strong content or else people won’t give you the time of day.
People like free stuff. One of the ways we captured business in the very saturated marketing consulting field was to offer no strings attached, free consultations. For one hour we met with business owners to let them get to know us, and more importantly, get to know them. We bounced ideas off of each other and left without even pushing a hard sale. Your passion might have other opportunities for ‘free face time;’ it’s a great way to meet people and let them get comfortable doing business with you.
Free (and paid) Seminars
If you’ve started to gain a few sales or a couple of clients, you might have fun hosting a free seminar at your local library (most have free room reservations). By no means is this something you should just ‘whip’ together. Take time to prepare and bring value to those who attend – don’t just sell what you do. You’re there to help them solve a problem or to share a few tips about what you’re passionate about.
You can also contact your local chamber of commerce to find out if they’re hosting an event that fits your area of interest. You never know what could come from these events.
Putting your message on iTunes can give you a tremendous amount of exposure to your site IF you bring good content to the table and if you’re consistent with episodes.
An example of someone who took his passion to the next level through a podcast is Pat Flynn of the Smart Passive Income Podcast (and blog). He started with his blog and added the podcast as a supplement. Now with nearly 20,000 followers on his blog, he is helping others express their passions online. Many of his followers found him through his podcast, even though he had been blogging for well over a year and a half!
The options for HD video has become so available today that phones can even record in HD! If you’re trying to stand out from others in your niche, try making some videos. They don’t have to be long or full of technical graphics. It can be precise (4-7 minutes) and still be entertaining or educational. With people watching video on their phones more and more today, your chances of getting watched are much greater than they were two years ago.
Some ideas for interacting with your target through videos can include: How To’s, 7 Tips for ______, The Basics of ________, solving a very specific problem, highlighting a current event and how it impacts your niche, interviews with people in the industry, or 3 Reasons You Should(not) ______. Think outside the box and your chances of engaging your audience will improve significantly.
Chances are you’ll share a passion with others who are blogging or podcasting about the same thing. Don’t get discouraged! Think of it as an opportunity. Bloggers are almost always open to receiving guest posts (I am! Email me if you’d like to post here!), and would be happy to entertain a post from you. Guest posts are a great way to get exposure to a lot of people.
If you’ve never written a guest post for someone, take note of this: write the best article that you can and give it away. Yes, I know you might be thinking “but what if they don’t use it?” It doesn’t mean that it wasn’t good…the blogger might just not feel that it’s right for their blog. If you’re writing your best material, you probably won’t get rejected, but if you are, ask them what you can do to improve. Use it as a learning opportunity and build from their experiences and advice.
Commenting on Blogs and Forum Interaction
When you take the time to really read an article (not just skim) and craft a well-thought response, you catch the attention of the author and other commenters. The same is true when you’re interacting with those in a forum of your niche. These are things that will take time as you build your online presence, but it’ll pay off as readers start to notice your insights.
If you combine this with the previous suggestion of guest posts, your chances of landing on their blog will most likely improve as a result. That’s because the blogger will have already known who you are (to a degree) from your insightful comments, so they’re more likely to entertain a guest post from you.
There are so many details that can be explored when talking about monetizing your passion that would fill dozens of posts. These last three articles have really just uncovered the basics of what it takes to start making money by doing what you love do to.
I hope to share (in even greater detail) some of the things I’m learning as a blogger in the future, and would love to address specific questions that you have about making money with your passion. Email me and I’ll be happy to discuss and brainstorm ways that you can turn your ideas into an income source.
I’ll end on this note. There’s a lot to be said about where you place your priorities. Anything can (and will) turn into a job if you’re doing it for the wrong reasons and have your priorities out of whack. The scripture in Matthew that says “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” is the best verse I can use to sum up this series. Yes, we need money to function in society – the Bible isn’t against us having money, it’s against us putting money above the things in life that really matter.
It takes time to monetize your passion, so you will be sacrificing other areas in your life to create something profitable. Just be sure to continually ask yourself: Why am I doing this? And: What am I sacrificing to pursue this? If you approach it with these two questions, you’ll have a much better focus as you start to craft your passion into something profitable.