Let’s talk about this: Do What You Love And the Money Will Follow

on November 5 | in Small Business Ideas | by | with 59 Comments

I recently had the pleasure of talking with Kathy Mack of Pink Chalk and Abby Glassenberg of While She Naps for Abby’s regular podcast. You can find it here. I hope you check it out–Abby is an excellent interviewer and Kathy is, as always, fun, intelligent, and generous with her knowledge and experience. In it Kathy and I talk about running and closing our fabric shops, reinventing our businesses, and more. One of the things I brought up toward the end of the podcast was a bit of a ramble about following your passion to a point. I had a thought, but it wasn’t fully formed and I feel I went on about it rather ineloquently. I do, however, think the idea struck a nerve with a lot of people who have emailed or commented on social media, so I wanted to explore it here a little more and hopefully continue the dialog about income in the creative communities. I imagine there are probably hundreds of people out there thinking about these things, but we don’t talk about them much. Someone might write a thoughtful blog post about money, income, pricing, getting paid, etc.,  but they might not really invite a conversation, and often it feels weird to debate in the comments. But I’d like to try it. Let’s pretend it’s sociology class and we’re sitting in a circle on a nice sunny day in the quad. I’ll go first.

I would like to argue that certain social subsets of workers have started believing in and living by a new (ish) ideology. Perhaps these graphics look familiar?

You’ve probably seen them on Pinterest, Facebook, and handfuls of blogs. It is a very popular idea and one which, for better or worse, people are using to make big life decisions. The quote is actually the title of a book by Marsha Sinetar written in 1987. I haven’t read the book and I would guess that 99% of the Pinners of these images haven’t read it either. (But if you have, please share!) Let’s just talk about this idea. I would love to hear/read your thoughts. I’m going to make a few statements, play devil’s advocate, and  ask a few questions and you can tell me if you think I’m on track or out of my mind. Feel free to reference point A, B, C, etc in the comments, or just go with your train of thought. Anything goes, but please be respectful.

A. Millennials and creatives are the groups most likely to have bought into this theory. Women more than men.

B. Does this concept serve an industry or economy?

C. How does “the money will follow” part work, exactly?

D. Might the people for whom this concept works be otherwise qualified for their chosen career path?  For example, maybe it’s not that Designer X is successful just because she is doing what she loves, but rather that she actually has a fine arts degree. Or an MBA.

E. This idea keeps people in creative industries from demanding fair pay for the work they do. (Because they love their jobs, are patiently waiting for the money to follow, whatever…)

F. In order to make money from your hobby (assuming it is your hobby that you love), you have to turn your craft into a business or turn yourself into a brand. What if you love the creative part, but not the business/marketing part? How does the money follow then?

G. Without throwing the baby out with the bathwater, is there a way to realistically affirm but reframe the concept of having a career that feeds your body, mind, and soul…and also feeds  your family?

H. In general, do you accept, deny, trust, believe, refute, live by, challenge, reject, concur?

I. Rachel Nabors speaks to this idea(ology) in this excellent blog post.  Thanks to Heather Grant of the Modern Quilt Guild for calling it to my attention. So many good thought and quotes in here. Read it!

Please comment here. Let’s keep the conversation going.

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59 Responses to Let’s talk about this: Do What You Love And the Money Will Follow

  1. Anna says:

    I had a creative buisiness, a sewing studio and fabric shop, for a year. I didn’t start with a buisness plan or a loan or any idea of what I wanted besides the thought “I want to teach people to sew at times when quilt shops don’t teach” and it worked pretty well. Having an online fabric shop when those were still new to the Internet world was helpful too. Then I married a man with an MBA in Finance who brought me back to reality. He said “How are you paying your rent? What are you spending on advertising? What is your ROI?” And when that brought me back to earth I realized that I couldn’t stay open anymore (plus I had a child and had to move for husband’s job). I also realized that I spent close to 40 hours a week just promoting my business through my blog, website maintenance, social media (even before Instagram) and newsletters. I learned a lot in that year of owning a business and now I have a full time job that I don’t “love” but it pays the bills and for my fabric addiction. I often wonder if I could turn quilting into a business. But then I have a conversation with MBA husband and realize, no, probably not if I want to maintain my current level of comfort (which is too much to give up at this point). So I’ll just continue to make quilts for my hobby and try to figure out how to “work with a happy heart” I think part of that is a lack of creativity in my “day job” I highly respect anyone who can afford the time it takes to build a self made business. I wonder if I would love quilting as much if I could just do that all day every day, the grass is always greener on the other side, right?

  2. I’ve been blogging and making for nearly four years, made friends with prominent bloggers, been featured, shared on Facebook, had giveaways, sold at local craft markets, and opened a successful pop-up shop in town for the summer, and can say that the unmeasurable idea that working hard leads to discovery leads to money hasn’t been true. I also know there are things I haven’t tried, (seeking out sponsorship, etc) but mostly because I haven’t wanted to cross the line to where I’m working to deadlines and someone else’s agenda. I’m really thankful for the things I’ve learned about myself and the industry over the past years, I’m thankful that we don’t rely on my income to pay the bills (we do rely on it to pay for fabric and it does that, thankfully) so I have the freedom to adjust how much sewing I do based on the seasons (moving/having babies/starting homeschooling), and I’m extra thankful Australia has free healthcare/financial help for low income earners (my husband is a Phd student). 🙂
    I read that article about the comic writer a while ago and loved it. I still love the idea of being able to turn a profit, but I also know there are other parts of me, like my history degree, that could be pursued/developed for a more regular job.

  3. Gina says:

    so how would,one start a quilt or craft,business?

  4. sj kurtz says:

    A long time ago, I was an art major. I was a ceramics major. I worked with a lot of talented folks as teachers and fellow students. Of the many, the one who is making a living with his mud isn’t the one who was the most talented, or had the best eye. It was the guy who worked at it. He did the ten thousand hours before Gladwell thought of it.

    Does he still love it? Unclear. His work is a little boring to look at, a little run of the mill. It is wonderful in the hand, well balanced and graceful. My guess is that he’s acquired one good design idea a decade, and lost the ones that didn’t work. He is a master potter now. 30 years later. 30 years of every day.

    The problem with being self employed is that you never have a day off, that you are always at work. Making boundaries between the two is virtually impossible now in the 24/7 international sales cycle. When the client is in Brisbane or London (and she is), you are up to Skype. Do I love that? No, especially when the other parent is also on the same crazy cycle. Who gets up with the kids in the morning? How are we going to pay for health insurance? Why is the web guy living in Portugal? Property taxes coming up. Baby needs a new pair of shoes. And he’d like to borrow the car.

    Is it exciting? Damn yes. So I love it.

    It’s always been all work. Those folks who put on those seminars about how to have the lifestyle you deserve … I’ve been one of them. Selling bullshit is hard work. If you are lucky, you will have work. And if you love to work, you are lucky. But you can make that luck for yourself if you can work at loving the person you see in your mirror every day before you go to work.

    Or night, 1am PST, 9amGMT. Yawn. More coffee, please.

  5. Jo-Anna says:

    I’m definitely “F”. I quit my career when I had children and have been trying to make a go of selling Children’s Decor and Accessories and find I’m really struggling to sell my things. I am not quite sure why. I have spent a lot of time (and money!) setting up the business, as I do have quite a bit of sales and professional experience, but it hasn’t translated in to an income. Add to that the pressure to find ‘real work’ and it gets pretty overwhelming at times. I LOVE to create, but how does that translate in to money?

  6. Terri says:

    This is an interesting discussion, and one I am struggling with myself at the current time. I do longarm quilting and am trying to start a quilting business. It is definitely a lot of work getting started, putting yourself out there trying to get more clients, unsure what directions to take, wondering if this is just a crazy dream…

    I am a creative person, also a pianist, and when I look back on my life, I see that my passions have also translated into actual paying jobs which are satisfying to me. I am a pianist at my church and lead the choir. I get to also use the creative and detailed side of me in the administrative/clerical work that I do. I really love typing documents, making newsletters look great, paying attention to correct spelling and grammar, helping people, and that is what I would recommend to creative folks. Find ways to use your creative skills in practical settings in the workplace to have an income you can count on.

    I am blessed to have a husband with a good paying job who supports my creative efforts. So I am working on my real paying jobs and raising my kids while focusing on a creative business at the same time and seeing how things evolve. No matter what you love to do, you have to work hard at it!

  7. I think money *can* follow if you do what you love….but you have to be willing to set goals, begin with the end in mind, make a plan, set a general time limit, and be willing to adjust your plan and pivot if you begin to see that you’re not earning money with your endeavor. Stick with it long enough to see whether your plan is working.

    What many of us do for, I think, too long, is marry ourselves to a certain business format even when it’s not earning money. In the creative field, of course people need to do some “gratis” or low-paid work to get their names out there…and because it’s fun to contribute to a larger community. But if, after a period of time, everything we do is for free or for very low pay, we need to realize that we’re undervaluing ourselves. If we keep walking uphill and never reaching the summit of the mountain, what are we doing? We could be creating for ourselves and enjoying our families more, right?

    Life is too short not to do what you love and not to try to earn money from it. But it’s also too short to work ourselves to the bone for very little monetary return. I’ve spent the past 8 years trying to earn money with my creative business – with some monetary successes, some failures, the occasional fall from grace, some goals met and others unrealized, but always with grit and determination. I believe in “the dream.”

    However, we also need to ground ourselves in reality like any other business person needs to do. If we’re habitually in the red or never able to pay ourselves, it’s time to re-tool the plan or decide whether we should create for our own enjoyment and find another way of earning money….even if it’s just for a short time between creative business ventures.

  8. Susan says:

    I am a mom and professional musician (I play the piano and work as a freelance accompanist and teacher). I suppose you could say I’m doing what I love, though parenthood has very much restricted the gigs I can take. It’s hard to travel, for instance, and I have to make my schedule work around the hours my kids are in school. I feel like my own career has been compromised in this way, and I feel frustrated that to outsiders it must look like I just don’t work hard enough or that my work in music looks like a glorified hobby when really, I work ALL the time. It’s just that like everyone else I only have 24 hours in a day and I have to balance my paid work with the work of taking care of my family. I would like to take more gigs and travel more and have more opportunities but my family life would suffer the consequences so I just do not have those options right now.

    I have a lot of professional training in music, so I would never say it’s a hobby that I turned into a business. That’s a big difference between what I do for a living and what a lot of craft bloggers are doing. I do wish, though, that in all those years at a liberal arts school and later graduate school as a music student, we’d been required to take at least basic level business and marketing courses because often professional musicians have to run their own shows for a while. Good teaching jobs are extremely hard to get and most of us are piecing together freelance and part time work in the meantime (or permanently!)

    One similarity between what I do and what knitting and fabric and quilt designers do is that a lot of the work isn’t fun and I do it just for the money. That doesn’t make me a sellout; it makes me practical. Much as I like working with young students and encouraging young musicians, I do things like accompany 7th graders on their flute solos because it pays the bills, not because it challenges me creatively. There is nothing wrong with that, either.

    I’m not sure if I really contributed much to this convo that hasn’t been said already. Thanks for this post and the ensuing comments. Lots of good stuff to think about!!

  9. Lindsay says:

    Thanks for opening up this discussion. I’ve been thinking over this idea for a few days since your post and wanted to say that I agree with “D,” but I wanted to expand on that idea. I think the people who can really succeed at their creative business goals tend to not only be qualified (arts degree, marketing degree, an eye for brilliant photography), but they are also very hard workers! My husband and I are both freelance writers, which is how we make most all of our income for the last several years. From time to time, we’ll have someone ask us about breaking into the biz, and we’ll ask if they want to take on some of our extra work. The problem is, they always seem to flop on us–they don’t want to do the work it takes to get there. We’ve spent years building relationships with clients, learning how to be better at what we do, and taking on jobs that we didn’t really want to take. In a creative field, I really think this works the same way. It’s not that we are the very best writers in the world, but we started out a decade ago, writing for free or for pennies. I really see this carry out a lot in the sewing industry. Those people who are willing to really go for it and make sacrifices will achieve the same or greater success as those people who are just brilliant creatives. I am definitely open to other perspectives on this, but in my opinion, you can do what you love (and the money will follow) if you are willing to A) work hard and B) take one for the team and be willing to do some jobs that you don’t love. Be persistent, and I really believe you can work your way toward a more desirable career path!

  10. I just stopped being a factory boss and I couldn’t be happier. Although I still find myself thinking about what I’m missing out on about every 5 minutes. It’s tricky when we monetize our creativity, when a creative business become everything but creative!!!

  11. Mandy says:

    I wanted to continue with some other thoughts about the conversation about doing what you love. Specifically, I did want to share the things I said on my own blog about working for free (There are many links at the bottom about working for pay, across various disciplines), and whether you’re a hobby or a business, which has very specific meaning according to the IRS:

    http://mandalei.com/2014/05/20/the-problem-with-free-milk-giving-away-your-quilt-work/

    http://mandalei.com/2014/05/21/hobby-or-business/

    Additionally, I also think that much of this conversation has to do with how the blogging bubble worked a few years ago. What most people remember is how blogs made a ton of money at the height of the bubble, and think that is how it automatically should be: have a blog, get lots of followers, make money, be instantly successful (there\’s a link to the death of the blog on the bottom of one of those posts, from DesignSponge). And that actually worked for a while, but it was a very specific time and space, and while the world has moved on, the expectation that this is *still* how it works prevails.

    What also contributes to this is when people don’t disclose what they should legally, where links with an affiliate code bring in revenue. To someone who is not looking for it, it may look like this person is successful simply by being themselves, when in fact they are schilling for companies through the links they provide. I don’t have a problem with affiliate links, by the way. I have a problem with affiliate links that are baited and hung out for the unwary, which is explicitly forbidden in most terms of agreements and which the FTC makes a point of cracking down on, on occasion. Hobby or not.

  12. Eva says:

    Hi Kristin, thank you so much for hosting this discussion and to all the people who have commented so far.

    As a child, I loved drawing and ballet dancing. I studied Business at University and Marketing and ended up working in accounting/finance. Hated it. Quit my job and run an etsy shop full time- loved it! BUT!!!!Handmade does not pay. It is impossible to make enough goods to turn over enough income to pay my bills, unless a) I design everything and outsource it to factory style production or b) double my retail price. I want my things to be for everyday people with regular jobs, to bring sunshine and happiness to their life-not for a millionaire. My dream was to have a craft business, not to be a factory boss, paying bills and managing people and payroll. So in my view, it is a massive divide between creative side and running a business. The issue here is there is an ideology behind the dream. And I am not willing to compromise that. So the solution for me is to keep doing sewing as a hobby and sell small batches as and when I make things and have a full time job in what I am qualified at and pay the bills rain or shine. I am 36, with no children and a very supportive partner, so maybe I will have a different answer in 10 years.

  13. Sondra says:

    Thank you, Kristin, for always promoting intelligent conversation. I love reading everyone’s thoughts. There are so many amazing women on the planet.
    Also, loved the podcast, great discussion.
    Rachel Nabors post was wonderful. She mentioned what my father always said to me: “Don’t do something you hate for a living. Do what you love.” The other statement of Rachel’s that I totally agree with and have lived in my life is: that we have more than one calling in life.
    Thank you all, Sondra

  14. Sondra says:

    Mandy, you read my mind. When I realized in recent years that women were sewing for corporations, for free or fabric that probably cost them a few dollars, I was really upset by that. I am not sure how or exactly when that started, but these amazing women are worth so much for their time, energy, creativity and skills. I feel sad about it, but obviously can’t control it. I wonder how many men would do it?

  15. Gail says:

    *blush*… “talented artist” – Thanks, Kristin!

  16. Mandy says:

    I think this is a really interesting and far reaching topic. From what I’ve seen personally as a quilting professional (I design patterns, have a book coming out next year, and longarm for others), there is a huge disconnect when it comes to what people see as “payment”, and that is a key factor in this discussion. In many cases, and especially with bloggers, etc., the carrot of “exposure” or “recognition” is enough for people to put vast amounts of time and effort into a project for a company for very, very little gain. I believe they think that since they love what they do, and love is intangible, that the returns are also intangible until there is some kind of magic reward when you are recognized financially. This is a problem for several reasons, including the following: so many people are willing to work for nothing (or free free fabric, which, let’s face it, cost the company maybe $15) that it drives the market down for those who are making a go of it as a business: why would companies be interested in working with business owners who expect reasonable payment for their work when there are so many people out there who they can expect to work for free, or nearly free? AND who are WILLING TO GIVE UP THEIR INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY. This really gets me, every time, knowing that people are not reading their contract and understanding what it means to give up their rights to their thoughts *forever*, as opposed to 6 months or a year. That they don’t understand that they can’t teach classes on a technique they developed because they signed the rights away. The list goes on and on.

    Having one foot in the professional machine quilting world and one foot in the Quilt Market world (and trust me, they are very different), has really shown me two vey different aspects of how pepole approach the quilting industry. One treats it as a business and has business classes to help increase profits and maintain a solid bottom line. The other… treats it as a hobby-based business where people hope they can recoup their costs, and little else.

  17. Melissa says:

    I love this discussion… I think the next quote after the “do what you love…” should be… “Opportunity is missed by most people because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work”.
    The “work” portion is I think what is missing from that “money will follow” quote. A few years ago I was feeling “low”, like everyone else had all of these great opportunities and successes and not me. After I spent a few days feeling sorry for myself, I thought “am I working as hard as they are?” and the answer was “NO.” So I resolved to start working harder- I thought I was working hard before, but I wasn’t. I was treating my blog and the items related to it like a hobby, but I knew if I wanted more I had to treat them like a job.
    So now I treat it like a “job”… and for me personally it has made all the difference. I was able to take many things off of my “someday” list and move them to the “done” list. Which is a nice feeling, and yes, I was paid for those things.
    I also think there is a gender bias when it comes to the creative industry. I feel like the majority of working creatives are women (at least in the sewing/quilting industry) and I feel like companies feel it is okay to compensate them as “hobbyists” because of it. Holly Becker wrote an amazing article about this here: http://decor8blog.com/2014/07/18/can-full-time-bloggers-live-off-of-rainbows-hugs/
    I’m not sure the community at large has really embraced the concept of allowing the creatives to be paid. Many are opposed to side bar ads, paid patterns (vs. free tutorials) and sponsored posts. But for me the reality is if I’m going to work hard to put out quality content I can not justify the time and expense without making an income out of it.

    I think its interesting to see how much the industry has changed in the last 5 or 6 years and I’m really interested to see how it changes in the next 5.

    and your answer to D I think is yes… they are successful because they are both insanely talented and well trained.

  18. Susanne says:

    Thanks Kristin, I enjoyed listening to you, Kathy, and Abby as well as reading the links to the other related articles.
    This is a HUGE conversation. It’s tough to think of what to tackle first, so I’ll comment on what I am most passionate about.

    Question E: I have been to many creative conferences, sat in many boardrooms where we consider book proposals on the business side of making a living through craft, and been asked to speak at many The-Business-of-Crafting type events. They make me very uncomfortable. While ‘success’ obviously works for some, it only works for some.

    What I would love to see is freelance and independent desingers/authors/creatives asking more questions before signing a contract (and, really…sign a contract).

    I want to speak at the conference called: How to Ask.

    Ask ask ask ask (wow, now that word looks weird).

    When opportunities to earn or maximize your revenue do come up, ask for more, ask for better, ask for involvement, ask about the clauses you don’t understand, ask for information, ask for collaboration, ask for everything you want, and be clear about what that is. And asking is different from demanding. Yes, there is always a budget and a limit, but so (so) often, the first offer is nowhere close to that.

    When I founded Lucky Spool, I knew that a lot of folks still wouldn’t ask, so I don’t make them. I try to do the right thing, try to be transparent, am committed to getting decent money into the hands of my entire creative team (authors, designers, illustrators, etc.), and keep my contracts lean, limited, and consistent. Because, you know what? Companies can include any kind of confidentiality clause they like, but people talk. A lot. They just do. Companies should find ways to embrace that rather than shut that down.

    I think if we tried to work with companies that have a strong ethical core, and seek out or even create the creative teams who are committed to collaboration and transparency, while realistically acknowledging the ROI and the COGS, we would shift the balance a bit more. I appreciate the Slate article saying that one person’s ability to pursue their passion can be at the expense of so many who don’t have that luxury, but I think that ethics and transparency and business and profit can all hold hands and that seeking out those companies who work in the same way will become easier and easier as more of us challenge the established way of working…by getting comfortable with asking.

  19. Ching says:

    I like that article too, Tasha! 🙂

  20. Ching says:

    I think this whole DWYL ideology oversimplifies things. I did quit my day job to pursue sewing, but I feel awkward when people tell me “Oh it’s so great you get to do what you love and live your dream, life must be so good to you since you get to work from home”, because although I do get to do what I love, it is still a job to me. I am still buried in work from morning to evening (running a one-woman show), and lunch breaks are short and simple (yet, there are still people who think I have loads of free time since I am my own boss haha). Without a steady income, I have to be more active in setting income goals for myself, and since income depends on my productivity, I can’t afford to slack off. And when you have your own small business and you’re serious about growing it, the truth is, you will never take a break from work because your mind will always be thinking about this little “baby” of yours (especially when I first started out). So I guess what I’m trying to say is, I’m approaching my “love” as “work”, because I think that’s how I can realistically make money out of this arrangement. For now I am depending on a balance between making bags and doing freelance jobs, and it’s working out for me… we’ll see how it evolves in the future 🙂

    As a creative, I do find the business side of things a struggle to master. Here are a couple of resources that I found helpful for me, if anyone else is interested:

    – Waveapps , a site that helps you manage your finances like invoicing and expenditures, etc (it’s the prettiest I found, I love using it… it’s also made for the creative type like most of us haha)
    – How to start a Creative Business by Doug Richard
    – Dream Job e-course by A Beautiful Mess (it’s very simple but concise, though it doesn’t go into details of paperwork, it helped me to set realistic goals before I started my small business)
    – Show your Work by Austin Kleon

    I hate paperwork, I hate calculating costs, I hate marketing (I’m always so shy when I have to talk about myself or my products, seriously what is wrong with me lol). But unfortunately, I’ve had to pick up those things if I want my small business to work. I’m still very much a WIP 🙂 When young people tell me they want to pursue their dreams, I’m usually like Ok, but don’t forget about your finances too… as lovely as DWYL sounds, the truth is we still need money. I’m not talking about being greedy and making billions, but rather, being realistic. If what you want to do cannot bring in enough money, perhaps consider balancing it with another job that can add to your income (ie like what your commenters have said, like selling patterns).

  21. Margie says:

    Don’t do what you love, love what you do.

  22. Tasha says:

    There’s an article that came out this past January on Slate, the gist of which is that “Do What You Love” as a mantra devalues the labor of all those who have jobs which can’t be considered “lovable.” I think it’s a little harsh, but ever since I read it, I think about it every time I hear the phrase. http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/technology/2014/01/do_what_you_love_love_what_you_do_an_omnipresent_mantra_that_s_bad_for_work.html (I originally found it through The Yellow House blog).

    That being said, my husband and I are working creatives! I agree with other commenters who’ve said that no matter what you do, there will be hard parts, and parts you don’t like, but which you must do in order to make a creative life work. It’s also true that working for yourself/going after your dream can take up much more of your time and energy than any kind of “normal job” ever would, and that it can be very hard to get American consumers to value the time and effort that goes into your work!

    I’m still working on ways to find a balance between what I want to do and what people will pay for, and I intend to keep on in that direction. I have dreams which could easily fall under the “do what you love …” label. But I think that in an ideal society, not only would everyone value my creative work, they would also value the work of all those dishwashers and garbage collectors that the rest of us depend on to keep the society going.

    • Kristin says:

      Wow, Tasha, thank you for linking to that article. Lots of great insights there. Harsh indeed, but thought-provoking–especially the part about extracting work for free. “In masking the very exploitative mechanisms of labor that it fuels, DWYL is, in fact, the most perfect ideological tool of capitalism. If we acknowledged all of our work as work, we could set appropriate limits for it, demanding fair compensation and humane schedules that allow for family and leisure time.” whoa!

  23. Natalie says:

    I am glad to see such an ongoing discussion about this issue! Let’s face it…work is work! Could we just say, “work with a happy heart” ?

    Could the sentiment simply mean people like doing business with people they like…people that are friendly, positive, genuine? Clearly, I have not read the book. And maybe I am over simplifying things.

    Yes. If you can, do what you love and you will probably do more of it than someone that wakes and works begrudgingly, don’t you think? Are you going to hire that person that says, “god, I HATE quilt shows.” ? (and thus the money part….)

    Work hard. Be happy to work. Be happy at work.
    If you are fortunate enough to have created this situation in your life, congratulations!!!

    • Kristin says:

      “Work with a happy heart.” I love it.I think that’s a great way to reframe it, which can be applied to any kind of work.

  24. Mary says:

    No matter what business you are in, how many top notch financial resources you consulted, how large or how small you planned to grow, in the capitalism of today it is extremely difficult for any self-employed, micro-preneur or small business owner to succeed. There are too many unknown variables for success in spite of what can be known. So no one who had the dream and the courage to get out in the real world and start a business should ever feel like a failure if the business did not result in the outcomes they wanted at that time. Success and failure are both a part of life.

    Having good tools and a focused plan for your particular business can help improve your chances for success and minimize legal and financial risks. People shouldn’t be afraid to fail; however, creative makers are often untrained at business and/or cannot relate to traditional business models. Jennifer Lee, of Artizen Coaching has written extensively in this area, and yes. she is a coach, and offers The Right Brain Business Plan, focused solely on helping creative people realize their business dreams in reality based ways.

    There is no one size fits all in determining creative or business success. People should be happy with their life, not necessarily with their work. Work may be good enough but are you living your best possible life?

    Thank you for allowing me to share with you today and I appreciate this thoughtful discussion you generated among all of us.

  25. Rather than just telling yourself Do What You Love and the Money Will Follow, I think a great idea is to ask yourself: How Can I Help People? When you identify how you can help people, you are identifying your unique value. And when you identify your unique value, discovering the products and services that you can offer (and sell) will be much easier.

    A great way to discover how you can best help others is to find out where these 3 areas intersect:
    Your top strengths
    What you love to do
    What people want

    I wrote a post about this awhile back, and it has helped me focus more than I can say. I hope you don’t mind if I link to it here: http://angelab.me/platform-planner-how-can-i-help-people/

    • Kristin says:

      Excellent idea, Angela! Thank you for linking to that.

  26. dangermom says:

    I feel that if I tried to do sewing full-time as a job, the love would go away. I don’t like it when I *have* to do something. Plus my tastes are pretty eclectic. I smock, I quilt, I embroider, I make doll clothes…it depends so much on my mood.

    I do enjoy my job too. And I suppose you can say that books are my first love, so maybe I did follow my passion. I’m a librarian (and you’ll never make much money in the library world!). I don’t read for a living, though–I help people find the information they need, do on-the-spot computer fixes, and select books for the collection (most of which I will never read). I’m pretty sure if I tried to do book-reviewing for a living I would start to dislike reading, so I just have a totally optional and fun book blog instead.

  27. this is such a timely conversation for me. I’ve been dancing around it in my head for a while now, and I am only over the last few days been able to start putting any of the pieces together with some semblance of meaning.

    to start with, five and a half years after I started my blog, my creative passion is my job. I pay myself $400 a month. lately I’ve been investing a lot of money back into inventory rather than paying it back, or it could be a bit more. but even when the money starts “rolling in”, if you aren’t growing, what are you?

    I need to try to put together the rest of my thoughts, and hey… maybe I’ll find something worth sharing 😉

  28. Anymouse says:

    I think Etsy is selling dreams and making huge profits from Chinese factories. I’ll never try to make money from crafting again.

    • Kristin says:

      I’m sorry, Anymouse, it sounds like you had a bad experience. I think Etsy probably profits from the ideology more than any other business, so they definitely have a stake in perpetuating the DWYL.

  29. Sue says:

    I think the topic is an important one and I love the thoughtfulness of the comments I’ve read. The fact that the majority of needle crafters and artists are women does play into this. We feel that every waking moment has to be productive and that our productivity needs to be tangible. “What did you do all day?” is a question women hear more than men do. The question by itself carries an implication of sloth. There is a cultural bias that monetizing our handmade work is tacky or somehow diminishes the “purity” of our efforts. The term “woman’s work” carries implications of drudgery or simplicity. A male student in my sewing class tossed off the line: “How hard can it be? Women do it.” (yes, he’s still alive but I thought about it;-) )

    Gail’s comment about the business of selling tools, lessons etc is a good one. These companies have very good marketing departments whose jobs is to make us want to do more and want more stuff with which to do it. This doesn’t just apply to our world or our gender. A good friend got into the hobby of gold prospecting with visions of $$ and early retirement. As I watched him acquire all the “must-haves”, my observation was that the ONLY people in that world making money were the ones selling supplies etc.

  30. Beth Strand says:

    I personally think there is a touch of wishfull thinking in this idea. Just look at music. Many musicians follow their passion and only a fraction of them will make a living from their music let alone grow wealthy. On the other hand, I raised my girls with the idea to find something you love to do and find a way to make a living from it. One was very artisitic and is now a licensed tatoo artist. The other is about to finish nursing school. Both girls have found a way to make their passion into their careers. I think the whole idea is more about encouraging people to find ways to work in their areas of passion and joy. Life is too short to spend all of it working at a job that will never be more than “a job.” Personally, I like keeping my passion for quilting out of the “job” part of my life. I do the occasional piece for hire but it’s more stress and less joy when I do than it is when I create just for the joy of it.

  31. “Build it, and they will come”. That may happen in Hollywood, but I doesn’t happen in reality. I have a bit of a different view on this topic, for my husband and I have a creative, successful business, yet it’s not exactly along the lines of being in the crafting world. We own a catering business which is run out of our home (we have a federally inspected commercial kitchen). It is indeed “doing what we love”, for we have talked about owning a catering business since we were still dating 15 years ago!

    Yes, it is what pays the bills, for it is our only source of income, so “making money” *has* to be a part of it. There is no option for “lets see if this works” kind of attitude. Yet, “making money” is not our ultimate goal. We know several people who’s focus is to make a buck when ever and how ever they can. Guess what? Their businesses are not successful, in fact many of them have had bankruptcies and/or had to sell. My husband is very good with money, but I can’t say we have a “business plan” of any kind. Unless you count “make good, quality food from scratch for reasonable prices” a business plan. 🙂

    I believe most of it hinges on your point of view. Why are you doing what you do? Are you doing it because you truly enjoy the process? If so, then you are more likely to really put your shoulder to it and make it work. Are you doing it because it has the potential to bring in the money? If so, then your heart is in the wrong place and the result will reflect that. Work is work. There will always be parts of your job that you don’t like. Whether you’re a teacher or office personnel or nurse or business owner or a construction worker or stay-at-home mom; there are parts of your job you just don’t like. My husband loves what he does, yet he hates having to get up at 6 am to start his bread each morning, but he does it.

    Hopefully, you *do* get to do what you love, but it’s not always going to be a bed of roses. There are sacrifices that you’re going to have to make, there will be hard decisions to be made, there will be late nights where you’re thinking “am I insane to think this will really work?”… I think an important thing to always remember is this: people who turn their hobbies into a business often lose the love for that particular venue. The reasons for this are many and varied, yet we can all agree getting burned out is a major factor. Maybe they’re trying to do too much at once, having too many irons in the fire, so to speak. Maybe they are trying too hard to fit a square peg into a round hole. It’s easy to get too diversified and not be able to focus on just one or two things to help bring success to your business.

    The motto “do what you love” isn’t a bad saying in and of itself. But that’s not the only part of the story. Sometimes, it’s more along the lines of “love what you do” instead.

  32. Joanna says:

    Thank you for opening a forum to such a great topic. The replies thus far are illuminating. I wanted to touch on point A., if I could. (Millennials and creatives are the groups most likely to have bought into this theory. Women more than men.) As a Millennial — although I think I am older than the Millennials at the age of 30 — who studied Sociology in undergrad and is working on obtaining an M.Ed, I’ve lived and pondered this conundrum frequently, wondering if a sense of entitlement is tripping up my career stepping feet.

    To touch on some factors that affect female Millennials, and artists in general, I wanted to raise three points. Firstly, creativity and career are often not synonymous, and for many younger individuals, I feel this is a rude awakening. It seems generational comparisons are historical necessities, but it is important to remember the societal differences that play key roles in how careers are pursued. For example, women have many more professional opportunities now than in my mother’s generation, yet the familial requirements of childbearing and childrearing are sometimes expectations that conflict with these new professional goals. Secondly, for some Millennials, undergraduate degrees are viewed as tickets to career goals; however, an undergrad degree (especially a BA) are in abundance and do not equal dream jobs. I had idealistic goals of keeping art education in schools when I graduated college, but soon realized my passion combined with my undergrad degree were not tickets into the non-profit educational policy industry. And lastly, I wanted to mention the struggle many creative individuals experience in this world, regardless of their ages or backgrounds. In our educational system, a message is sent that art, music, social sciences, and the like, do not have as much weight as STEM studies. I know when I was in school, the non-core subjects seemed to be regarded as fluff. However, for many individuals, creative expression is how they thrive, and therefore, finding ways to express such creativity (whether for profit, or not) is a torturous process met with compromise. (I really like Julie Cameron’s discussion on creativity here: http://juliacameronlive.com/the-artists-way/). If creative individuals have a need to follow their passions in order to find harmony between their hearts, minds, and actions, I say, more power to them. To add a cliche, life is short, after all.

    I know these are fairly jumbled thoughts, but I, again, really appreciate this discussion and wanted to contribute my perspective. Thanks again for inviting this topic and forum!

  33. Ruthann says:

    As a mother of two millennials and one who has mentored several in the workplace the one thing I can say is that I have profound admiration on how they have not sacrificed their passions for income and status but have been able to turn their passions into a sustaining living and meaningful careers. I am also struck on how community and service oriented they are….way beyond my generation. In regard to building an economy, I do believe it already is. The millennial generation is now the drivers of the economy. As they continue to veer away from corporate consumerism and prefer items of value, craftsmanship and personal connection you are seeing corporate entities starting to change their messages in the marketplace. Anyone see the recent Walmart commercials focusing on ‘we support the local farmer’? Make no mistake about, they would not be producing these commercials if the millennial refocus of their spending power wasn’t having effect. Should the millennial generation stay on their current course I do believe you will see a return of a local, community economy. A good thing.

  34. Diane says:

    At 61 years of age I am trying to figure out how to do this. I want a quilting machine and I live in an small rural area where regular jobs are hard to come by. I have a job now but still can’t afford a machine. My plan – start saving in February 2015, buy in 2016 and be able to start making money with in 6 months. I don’t want to make a lot but the idea of making approximately 20.00 an hour base versus 8.00 ix appealing and I would get to do it from home. I have a plan and it is up to me and God to make it happen.
    The realism here is budgeting.

  35. Ms. Cleaver says:

    I’m someone who has both a day job I enjoy and find satisfying, and a small side business in designing knitting patterns. In the latter, I clear about $1-2k a year in profit, depending on how hard I hustle (usually not much). While I would consider myself moderately successful in the field (I’ve been featured, name on the cover, in a national knitting magazine and have an ongoing relationship with a yarn company), it’s definitely a hobby business. I have no intent, nor desire to quit my day job any time soon.

    I know a half-dozen or so other designers who do it full time and they really have to hustle, all the time – securing teaching gigs and traveling to them, lining up partnerships with yarn companies and dyers, submitting design proposals and articles to magazines, monitoring and managing social media and fan clubs, blogging, managing sample knitters, building spreadsheets to grade patterns, and providing customer support. Not to mention keeping track of finances, taxes, etc. Actually designing and/or knitting is what draws people to it, but once it becomes a business, it’s only a small part of the overall activity roster. Running a creative business is a lot of WORK.

    It’s much the same with any other creative business. I used to work professionally in theatre, but the only thing people would pay me to do was stage management or admin. Both were things I was good at, but not particularly where my passion lied. To do the things I loved, I would volunteer significant amounts of my time, (multi-hour rehearsals 5-6 evenings a week for 3 or so months) and receive a less than $500 stipend at the end, if I was lucky.

    Per your point E – Yes, I think many creative people undervalue their work and time because of “personal satisfaction” or because it’s a hobby business and they don’t need to make a living out of it, which undermines those who do. I would also argue that a large number of people who work at non-profits or service organizations similarly devalue their work because of the mission piece. With the growing rise of things like Benefit or “B” Corporations (for-profit companies with a social and/or environmental mission component), I think people are trying to find a way to “do well, while doing good” and acknowledge that choosing a non-traditional, creative, or mission-based path doesn’t have to mean you’re signing up for paycheck-to-paycheck existence.

    BUT – in order for that to work, we have to retrain our target consumers 1) what the true costs of production are and 2) that the true cost is worth paying. It’s hard to get someone to buy your exquisitely crafted garment at it’s worth, when they’ve been trained that a dress costs $15 or less. But that $15 dress comes at a cost to someone on the supply chain.

    TL:DR version – If you love something enough, you may be willing to work hard enough to make enough to modestly live on.

  36. Brenda says:

    I am not a professional crafter, I am a farmwife, a profession in and of itself. I sew for family to be frugal as well as for the joy of it. But, you could substitute the word “farm” for all the ideas on making a craft a business and you would maybe understand more of the issues involved. Farmers are home based businesses and financial issues are front and center. There are many folks nowadays wanting to get back to growing their own food and they need to grasp the issues of money flow, specifically, will the business goal be to feed the family and supplement the household income (or even to take a loss and make tax issues easier to handle for a few years) or be the primary source of income. Cheap food sources as well as cheap clothing and craft items are here to stay, like it or not. I would suggest that interested folks contact their Cooperative Extension Service and find local programs in managing home businesses. Learn the differences between setting up a DBA vs a Partnership vs an LLC (we have had all of them at different times, currently just the DBA). If the course specifically involves farming, it is not a stretch to apply all that to home based crafting. In fact most farmers do some crafting/sewing/cooking for local retail as well as dirt farming to try to capture more of the consumer interested in these types of products, and to offset bad farm years.. The issues are ongoing, with luck and pluck and nature’s caprice usually determining the outcome. Know that it does not ever have to be an all or nothing decision. Proceed carefully, cautiously. Have business goals set in an organized professional manner and do not be afraid to change them as needed. It is no failure to have a small home based local business that may or may not break even and be careful to follow tax laws here when declaring losses, you do need a good local tax accountant familiar with your type of business. When you consider that your products, so lovingly and carefully produced, will go to enhance the lives of those you know and love, that may be the one business goal you do not want to compromise.

  37. Mary Behrens says:

    If money is the end goal, there is nothing that can kill your passion faster than trying and expecting to make money from what you produce, whatever it is and whatever your training is. I think the percent of art school grads who are still producing art 5 years after graduation drops to something like 5 percent. What most fine art programs try to sell to their students is a future as a professor in a university or art school as the financial support for your art (instead of cultivating good teachers for the sake of education).

    It all depends on what you want to do. If you want to make your art/craft and not compromise it’s integrity you are going to have a tougher road than one who is willing and able to bend to trends and market demand. But no matter how wonderful what you make happens to be, it is not about what you make – it’s how you market yourself and your product. And it is getting harder because the market is saturated with all kinds of stuff that is as good as your handmade creation and probably at a better price.

    Artists and creatives forget about all of the tax issues involved and are often aghast when they learn that the Social Security Self Employment Tax, something that when employed is paid by your employer, is now your responsibility. And though there are now more options for health care, paying for your own is expensive.

    I have been a working fine artist for 30+ years. I fall into the category of one not willing to compromise my “vision” and have never made a profit in all my years of dealing with galleries and exhibitions. I have been very fortunate to have a husband (writer and designer) who supports my endeavors. I have had many outside jobs to bring in some income. Some I have enjoyed. Some were horrid. I sell on Etsy now (vintage sewing patterns) and it enables me to keep working at what I love and make money too.

    When I meet young people wanting to go into art I have to bite my tongue. I do have some bitterness about the art world, the unfairness that exists and trendy biases that leave quality out of the requirements. But I have no regrets. Working outside the system has helped me develop good problem solving skills that are often more valuable than money.

  38. Barbara says:

    I started my craft business (designing knitting patterns for toys) a bit accidentally. I was in between jobs, and decided to try selling some knitted toys on Etsy. Knitters quickly found the toys, and asked for patterns. I was reluctant at first, being a fairly new knitter with no background in design. However, I could see the advantage of selling patterns rather than finished toys, so I did my best. I’ve been doing it for 8 years now, learning what I could along the way. I love what I do: it’s relaxing, fun, fulfilling, and it makes me a little money towards our household budget. But without any background in design or business, I know that I could never make a living from my work, no matter how much I love it. I bet this would be true for anyone who has a similar story, unless they have more aptitude for the business/marketing side (which I admit I lack).

  39. Allison says:

    I listened to the interview and wished that the format could have run longer that day because the conversation and information coming out was worth the extended time. But that’s me. I have been wondering about the same type of thing lately, but have phrased it in a different light. My question has been ‘quilting/sewing for a living…. What does it mean and is it really possible?’ The curtain in front of the numbers needs to come down. Perhaps one of the reasons the idea of equal work for equal pay is still important is because woman don’t say anything about the numbers (I’m generalizing) and so no one knows if it is equal or not? That high level issue trickles down into everything we do..

    Another thought is how we used to only use ‘made up’ names online and now we are mostly using our given names. That curtain has mostly fallen, maybe the money curtain will be next?

    Thanks for talking about this and starting the conversation, I would love it if you would address you own questions also.

  40. Jan says:

    What and exciting thought, Do What You Love and the Money Will Follow. We so often want to do what we love as an escape from the daily drudgery, from the gloomy activities of the normal work day, this is what hobbies are for.

    I have been blessed to have had the opportunity to work with individuals that have made the leap from the day time grind to doing what they loved, but what they often miss is the fact that there is a daily grind to accomplishing the day to day tasks of a creative life. Yes they might have wanted to have a fabric store, a design company, a cottage business, but each day involves more than just creating.

    I am making a big life decision and in the process of moving from one thing to another I needed to ask my self several questions, one being “would I want to move from my current position and create a business selling-lets say-car parts” (I have no love of car parts, I can put gas in the car but that is about it) the answer was yes. Although my love is in the creative realm my desires for my work world are more than creating alone.

    So let’s continue with the wonderful notion of doing what we love but realize that it can be wrapped in so much other “stuff”. Let’s also understand that making money doing what we love involves long hours, difficult decisions, acceptance of responsibility for the decisions we make and for just a bunch of hard, although be it, enjoyable work. Oh and lets not forget about having to learn more than most of us have ever learned before often from our mistakes!

    Jan

  41. I love the topic! Been wanting to really hear from many points too about this. I have a bookmark with the same phrase : Do what you love, love what you do which I slit in my daily Journal. I am a full time PhD student in Physics, and a lover of craft. I sometimes feel like I got it wrong when I chose to further study. Partly because it is hard…but deep down, I think I love it. When it is hard, I feel like I am not loving it and I am loving craft much more and I should have venture into craft bussiness rather than become a lecturer. But the second verse Love what you do kind of keeps me going keeping everyting balanced. I make an effort to love whatever I HAVE and NEED to do and also do what I really LOVE at that moment of time. (my PhD is my Salary as I am a sponsored Staff at another university – so basically it is my real JOB)

    • Kristin says:

      That’s awesome, Amira. And I think maybe I should have distinguished between “do what you love and the money will follow” and “do what you love, love what you do” because one is magical thinking and one is about perspective, don’t you think?

  42. Allison says:

    I listened to this interview and I have to say, that above all else, what I most appreciated was that it was an honest look at creativity meets reality. Phrases like “love what you do”, are carelessly thrown around with too little thought, not fully considering… what does it actually take to get compensated for what we are most passionate about? I love what I do, but it does not come without the sacrifice element. To make a creative business fly, one has to fully regocnize that it’s not a 9 – 5 job, hang it up, and then come home for the weekend. Often it requires constant overtime, nights, weekends, and if one is not careful such things can spill over into family life and rob from other areas of your life… that, I assume, is to the “point” that you are talking about.

    Thanks for honest conversations!

    • Kristin says:

      That’s definitely to the point. I think like anything else, you have to weigh the pros and the cons, but the cons (super long hours, no vacation, no sick days, no retirement, no insurance, little pay) aren’t talked about as much as the pros (living a creative life, being your own boss, etc.)

  43. Kara says:

    I can’t wait to see where this conversation will go. I currently sew and knit as a hobby, and sometimes I feel like I am missing the boat or not trying hard enough because I am not interested in turning it into a blog or a business. At the same time, being able to craft all day is undeniably appealing. I love hearing about the business side of craft – like Sewaholic’s business posts and the Elise Gets Crafty podcast. Thanks for bringing this up!

  44. Gail says:

    I think this is a great motto to keep spreading for the big companies who sell the tools and supplies, you need to create anything, and the teachers to show you where to start. They are making a killing! Quilting is a 3+Billion dollar industry, and the money doesn’t really seem to trickle down enough for any creative type to truly make a living on. Personally, I love quilting, so I haven’t been tying it to money on any level – so it stays fun for me. Once you turn it into a business, the fun seeps away and the paperwork begins… although I keep playing with the idea because it would be nice to cover some of the cost of the fabric I can’t seem to get enough of 😉

    • Kristin says:

      Well, Gail, I think the fabric is one thing you could easily get covered. All you have to do is ask and I’m sure many companies would be thrilled to be sending you fabric. The money doesn’t trickle down so much, but I do think the fabric can find its way to talented artists like you. Email me if you want some contacts.

  45. Stephanie says:

    This is a great conversation to have. There’s a book by Cal Newport that argues that ‘follow your passion’ can be bad advice. And that you can develop a passion for anything that you really throw yourself into and good at. It’s interesting because it’s a position you don’t hear very often, with the ‘do what you love’ ethos being so prevalent. For myself I think I’ve found a decent balance between having a job that pays the bills and that gives me time to do the drastically less profitable projects I love.

  46. Ellen says:

    So, yes. And I see your teaching background coming through here!

    I think a major problem with many art schools is that they send students out into the world telling them to rely solely on their creativity. And it’s so natural to be idealistic when you are young. But to be successful, people in the creative business need to understand the fundamentals of marketing and business management. Return on investment is definitely a term that we need to consider more as we give away our work. Calculate your hours, measure your blog traffic results, spend some time quantifying what you do.

    Inevitably, when you turn your passion into a career, you will experience burnout. Getting paid often involves deadlines, but creativity can’t be forced. Hence the myriad of books popping up on this topic of finding inspiration. Let’s all realize that work is work, but doing something that you mostly enjoy is better than doing something that you mostly hate, right?

    I think there’s something to this new education buzzword “grit”, in that perseverance and determination really are key to success. Failing, and then trying again, is an important part of making a creative career. And it makes success so much more rewarding.

    Yes, be true to your values and aesthetic, but be practical. So maybe we should change the quote to “Do what you love reasonably well that also provides health insurance.”

    • Kristin says:

      I 100% agree with you that everyone that is self-employed needs to learn to calculate ROI on all the things they do. I have not been good at this at all and sometimes it’s really hard to determine. Social media, for example, can help you grow and reinforce your brand, but how much time does that really take? (The answer is probably not as much time as I spend.)

      I do worry that the concept of “having grit” puts all the responsibility on the individual, when maybe it is the nature of the industry that stacks the odds against them. It’s like the idea of pulling yourself up by your bootstraps–you have the power to succeed if only you try hard enough. There is truth to it, but the odds are not in your favor if you’re born poor.

      “Yes, be true to your values and aesthetic, but be practical. So maybe we should change the quote to “Do what you love reasonably well that also provides health insurance.” ” Love that! Optimistic yet grounded.

      You might like the article Tasha linked to in a later comment: http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/technology/2014/01/do_what_you_love_love_what_you_do_an_omnipresent_mantra_that_s_bad_for_work.2.html

  47. Caitlin says:

    I’ve had an Etsy shop going for almost 2 years now and love that I can stay home with my children and make money making crafts that I love to make. At this point, I don’t really want to be working so much that I’d make enough to pay all our bills. I’ve made enough to start saving more each month, but mostly I love that my hobby pays for itself, plus some extra. I am a firm believer that if you hate the career you’re in that you probably won’t be as productive,and that if you love what you’re doing, you’ll make more of an effort to do it well.

    • Kristin says:

      When my first child was born, I remember thinking that all I wanted to do was offset the difference between what I’d be earning if I went to work but had to pay for childcare. I’m sure it’s a common logic. For example, if I earn $1500 month working, but I have to pay $700 in childcare, if I can just earn $800 or so and stay home with my kids, it’s a wash.I was able to stay home with both my kids through 1st grade (so far), so I have absolutely no regrets. My kids have never been in daycare. I have no retirement, but eh. Truly, worth it.

  48. Stephanie says:

    I do agree that this sense of “WOO! Throw your heart into your art/passion! Someone will find you eventually, and you’ll be a handmade superstar!” is heavily circulated online. There seem to be several “coaches”, etc. who are making their own living selling this message to the handmade/creative community online (which is predominantly women).

    But, I see parallels with some of the stories I’ve heard/seen in the start-up or business world too. People on Shark Tank who have made $250,000+ in their first year but profess to having zero business plan, or an article was just on Yahoo about some college kids who started selling bear suits (??) and made a mint without ever really intending to.

    Part of the bigger problem, I think, in making a creative living is that no one KNOWS how much anyone is making. It’s relatively easy to take a stab at an average salary for most positions, and websites like GlassDoor give anonymous reports on lots of companies/roles. I have no clue how much is ‘fair’ for a sponsored post, or an ad sidebar, etc.; there is always hushed discussion about it in blogger groups but very few people share actual numbers. Speaking only for myself, I also think it’s easy when you love something to not truly account for your time or costs. I tracked the hours I spent on a tutorial for a company last month and was shocked once I actually recorded and added it all up!

    Something else I don’t see discussed often is when you try to purse something as a career and fall out of love with it. I was an avid horseback rider and dabbled in buying young ponies, training them, and reselling it. I thought about pursuing it as a career! But I knew several people who chose to follow horses as a career and lost their love for it. I can’t imagine the same isn’t true for the creative industry – but those stories are definitely not shared often.

    So, I agree with a lot of what you said, and I roll my eyes when someone says something to the “do what you love and it will pay off” effect. BUT I also admire when people do have a plan for pursuing what they love, and make it happen. And celebrate once they succeed!

  49. Gillian says:

    I feel like the missing piece is that whatever you do with life, parts will be hard. I LOVE my job (much more than I have loved sewing for profit in the past, for what it’s worth) but man, it’s tough sometimes… maybe even most days. I think that realism needs to be part of any dreaming about turning one’s passion into a career!
    Great post!

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