Passion projects are the creative endeavors that keep the day-to-day interesting. They’re those unexpected hobbies you discover in your friends, the things that might seem random at first — Why Harriet, I had no idea you’re so into larping — but over time these kinds of passions clearly feed into a person’s most interesting and endearing qualities. The qualities that make them stand out in a crowd. Or even in a job interview.
Here are a few ways you can start making a little extra cash from your passion projects.
Scope Out the Market
The first step in entering any potential money-making endeavor is to make sure there’s actually a need for what you’re offering. This is no time for self-doubt. The answer to this question is rarely a flat-out no.
If you love sports but just can’t seem to find a way to get someone to pay you to go to the next big game, consider taking a more creative route.
Many sports lovers start sports blogs as a way to get their voices out there in the world and make a little money on ad revenue in the process. But sooner or later one has to wonder whether anyone is really reading all those blogs? Some markets are simply oversaturated. But like I said, the answer to the question of audience is rarely a flat-out no. It might just call for a slightly different approach.
In a recent interview with Femme and Fortune, Jen Wu discusses her creative solution to the problem of sports blog oversaturation. She was working at a law firm with a big-name sports client, and found herself needing to be informed about sports in order to keep up.
Her passion project became sifting through all the hyper-specific sports information online and turning it into an easily-digestible newsletter that comes directly to subscribers’ inboxes. Her audience is busy professional women in male-dominated industries who find themselves missing out on valuable networking opportunities if they can’t be a part of the sports conversation.
Instead of adding to the noise of the blogosphere, she slightly altered her approach and is now serving a market that no one else had even considered.
Become an Expert
Once you figure out exactly the angle you’re going to take to make your passion project relevant to the rest of the world, the next step is to steep yourself in the intricacies of your trade.
Increasing your knowledge will transform you from a hobbyist to an expert.
With the rise of sites like Etsy and a handful of others, selling handmade goods online has never been easier. So if your passion project is DIY, you’re off to an easy start. Once again though, the issue of ‘rising above’ comes into play.
It’s unlikely you’ll make much money selling a run-of-the-mill DIY item online anymore. No one is going to pay more than a few bucks for a simple pair of stone-round earrings that you made in three minutes. If there’s nothing special about the materials or the technique, it’s a hard sell when your customers can get the same item at the mall for half the price.
But if you increase your knowledge base and learn how to facet those stones, the value of your work goes through the roof. People will pay for time and expertise. Simply learning the terminology of your trade is a good first step. Let your customers know you’re legit by discussing the difference between a princess cut, emerald cut, and asscher cut gemstone. Knowledge and skill will help you woo more customers. A little razzle dazzle never hurt anyone.
No matter what your passion project is, the more your audience/customers trust your skill and expertise, the more money they’ll be willing to pay for your goods and services.
Don’t be Afraid to Lead
Perhaps your passion project isn’t something tangible that you can sell. Is it even possible to make money off that sort of thing?
Totally. It just takes exposure and community.
Just keep doing what you love to do, and someday you’ll have the thought, “Huh, I wonder if anyone else would like to do this with me?”
Your first job is to not shy away from that thought. Your second job is to make yourself known as a go-to person in the creative sphere. No matter your personality — whether you’re shy or a go-getter — don’t be afraid to share your passion with the rest of the world. There’s no need to let something like shyness, called “an evolutionary tactic” by the New York Times, hold you back.
If your passion project is white water rafting, for example, put yourself out there as someone who can lead rafting trips. You can charge people a reasonable amount of money to keep them safe and outfitted.
If you’re a just-for-fun violin player, see if there are any other musicians in the same boat who might want to start up a quartet and play a few gigs here and there.
Money follows purpose.
Side Hustle or Game Changer
That brings us to our final point. If you really love your side project and find a creative angle to make money doing it, there’s a good chance you could develop it into your full-time gig.
Even a passion project as counter-financial as volunteering for charity can become a career if you want it to.
Remember the flood of volunteers who went to Louisiana to help clean up after Hurricane Katrina? The kind of aid that volunteers provided during that period has developed into an entire genre of social work education. Green Social Work is all about finding ways to help “post-crisis communities who live in threatened environments as they attempt to embrace a sustainable and socially-conscious change.” Instead of just volunteering on your day off to help people pick up the mess after a natural disaster, it could be your actual job to help prepare the socially oppressed for life in our ever-changing natural environment.
Not all passion projects are as philanthropic as volunteering, and not all are suited to being a full-time gig either, but it’s certainly good to be open to the idea should it arise. Passion projects are all about bettering ourselves and the world. So go have fun, make a little money in the meantime, and give something awesome back to the world.
What’s your favorite passion project? Share it with us in the comments!
About The Author
Katie Kapro is a writer and wilderness adventurer in the Intermountain West. Someday, she hopes to own crampons.