If there’s one thing most of us have in common, it’s that we want to work at something we love. It can be done, but it’s a process that will take time, and require steady progress. Be prepared to be patient, driven and single-minded about transforming ordinary work into your life’s work.
In this article, I want to share a step by step path for turning your passion into your job over months and years, not days. If you progress a little bit towards your goal each day, you’ll be stunned at what you can achieve.
1. Constantly practice your passion and learn as much as possible about it
If you’re not yet skilled in your passion, you’ll need to do an ‘apprenticeship’ of sorts before you start thinking about earning money. This period will help to set you up for future successes. You don’t need to learn and practice until you become an expert, but you do need a solid grounding in your passion. Think of yourself as an apprentice, and aim to get your skills to apprentice levels – to the point where you are not making too many mistakes, even if your work lacks some polish and finesse.
Depending on your passion, you may be entirely self-taught in this period, or decide to get some formal training. Whatever path you take, find someone – or a community of people – who can give feedback on your work.
2. Start creating a (small) platform you can use to help yourself
This is a means to promote your eventual business, service or products. It might be a Twitter account, a blog, a LinkedIn profile, or a stack of pamphlets for a letterbox drop. If you start work on this now, you’ll have less work to do when it’s time to start searching for clients, or a job, or a market for your products.
3. Work out what kind of job you want to create from your passion
If you’re considering going freelance and working from home, be aware that finding and communicating with clients will be a huge part of your job. If this sounds like your worst nightmare, consider working at a company, where you’ll be dealing with a smaller group of people more regularly. The downside is – you’ll have a boss.
Whatever you choose, don’t overlook necessary aspects of the job you’re creating. If you want to write and sell eBooks, don’t overlook the fact that you will need to spend some amount of time marketing your products. Choose the path that involves the least possible amount of work you don’t like.
If you’re not sure how to turn your passion into a job, research what others have done before. What kind of jobs exist around your passion? What kind of products?
4. Find role models – and unabashedly copy them!
Let’s say you wanted to be a comic book illustrator. You’d need to find as much information as possible on other illustrators who are doing the kinds of things you’d eventually like to be doing. Interviews and bios are especially helpful.
Try to work out the steps they took to get where they are. Did they get formal training? Where did they start off? When did they get their big break? How did they develop their skills? If you discovered that almost all of your favorite illustrators went to art school, art school might be a good place for you to start, for example. If they all drew for upwards of two hours a day, then you should do the same.
By copying what has worked before, you’ll have a path to follow.
5. “Be so good they can’t ignore you.” – Steve Martin
Even if your passion is obscure and not easily translatable into a job, being extremely good at it means that other people will often invent services for you. For example, Kseniya Simonova’s passion is sand art. Despite it being an obscure field without many opportunities, she manages to earn a living because she’s so good at it, nobody can ignore her.
Do your best to become great at what you love and it will be hard not to find work!
6. In the beginning, experience is more valuable than money
While it shouldn’t be necessary to work for free, don’t worry if you start off earning or charging much less than you eventually hope to earn. In the beginning, experience is invaluable – it will help you develop your skills, which will lead you to be more successful later on.
Don’t expect your business or career path to be fully developed from the first day. The process of charging higher rates, making more sales, or earning a high salary will come with time, and you’ll be able to move closer to your goals as you get better at what you do. In the beginning, part of your payment is simply being able to practice your passion, and the happiness you get from that.
7. Focus on one client or project at a time and you’ll start creating a snowball effect
It’s important not to become overwhelmed in the early days. Focus on one thing at a time – whether that’s one client, one project, or a single product. Complete it to the best of your abilities, then move on to the next one. With each successful job, project or product completed, you’ll increase your chances of more coming in the future.
A few extra tips:
- A good rule of thumb is that you shouldn’t quit your job unless you have at least three months worth of living expenses saved
- If you can put some element of your passion business or job online, do so – it will drastically increase your potential audience and client base
- Focus on slow and steady development of your business or career. Try to improve one thing about you or your business every day
Have you been able to turn a passion into your job? What tips and advice do you have to help others do the same?