If you’ve ever wondered if it’d be possible for you to make a living off your passion, ideas, and skills, this article might give you some insight.
I’ve been creating businesses for a while now, and (apart from the courage to get started), three conditions always need to be fulfilled before starting a new project.
Let’s take a look!
Side note: there’s more to it than just these three requirements. These might give you initial courage to take action, though.
Three requirements for ideas you can monetize
To make a living off your ideas, you need:
- Expertise/skills in a specific area: be really good at creating something that solves a specific problem for yourself (or for others)
- A (somewhat homogenous) group of people who need that solution and are aware that they need it (in other words, they value your solution)
- A way (or several ways) to reach these people, so they know you exist and you can help them with their problem.
If one of these is missing, you’re going to have a hard time.
1. No skills? Works on your skills (and on getting unstuck creatively)
For example, if you don’t have any expertise or skills to solve problems for yourself or others, you’re not going to get much recognition.
You might want to work on your skills first and learn to solve problems for yourself and others. (Additionally, work on getting yourself unstuck creatively.)
Lack of skills… or lack of self-trust?
Here’s another possibility: are you making yourself believe you don’t have expertise? After all, everyone is good at at least something. The problem is self-esteem and self-trust.
Ask yourself the question: Which problems do I regularly solve for myself? Which problems do I solve for others? Is there something other people always ask me to help them with? Think outside the box too. For example, you might have to ask friends or family what they think you’re good at.
2. Skills, but no interested audience?
What if you have the skills that solve a problem for yourself, but not many people seem interested in your solution (in other words, they don’t see the value in your skills)?
Maybe the problem you’re solving isn’t that urgent for people, and they don’t care enough. Perhaps you’re not talking to the right people. Or (rarely) the group of people interested in your area of expertise isn’t big enough.
Side note: you’d be surprised how many people share your ideas and struggles. Saying “Oh, but surely nobody else is interested in that.” is an easy way out. There are many, many people in the world. And you only need 1000 true fans to make a living off your passion…)
No interested audience… or poor communication?
There’s another possibility here: you’re not communicating well how valuable your solution is. People don’t realize it could help them. If that’s the case, marketing and positioning is your problem.
Better communication can solve this… Or using an “epiphany framework” that helps to show people how you can help them. (Blog post upcoming).
3. Relevant skills, an interested audience… but you’re not reaching them
Finally, if you have a good solution, but you’re keeping it all to yourself… Then you’re not helping people either. You won’t make a living off your ideas if you don’t contribute. Sharing your expertise is what makes you valuable. And you can share in many ways.
An excellent first step is checking out communities, both online and offline. Talk to people with similar interests, people you think are interested in the same thing. Try to understand what they’re struggling with.
Then try to help them. See if they’re interested. If you notice they aren’t, you might be talking to the wrong people (or your problem isn’t urgent enough… for this community. Other people might have a more urgent need for your help).
Play around with this. Use meetups, go to conferences, go on forums. Use social media if you want. And once you’ve found a group of interested people… you now know who you should focus on.
So create value for them. Set up in-person or virtual meetings. Write. Make a podcast if you want. Youtube videos. Social media. Blog posts. Newsletters. There are tons of options (I’ll explore them all in upcoming blog posts).
The underlying mindset that makes it all work: being helpful
We’ve talked about certain conditions to fulfill to make sure your expertise and ideas find fertile ground… But there’s one more underlying principle you need to adhere to: strive to be helpful and valuable for others all the time.
In general, you help others by:
- Working hard to understand them, what they like, don’t like, and what they’re struggling with.
- Figuring out where they could use help, where they’re blocked, which problems they need help to solve
Whether you get paid for it or not, that’s not important yet. First, you go out and help. Make yourself valuable. Because if you’re not valuable, if you’re holding back everything, nobody will know you can help them in the first place… And you won’t be noticed.
Several of the biggest marketers share this mindset and credit their success to it. Eben Pagan calls this “moving the free line”: give away your best stuff for free. Frank Kern calls it “showing people you can help… by helping them”.
Finally, there’s Jay Abraham and his strategy of pre-eminence: you’re your client’s most trusted advisor, even before money has exchanged hands. You have their best interests at heart and want to help them. A monetary transaction is just one stage in the relationship, not a prerequisite.
Get started by asking yourself these questions…
Take time to answer the following questions for yourself (remember, without taking action you’ll never get anywhere):
- Think of at least one thing you’re good at. It can be something you regularly solve for yourself or something others ask you to help them with. Then write it down like this: “I _______ (solve a problem/create something) so that _________ (result in life).
Examples: I help people learn Spanish so that they can speak with native Spanish speakers on their travels.
- Now think of a group of people who could value your solution… and what your solution could look for in their lives.
E.g. Expats moving to Spain: I help expats who want to move to Spain learn Spanish, so they can connect with the locals, make friends and integrate easily in their community.
- Now go out and find 5 people who might be interested and ask them “If I help you with this… if I write about this, speak about this… would that be helpful to you?”
If the answer is yes… Then you know it’s time to give this a real shot 😉