Are you thinking about monetizing your passion project and wondering how to do it?
Before I share a 4-step process with you that can help you begin to turn your passion project into a side hustle, let's first explore why it might be time for you to do it.
I recently talked to someone who had started a passion project—writing fiction—a while ago.
This person, let’s call her Astra (not her real name) was wondering if she should continue. While the writing was often fun, she wasn’t sure if her passion project was worth it, given the time commitment and that she made no money from it.
Astra’s experience is not unusual at all.
Let me share a personal example with you: before I decided to do what I love for a living, I began offering free group calls where I helped people work through the blocks that held them back. It was my version of a passion project.
Initially, it felt great to be able to do this. It was wonderful to help people and practice my skills.
However, after a while, that excitement wore off and I needed to figure out why I wasn't feeling as passionate about it anymore.
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Here’s what I learned about the need to monetize your passion project:
Motivation is retained when efforts feel rewarding, and the perception of reward can change over time.
Or, to put it more concretely: your passion project has to feel rewarding for you to stick with it, and what you see as rewarding might change over time.
Even though initially, just being able to express your passion might seem enough, eventually you might require other rewards as well to stay motivated. One such reward is financial compensation.
If you want to be financially compensated for your passion project, you have to find a way to turn it into a side business or hustle. Let's explore my 4-step process for doing just that.
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The 4-step process for monetizing your passion project:
Get clear on if and to what an extent you want to monetize your passion project
The first step to change is clarity. You need to get clear if and to what extent you want to monetize your passion project.
While turning your passion into a side hustle has many benefits, it also has some drawbacks. For instance, it can turn something that you feel passionate about into something that feels more like a job.
The extent to which you want to monetize your passion project also makes a difference.
- Do you mainly want to cover costs that are associated with it?
- Or do you want to recover expenses and get some extra pocket money from it?
- Or do you want to go all-in and turn your passion project into a genuine additional income stream?
Keep in mind that the more you want to get from your passion project in financial terms, the more you will likely have to put into it.
Example: "Hmm, I definitely want to recover my expenses. It doesn't feel good to pay money to do this. I also would like to get some pocket money from it. Would I like to turn it into a genuine additional income stream? Perhaps later. Right now, I first want to start earning some money from it."
Get clear on the value you’re offering to people with your passion project and if it’s something they’d be willing to pay for
This is basically about determining whether your passion project is monetizable in its current form. For people to be willing to pay for something, they need to receive value from it—information, entertainment, transformation, etc.
However, just because people receive value from something doesn’t mean they’d be willing to pay for it.
To find out if people are willing to pay for it, you should do some research into how people monetize passion projects that are comparable to yours.
Example: “Hmm, so my fiction readers definitely receive value from what I’m doing. I’m receiving a lot of positive comments. Would they be willing to pay for it? Well, if I look at other fiction writers, many of them do get paid at least some money if they put their writing into book form. I think there are also platforms such as Wattpad where some fiction writers get paid. I could also check out if there are fiction writers who use Patreon and offer their supporters exclusive stories.”
Try it out and give people a way to pay you
Pick one of the the monetization routes you have brainstormed in the previous step and implement it.
Ultimately, there’s only one way to find out if you can monetize your passion project: give people a way to pay you and see if they respond. Over time, you also want to try out different ways to monetize your passion. If the first one doesn’t work, perhaps it just wasn’t the right one.
Example: “Alright, so putting my writing in book form would take a long time, so I think I will begin by creating a Patreon and offer the people who support me through that exclusive stories.”
Continue building your audience to make more money from your passion project
If you already have an audience who loves what you’re doing, you might have made some money right away. If not, it might be that you don’t yet have enough people who are aware of what you’re doing with your passion project and love it.
Either way, you want to continue to build your audience. Decide on a plan to do that.
Example: “Alright, so I tend to receive some comments on my writing so I think I already have somewhat of an audience at the moment. To increase my audience, I want to continue to improve my craft, write more frequently, and encourage my fans to share my writing with others. I also want to expand to other platforms to reach people there.”
By following the steps above, Astra can do what I did and monetize her passion project. Over time, she can turn her fiction writing into a side business or even a full-time business.
She can reach that goal by making the decision to monetize her passion project, exploring ways to make money from it, taking action on it, and continuing to grow her audience.
You can do the same.
While the sheer joy of doing a passion project is enough for some people to sustain motivation, many people won't feel fulfilled unless they find a way to monetize it.
If you have started or are considering to start a passion project, why not take it up a notch and aim for a profitable one?
By monetizing your passion project (without undercharging for it), you can make sure it stays rewarding and keep your motivation.
Two additional resources
If you need more help with monetizing your passion project, I recommend this very affordable masterclass:
Marketing and Monetization 101 Masterclass
If you haven't yet started your profitable passion project, I also recommend this FREE mini-course:
FREE Do What You Love Mini-Course