Passion and Work

I hear a lot of people say the old saying about passion and work: “love what you do and you’ll never work another day in your life.”

That’s hogwash.

The bottom line: if you have a passion and pursue it, that’s a wonderful thing to do in your life. You will be happier. But that doesn’t guarantee that you will make money from it, which means you may still have to “work.” To make a career out of your passion, you need customers. Otherwise, your passion is a hobby.

Passion by itself doesn’t make money

I know a lot of people who love to paint or write music. There is no question they should pursue their talents. It will make them happier and feel more satisfied.

When you have a stack of your paintings in the basement or a library of your own music on your computer, what’s next? If you want to monetize your passion, you must think like a business person.

You may have heard stories of famous actors losing all of their money because they were not financially savvy. They were remarkable at their art, their passion. Yet their lack of business awareness led to financial insecurity. Dancers, pottery makers and others start studios only to have their business of passion fail within a few years.

For passion and work to go hand in hand, you should not only learn how your industry operates, but also explore alternatives to traditional ways of earning a profit.

For example, if you love writing music, being a famous performer isn’t your only path to success. Many artists now license their work to stock music libraries where they earn a small royalty for each use. Some even give their music rights away for free to companies to use in their marketing because the exposure helps them leverage their other work. Got a friend who runs a company? Offer to write a jingle for them. Want to be a movie maker? Make a video for a company – if your video goes viral, you’ve got a promising way to make money from others who want the same results.

Separate passion and work

There is a myth that if you pursue what you love, then money will follow. That is largely untrue. To see money from your passion, you need to actively pursue it. And if you don’t enjoy the money-making part of selling your passion, then well you’re back to working, right?

If your passion doesn’t involve business or pursuing money in some way, a more liberating mindset is to separate passion and work. Acknowledge that you will have to work to earn money. A dancer has to promote her studio. This requires marketing and sales skills, plus bookkeeping and management to operate the business (the IRS doesn’t care about your passion, just that you paid your share of taxes).

Hire people to support the skills you don’t have, but don’t think for a minute that you can only focus on your passion and not your business. Someone will take you for an uncomfortable ride if you only pursue your passion.

The Follow Up

Try this test the next time you are looking for any type of service:

  1. Visit several companies’ web sites.
  2. Fill out their contact form explaining what you are looking for.
  3. Count how many of these companies reply.

According to AMR Research, you can expect only 30% to follow up. Why is follow up so rare?

Likely reasons:

  • Your request falls outside of the scope of the company’s services.
  • The size of your potential business is lower than their minimum threshold.
  • There was no way to determine your level of interest or ability to purchase.

Unlikely reasons:

  • You have a lazy sales rep.
  • The company doesn’t instantly forward leads to sales reps for follow up.

If the company’s online form did not collect enough information, it might be hard for a sales person to know whether you are ready to buy. Commission-based sales people look for a return on their time quickly so they filter out unqualified leads to focus on ones that can result in real business opportunities.

Unfortunately, a delayed or non-existent response can be frustrating from the buyer’s perspective. This can create ill will that affects the company’s reputation.

Put Yourself in Their Shoes

You may not be a sales person, but all of us receive requests by people that require a response. How quickly do you follow up when a colleague or acquaintance contacts you about an opportunity or needs assistance?

When you respond fast in every case, even if the answer is “can you send me more information, it will help me to give you the right answer” or “sorry, I can’t help you” you solidify your reputation as a trustworthy person who can be relied upon for timely follow up and honest feedback.

It is a competitive world and creating a personal brand of integrity has the ripple effect of increasing your day-to-day luck because people will remember their experience with you.