How to Get Paid for What You Love


I’m no consultant, but from time to time (as in, several times a day) people ask for my opinion about building some kind of online business. I’m happy to give $0.02 for whatever it’s worth, and I’m sure there are times when it’s not worth more than that.

How can you do something you love and make a good living from it? Much of my Unconventional Guides business is devoted to answering this question in one way or another. And as discussed before, often when we ask for advice, we don’t really want advice—we want someone to say “That’s great! Go for it!”

But when people really want advice about building a business out of something they love, there are a few principles that are fairly universal. Starting with…

Not everything you love makes a good business.

In fact, most things you love don’t really make a good business. This is probably the most common misconception of the entire “follow your passion” concept: you love watersports, or crafting, or traveling, for example. So why not build a business around it and do what you love all the time?

There are actually several reasons why this isn’t always a good idea, one of which is that you might not like everything that goes along with running a business as much as you like the actual activity. Sure, you like traveling… but how much do you want to work while you’re traveling? Do you like the business of crafting or just the crafting itself?

Second, not everything you do is commercially viable. Chances are, no one will pay money to watch you go surfing, and this brings us to the next point…

What you love must be relevant to other people.

Whoever your prospects, customers, or clients are, they have to identify with what you do and believe it can be possible for them as well. That’s why you work to find the magic convergence between your passions and what customers will pay for. (I go on and on about this in my business work—if you have the Empire Building Kit, I’m sorry for repeating myself. But, I repeat myself: you have to meet a clear need or solve a real problem for the people who pay you. This is critical!)

In fact, the more you can focus on other people’s needs and understand how they overlap with a skill you enjoy sharing, that’s where the real follow-your-passion model gains potential.

Often you won’t get paid for the obvious thing, but something related.

To get paid for what you love, you must inspire, educate, or entertain—preferably at least two of the three. But one way or another, you’ll get paid for helping people, not just being awesome. As much fun as it is, I don’t get paid to travel. I get paid because of a business I’ve built that helps other people; it has very little to do with my actual travel.

Sometimes it helps to separate the business model from your passions, even if the two are ultimately correlated. The main question you have to answer for the business model is: “What will customers actually pay me for?” It probably isn’t surfing or travel, unless you’re teaching people to go surfing or travel.

Instead of “breaking in” somewhere, create your own market.

Freelance writing is a good example. As far as I can tell, supporting yourself as a freelance writer under the traditional system is effectively dead. Business Week, CNN, Psychology Today, and the Huffington Post all pay me a grand total of $0 for the articles they post with my byline. And it’s only worth it to me because I’ve built my own platform at AONC and Without that platform, I’d literally be working for free.

So don’t worry about breaking in; figure out what you can do that no one else is doing, or at least how you can do it in a different way than everyone else is doing. You can waste a lot of time trying to get into an existing system, or you can put the time to good use and build your own system. (Ironically, when you do the latter, it becomes easier to break in to the original system as you go along.)

Keep startup costs very low.

Someone asked me the other day, “If you had $1,000 to start over with my business, how would you spend it?” I said I would get a $10 domain name, a free WordPress installation, and a PayPal account. Then I would set up a one-page site and see what I could do with it. If it looked promising, there are plenty of things I could spend the remaining $990 on (I’d probably start with design). But the point is, I would first make sure I had some kind of viable idea.

If you can start something without spending a lot of money, that’s best. If you have to invest some amount of money, that’s OK too. But the worst thing you can do is spend a lot of money and do nothing. Don’t do that!

Find a way to make it work just a little.

In Louisville, Kentucky I talked with Nick, who told me about a small photography business he wanted to start. A few weeks later, I saw him again in Charleston, West Virginia, and this time he had an update: “I sold a print for $50!” he said with great enthusiasm. And I knew exactly why Nick was so excited—he wasn’t going to cash it in and retire on one $50 sale, but it was very empowering to get paid for something he loved to do.

When it comes to a lifestyle business, a little momentum goes a long way. The sooner you can get paid, even a small amount or a one-time sale, the better.


The greatest benefit of a lifestyle business is freedom. But usually we find that freedom does not just appear out of nowhere; it requires a shift in mindset and the corresponding action. It also sometimes requires a surprising amount of work to maintain. (If you love something, you have to protect it.)

These disclaimers are not meant to dissuade anyone. Overall, I think this is a fantastic time to start a business and find a way to get paid for what you love to do. Don’t hold back! Just make sure you head off in the right direction. As I see it, the right direction begins with taking action, like Nick did with his $50 print sale.


Image: Derek

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  • rob white says:

    That is some sound, pragmatic advice, Chris… and… if it ain’t practical, it ain’t spiritual. We always have to pay attention to the ruthless rules of reality… all the positive thinking in the world will never turn a passion into profit it we do ignore reality. A passion for flapping our arms will never lead to flight… but the Wright Brothers would tell that passion for sound, scientific evidence is a different story.

  • Trever Clark says:

    And don’t underestimate how much work you’ll need to put in at the start, even when doing something that you love. You touched on this a bit Chris, but even if you absolutely love crafting as a hobby, you have to realize that you start a crafting business, for example, you’re going to be eating, sleeping and breathing crafting nearly 24/7 at the beginning.

    People try to say that if you’re doing something that you love, it doesn’t feel like work. Well, that’s true to a point. Working on my blog and building my online business doesn’t feel like work the way that slogging through a day in the cubicle did.

    But there are some tasks that I enjoy more than others, and it’s just not possible to be “in the zone” every minute that you’re working.

    On the other hand, there are times when you step back and look at what you’re doing, and think “How did I get so lucky to be making money at this?”

    And I think that those are the times that make the rest of it all worthwhile…

  • Brett says:

    Hey Chris,
    Great post. I’ve been enjoying your book so far, and this post reminds me a lot of the lessons Gary Vaynerchuk talks about in Crush It. I’m realizing more and more how to find opportunities to form a business around things that normally get you excited, because in the long run it’ll be way more challenging to succeed in your own business if you don’t have a passion for it.


  • Dena says:

    Ah! Great advice as always, Chris. I am actually in the throws of having such conversations with myself. I quit my job a couple of months ago & have been racking my brain about– “What’s next?”

    I’ve got another gig that’s paying the bills for now, but I really want to take it to the next level–for myself–ASAP.

    Thanks for the inspiration and the practical wisdom.


  • Sean says:

    I think there is a lot to be said for this. However, I also believe that you can build a good business around just about anything. You may not get paid directly to surf. But there are a limitless number different businesses that can be built around that. Maybe its giving video surf lessons on a blog, or building a membership surf site.

    True, some of the components that go into building a business like that may not be as fun as the business itself. However many of those components are the same for any business. So if you don’t like some of the work involve, maybe you should rethink your goal of being a business owner.

    That said, great post as usual

  • Bill says:

    It’s very true what you say about holding onto your freedom, Chris. My wife and I have left our day jobs and have been traveling for the past month, eventually we will need to make more money to keep our lifestyle.
    It would be relatively easy to go back to a 9-5 role, but we don’t want that. We want to have the freedom to be able to travel, to be able to go to the beach at one o’clock in the afternoon, in short, to do what we want.
    So, we are starting our own small business that will keep us free. A business we can work at and keep our freedom.
    Thanks for a good post!

  • Nick says:

    Chris, thanks for the kind words & the inspiration.

    I’d like to share my side of the story. When I met Chris, I mentioned I had set up a store to sell my prints. He picked up his iPod & asked for the URL. I replied that I didn’t actually have it online yet, & he said putting it online would be a great first step. It made me think about why it wasn’t online, & in my head, it was all technical – “I need to tweak this design”, etc.

    Being honest with myself, I realized my fear was still holding me back; the technical stuff was just an excuse. “What if I don’t sell any prints/nobody likes my work/etc.?” I went home & made the site public that same evening; within two weeks, I had sold my first print.

    Chris outlines some great advice in this article, & it’s advice that works – but it all comes down to the last sentence above:

    “The right direction begins with taking action.”

  • Allison Blass says:

    I have been thinking about becoming a professional patient activist, which isn’t a job that really currently exists right now. There’s a hodgepodge of people who are patients who are working on patient education, but this isn’t like a college major or something that’s listed in Forbes as a possible career. So we’re sort of just making it up as we go along. This is really great advice for someone who might not know how to get started in an unconventional career path, but it’s also realistic in that you’re not just promoting a care-free location-independent lifestyle. You still have to work, even when you’re doing something you love, and not everything you love can actually be a job. Solid advice to those dreamy-eye folks like me.

  • Mars Dorian says:

    yeah, I agree with you on the doing what you love part.
    I love playing video games and eating Thai food, but nobody is going to pay me for that 🙂

    It really comes down to finding the right mix between what you love and what people will pay you for.
    It seems like a compromise, but it isn’t, because helping people increases the love for what you do – do what you like and that helps people, helping people makes your work more like-able, and like-able work can help more people…it’s a beautiful circle.

    Keep shining !

  • Chris says:

    Thanks for your comments, everyone.

    And hey, Nick! Great to see you here – that was such a fun story. I’ll look forward to hearing about the next stage of the journey.

  • Marla Miller says:

    boy, this one speaks to me–it’s not about me, it’s about how my passion resonates with others—if it does, they will organically link to me because of universality—I see this in FB all the time—always amazed at what triggers long threads of dialogue-it can be your passion but if no one else gives a you know what, it’s for your pleasure only—
    if they do, you’ve got a following-thanks Chris-always good stuff

  • Manisha Thakor says:

    Ahhh, how the truth hurts!

    You are so spot on with this piece, Chris. And btw, bless you for repeating this point often in EBK <– I'm loving it, and needed to be told this point 10x before it sunk in.

    In my case I'm wildly, fanatically passionate about women & money. So I first sought to financially empower the youngest of working women (early 20s) as the advice is most valuable then…
    But alas, turns out until life spits in your eye a few times often you are not interested in learning about such a dull (albeit necessary) topic.

    Not until I found the sweet spot between my interest and the demographic of working women that really WANTED to take charge of their finances could I move forward. When you reaaaalllly love something it's often hard to admit to yourself that not everyone else does too. So thanks for this great reminder, delivered in with your trademark kindness & clarity!

  • Joseph Doughty says:

    As I’m currently researching a new web marketing/business niche, your advice couldn’t be any more sound. I’m researching keywords and looking to buy a domain name, host a landing page and test and optimize it.
    Under a year in as a travel/work/freelance hack, I’m a testament that it can be done. My caveat to others is patience. Things never move as quick as you expect.

  • Uzma says:

    Very useful. Had an idea for a business whilst reading this. Deep within I know how I can help people, I just never get around to it. Never thought it could be made into work.
    Like how you make the distinction between following your passion and helping people. The same point keeps coming up, so its definitely a message for me. Thank you for the insights.

  • Devin says:

    Good timing for me. As I am prepping for my first ebook, on a related field to something I love, and have learned a lot about. Scary but doable.

  • James says:

    I’ve been making my living as a free lance life artist for years, spoken word poet, facilitator of The Artist’s Way Creativity Camp with Julia Cameron, and world traveler. Indeed, keeping it simple, as Chris says, is essential. Pack light. Say yes.

  • illana says:

    Hey Chris!
    What a totally killer article!

    When you’re in start-up mode, it is SO easy to get totally overwhelmed with “You must do-s” and “You must not do-s”. We get saturated with info products and seemingly successful people telling us the do’s and do-nots of making money online. The more homework you do online, the easier it becomes to totally lose sight of the fundamental fact that if you don’t love what you’re doing, you will lose interest. And, if you don’t start off by focusing on your audience’s needs instead of your own, you will be in business in a vacuum.

    Thanks (as usual) for your clarity and focus, Chris!

  • Linda says:

    I agree that you have to look at all aspects of your biz, and be honest about the things you find uncomfortable. I love most minutes of my job, but seeing people break down and cry is never pleasant, nor does it get easier as the years go by. Accepting this part or the process and understanding its relevancy to the end result makes it more palatable.

    Also, credentials and experience never hurts.

    Love the story Nick-congrats on getting the site up and making the first sale!

  • Tom Owens says:

    Yea, Chris!
    This reflects your great “not to-do list” advice from your book. I treat my hobby/passion of writing to the baseball heroes of my youth as a business. That means I question EVERYTHING. I guard every minute. Every postage stamp. Each decision is an investment. As a result, I’m more involved in every choice I make. I’m profiting — not yet financially — but in the satisfaction that I’m living my dream to the fullest.

  • julie says:

    hi chris ~
    when you wrote this part – “You can waste a lot of time trying to get into an existing system, or you can put the time to good use and build your own system” – you nailed it. this is the more interesting avenue to pursue, i think, and it’s the one that can most dramatically impact other people as well as established systems. it’s when we forge ahead to unknown places that we truly create something new.
    thanks for your good words!

  • Seth M. Baker says:

    I was at the Charleston meetup as well and would like to add my two pennies.

    When talking about making his first sale, Nick was grinning like a pitcher who just threw a no-hitter. Sure, the cash value isn’t a lot, but he gained so much just by taking that first step and attacking his excuses with a Louisville slugger.

    After the meetup, I realized I was making excuses as well. In my mind, I had a fear of reaching out and contacting people I didn’t know. My excuses were ‘people don’t like to be bothered,’ or ‘who am I to contact this person?’

    So I gave myself a task: contact 10 people within 7 days. Just send a simple email, saying something like ‘hello, I like what you’re doing.’

    Out of this, I was able to talk to some great people… and I ended up making my first print journalism sale. Freelance journalism isn’t my goal, but it was definitely empowering.

    The lesson: mountains always appear higher from the bottom.

  • Andrea MacDonald says:

    Also somethings people forget that if you turn something you love into a business a certain amount of flexibility goes by the wayside. This is counter-intuitive, you think doing your own thing would be the ultimate in flexibility but with any business there are choices to be made, and commitments to meet.

    For example, I just finished a certification course for a favorite crafting activity. I’m stoked about continuing on, but others in the class decided not to continue on with the program. Why? Because they didn’t want to take something they loved so much and turn it into something stressful, work-like, etc. By committing to certifying they would no longer have the freedom to do their own thing, instead there would be the pressures of meeting the sample deadlines, the written reports, etc.

    In other words be careful what you wish for….turning something you love into a paying gig, might end up taking your refuge away and instead adding to your drudgery.

  • Matt says:

    What I’ve found thus far in my process of taking action in the direction of doing what I love is that I actually really do love a bunch of the “necessary” or more business-y tasks that building a business around a passion requires. Taking that action leads to whole new passions I didn’t even know I had before I got in the game.

    And I agree with Sean–there are so many possibilities clustered around any given passion. Thousands of angles are possible in the Internet age for any given pursuit. So if you don’t think your passion can be turned into a viable business, that’s really just an invitation to search harder for inspiration.

  • Gary Wilson says:

    The corollary to this is to learn to love what you do so that you are not always searching for the work that will magically solve all your problems. This requires taking a backward step and looking at yourself rather than the work and seeing what it is in yourself that is causing you to dislike what you are currently doing.

    I found that every time I switched to what I loved I eventually started disliking it. Until I stepped back and examined myself and my motivations more thoroughly.

  • Mark says:

    Here’s another approach to consider: I realized recently (after reading some of your stuff I believe) that I’ve never quite been able to turn my passion into the perfect business, but you can get half way there by at least working a business/job that creates the lifestyle you seek.

    My businesses, alas, are not that much fun, but I’ve managed to stay gainfully unemployed and spend an enormous amount of time with my five kids AND get out of the country about once a year in the process.

    So I still say that’s progress, even though I’d rather make a living just flying airplanes in Africa.

  • Rex Scott says:

    Thanks for the directional post. I’m working on my own business model and it is always good to get confirmation (from someone that has been through the process) that the things I am thinking about and working through are headed in the right direction. And, that each step, no matter how small, is still moving me forward in the process. I look forward to your next post.

  • Laura Lee Bloor says:

    Thanks for all your practical advice, Chris. I think my biggest problem is that I’m doing too many things I love at once. I’m volunteering, organizing a V-Day event and about to start freelancing for, plus work on my blog — all while working full-time.

    I worry that I’m trying to juggle too many passion projects at once. Ideally, I’m hoping there’s an opportunity for cross-promotion; that they all will gain exposure for one another. I’m definitely taking action — here’s just hoping it’s in the right direction(s).

  • Jennifer Campbell says:

    Excellent post!

    While I think it’s important to enjoy what you do for a living, it’s equally important to be realistic. It’s very easy to get caught up in the overly simplistic “get rich doing what you love” plan, it can be a big disappointment / reality check when you find it usually ends up more complex than that.

    However, I also believe there’s a way to incorporate just about anything you love doing into a viable living. With creativity and determination we should pursue our dreams.

    I’m still working on mine and your blog is great inspiration to show it’s possible to achieve them. Thank you.

  • Giulietta Nardone says:

    Loved your book! (I won one of the 100 copies.) Yeah, I’m with you on the follow your passion and open a business thingy maybe not working out. I’m not convinced it’s the what as much as the why. Once you find the why, it appears in many different whats. From my observations, most folks focus on the what — say selling makeup — rather than the underneath why. That’s where they can run afoul following a passion, when it may not really even be the passion because most folks don’t dig down deep enough to find it.

  • Lisa Fine says:

    Great advice. I think so many of us get excited about an idea for a business that excites us, but as you said, we forget to think about the customers. I’d been playing around with different ideas for my first ebook, but when I polled my readers, I realized the idea I was psyched about didn’t meet many of their needs. Now I’m in a new direction with it, and I think it’s a much better fit. Thanks.

  • Michelle says:

    Great advice, Chris! I especially love the bit about making your own system. 🙂

    I can relate to Nick – I made my first affiliate sale last week, and even though it was only about $50, I was SUPER EXCITED. Just to know that it’s possible, and that I didn’t have to do anything sleazy to make that sale, was a hugely empowering feeling and left me grinning like an idiot. Good luck with your art, Nick!

  • Olga says:

    Thank you for making the ‘follow your passion’ phrase nothing but a phrase and not the end all be all. Can’t wait to see you speak in Houston!

  • Fabricio Stefani Peruzzo says:

    And so I have this friend that was a surf addict since 8 years old (now 38). He travelled to a great surf point, grabbed knowledge of that place and offered himself to a travel agency to lead a group of surfers to go there to surf. With the money he got, he paid to go to another surf point in another place in the world… Today, he has his own surf and winter sky travel agency, the biggest in the south of Brazil and one of the biggest of the country.

    Yes, you can work with whatever you love.

    Sometime I tell something about the friend that loved to drink beer. Yes, it’s true. Ok, I tell. He got a job in the marketing department of AmBev, one of the largest beer companies in the world. Drunk a lot of different beers, retired and openned a beer bar in my city. Only friends go there, the one’s he would like to drink with.

    You really can work with whatever you love. Really.

  • Alex Blackwell says:

    Thanks for the practical advise. You’re right, it’s not rocket science, it’s finding a need that most people have and then finding a creative way of meeting it.

    You’re $10 start-up recommendation is spot on. I wish I read this about $1500 ago.


  • Stanley Lee says:

    You filled in the dangers of the passion trap (i.e. ignorant “follow your passion” catchphrase) from a business perspective (where Cal Newport talked about it from career perspective). Humans are creatures of habit, so your phrase of “most things you love don’t really make a good business” can’t be stressed enough. Humans are generally greedy and selfish by nature (and that’s fine as long as the behavior doesn’t jeopardize my well-being). In other words, they are looking for something to gain on their part when deciding to purchase your product, hence they don’t give a sh*t about you.

    One of my core messages on my site is truth-telling of facts parasites want to hide to manipulate others’ behavior. Street-smarts are required to be aware of situations where you need to protect what you love.

  • Anastasiya says:

    Chris, thank you for this article! I always felt that “follow your passion”phrase is a little bit cheesy and you said out loud the exact thoughts that I had in my mind.
    At the same time I must say that I am using my passion to make my living (at least part of it :-)) Last week I launched the first program on my blog that I was dreaming of for a few years now (a retreat that helps people transform their lifestyles from sedentary to active.) I can’t say that I made a fortune but I hit almost a 4-figure profit on this program and I am very pleased with the results. I really feel like I am doing what I love now, however I did have to adjust my passion before I could turn it into this retreat.
    Thanks again for this great article!

  • Satya Colombo says:

    I can attest to the fact that taking action is the biggie, and sustained believing in yourself is even more important. They work hand in hand.

    Maybe what’s most significant? — you DON’T need to buy anything (least of all from me!) or pay for more than a domain name and maybe web hosting to build a great life and a great business doing what you love! 🙂

    Thanks Chris, for continuing the conversation in such a smart way, as always… cheers

  • Brian Currin says:

    Fantastic article, Chris … inspiring … though in my case, it is more like affirmation that the things I am doing are the right things.


  • Susan says:

    I personally believe you can monetize anything with enough hard work and innovation, no matter how small. Look at the Tiny House movement, living in less than 100 square feet, and people out there turn it into a business by selling blueprints and models.

    But you have an excellent point when you wrote, “To get paid for what you love, you must inspire, educate, or entertain—preferably at least two of the three.”

    That’s very true. It’s really not enough for me to say, Creativity! People will pay me to blog about that. A blog is a blog. Until it’s a business. Businesses are about hard work, building platforms and strategizing and coming up with big picture goals, including monetization.

  • Antwon Davis says:

    I love your tips on keeping startup costs low. I literally did the same thing you suggested about 4 years ago when I decided to launch my website. I spent $10 on a domain name, $60 for a year’s worth of hosting from GoDaddy, and $30 for a WordPress theme. My total costs were $100. From there I built my first business as a graphic and web designer. Since then, my business has grown and I’ve sustained myself comfortably as a designer for almost 3 years. All with $100! Now I’m looking to launch other businesses, projects, and ideas in the future. I love creatively adding value. I couldn’t monetize that directly, but I could monetize my design services.

    My story is like so many others. And just like said Chris, it was when I got my first paying client that I was convinced that choosing this life of non-conformity over a conventional 9to5 was the best decision for me. I know if I can do this, others can too.

  • Prime says:

    pragmatic and thoughtful as usual. thanks chris for this post

    sometimes, you just need to build a two-prong career track to pursue your passion without having to go broke. i decided to build a career based on what i really love to do (writing, being a journalist) and looked for a niche which will allow me to practice journalism without going to the poorhouse (that led me to financial journalism). Being a business journalist allowed me to pursue travel blogging (which is what I’m passionate about). I may not be earning money from my travel blog, but I’m just happy that being a business journalist gave me enough money to indulge on traveling and writing.

  • Timour says:

    Quote: “The greatest benefit of a lifestyle business is freedom.” Agree.
    Quote: “But usually we find that freedom does not just appear out of nowhere” Agree.
    Quote: “It requires a shift in mindset and the corresponding action.” Agree, but what does it mean exactely? “Shift in mindset”?
    Quote: “It also sometimes requires a surprising amount of work to maintain”. Definitely, yay. As a freelance journalist I’m still wondering how to get a few hours more out of a 164-hour working week (well, exaggerating a bit)…

  • Kate Courageous says:

    Oh, YES. You hit it right on the money, especially with the difference between having a passion and having a passion for the business side of things. I learned this several years ago when I thought that because I loved painting/mixed-media, I should open an Etsy shop and start doing shows of my work. I began hanging shows at local businesses around town and quickly learned that I just liked painting–I did not like having to come up with 20 pieces, a theme, a marketing plan, tracking sales, storing all those paintings, loading them up in my car, hanging them, taking down the ones that didn’t sell, storing more paintings…

  • Brad says:

    Thanks for the article. I found your site through Nate Green and am loving reading through all of the great material! Keep them coming!

    – Brad

  • Carrie Southern says:

    Hello and thank you Chris. I really agree with what you said “often when we ask for advice, we don’t really want advice—we want someone to say “That’s great! Go for it!” I know when I’ve been in the start up phase, feeling unsure, not seeing how things are going to turn out, I’ve wanted to hear those words of permission and reassurance. Yet so often we are going it alone and there isn’t a group to champion us on, to affirm it will work out. We are left to source the reassurance from within. To trust ourselves in a venture that is entirely new. This can be very hard to do!

    Thank you for your honesty and inspiration.

  • JobJenny says:

    Find a way to make it work… just a little… is a great concept, and so true. When I launched my blog ( in spring of 2010, I didn’t really have an idea of HOW I could make money with it, but I knew I had a huge offering: Help people navigate today’s crappy job market and actually find work.

    By summer, I tested The Ridiculously Awesome Resume Service… and was absolutely astonished by the response. Then people started asking about consulting. And so I added that very recently. Just this week? Gift certificates so people can buy their unemployed loved ones the gift of job search hope.

    I’m astonished that I’ve created a sideline income of about $1,000/mo. in less than a year. And I’m so touched by the results people are now sharing with me.

    I keep it lean and mean… I listen HARD to my followers as to what they want/need… and I’m earning income doing something I love.

    Thanks for the great post, and the ongoing inspiration, Chris!

  • Andrew says:

    Chris, you’ve done it again. Great post, and I especially loved the line “To get paid for what you love, you must inspire, educate, or entertain—preferably at least two of the three.” I featured it on my site so that my readers could be see it, and I suggested that they pick up your book!

  • Dalibor says:

    This reminds me of a quote in C. Michael Thompson book: “The Congruent Life” where he quotes Fred Buechner, who writes:

    “There are all different kinds of voices calling you to all different kinds of work . . . (and) the place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

    Great post.

  • Michele Glasnovic says:

    Yes! Thank you for this inspiring article. I have been finally putting in the time and energy into building a business that will effectively turn my talents into cash. I finally got it through my thick skull. “Stop trying to be someone else! Create a business doing what you do best.” I did, and it’s working. It’s amazing how much more effective you can be when you just follow your own path.

  • Saya says:

    Mars, you write “I love playing video games and eating Thai food, but nobody is going to pay me for that” — you never know!

    In 2004, never wanting to have a boss again, I made a list of all the things I wish I could make a living doing, no matter how silly they sounded [playing board games, wearing jeans and flip-flops, having people over], and everything on that list is somehow incorporated into my professional life today! I just celebrated six years of self-employment, and it’s the best ever.

    I’m a big believer of putting your desires out in the universe. You never know who’s listening at any given moment. If you would’ve said I’d make a living hanging out in coffeehouses, sharing ideas of things to do in Chicago, and leading ice-breakers in my living room, I would’ve looked at you like you were nuts. But here I am.

    Dream silly! It works.

  • Steven says:

    Chris, I love your commonsense. You make business sound really simple (and possible!), but you take out all the glitz and glamor. I really appreciate it. One of the things that has been so tough for me is “creating my own market.” It’s tough because so many people talk about finding that niche but my mind is always going haywire with ideas. I think I need to just let myself go wild and stop looking for a box to fit in. Once the storm subsides then I’ll have a clear path.

    Thank you!

  • Jorgen Sundberg says:

    I know it’s lame but just wanted to say GREAT POST 🙂

  • Hugh says:

    What a refreshing break from the “do what you love and the money will follow” adage. I don’t disagree with that statement, but when you’ve got bills to pay, sometimes you need to be more practical, at least to start off. For instance, without getting into specifics, my ultimate goal is Business A, which I’m working on, but my more immediate attention is devoted toward Business B, which will be profitable more quickly and thus supply me with an income while I continue to work on A.

  • Alli says:

    Love your tips! I would add too them “Do your research.” For example, if someone is really passionate about freelance writing, you can make money that way (I do!), but it takes research to figure out the best ways to make money in that industry. I’m sometimes astounded when people quit their jobs to be freelancers but have no idea what to do next! I think that’s true whatever your passions may be – before you close your eyes and jump, do a little research to find out how people are making money currently, what has been done in the past that isn’t working anymore, and where there is a need you can fill.

  • Sue Bates says:

    I’m moving from Mostly doing Therapy to Consulting so I can travel the world, and what is interesting is I am getting quite a few people in therapy that want to have their own biz. Really like the point that everything you do won’t make money. This is quite a movement, the working form anywhere, I often wonder how all this is going to grow and change:) hummm.

  • Carl Creasman says:

    Keep up the good thoughts Chris. Nice balance between utopian thoughts of “following my passions” and pragmatic thoughts of making sure the passion will pay some bills.

  • Wyman says:

    As I read Chris’s posts I have to have a sheet of paper in front of me to write down ideas as they come.

    I read Saya making a list of things she liked to do that she has incorporated into her business. I had just started a list of everything most people do every day. May next step is to brainstorm each activity for possible business opportunities. This is great material for some posts on my business blog.

    Getting an opt-in box on the blog has prevented me from moving forward. I am going to start blogging anyway while I solve the technical stuff.

  • Jaive says:

    Hi Chris. Luv this post. Sitting in this room with the tropical heat and reading this post is like listening to someone playing a beautiful old song on a quiet night. Thanks.
    I live in a third world country and opportunities sometimes seem slim. Recently, I quit my relatively high paying job ( in US Dollars i would be earning $13,000 per annum).
    I got tired of the lack of meaning in my life. Instead now i write about things that interest me including my country. And i am earning an income from it. I think a business model should be about a meaning in your life. Money helps, but it doesn’t buy happiness. I dont think I am creating my own market and trying to dominate it. I’m just doing something small that i believe is a good thing and brings meaning back to my life. And i do believe that i will get ‘paid’ for it, whether its in some coins or with a new freindship or a new experience etc, i will be Ok. Thanks Chris. Keep Rockin!!!

  • Adam says:

    I love your story about Nick! You’re dead on with what a little momentum can do for you.

    I had tried my hand at affiliate marketing for months and never saw more than the occasional $0.15 click from Adsense. I fought through the disappointment, frustration and people telling me I was wasting my time though.

    I started up a new site and approached things from a new perspective. I made a sale a couple days after the site was up and even though the commission was only $9, you would have thought I hit the lotto! That $9 and the $150 I made that month inspired me to keep going.

    It’s always nice when the universe gives you proof that what you’re doing is going to work.

  • Natalie says:

    If freedom were so easy to get in work and life then everyone would choose to have it.

    That’s why I love that you have to work hard to protect your freedom as you say Chris and more importantly develop the mindset that will ensure you receive it.

    I find too often people just don’t know what freedom looks like to them so can’t go after it.

    For me it’s traveling the world, living out of my suitcase and running my business from anywhere, to others it may just be the ability to take a few hours off during the day.

    Whatever form it takes it’s truly the only life worth living.


  • Bernice Rechkemmer says:

    Who knows what happens next… All I know is:

    Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans. 🙂

  • Joshua says:

    Great, great article and responses here. I really needed this inspiration today, I have my own web sight for my acoustic music. I LOVE my own music, I love to play it, I love to post up new songs, I love people visiting my sight and leaving me encouraging comments, I love all the mixing, recording, writing the lyrics, naming the song, I love everything about it. But sometimes I think I really wrote something good and become a little let down when I don’t receive the response I thought I was going to. Then the journey of self-discovery begins all over again. I’m getting ready to sell everything I do to Itunes and amazon for a very reasonable price that I pay once a year, and it has me learning everything I can in order for me to present my music the best that I’m able to do. It’s artistic creation to the nth degree, and in the meantime I’m really learning the audio engineering aspect of the ordeal, which could mean future opportunities in that area as well for making money.

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