Dec 13, 2010

Are You Selling Passion, Selling E-Books Or Selling Yourself Short?

This past year everyone seemed to be writing about how to leave your day job, how to earn money online by writing e-books and such. Each month I noticed a new e-book hitting the internet market, promising to help us pare down our stuff, save enough to quit our day jobs, figure out what our truest passions are, and help us learn how to monetize.

As I enter 2011, here’s my question: When will we move past earning a living telling others how to earn a living, and start earning our living by sharing our passions with others?

I’m not the first person to ask this question, but I’ve got to wonder – there’s got to be more to this whole idea of doing what we love and not being slaves to the machine that’s around to suck our souls than writing about and selling e-books about how to leave your jobs to follow your passion.

Sure, there’s folks out there whose passion IS to help others find their passion. These folks get off on helping others reach their “aha moment”, and so they hop online and write blog posts and Twitter notes and e-books about how this works.

But I’m betting that these folks aren’t in the majority. I know I’m not one of those folks. My passion is not to help you find your passion – it’s to knit stuff for others, and to change the world, one hand-knit at a time. My bliss is found with two sticks and some string, not in writing e-books about how you can find your bliss.

And I don’t think I’m alone here.

Don’t misunderstand me, I love that there’s so many humans searching for a way to do it differently that dozens of folks out there around the internet are able to earn a living by helping people find their passions – we need those e-books to be written, and we need more and more humans to figure out what their passion is.

But what I love more are folks that are sharing their passion with others online, and have figured out a way to earn a living while doing so. Women and men who do what they love, and the money follows – not that it drops out of the sky to them, but these folks have figured out how to monetize their passion in a way that doesn’t suck their souls dry.

Want some examples? Here’s my not-so-short list:

I’ve noticed a pattern in my own life, and I’m betting there’s thousands of people like me out there doing the same thing – whenever a new e-book comes out, or a new blog hits the scene talking about how to live your passion, monetize it, support yourself with it, I buy in. I subscribe to the blog, I pick up the e-books, and I devour the information. I plot and I plan, dreaming what my life will be like when I finally reach escape velocity. I slowly pare down a few more of my belongings, spend a little less money on meaningless crap, and then go back to my life as I know it – day job, groceries, knitting when I can find the time.

If you’re nodding your head along with me, maybe it’s because you don’t really HATE your job, or you don’t know how to monetize your particular passion. Maybe it’s because you’re filled with the same fears I am, or because your passions aren’t anywhere close to the passions of the folks whose e-books you’ve read.

When we as a collective group – what group, I’m not sure yet; Minimalists? Adventurers? Entrepreneurs? – going to decide that there are ample resources on finding your passion? When are we going to see that there are tons of people who are already doing that right?

What we need now is some practical advice, digging into the heart of it all.

What does it take to turn your passion for music into a thriving online music career? What does it take to turn your love of hand-knits into an online shop that sends your lovingly created items out all over the globe to folks who don’t want to buy stuff that’s been mass-produced? What does it take to turn a passion for sharing family stories into a way to help others share their stories better through scrapbooking? How do you turn a love of yoga into a sustainable yoga-mat-making business?

I don’t buy into the excuse that every online business will be different, so there’s no way to give concrete steps to anyone unless you’re doing so on a one-on-one {read: expensive} consulting session that will be tailored to you and you alone.


While every business may be different, there are steps that look the same once you dig into specific genres. Setting up a yoga studio in Omaha will have many of the same steps that setting one up in New York will have. Running an online knitting business for me will look similar to how someone in Germany does it.

Maybe we don’t need to pay thousands to have someone tailor a consulting session to us – maybe instead we need to loosen the death-grip we’ve got on our knowledge and start sharing it a bit more freely. Those five things you figured out that your business needed? Share them with someone else who wants to start a similar business.

And maybe this makes me a big ole Socialist hippie, but I think that it’s counter-productive to teach people how to find their passions and then not help them figure out what to do once they’ve found them. Maybe it’s not in the spirit of competition or Capitalism or whatever to think that the more we give away, the better it actually ends up for all of us.

And yes, I know you give away 90% of your content for free or blah, blah, blah. Give more. Do more. Be more. Share the practical stuff, not just the esoteric bullshit “top tips for finding your passion” blog posts that we all write – I know I’ve done it plenty.

This then is my call to arms. Let’s stop talking about how to find our passions, and let’s start sharing how to take those next steps, for those who want to take them.

Maybe you need to stop writing that e-book about finding your passion, and instead write an e-book – or a series of posts, or some video tutorials – sharing the top five tips to living based on your particular passion. Maybe you give it away. Maybe you charge for your e-book or a month-long course, or something else I’m not thinking of, but make it accessible to all, available for anyone who wants to dig in a bit deeper.

{I’m not against earning a living off your knowledge, after all.}

What will you commit to? Can you share practical advice on how to start a yoga studio by taking on a few clients in your home? Can you share your intimate knowledge of the food-cart business and how to sell your world-famous tacos in the business district? There’s a community of folks out there, filled up on passion and ready to learn how to turn it into a new lifestyle!

My commitment? To share as freely and openly as I can the process of setting up my little Minimalist Knitting business.

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