Can Creatives Make Money from Their Passion?
Find a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.
While this mantra inspires a sense of hope, for most people it’s also a slap in the face because they realize they’ll never get paid for doing something they love.
Making money from a passion is the holy grail for a lot of people — and why wouldn’t it be? Waking up each morning to spend the day doing something you’d do in your spare time anyway is an incredibly attractive prospect.
But then reality sets in.
We’ve all heard the story about the photographer who quits their office job to travel the world hunting for the Nat Geo shot that will change their life. Or the story about the writer who packs up their temporary job in a bar to work on their novel.
At the beginning, the passion levels are high and hopes are fully stacked. But after a couple of months, it’s the same old story. There’s no money coming in, that much-coveted Nat Geo shot hasn’t been found, and nobody has read the novel.
The photographer walks back into their old office with their tail between their legs to beg for their job back, and the writer is once again pulling pints six days a week.
Because getting paid for your passion is hard.
Because there are other people out there who are willing to do their passion for free.
Photographers take photos and upload them online for no money, writers share their stories on platforms that are totally free, and artists readily give their works to galleries to exhibit in exchange for absolutely nothing.
So when it comes to monetizing a creative passion, it is impossible — but only if you make it that way.
Love Isn’t Enough
If you asked a room full of people why they deserve to make money from their passion, I’m willing to bet the vast majority will say because they love it.
They truly believe that their love for it will bring in the money.
And while that does sometimes work, it’s absolutely not the norm.
In fact, most people suffer from this notion that if they love something hard enough it’ll fall into their lap.
But just because you are so incredibly passionate about something, it doesn’t mean that other people care about it in the same way.
Creatives all around the world forget to join up the dots between doing something they love and doing something other people care about. Without persuading other people to give a damn, you’re going to struggle to get people to part with their hard-earned cash.
But this is just one reason why a lot of people fail at monetizing their passion.
Monetizing Passion in the Wrong Way
Perhaps the biggest reason most people don’t make money doing what they love is because they have no idea how to make money doing what they love.
For creatives in particular, there are so many different ways to monetize what they do that they often fall into the trap of trying to do too many things — and they’re often the wrong things.
Let’s take a look at three of the main ways creatives try — and usually fail — to monetize their passion.
Advertising is one of the simplest ways for creatives to earn a few bucks. It’s easy to set up and it works as a kind of passive income that keeps ticking away while they carry on with their craft.
Except that it’s incredibly difficult to earn any kind of decent money by relying on click-throughs from ads.
Take a writer who wants to monetize their words, for example.
They set up a blog and start writing about their favorite films and the latest movie releases in the hopes that at some point they’ll be able to earn some money from their reviews either by selling them to magazines or via the blog itself.
After a month or so they set up advertising on their site so that every time a visitor clicks on an ad, they earn a small amount of money.
The problem with this is it’s not the writer’s passion that’s making them the money, it’s the second-hand power of advertising. The writer isn’t making money directly from their words, instead they’re hoping people come to the site and click on an ad (which actually takes the visitor away from the site and the writer’s words).
Then there’s affiliate sales.
This is when someone sells another person’s or brand’s products for a cut of the sale. So a photographer might share camera equipment on Amazon and, if anyone buys through their unique link, they’ll get a percentage of the sale price.
The problem here is that the photographer is selling someone else’s product or service; they’re not making money from their passion.
Finally, creatives often upload their work to larger websites that already have big audiences to sell their wares to — think stock photo sites, for example.
When someone uploads a piece of content they’ve created and someone buys it, the site generally takes cut — usually 50% or more — but in return the creative gets access to a readymade audience.
So What’s the Solution? How Can Creatives Monetize Their Passion?
If you’re sticking to the above methods to earn some money from what you make, it might well be impossible to monetize your passion. Not because you don’t love it enough or because you’re failing, but because you’re not doing it the right way for you and your business.
Lots of people will tell you that you need to do this and do that to succeed, but every business is different — especially creative businesses. Slowly but surely, people are wising up to just how valuable the creative industries are and are starting to value the work of artists more and more.
Moving towards the model of selling directly to buyers can help eliminate middlemen and commission fees, but it’s worth trying out several different methods until you find one that works for your business.
What it boils down to is this: yes, it is impossible to monetize your passion if you don’t do it in the right way for you.
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Written by: Lizzie Davey