Do you ever feel like your job is closing in on you like a death trap straight out of a James Bond movie?
Does it seem like two steel walls are moving ever closer, squeezing the life and joy out of you?
This stifling feeling is all too common in people who are working the 9 to 5 but dreaming of doing something they’re passionate about.
I’ve been through this so I know how it feels when your work is out of synch with who you really are.
Throughout my corporate career, I struggled to find connection and meaning in my job.
It was hard going through the motions every day and pretending everything was OK, when deep down I felt stuck and unhappy. I knew in my heart that I was destined for more, but I didn’t know where to start or how to join the dots.
This is what it feels like when your work is in conflict with the vision you have for your life.
You want to do what you love but you’re not sure it’s possible or if you can even earn money from it.
So you settle for something else.
It could be that you resign yourself to your day job at the expense of your dream.
But your fear could also quite easily lead you to pursue a business idea that you have no real passion for.
A lot of female entrepreneurs fall into this trap, especially online.
They do what everyone else is doing because they think it will bring in money more quickly than doing what they love.
So they become social media managers, life coaches, reputation managers or local business consultants when their heart is really telling them something else.
I say this without judgment because I can relate.
In fact, it’s how I started my online business.
I thought the only way to make money online was not by following my heart but by becoming a social media marketer.
It’s what my “guru” told me to do so I started managing other people’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.
But little by little I stopped feeling excited about the latest Facebook update, the soaring price of Twitter shares or Google’s ongoing algorithm changes.
I found myself working long hours for little financial reward or joy.
And guess what?
This frustration was mirrored by my income levels, which never really took off.
Apart from Pinterest marketing, which I adore and still help people with on a selective basis, I came to the realization that I had more to offer the world than social media.
My real passion was personal development, spirituality and business. And my greatest joy came from inspiring women to be the best they can be.
Yet my business did not reflect this.
But a strange thing happened when I started pivoting my business towards this passion – I began attracting more of my ideal clients! Positive, focused, smart women who didn’t try to beat me down on price but valued my ideas and input.
Shortly afterwards, I dropped the social media work altogether and started coaching women with their online businesses instead.
My income shot up within weeks without any effort on my part.
So if you are obsessing over whether or not it’s possible to do what you love and make a living.
I want to tell you that yes, you absolutely can.
But you must have some courage and trust your intuition because this will guide you to do what’s right for you. Here are 4 steps to help you do what you love and get paid for it.
How To Do What You Love
1. Follow Your Passion
You won’t get far if you try to help everyone with everything.
It’s better to focus on one area that you are comfortable with, passionate about and ideally have some experience in or knowledge of.
At the very least your passion should be something you can devote yourself to for a few years, because that’s the time it usually takes to be successful.
Many people have a hard time discovering what they’re passionate about.
Family, relationships, jobs, stress and the pressures of modern living can all numb you to your souls’ deepest desires.
Some people are also just too lazy to do the inner work this quest calls for.
But you can’t do what you love without finding your passion first.
I believe that the best way to lead others is to take them on the journey you’ve been on.
It makes your story far more authentic, compelling and believable.
Perhaps you’ve helped your child overcome asthma using natural methods? Maybe you have met your soul mate at 50? Or you managed to lose 40 pounds in weight by switching to a raw food diet?
Such personal experiences can be turned into a great online business.
When you can take people along the path you have trodden you already have the credibility to help them overcome their challenges.
Another thing to consider is whether this passion will hold your interest for long enough. In other words, can you see yourself doing it for 3, 5, or even 10 years from now?
This doesn’t mean you are stuck with it forever. Everything evolves over time.
Just find one area that you’re passionate enough about to start and then dedicate yourself to becoming an expert in the niche you’ve chosen.
2. Commit To Your Business
Dedicate yourself to your success.
To create a business – and have the best chance of success – you have to be committed. You have to give it priority and work on it every day, at least at the start-up stage.
Even if you are still working a job to pay your bills, look at how you are managing your money and your time on a daily basis.
Remember, your business will not grow by itself.
Like a new born baby, it needs your love, time and attention as well as some financial outlay.
If all your free time is going on shopping, watching TV and hanging out with friends, then this is at the expense of your business.
Ask yourself if you’re really serious about building a business.
It could be that you’re not ready for entrepreneurship and that’s ok.
Just be honest with yourself. It will save you a lot of time and heartache in the long-run.
Being in business for yourself is not the easy option and is not for everyone. It is rarely as glamorous as people make out, at least not in the beginning.
The reality is that until everything falls into place you have to be willing to make sacrifices and hustle like crazy.
You might have to stick with your day job longer than you want. That dream holiday in Tahiti may have to wait for a year, or 5! Eating in could become the new eating out for you.
Once you get your priorities straight you will know what to do.
Every business needs capital including an online business. Get used to the idea that you will probably have to spend some money before you make a penny back.
But have faith. Keep going.
It will pay off.
3. Build Your Online Platform
Every business needs customers to survive and thrive. Your online business is no different.
But instead of having a shop front like a traditional “bricks-and-mortar” store, you need to build a website or as Michael Hyatt calls it in his excellent book by the same name, your Platform.
A website is a requirement for any business today because it allows you to leverage the Internet and reach people worldwide.
Your website is your online home so it must reflect your personality and your business. It also influences how potential customers and clients see you.
The importance of having a well-designed, user-friendly, responsive website can’t be overstated.
This doesn’t mean you need to go out and drop $10k on your first website, though.
Remember what I said about your ideas evolving over time?
What you start with may not be where you end up, so don’t waste your money.
Just ensure that your website is professional, easily updated, SEO-friendly and appeals to your target market.
If you’re not tech-savvy or don’t want to spend time learning how to put together the kind of website your business needs, use a theme rather than creating a full custom design.
There are many premium themes on the market that are beautiful, affordable and highly customizable straight out of the box.
Premium themes are worth investing in because unlike free themes they are regularly updated and come with tutorials and videos to guide you through the set-up process if you’re feeling brave.
But if like me, you’d rather leave it to the experts, you can hire a web designer to do it for you on budget-friendly sites like Elance.com, Odesk.com, or even Fiverr.com (but be careful on the latter!).
4. Nurture Your Tribe
The next step once you have your website, is to share your knowledge, expertise and most important of all, your story via blogging.
Your story is a key ingredient to your business’ success because it helps you build your tribe – the early adopters who will follow you as you grow and become your greatest advocates.
Telling your story differentiates you from your competitors because it is un-copyable.
Remember, people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.
Your story is the journey you’ve taken to get to where you are today. It includes all your trials and tribulations, the good and the bad, the wins and the failures.
So don’t be afraid to reveal the difficulties you’ve overcome and the lessons learned along the way.
Heroes and heroines are not born – they are made. We are all a work in progress.
Your challenges and your vulnerability are the things that make you real. They help you resonate with potential customers far more than the products or services you market.
No amount of editorial-style photos or perfect videos with staged bloopers that you see appearing online more and more can ever make up for true authenticity.
We all crave human connection. We all want to matter.
So stand up and be a leader. Choose to do things that are in alignment with who you are.
When you are authentic, likable and genuinely help others with their challenges you will always have customers.
Your readers will reach out to you with their questions. You’ll start getting emails asking for advice. People will want to do business with you because they feel you care.
Make a note of the types of questions that keep cropping up. Do you see a pattern?
This is valuable market intelligence that will help you understand what your tribe needs help with and can guide you in creating the right solution.
Then think about how you can best “package” your expertise.
Do you want to offer services and/or online products to help your customers and clients?
Here are a few ideas to get you thinking about ways to monetize your knowledge and experience;
- You could offer coaching over Skype and charge by the hour.
- You could sell a downloadable ebook with your best tips on Kindle and/or via your website.
- You could create an ecourse and charge monthly subscriptions for people to gain access.
- You could hold live events and teach people your expertise in person, or you could do it online as a weekly webinar series.
The revenue options are actually endless, and largely come down to the best fit for you, your business and your lifestyle goals.
You don’t have to do everything all at once – or ever – if you don’t want.
In fact, just one of these things done well can help you make a comfortable living online.
Building an online business doesn’t have to be complicated if you follow these 4 steps.
Always start with yourself.
Take time to get to know what makes you tick and be brutally honest.
- What are you passionate about?
- Are you interested enough in this topic for the long haul?
- Are you willing to do whatever it takes to succeed?
- What kind of lifestyle business do you want to build?
This is the way to avoid confusion and overwhelm from all the information that’s out there. Don’t allow yourself to be dictated by what the gurus preach and what other people are doing.
We are all unique and have our own special message to share.
Let your inner voice guide you.
Neither you, your website or your business need to be perfect to succeed.
Just good enough.
Let your first foray into online business be an authentic representation of what you stand for. Provide your audience with value, information and inspiration – from the heart.
Then test, tweak and improve as you go along.
This is how to get paid to do what you love.
What steps are you taking to do what you love? Have you already launched your dream business – if so, how is it working out? Please share your thoughts below.