Can Your Passion Pay the Bills?

Does doing what you love meet all your financial obligations? Can it make you rich? Or make you live comfortably? Is the statement “Do what you love and the money will follow” a good piece of advice? Or is it a terrible one? And was your high school career teacher right?  

You will be surprised to find that if you follow this advice blindly, the results might be disastrous. The first part “Do what you love” is well-sounding advice. But the second part; “the money will follow” is a terrible proposition.

What Would You Love to Do When You Grow Up?

It was in high school, during the final year. The English language teacher came to class and after a few pleasantries asked us what career we would like to take once we get to the university.

The popular careers were Degree in Medicine, Engineering, Accounting, Law, and such high-ranking careers. There were others still, who said they would like to be musicians, basketball players, drivers, and actors. The usual advice from the teacher was that we pursue the careers that we love.

You could have had the same aspirations when you were growing up. You might have had big career dreams.

Perhaps you managed to get to the university and pursue your career. Perhaps you did not manage. The rule of thumb is that never cry over spilled milk. Forge forward and seek to better the future. The past is gone. With its failures, successes, defeats, and victories. Learn from the past. But don’t dwell on it.

The popular advice that was doing rounds then was that you follow your passion. That you do what you love and the money will come. Is it valid advice?

Do What You Love and the Money Will Follow: A Terrible Advice?

If you hold dear to this advice, be prepared to follow along and logically evaluate if it holds any water.

“Do what you love” is a good piece of advice. If you do what you love, you are likely to be less stressed. You will enjoy your life.

This is reinforced by past gurus such as Mark Twain (Who lived between 1835-1910 AD) who said that “Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” The same had earlier been stated by Confucius (Lived between 551BC -479BC), a Chinese Philosopher but with some variations; ‘Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life”.

Steve Jobs while giving a commencement address to Stanford graduands in 2015 admonished them to “find what you love”. And pursue it.   

What do you enjoy doing? You might enjoy cooking? Singing? Dancing or even swimming? You could be an ardent football fan? And you enjoy betting! You could be a passionate footballer? A Volleyball player. Or a night runner (LOL).

Of course, if you do all these things which you love, you enjoy your life the most. And you could become the best at it. But can such passion pay your bills?

Money Does Not Always Follow Passion

Money comes from people. People give out money when their wants are met. Thus the amount of money which you will make by pursuing your passion will be commensurate to the number of people whose wants you are satisfying.

It will depend on how much value they attach to such wants. How much they are willing to pay someone to meet those needs. And the number of people who have the same passion as you.

Let’s narrow it further. You want to be a musician. Or you are already one? Of course, there is a market for good music. But on the downside, the competition is extremely high. The market is flooded.

In such a scenario, the only way of making it to the top is by being extremely good. You will not just sing. You will need to work hard in composing better songs, master how to market your brand, and still, the chances are thin.

So many other musicians are doing exactly like you. In the end, it’s only less than 10% who make serious money. The rest? They settle for average income. And others quit.

Of course, these 90% of the musicians will have done what they love. But no money followed them!

Money does not always follow passion. Money follows value. Create value, solve a need, and money commensurate to the problem you are solving will follow.

Sometimes Money Follows Passion

As it has been illustrated earlier, money will follow value. Thus before pursuing any passion with the hope of making money, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Does my passion meet other people’s needs?
  2. Does it solve a problem?
  3. Can it be monetized?
  4. How much is the competition?
  5. How much would people be willing to pay me once I solve this?
  6. How large is the market?
  7. How much capital will I need to pursue the passion?
  8. How long will it take me to recover the starting cost and break-even?

It’s only after you evaluate all this that you will make a sober decision. To pursue your passion and let money follow.

Take for instance; Steve Jobs. He was passionate about computers and electronics. The passion paid off. The reason why it paid off was that there was a huge market for computers. And people were willing to pay a reasonable value for these products.

Do What You Don’t Love To Fuel What You Love

Unless you are born in a rich family, you will be forced by financial obligations to do what you don’t love to fuel what you love. For instance, you might not have enough capital to start your business. Though you don’t love to be employed, it’s only prudent that you stick to your job and garner enough capital to kick-start your favorite business.

Dr. Abraham Maslow, an American Psychologist (Lived between 1908-1970), put it very clearly in his book, ‘Motivation and Personality’. His pyramid gives a clear hierarchy of needs and why humans work to meet them.

At the lowest end is physiological needs. If you are at this level, you better get working. You cannot discriminate work since your main aim is to meet your basic needs. Anybody advising you to follow your passion while you are at this level is clearly misguiding you.

Work to meet these needs. Once these needs are met, it’s only when you can start asking yourself if your passion will pay the bills. If your passion can’t pay the bills, then you will have to do what you don’t love to fuel what you love.

Is Your Work Lovable?

Is love an emotion or is it a choice? Can you program your mind to love what you hated earlier? Is it possible to develop passion over something which you had no trace of passion for earlier? What if, I just work to pay the bills? Should I get stuck there?

It is true that with a proper mindset shift, you can train your mind to love your work. If you open your eyes wide, you will find something interesting in the work which you do. It could be the work colleagues, the customer satisfaction, or even the intrigue of solving difficult business problems.

Love is a mixture of emotion and logic. And you can program your subconscious mind with positivity. This way, it’s possible to make your work lovable. And it can integrate with your passion so well. Let your work fuel the passion, strike a balance, and enjoy it.

It Takes More than Passion to Turn Your Passion into a Business

Those who are in business will agree with this statement; passion alone cannot make a viable business. You will need a collection of skillsets to take your business from the ground and grow it.

For instance, suppose you are passionate about starting an online business and working from home. It’s good and there is a huge online market. But that passion to own an online business is not substantive on its own. You will need to dig further.

Identify the exact business you will need to start. Learn the necessary skills. And take risks. Some of these skills might be difficult to acquire. They might require you to pay for a course. Seek a mentor. And spend hours trying to grasp concepts.

After this, you will also need to get customers to buy your products. Here, it might start to get boring. Most people abandon their ‘passion’ at this stage. And start whining! Complaining how difficult it is to make it in business. How the government is not supporting SMEs. And how the cartels have taken over!

A Case Study

Mary is good at baking cakes. Baking is her passion. She has mastered different recipes. She has the perfect tips and knows what goes where. What does it take her to make her passion pay the bills?

She decides to take her passion online. She displays a few cakes in her social media profile and she gets a few likes. But nobody is willing to buy. She does the same for 5 months and gets 5 customers only. Each pays her a few dollars which are not sufficient to make her good money. Yes, she is following her passion but does money follow her passion?

For her to make her online cake business a success, she will need to learn certain skillsets or hire someone to accomplish some tasks for her. She will need to know how to turn her passion into a viable and profitable business.

She might need a web designer to create a website for her. She might need to learn online marketing skills. Such skills might not rhyme with what she enjoys; her passion. But if she wants to succeed, she will need them. As a startup business owner, she will be turned down so many times. She will need to learn how to handle rejections positively. And master persistence.

How I overcame the fear of rejection. Read the article here>>>

If she gives up at this stage, her business will not pick up. Her passion will just remain as it is. It will be a passion, but never able to pay her bills.

Important Skills to Turn Your Passion into an Online Business

Unlike offline businesses, online businesses require less capital to start. For instance, you can run an online electronics shop with little to no stock. Whenever a customer orders a product, you just get it at the wholesaler-agreed price and deliver it.

Here are the crucial skills which you need to turn your passion into an online business:

1. Content creation and content marketing

One way customers will get to notice your products is through the content which you share online. The best way of doing it is by starting a blog where you blog about your passion. Whatsapp me on +254711 203 918 to get one set up for you.

2. Social Media Marketing

A powerful way of connecting with your prospects is through social media. Create profiles in the leading social media platforms and regularly connect with prospects. This could be through content, offers, achievements, and paid ads.

3. Consistency and Persistence

There is no doubt that you will face challenges with your online business. But such challenges should not spell the end of your business and passion. Persist and consistently work on your business until it takes off.

4. Web design and development

Having web design skills will save you big time. It will help you create your own website with ease, prepare the landing page, and adjust your pages as per the need basis. It’s not a must that you be a guru in this area. But being proficient in this area will help you cut lots of expenditure.

5. Copywriting

Copywriting is the art and science of selling through the written word. You will need to master this to make those sales. To convince those prospects. And get paying customers.

6. Ability to Research and Detect Patterns

When you are starting, you will not know everything about your business. You will need to do online research from time to time. Your ability to separate opinions from facts and make an informed decision will be key.

There are a lot of scams online. The get-rich kind of scams have filled the online space. Your online research skills will help you detect these scams and keep them off while still steering your business.

As your business continues to grow, you will need the skill to detect useful patterns.

These patterns could be simple things such as a certain post you made and it attracted a lot of readership. It could as well be a certain month of the year when people buy in bulk. Or a certain copy piece that brought in lots of sales. You will have to look into these patterns and deduce new knowledge about your products, your business, and what makes your prospects buy from you.


The ball is on your court. Will your passion pay the bills? Or has your passion been paying the bills? Let me know through my email and the comments section.

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