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.
Her experience is very common. Before I decided to do what I love for a living, I started offering free group calls where I helped people work through the blocks that held them back. It was my version of a passion project.
At first, I felt ecstatic. It was wonderful to help people and practice my skills. It was great to do something that felt aligned and that I felt passionate about.
But after a while, that excitement wore of. I needed to figure out why my feelings about my passion project had changed so dramatically.
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Here’s what I learned about the need to monetize your passion project:
Motivation persists when efforts feel rewarding and the perception of reward can change.
In other words: your passion project has to feel rewarding to you, and what that means might develop over time.
At first, expressing you passion or getting positive feedback might be enough. But over time, you might also need other rewards to stay motivated. One such reward is financial compensation.
Let’s explore how you can start getting paid for your passion project.
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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 drawbacks. It can turn something that you feel passionate about into something that feels like a job.
The pressure to earn money from your project can kill off the passion that made you start it in the first place. This is something I experienced when I started charging for some of the things I previously did for fun. So, tread carefully. Not everything should be monetized.
The extent to which you want to monetize your passion project also makes a difference:
- Do you mainly want to cover associated costs?
- 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?
The more you want to earn from your passion project, the more effort and time 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
In this step, you determine whether you can monetize your passion in its current form. For people to be willing to pay for something, they need to receive value from it. This value can be information, entertainment, transformation, etc.
However, just because people receive value from something doesn’t mean they’d be willing to pay for it. We all receive value from search engines and yet, due to social convention, few of us would be willing to pay for it. (Of course, we indirectly pay for it anyway with our data but that’s a separate story.)
To find out if people are willing to pay for what you do, research how people monetize comparable passion projects. It can also be useful to ask in online groups if people are aware of something that’s similar to what you do.
Create a list of all the different ways you could monetize your passion project.
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 (either the simplest or the one most likely to succeed) 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 to build 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 could be that you don’t yet have enough people who want to support your passion project.
Either way, you want to continue to build your audience. The bigger your audience, the higher your income potential. So, decide on a plan for increasing your audience.
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, my friend can start earning money from her writing. Over time, this can lead into a side business, flexpreneurship or even a full-time business.
My friend can get there by deciding to monetize her writing, exploring ways to make money from it, taking action, and growing 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), it might also stay more rewarding for you!
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