This article is the 3rd in a 5-part series on spending your time the way you want.

You wish hanging out here was what I meant.

Let me be clear about one thing before I even get started:

This post isn’t about how to make lots of money doing nothing, which is something that can only be done through inheritance or investment.  “But what if your passion is sitting on the beach and relaxing”, you ask?  You think you got me.

I don’t believe that being able to spend our time the way we want is the same thing as lethargy.  Just think of all the people who complain about how boring retirement is, and kids who can’t wait for school to start after a long and uneventful summer.  I usually get bored after the first few days of a vacation, and whip out my laptop to keep on working.  This is a bit of a detour from the main point, but I want to make it anyway: If you really think that spending your day doing nothing is what will make you happy, you’re kidding yourself.

Our minds crave stimulation.  Our hearts crave accomplishment.  We loathe inaction.  We like to be busy, but busy with things we want to do and find meaningful.

Many people think doing something they want to do and making money are mutually exclusive conditions.  That is, they think “the only way to make money is to do this job that I don’t like, and I won’t be able to make money otherwise.”

People think this because they don’t actually try to make money doing something they like: they go for the lowest hanging fruit.  Getting a job that pays $X/hr and $Y/month in benefits is a watermelon: it hangs so low it’s sitting on the ground.  But most people get tired of eating watermelon every day: they want something else.  They just don’t try to climb up the fruit tree and get the peach.

So why are they “so certain” it won’t work, even though they devoted no time to try?  Ah, the paradox of human nature.

So how do you make money doing what you want?

The “formula” and mindset for making money doing what you want–although not intuitive and incredibly important–is actually very easy to understand. It’s the last point (dealing with emotions) that catches most people: fears of failure, inability to handle rejection, unwillingness to confront uncertainty, and lack of motivation.  In my experience with monetizing my passion (entrepreneurship, international business, and technology), my greatest problem has been with fear.

Don’t think this will be easy.

Most articles I read make monetizing your passion sound like a walk in the part.  What a bunch of bunk.   This will probably be one of the hardest things you will ever do.  But unlike other hard things you’ve done, you will love every minute of this, and gladly put forth the the effort.

The Monetize your Passion Mindset

1.By choosing to monetize your passion, you’ve decided take on a lot more work than just tinkering with your passion on a daily basis.

The reason it’s so easy to “get a job” is because the structures are already there: career websites promote them, companies actively post them, the salaries are determined by the market, and the type of tasks required usually match a degree or skill set perfectly.

But your passion isn’t already as distinctively reflected in jobs that are out there (if it was, wouldn’t you just go choose a job in the field you were passionate about?).  So it’s up to you to build the structures required to monetize your passion.  For that reason, monetizing your passion is essentially entrepreneurship, whether or not you want it to be.  This means a lot of things other than your passion, such as:

-Being able to manage your time well

-Spending your time learning new skills and concepts

-Networking to find people who will help you and customers to buy your product.

2. Is your passion a hobby, or something you really want to monetize?  You decide.

A hobby is something done for fun, but nothing else; something you inherently don’t do with any intention of making money.  But that means you don’t have to do any of the extra work required to make money.  So if you see your passion as a hobby, that’s all it will be: something fun that doesn’t make you money.

You get to decide if your passion will be monetized or is something just for fun.  If you decide to monetize your passion, you have to be willing to do all of the extra work described in this article to make it successful.

You can’t try to monetize your passion and have it as a hobby at the same time, as they are inherently mutually exclusive.  I’ve tried to monetize passions that I treated as a hobby.  It led to failure and frustration in the long run.  So I learned: you have to decide, and if you decide to monetize, stick with your decision, and don’t slip.

3. Understand your passion as a business.

Let’s say your passion is painting, and you want to monetize your passion by painting pictures.

A lot of people make the mistake of just starting to paint.  And when it comes time to sell, they hit a brick wall.  No one wants to buy.  And your efforts as an artist end in failure.

Your mistakes happened because you didn’t understand art as a business.  Lots of people like to cringe at the idea of treating something “like a business”, because it invokes thoughts of commercialization and “rampant capitalism”.

But think about it: people only buy things that they want or that they need.  Business exists to figure out what people want and need, and give it to them for a profit.  So if you don’t give people what they want or what they need, how do you expect to make money?

Read my article on the basic framework of entrepreneurship for details on how to do this.  I’ll emphasize a few key points that you must think about:

-Do people actually want to buy what you have to sell?

-How much are they willing to pay?

-Can you do this profitably?

4. Deal with your emotions.

We worry about failure, we don’t think we can do it, we don’t know how long it will be until we are successful, and we don’t think we have enough time.

This keeps most people from even trying.

It’s the hardest thing to overcome, but it’s basically a made-up obstacle.  It’s all in your mind; it’s not actually something standing in your way.  It’s all illusory

Remember what I wrote at the beginning: most people worry about failure, but they’ve  never tried and have no expertise whatsoever.

I could write tens of thousands of words on dealing with your emotions, adopting a winning mindset, and taking action…well actually, I already have; that’s the essence of this whole blog.  I refer you to my cornerstone article, The Main Idea, which describes the proper mindset and action necessary to accomplish goals.

In a nutshell (this is thoroughly discussed in the articles linking to “The Main Idea”), the best way to deal with emotions is this:

     A. Overcome fear with knowledge

We often fear failure because of uncertainty, and as such don’t try.  There’s no reason to fear uncertainty because uncertainty has an easy cure: knowledge.

So if you fear that your product won’t sell, do market research to see if it will.

If you think you don’t know enough to go into a certain field, interview people who are already in it and ask them what you need to do.

Also important is knowing how much failure actually matters.  We automatically think the worst will happen.  I don’t know about you, but I’ve failed tons of times, and I’m still here.  Read my article about failure for a more detailed analysis.

     B. Overcome fear with action

In my article on motivation, I argue that the main reason people can’t motivate themselves to do things is because they’re not used to it.

The same thing goes for your emotions.  You feel emotionally uncomfortable about monetizing your passion, and failure, because you’re not used to them.

The way you become used to something is to just do it!  Do you think that successful entrepreneurs became successful by chance?  Most I’ve talked to succeeded because of drive, and being willing to try, despite what others would say (as we already know, it’s not necessarily a good idea to listen to others’ opinions anyway!).

It’s not rocket science.  It’s just tenacity, perseverance and habit.

Final Note:

Monetizing your passion is fun, rewarding, and guarantees you will get to spend your time the way you want (if you do it well and do it successfully).  But I encourage you not to think it will be easy or will let you lead a life of leisure and lethargy.  That’s not what makes most of us happy anyway!

  • inverted

    RC, I’m glad I found this post by Google searching “monetize your hobby passion”, it was the #1 result. I am 29 years old and began my adult life as an artist, animating for children’s television. When the going got tough (not really but it seemed tough at the time), I stopped believing in myself and found the nearest government watermelon patch. Though amazing at first, I’ve been working at the same patch for almost 5 years. Though I cannot discount the resulting life experience, the realization that I have overall regressed as an individual has me looking at getting back to my roots as an artist/creative visionary. I enjoy your writing style and will be reading through the rest of your blog. Thank you for writing!