Imagine that your occupation involves doing what you truly love, regardless of money.
Now imagine you do actually make good money doing what you love.
Let’s face it, unless you’re a trust fund kid or the developer of a Web 2.0 site, money still matters.
That’s what lawyer-turned-blogger Jonathan Fields wants to talk about. And he gets the conversation started brilliantly with his new book, Career Renegade: How To Make A Living Doing What You Love.
I’m featured in the book because Jonathan found Teaching Sells to be a prime example of a career renegade path. People who have a passion to teach can also make good money and enjoy a wonderful lifestyle… but it’s a different way of approaching a vocation that many associate with low wages and meager living.
Jonathan explores plenty of other examples of renegade career paths in the book. I asked him a few questions so you can get a feel for his unique philosophy of work and life.
Brian: People often say that if you do what you love, the money will magically follow or you’ll be so happy the money won’t matter. What do you think about that?
Jonathan: It’s a lie. Flat-out B.S. Okay, well, at least it’s a lie for millions of people. If you’re one of the lucky few who love medicine, law or accounting, then, yes, there is a ready path to serious money. But, what if the thing that joneses you more than anything else is painting or collecting dolls or writing? Or, what if your mad passion is basketball, but you’re 5 feet tall, 50 years old, 50 pounds overweight and you’ve got an awful outside jumpshot?
If that’s you, there is no clear and easy, mainstream path to real money. It won’t just automatically follow. Now, I don’t know about anyone else, but I have to support a family in NYC, so I need to make a pretty serious living. And, while I would be willing to scale back a bit if that allowed me to do what I love, I am not willing to dramatically shrink my or my family’s lifestyle. Most people I know feel the same way.
So, they end up just turning their secret passion into a hobby. Thing is, that always struck more as more of a cop-out, a surrender to “conventional” wisdom than a solution. I don’t go down easily. At least, not without testing the assumptions. So, I’ve spent the better part of the last 10 years figuring out “unconventional” ways to turn seemingly moneyless passions into not only serious money, but serious businesses…and MAKE the money follow. It’s not always easy, but it is nearly always possible.
Brian: Okay, so if there’s no “conventional” easy way to make money doing what you love, what are some of the “unconventional” things you can do?
Jonathan: This is where it gets fun, because you get to go renegade, get hyper-creative and often create opportunities that might not have even existed before you gave them life. I get into some very cool renegade paths that involve little or no technology in the book, but let me share a few of the more tech-oriented paths here.
One of the best renegade ways to leverage a passion into a living online is to find and exploit gaps in the culture surrounding your passion. In Career Renegade, I lay out five major exploits and detail how to tap them in the book:
- Community, and
Exploiting these gaps in the culture surrounding your passion keeps you close enough to the action to satisfy your passion jones, but opens “monetization” doors that most people never even see, let alone walk through.
Let’s take information/education gaps, for example.
One of the case-studies in Career Renegade shares how a thirty-something married father turned his obsession with playing the John Madden Football video games into a six-figure business. He knew nobody would pay him to sit on his couch and play games, but by repurposing his vast knowledge of game “cheats” into high-demand ebooks and info-products, he was able to do what he loved and leverage his expertise to create a thriving information business.
Now, take that information exploit, give it steroids and you’ve got education gaps that can be turned into very lucrative income streams. Actually, while I lay out a bunch of different ways to exploit education gaps in the book, your Teaching Sells training is a perfect example of this approach.
It shows you how to take knowledge you’ve built around a passion, test it to see if others are hungry for it, then leverage it to create online learning portals. Done right, as you already know, this model can be a real win-win. It allows you to mine your knowledge of an activity you’re passionate about, commoditize and distribute it, then turn it into a very real, ongoing stream of income. And, the success of Teaching Sells is a testament to the viability of this model.
These are just a few tech-driven examples. But, the point is, even passions that most people thought could never make money can often generate a lot of money, if you throw off the chains of convention and take a renegade approach. And, if you’re willing to swap time for money, you can often do it from anywhere, spending almost nothing.
Brian: So, if this is really so doable, why don’t more people do it?
Jonathan: Lots of reasons, but there are two biggies, from what I’ve seen. One, many of the tech-oriented renegade paths simply weren’t viable for the average person until the last three to five years. They were either too costly, required too much time to learn, required too much logistics and, often, too much risk.
Thankfully, with the explosion of broadband internet access, the blogosphere and high-quality communication tools, it’s no longer a matter of “whether” these things are possible, but rather, “how.” It’s gotten so fast and affordable, the greatest barrier is simply knowing these solutions exist.
One of the main reasons I wrote Career Renegade was to shine the light on a wide range of unconventional, renegade solutions, then deliver up a ton of resources to give readers something to immediately act upon.
The second challenge is really just decades of conditioning. We’ve spent so many years being told what we can’t do, sucking up to a job we hate and shelving what we really want to do, it’s become a deeply ingrained pattern.
Inertia is an astonishingly powerful force. Especially when we can’t see a clear way out, a different pattern that we believe has the ability to give us both meaning and money. And, again, one of my greatest desires is that Career Renegade delivers that “clear way out.” And, that the many case-studies serve as proof that it can be done.
Brian: Okay, last question. Can this really be done in this economy?
Jonathan: Absolutely. In fact, after so many people have been burned by the old rules that said, “give us your life, sacrifice what you love and we’ll give you your retirement,” we are about to see a rebound wave of homegrown, passion-driven entrepreneurship in the U.S. like never before.
Economic downturns often create once in a generation opportunities, your job is to look for the intersection between what makes you come alive and what the market is looking for.
For example, in a downturn, tons of people decide that instead of paying someone to do work for them, like painting or renovating a house, they’ll do it themselves. This creates a massive uptick in the do-it-yourself (DIY) market and the need for really high-value DIY information. If the information people are hungry for syncs with your passion-acquired knowledge, you could have a huge market to tap.
In fact, I recently saw an electrician who launched a website and blog and monetized it by offering DIY electrical advice for something like $27/10-minute call, chat or e-mail. That comes out to an hourly rate of $162. Not bad for kicking back on the couch and answering questions.
So, yes, you can still be a career renegade, even in this economy…bigtime.
Career Renegade: How To Make A Living Doing What You Love is available online and at booksellers everywhere. Teaching Sells is opening for enrollment this week, so if that sounds like your renegade path, let’s get rolling!