Blog post from 2010


Dear friend,

Imma give you some advice on how you can earn money through your passion.

Step 1: Publish one artwork a day.

The first advice I have is to publish one piece of art a day.

A piece of art can include a blog post, an article, a poem, a photo, a piece of advice, a musical piece, an audio recording, a video, a sculpture, or a drawing/illustration.

The only way to earn money is to build a following, and have your followers buy stuff from you. With real money. They can either buy your services (workshop, seminar, consulting) or they can buy products from you (limited edition prints, records, paintings, or any other physical or digital goods).

Of course you need to also share your piece of art. Share it with your friends and family by email, or instant messenger. Also share it on Facebook and Twitter.

I also recommend starting a newsletter, I personally use and love it. The reason why email newsletter is that more people check their email than social media accounts. And if you send someone an email, they are more likely to open it than checking their social media– it also might get buried in their social media streams.

Step 2: Focus on your niche

Consider this fact: there are more than 7 billion people on earth. That is (in theory) 7 billion people who can buy your product. Of course not that many people will buy your product or service. But you need to find a niche.

For example, let’s say you are a photographer. And you wanna make a living from shooting wedding photos. Think to yourself: if you charge $2,000 a wedding, can you find one human being on the planet who will pay you that for your service?

I know for myself, I started focusing on street photography from 2011-2016. Nearly five years of blogging and posting 1-2 articles a day, 5-7 times a week. Daily working for 12-14 hours. Shit isn’t easy; it is hard. But if you are passionate about what you do, it will feel effortless.

Ultimately to know what your niche is; remember that you are your own niche. You don’t know what others are interested in, but you know what you’re interested in.

So to find your niche, just follow your own personal curiosity. And most of all, have fun. Passion shows. Bullshit and tediousness shows.

If you’re not having fun, that fun won’t transfer to the viewer.

Step 3: Sell yourself or stuff.

You can only make money from your passion by selling yourself or stuff.

Sell yourself from consulting, teaching, tutoring, giving 1:1 Skype lessons, or freelance work. I make 90% of my income teaching workshops.

Sell stuff by selling books (Cindy and I sell Street Notes and Photo Journal), physical products (We sell Henri Camera Neck and Wrist straps) and limited edition art prints via our company: HAPTIC.

And charge a lot of money for yourself or your stuff. Give away your information for free.

So if your a musician, give your music away for free on your website, blog, or SoundCloud. Then charge a lot of money for live performances, or limited edition vinyls.

If you’re a photographer, give away your photos for free online. For example, you can download all my photos on my Flickr for free, full resolution. But we charge a lot of money for limited edition signed prints. I also charge a lot of money for workshops for in person teaching; whereas I give my lectures online on YouTube for free.

Giving away your information for free is one of the best ways of market yourself. Because it builds trust, and gives value to your audience. It gives them a reason to follow you, to like you, and to become devoted to you.

Step 4: Remove the word “failure” from your vocabulary

Most of us don’t start our own businesses or companies because we scared of “failure”. I say, remove that word from your vocabulary. Failure doesn’t exist. Failure is just trying to look cool in front of your peers. It is trying to prove that you can make a lot of money from your passion.

But that isn’t success. Success is doing what you love for a living, and not being homeless.

When Elon Musk started his business he didn’t expect it to be profitable. He did it because he thought it was necessary to help humankind survive. He knew if he could just cover his rent, he would be good.

For me, I still live in starving college student mode. I don’t eat breakfast or lunch, and I only eat dinner. For dinner I usually eat at home, or just share a single appetizer and single entree with Cindy. I don’t drink alcohol anymore so that saves a shitload of money. I don’t rent an office, I just pay for espresso at the local coffee shop and steal their wifi.

Even though I have more than $100,000 in the bank with Cindy, I still refrain from buying shit I don’t need. I don’t own a car, I wear the same all black outfit everyday from Uniqlo, I don’t own a smartphone anymore so I don’t pay a smartphone plan, I don’t own a home (no oppressive mortgage), and I shoot with a $600 Ricoh GrII camera instead of owning a $50,000 digital Hasselblad system.

So the secret to making a living and money from your passion is to live below your means.

Whoever wants to make a living from their passion needs to (unfortunately) give up their BMW, their $600,000 mortgage house, their piano lessons for their kids, the private school for kids, their love of drinking alcohol at bars and eating out, and retail therapy. We can enjoy all these pleasures in life, but certainly not when you’re starting off as an entrepreneur. The easiest way to make a living from your passion is to reduce your living costs to an absolute minimum, then build yourself up.

It took me 5 years of working 12-14 hours a day, 7 days a week, before I could hit $200,000 USD a year in income. It was fucking hard, but fun and thrilling the same time. I’m sorry, there are no shortcuts. I can only attribute any “success” in life is from writing 1-2 blog posts a day, uploading 1-2 videos a week to youtube, and having the confidence and courage to speak my mind. And of course a lot of luck, presented through opportunities.

Step 5: Ignore everyone else

A lot of people say you should listen to the feedback of others. I say no. Just ignore everyone else. Follow your inner voice.

To be frank, you will probably not be able to make a living or a lot of money from your passion. But that shouldn’t prevent you form pursuing your passion.

My practical suggestion: don’t quit your day job in the beginning. Rather, do your passion on the side, before work, during lunch break, and after work, and on weekends. Then you will see whether you are really willing or hustle for your passion. Because when you quit your job, you will have to work 10x as hard. I work fucking hard, and I love it. Even now that I’m rich, I still hustle in my writing, because this is meaningful, important and life affirming to me. I only live to help serve you.

To be frank, it will be hard to work on your passion while having a full time job. Suggestion: drink more coffee. Cancel your Netflix plan. Uninstall Facebook and Instagram from your phone. You cannot add any hours to your day, especially if you are a single mom working 12-14 hours a day. But, I do truly believe that any individual can contribute at least 1 hour a day to their passion, as long as they cut out their distractions.

To “focus” is silly. Nobody can sit down in a chair and miraculously “focus”. I can’t. But I know what my distractions are: Facebook, Instagram (deleted it), email (I don’t use it anymore), news (I haven’t read the news for 5 years), gossip (unless it is about Kanye West and Kim Kardashian), or what other people are up to. I only care about myself, my work, my family and friends. Nothing else. Oh yeah, and no more “networking” or “meetings” for me. These never lead to paying opportunities.

So friend, be ruthless in cutting out and uninstalling your distractions, then get ready to attack and stay track on your passion.

Stop going out to the club, and getting fucked up. If alcohol makes you hung over, stop drinking. If you smoke weed every night and it makes you lethargic and go to sleep, put on some jams and start attacking your keyboard, and cranking out work.

Even as I touch type these words on my iPad, it is 10:40pm. I am tired as fuck, from being jet lagged. Oh yea and I just ate all you can eat Korean BBQ. But to me, this is important enough for me to hustle on, because I think that even one of these small ideas and help you. And I relay want to help you.

Conclusion: Risk x Purpose

To me, being an entrepreneur is all about loving to take risks, and doing purposeful work.

Don’t be afraid of risks. Rather, think of taking risks as a fun thing. Like when you were a kid, and you went down the half pipe at the skate park for the first time. Or when you asked out that kid in your class for the first time on a date. Or when you took a chance to apply for that job, or when you went on a trip that scared the shit out of you.

Generally I think it is good life advice to do shit that scares you. Because it will make your life more fun, exciting, and adventurous. And what we lack in today’s 9-5 office cubicle lifestyle is variety, risk, and fun.

Lastly, do meaningful work. If your entrepreneurial interests are boring to you, you will fail because you have no natural drive for it. Make sure your work is interesting, challenging, complex, and meaningful to you.

For me, I am passionate about street photography because it is meaningful to me. I think street photography makes us more appreciate of everyday life, of strangers, beauty in the ordinary and mundane, and helps us take more risks in life. Street photography helps us build a steel spine.

Ricoh GR II // Hanoi, 2017 in P mode

I am passionate about talking about business and entrepreneurialism because it helps us love to take risks, helps us find freedom and autonomy in our lives, and helps us to pursue our passion with full zeal, and to become the best versions of ourselves– in order to liberate ourselves and to help liberate and empower others.


So friend, if you want to start your own business, just do it. Make a website via and install Write your first blog post. Or put an about page about your services. Upload your portfolio. Tomorrow, send out 20 emails to people how you think might be interested in your services or products. Or ask friends in real life, if they have any recommendations or if they can help. Take action. And fucking hustle hard, this shit is gonna be tough but fun and thrilling.

Be strong,