The Simple, Ridiculously Useful Guide to Earning a Living from Your Passion

Post written by Leo Babauta.

So you’ve followed the Short But Powerful Guide to Finding Your Passion, and have chosen something you’re passionate about.

Now you need to make it a career — but are perhaps a bit lost.

I have to admit I was there, only a few years ago, and three years later I’ve successfully done it, even if I’m a bit battered from the attempt.

It’s not easy — I’ll tell you that up front. If you hope to make a quick buck, or a fast million, you’ll need to find another guide. Probably one with lots of flashing ads in the sidebar.

So you have your passion picked out? Here’s how to turn it into a living.

1. Learn. Read up on it, from blogs to magazine articles online to books to ebooks. Look for the free stuff first. Don’t use this as an excuse to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars. Most of the important stuff is available for free. Find a mentor, talk to others doing it, ask questions. Go on forums and ask questions there — from experienced people. Find others who are doing it well and study them closely.

2. Do. Do not put this step off for months and months while you learn. You’ll learn most by doing. Start doing it for free. Do it for friends, family. Find clients who’ll pay a small amount. Start a blog and write about it. Put it online and let others try your products or service. As soon as possible, go public — you’ll learn the most this way. Continue to do step one as you’re doing this step.

3. Get amazing at it. This is just more doing and learning. Read this postfor more.

4. Start charging. As soon as you can do it well enough to charge, do so. You can start low — the main thing is to keep getting experience, and to get clients who can recommend you to others. You want to work hard to knock their socks off. Slowly raise your rates as your skills improve.

5. Keep improving. Never stop learning, getting better. Use client or reader feedback to help.

6. Build income streams. This is where the money starts coming in. You can start this step at any time — don’t wait until you’ve done all the other steps. Build as many income streams as you can, one at a time. Some examples:

  • Regular consulting gigs.
  • Freelance jobs.
  • Ads or affiliate income from a blog or website.
  • Ebooks teaching people how to do something you know how to do.
  • A membership website that charges a small monthly fee (say, $9 or $20 a month) that will help others learn something you can teach them. This could include a forum, articles, videos, live webinars, other resources.
  • An online course, similar to the membership site, but not requiring you to do live stuff or have a forum. Course could include ebooks, workbooks, videos, audio, online articles, other tools.
  • Software or other downloadable products.
  • Merchandise such as T-shirts, books, coffee mugs, etc.

There are, of course, many other types of services and products you can offer. Each income stream might only bring in a portion of what you need to survive, but if you continually build more income streams, you can eventually live off your passion. Congratulations.

Equipment and office? For most passions, you can probably do it from your home with minimal equipment (often just a computer). Avoid having to pay for office space or having any overhead that will make it difficult to start up or put you in debt. Start small, expand only as your income expands. Buy as little equipment as you can get away with at first.

Quit your job? If you can possibly afford it, yes. This might mean living on savings for a few months, or living off your spouse’s income, and cutting back on expenses. If this isn’t a possibility, make time to pursue your passion — before work, after work, on weekends.

Work for a company? If you get good at something, you’ll be in demand. You can then work for a company if you like. I recommend you try doing it on your own unless you need equipment you can’t afford or get an offer you can’t refuse.


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