Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

Want to Get Paid for Your Passion? Do This First

​Every week, someone emails me asking how they can become a full-time writer, start an online business, or work for themselves in some capacity. It’s the dream that defines the 21st Century. But most people start in the wrong place.

Want to Get Paid for Your Passion? Do This First...

Note: My friends at Fizzle are doing a special where you can get two weeks of free online business teaching. Check it out here.

We are living in an age when more people have the ability to work from home, pursue location-independent careers, and build a business around their own passions and skills instead of just doing what they need to do to get by. But the truth is this isn’t easy stuff.

The journey to your life’s work can be riddled with false starts. I thought about doing what I’m now doing for years and failed at it for a long time. What finally changed for me was when I got serious about the direction in which I was headed and started making significant changes.

In this post, I want to share with you the three things (because I like the number three) that I did differently in 2012, which was the year that changed my life.

And I want to point one very important lesson from all of this: Passion is not enough to make a living doing what you love. So if you want another rah-rah treatise on why you should just follow your bliss, stop reading now.

But if you’re willing to do the work to earn people’s attention and their money, then keep reading. Before I share that, though, here’s a little back story for you.

First things first: practice every day

In 2011, I got serious about blogging. I had launched an earlier version of Goinswriter.com in 2010 as a way to pick up some freelance writing, but it wasn’t anything special. Like a lot of people, I wrote in fits and starts, thinking I was better than I really was, and I got mad when nobody noticed.

But that got old after a while, and so I resolved to do something different.

What I decided to do was write and publish a new article on my blog every single day for a year. In retrospect, that sounds kind of crazy, but it didn’t seem that way at the time. Real writers write every day, and I wasn’t doing that.

So I launched a self-hosted blog and began investing in my craft.

Why every day?

The best accountability is a daily deadline. So if you aren’t doing your work, it’s immediately evident. That first year, if I missed a day, I would feel the pain of regret and want to get back to my work as quickly as possible.

This is an important lesson in habit formation: make your habit small and repeatable so if you miss it, you know right away. If you have to wait six months for feedback, then you’re doing it wrong.

So I started writing on my blog every day — not for the fame or publicity. I did it for me, for the practice, and it worked. Over time, I got better, and by the end of the year, my friend Mike told me, “You’ve found your voice.”

He was right. I had. And that part is so important. You can’t get paid until you get good, and as obvious as that may sound, most people in this world are looking for shortcuts. Don’t do that. Be different. Mastery comes with practice, and the last thing you want is to get paid for something you have no business doing. That’s a recipe for disaster.

So that was 2011, the year I wrote a lot, built a successful blog, and got a book contract. But it was also the year that I didn’t make any money writing. Which brings us back to those three things I mentioned.

How to make a living doing what you love

Not too long ago, I sat down with the leadership team at Fizzle, a membership program that helps people build businesses online, and asked them a series of questions.

What does it take to do your own thing, to pursue your dream, make a living doing what you love, and have the freedom you dream of?

That’s what we discussed. In that interview, which you can listen to on my podcast, we covered a few things that are worth paying attention to. But my takeaways were basically this: if you want to run your own business and work for yourself, you need three things:

1. Product: Something people want or need

You need to do something that other people can’t do or don’t know how to do, something that other people value. This is the must-have thing (sorry, I don’t have a better word for it) to start a business.

You don’t have to start a business, but if you want to make money doing something, you need more than passion. You need legitimate demand for that passion. And you need to be good at it.

In other words, don’t start with what you want. Start with what others want, and then build something you can get excited about that meets that need.

2. Packaging: An attractive way to offer your product

Having a special skill is not enough to be able to charge for what you do or know. You have to package it in a way that is easy to access and understand. This is what we sometimes call a product, but really it’s the packaging.

The product is the the thing people want. The packaging is the way people interact with your offering. It may be a course or a book or a speech you deliver. It could be made out of wood or metal, or it could be an online community.

For example, Apple’s product is simple solutions to your daily technology needs. It just happens to be packaged in tools like iPhones and Macbooks. Their product is intangible, but without the tangible, people won’t buy it.

How it’s packaged is not what matters. What matters is that it’s packaged and in a way people get a hold of it and use it. Until you have this, you don’t have anything — nothing worth monetizing, anyway.

3. Platform: A way to make people aware of your product

Your thing needs to be visible. It needs to be in front of people. You can buy a bunch of advertising or get a bunch of celebrities to talk about it, but those are often expensive strategies. The best thing to do is to create a way to get your message out there to the people who already want it.

Keep in mind: this is different from finding a market for your product. You’ve already done that in Step 1 when you identified the market first, then found a product to suit their needs. Now, you just need a way to broadcast that to the world.

I call that a platform (credit belongs to Michael Hyatt who wrote the authoritative book on this). For writers, that’s often a blog or a website with an email list.But it can be anything at all that connects your product to those who need it is a platform.

The tools are less important than the fact that you have a way to communicate with people who want what you have to offer. If you serve them over time and earn their trust, they’ll want to repay you with both attention and money.

Where we go from here

So many people obsess over the wrong parts of this stuff. They focus too hard or too long on the idea, but the truth is the idea will change. Your passions will change. The market will change, too.

What you need to get is to get your thing out there, do it smartly and in a way that people will understand. And if you do that, it’s only a matter of time and tweaking before you succeed.

So, where does passion fit into all this? Shouldn’t that factor in somewhere, when it comes to making a living doing what you love?

Of course. But passion is the fuel, the driving force behind everything you do. If you find what people want and use your skills to serve that need, it just may be that passion follows you. Passion is important, but it’s one part of the recipe (read more about that here).

OK, so now you know how this works, but maybe you still feel stuck. What now?

The best place to figure out all that is Fizzle, where they help you figure out what your “thing” is, how to connect it with the right audience, and what it takes to build a business around that. As an affiliate, I love these people, endorse what they do and how they do it. I know they can help you.

Click the link below if you want to learn business from the people I learn from (you’ll get access to a two-week free trial).

Learn More About Fizzle

So that’s what I know. It’s not a ton, certainly not enough for you to found a billion-dollar startup or something like that. But few people I know want to do that. They just want to find a way to take their unique gifts, skills, and interests and turn them into income somehow.

And here’s the good news. Not only is that possible. It’s easier than it’s ever been. And what I’ve shared with you here just might be enough to get started, which is really all you need. And don’t forget to check out Fizzle for extra help.

Do you want to get paid for your passion? What is your special skill or knowledge? Are you stuck on Thing 1, 2, or 3? Share in the comments.

About Jeff Goins

I write books and help writers get their work out into the world. I am the best-selling author of four books, including The Art of Work. Each week, I send out a newsletter with free tips on writing and creativity.

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  • Yes! I mostly want to emphasize your point about writing every day. It’s amazing to me when someone comes to me and says, I want to start writing. And I’m thinking, if you haven’t been writing for a long time and you don’t write every day, how do you expect to make it work anytime soon? I’d rather they focused on the skills they have NOW.

    Anyway, always a pleasure to read your thoughts, Jeff. 🙂

  • soulstuck

    Jeff, I began writing everyday back in October… I followed the trail Michaell Hyatt has paved for building a platform and found your stuff in the process. Thanks for this post. I’m in process at soulstuck.com. Finding my voice and learning this trade day by day. Thanks again. Your story continues to encourage.

  • chasereeves

    “It’s the dream that defines the 21st Century. But most people start in the wrong place.” I resonated so hard with this, Jeff.

    Thanks for all you do, man.

  • This is excellent. Without forming the action habit, our attention – and passion – waxes and wanes, leaving our output sporadic at best. By setting a daily commitment, we can foster a real sense of engagement with what we’re trying to build. To my mind, that’s the only way.

    For instance, I work with boxers, helping them foster the motivation and determination to succeed. Boxers will prepare for their fight pretty much every day. It’s on their mind – their target, their goal, their moment of truth. Whoever imagined a boxer, in the middle of their camp, forgetting to train. To achieve anything, we need a similar relationship with focus, dedication, and honesty.

    Thank you for posting. Shared!

  • I loved this. Especially as somebody who is just starting out with an idea and passion. Thank you for putting some legs to the direction I need to start moving. I appreciated the idea that passion is just a part of the recipe. I look forward to reading more of your posts.

  • Practice really does make perfect! I’ve learned tons the past year, ever since I started focused on doing more of what I love. I have #1 and #3 down, but I’m constantly working on #2, packaging and how to make my offerings more attractive!

  • AnthonyDejolde

    So far, this is the most profound and most detailed post I’ve gotten from you, Jeff.

    I’m part of the Tribe Writers, and, now, going through the Intentional Blogging videos, and I want to thank you for being so generous with your insights and the strategies you have used to reach the level you’re in.

    Your work has touched me deeply and the lessons I got from you have taken me to places I never thought possible for me (a non-native English writer).

    I actually reviewed your book at The Write Life: Jeff Goins’ You Are A Writer (So Start Acting Like One): Review with the link: http://thewritelife.com/jeff-goins-writer-start-acting-like-one-review/ when I was just starting, and it somehow taken me to a higher level in my online business.

    I want to reach the next level in my writing career, and I know I could do it with your guidance. 🙂

    Great work, Jeff!

  • Julie Saint-Mleux

    (http://happinessdishbestsavouredhot.blogspot.ca/) I work at least half of my hours from home, doing things I love. I have to agree that it’s not blissful all the time. Work is work. But it’s the best of any career I could have. After almost ten years, what I have to say is: be patient (building your visibility/your business takes time), be diligent (no sitting on your laurels!), be realistic (at first, there will be a lot of effort for little money), and keep your eyes on your goals. It’s possible as long as you remember it’s work!

  • Calvin Black

    Jeff,
    This is such a great summary of the process that you have lived out in front of us. I am very frustrated with how much distraction I’ve allowed to get in my way. I’m hoping to follow your example and commit to some real goals for this year. Thanks for your work and pushing me to be better.

  • zaifhulimam

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  • Chat Ebooks

    Great post! If I may add, I believe starting as a freelance writer can be of tremendous help in helping build a writing career. I have friends who work from home and enjoy what they do (and getting paid for it!) Visit https://www.chatebooks.com/blog-freelance-writing-jobs-turn-your-passion-into-money

  • disqus_JPqX8SzY7B

    Get in the habit of entering these weekly paid writing challenges on Prose: https://theprose.com/challenges

  • Kevin North

    Love this post. Especially the part about practicing every day. Practice is more important than talent!

  • Great round up @jeffgoins:disqus

    Get the intentional reps in. 🙂

    {BTW} @chasereeves:disqus & the crew do an amazing job. Oh & be prepared….bc I think they’re also wannabe comedians or something… 😉

  • Erin

    “The best accountability is a daily deadline” is a powerful and true statement. Sometimes, it seems hard to find the time to write every day, but, as you said, if you want to be successful at your passion, you have to be willing to put the work into it as well. All three of your points were wise statements that I will try to begin practicing myself. Thank you!

  • Mark Brassette

    Good stuff Jeff! Thanks for sharing. This stood out to me as I tend to get stuck on the idea — “So many people obsess over the wrong parts of this stuff. They focus too hard or too long on the idea, but the truth is the idea will change. Your passions will change. The market will change, too.”

  • Jay Harrington

    Great post. I think many times (myself included) aspriring writers/bloggers get too caught up in research and learning online and it impedes, if not brings to a total standstill, their progress. Knowledge is power, but too much is dangerous, especially if it comes at the expense of action. Selective learning, followed by relentless implementation of what you’ve learned in the form of words on the page, is the path to progress. Always enjoy reading your work Jeff.

  • Chat Ebooks

    Thanks for sharing! I’m not an author but I’ve been passionate about writing since I was in school. I agree practicing daily can make one a better writer. That’s why I think freelance writing can help turn your passion into money. Just want to share something I wrote months ago about freelancing. Hope this could help. Thanks again! https://www.chatebooks.com/blog-freelance-writing-jobs-turn-your-passion-into-money

  • Jodi Heisz

    Thanks you for this post. Right now I am focused on writing every day. Eventually, I want my product to be books, but I feel the need in developing a strong habit of writing daily. I am also dedicated to publishing one post a week on my blog. I will slowly add to posting three times a week as time moves on.