People love talking about passion. Your should be passionate about your job! Travel around the world for passion. Be a passionate lover. Eat your meals passionately.
Guess what I get passionate about (besides teaching)? WINNING. Too many people use “passion” as a crutch to do nothing. But as Cal Newport puts it, passion happens when you master something:
“…passion is the feeling generated by mastery. It doesn’t exist outside of serious hard work. When Scott’s readers say “I have too many passions,” what they really mean is “I have lots of superficial interests.” When my readers complain that their major is not their passion, what they really mean to say is “I don’t have a level of mastery in this field that is earning me recognition.”
We all know that uncle who has many passions, but never actually did anything, and is waiting for his magical idea to come…
Pick an idea, and begin testing it. If it doesn’t work out, your system will let you accommodate another idea. Trust me, you get pretty passionate when you start dominating.
Here are a few examples of ideas that were rigorously tested and found to be profitable.
Music teacher: I have a student who is earning thousands of dollars per month after taking Earn1k. She teaches violin to young students. Why? Think carefully. Who is her market? Think deeper — it’s not really the students. And is she targeting everyone? People in a geographic area? People of a certain income? People of a certain racial/ethnic group? What would you do?
Personal organizer: I know a young woman who cleans her room EVERY DAY. SHE LOVES IT. I find it really weird. Yet I would totally hire her to set up an organization system for my house. And so would TONS of other people, especially…who? What group can you think of that has an ability and willingness to pay for this service? Does gender matter? Age? Location? What do people REALLY want (hint: it’s not just a clean house…it’s much deeper).
Interior designer: I recently hired an interior designer for a project. I auditioned 5 people on Craigslist and picked her. Why? Even though I technically “could” do it myself, why would I spend thousands of dollars to have someone else do a project for me?
The 2 major takeaways are these:
Your job does NOT have to be where you get your brilliant freelancing idea. Your job CAN shed light on your best skills and strengths, even if it doesn’t speak to your interests. For example, my friend is a high school history teacher by day, but a kids’ party entertainer on the side. Although his side job is pretty different from his day job, both pull from the same skill set and personal strengths. He’s great in front of groups of younger people, is energetic and organized, and can effectively direct their attention to whatever he needs them to focus on. Combining skills, strengths and interest to start generating income is NEVER a cookie-cutter formula (be wary if someone’s trying to tell you it is). Instead, it’s a process that requires intelligence and critical guidance. If a high school teacher canearn $1,000 on the side being a party entertainer, what could you do?
Your job skills CAN be transferred, no matter how unique you think your job is. So you’re a horse whisperer in Wyoming. Wow, unique job! Not really. You have skills in working with animals, obviously, which would suggest training pets. But you also have expertise in behavioral change, which many academic labs and companies would love to tap — and pay for. You can tutor children, or lead a summer camp. You can train people’s cats to use the toilets (real example from my friend who used to work with horses and now works with cats). And tons of other different options. Do you work as a claims adjuster for an insurance company? I bet you have a ridiculous level of attention to detail. How could you position that? What group of people needs a project manager or meticulous proofreader?
You can do this. But it requires a mindset change: Instead of waiting for something to come to you, you have to AGGRESSIVELY interrogate your assumptions and test them to see what (1) you’re interested in, and more importantly, (2) what your market is interested in and will pay for.
Get past “Waa…I don’t have any ideas” (or “I have too many ideas”). Don’t simply say, “I’m a software localization specialist! Nobody hires freelance software localization specialists. I give up” (wipes face with tears and becomes a troll on blog comments of every single newspaper site online). Instead, ask yourself: “What do I enjoy? What am I good at? And, how can I position this so people will pay for it?”
There are thousands of monetizable skills, some of which you know how to do AND are good at. This is what I want you to walk away with today: finding the $1,000 freelancing idea isn’t a lightning bolt that comes to you in the middle of the night. It means thinking critically about your skills, which may or may not have anything to do with your full-time job, overlapping them with your strengths and interests, and then systematically testing them in the marketplace to find the offering that people will pay you for.