If your dream is to make a living from your passion; I will try to give you the tools necessary to accomplish it.
Step 1: Define your passion
What is your passion in life? What sets your heart on fire? If you can just do one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
For me, my passion is sharing ideas. Ideas that I hope empower others. I’ve always been interested in life philosophy, ever since I was 12 years old or so. Since then, I’ve refined my life philosophy, using photography as a tool to gain better self-enlightenment.
Many of us know our passion in life— because that is when we were kids. What did you do as a kid, as fun? What did you do as a kid to just play?
When you were a kid, was your passion reading? Writing? Drawing? Painting? Playing video games with your friends?
I think the best passion in life is something that is active. When you are actually creating something.
For example, reading is a great passion. But I feel that without writing, reading is pointless.
I also think that being a lover of art is great. But if you don’t actively create art, you will never be able to fully-express yourself.
If you love listening to music, but cannot make your own music— I recommend you to start making (bad) music. Use Garage band, record yourself, and keep learning. You can be a producer, a rapper, or just beat-box.
Let’s assume your passion is photography. I know photography is one of my passions in life. But ultimately, I am probably more passionate about blogging.
But let us continue.
Step 2: Create
If you want to make your passion your living, you need to create. Create value. Create physical products. Create ideas.
If your passion is writing, the fruit of your labor are the words that you type. If your passion is photography, the fruit of your labor is the photos that you make. If your passion is music, your fruit is the music you create.
You cannot be ‘creative’ without actually creating. Creativity (just ideas) is useless. You need to create something ‘real’ — either real in terms of the physical world (create atoms), or to create digital information (through 1’s and 0’s.)
Step 3: Provide value
If you want to make a living from your passion, also make sure that whatever you create somehow creates value for others.
For example, if your passion is food— learn how to cook, and to actually create value for people (feed them food which brings them pleasure, brings their loved ones together, or prevents them from starving).
If you’re a photographer; what value do you create for others? Do you create beautiful, artistic photos, which uplift their souls? Maybe you can sell prints, or your images in a way which people can always be inspired by your images. Or you can provide value as a photographer who shoots weddings, commercial, fashion, editorial, or anything else where ‘bespoke’ (custom) images are necessary.
If you’re a writer— what value do your writings give others? Is it practical information which empowers people? Or is it beautiful poetry, which eases their sorrows, and uplifts their mood?
Step 4: Charge money
You cannot make a living from your passion without charging money.
So figure how you can charge money for your services or your product.
Also as a practical tip, charge 25% more money than you think you should. The biggest mistake entrepreneurs do is to under-sell themselves, because of fear, or lack of self-worth.
If anything, your customer might see your higher prices as a sign of higher value. I know when I’m sick, I buy the more expensive $5 Tylenol, because I think it works better, compared to the cheaper $2 generic version.
Step 5: Market yourself
Even the world’s greatest products need marketing. Even the iPhone (arguably the world’s best smartphone) needs heavy marketing.
If you don’t market yourself; you don’t exist.
Market yourself for free on social media. Best leverage Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, Tumblr, Twitter, or whatever free tools. Share images, videos, text, and your ideas and products.
Also build an email list. I recommend Mailchimp.com. People check their email more often than social media. And emails have higher ‘open rates’ than social media posts.
Also I recommend creating a blog. Own your own blog. Use wordpress.org and self-host your own blog. I recommend signing up via Bluehost.com. Your blog will essentially be your website as well. Make a good and easy website address to remember, or will be easily searchable on Google. erickimphotography.com is easy— my first and last name, and photography.
If you are bootstrapping, don’t waste money on advertising. Rather, build your traffic or audience ‘organically.’ Create really cool shit, and let it spread virally.
Step 6: Reduce your costs
We are making a living from our passion; not a killing.
Reduce your living costs. Move into a smaller apartment, in a less desirable neighborhood, or move in back with your parents.
Slash your expenses. If your cable, phone bill, whatever bill is expensive, slash it.
It is easier to reduce your expenses and costs, compared to increasing your profits.
Step 7: Never stop hustling
The last step: never stop hustling or working hard.
I’ve written 2,000+ blog posts over the last 6 years (2011-2017) on this blog. I also have been blogging since I was 14 years old.
If you want to make your passion your living; stay hungry, stay foolish. Have fun when you work, but work hard.
Follow your curiosity. Experiment. Don’t be afraid of looking dumb, or ‘failing.’
If your passion is writing, never stop writing. If your passion is photography, never stop making images. If your passion is blogging, never stop blogging.
To empower yourself to work hard and never stop hustling, I recommend listening to hip hop music. You can’t ‘knock the hustle’ of how hard Jay-Z works. Or Kanye West (his song ‘POWER’ took a combination of 10,000 man hours). Or the empowering lyrics of Kendrick Lamar, Chance the Rapper, or Lupe Fiasco.
The world is yours. Why wait to seize it?
Learn how to make a living from your passion:
- How to Sell Yourself
- How to Do What You Love for a Living
- How to Create an MVP (Minimum Viable Product)
- How to Fail Big
- How to Invest in Yourself
- How to Be Bold in Photography and Life
- Mission: Cover Your Rent and Food
- 1,000 True Fans
- The “10x Principle”: The Only Difference Between “Success” and “Failure”
- Make More Value Not Money
- We Live in a Photo Utopia
How to be a Full-time Photographer
- How to Make a Living From Photography
- The 3 Principles of Making Money With Photography
- Advice for Aspiring Full-Time Photographers
- Don’t Go Into Debt For Your Photography
- How to Brand Yourself as a Photographer
- Trust: The Most Important Thing You Need to Succeed as a Photographer
How to Start a Blog
- How to Make a Living with Blogging
- 50 Blogging Tips For Beginners
- How to Start Your Own Photography Blog
- A Photographer’s Guide to SEO, Blogging, and Social Media
How to Teach Photography
- How to Become a Photography Teacher
- How to Teach a Street Photography Class
- Why I Teach Street Photography Workshops