Showing Aspies how to follow their passion is one of my favorite topics. Thus, I want to share these valuable and actionable tips on how to turn an activity that you love into a money-making proposition:
1. A bad attitude can be your worst enemy. It’s far too easy to feel defeated or depressed when things get difficult. You need to be your own biggest cheerleader, fire up your ambition to succeed and listen to your gut. If it’s telling you to get out of what you’re currently doing, or away from the path that you’re on now, listen carefully.
2. A good rule of thumb is that you shouldn’t quit your “boring” job unless you have at least 3 months worth of living expenses saved up.
3. Competition can be daunting. And in this economy, it can be even harder to break free from the pack. Whether you’re fully employed, trying to get recognized for bigger opportunities, struggling to find a job when everyone seems to be looking, or fighting every day to build more business, separate from the pack. Most people stick to small confined areas where they fight like mad to compete for the same pool opportunities or resources. The competition gets so fierce that it often gets bloody. However, the world is huge and vast and loaded with abundance. You just have to start looking where others are not – where no one else is or few others have ventured.
4. Even if your passion is obscure and not easily translatable into a job, being extremely good at it means that others will often invent services for you. For example, Kseniya Simonova’s passion is sand art. Despite it being an obscure field without many opportunities, she manages to earn a living because she’s so good at it, nobody can ignore her. Do your best to become great at what you love and it will be hard not to find work!
5. Find role models who are making money doing what you want to do – and unabashedly copy them! Try to work out the steps they took to get where they are. Did they get formal training? Where did they start off? When did they get their big break? How did they develop their skills? By copying what has worked before, you’ll have a path to follow.
6. Focus on slow and steady development of your business or career. Try to improve one thing about you or your business every day.
7. If you can put some element of your passion business or job online, do so – it will drastically increase your potential audience and client base.
8. If you’re not yet skilled in your passion, you may need to do an apprenticeship of sorts before you start thinking about earning money. This period will help to set you up for future successes. As an apprentice, aim to get your skills to the point where you are not making too many mistakes, even if your work lacks some polish and finesse. Depending on your passion, you may be entirely self-taught in this period, or decide to get some formal training. Whatever path you take, find someone – or a community of people – who can give feedback on your work.
9. In the beginning, experience is more valuable than money. While it shouldn’t be necessary to work for free, don’t worry if you start off earning or charging much less than you eventually hope to earn. Don’t expect your business or career path to be fully developed from the first day. The process of charging higher rates, making more sales, or earning a high salary will come with time, and you’ll be able to move closer to your goals as you get better at what you do. In the meantime, part of your “payment” is simply being able to practice your passion, and the happiness you get from that.
10. It’s important not to become overwhelmed in the early days. Focus on one thing at a time – whether that’s one client, one project, or a single product. Complete it to the best of your abilities, then move on to the next one. With each successful job, project or product completed, you’ll increase your chances of more coming in the future.
11. It's a lot easier to get an interview if someone within the company vouches for you, so get out there and meet people in your desired field. Scope out some local business networking events, grab your business cards, and start schmoozing. You can also set up an informational interview, where you chat with someone in the industry to get a feel for what you need to know. You'll gain valuable insight into your new career path, and, if you're lucky, you might even get yourself a job offer out of it. If your dream job involves working for yourself, networking is just as important. You need to build up that client base so you can afford to keep the lights on. It's also helpful to build up a support system of other local entrepreneurs, so that you have a network of people who you can bounce ideas off of or ask for help when you're stuck.
12. Opportunity comes in many forms. Not just jobs. Don’t get stuck on finding a job. Or starting a business for that matter. There are lots of opportunities in between that can enable you to turn your passion into your work. Sure, you can get a job doing X, but what about a project, a consulting opportunity, an internship, licensing a business, becoming a franchisee, partnering up with an organization, doing some temp work. Break away from the “get a job” mentality. There are lots of ways to make money doing just about anything …if you’re creative enough.
13. Start creating a (small) platform you can use to help yourself. This is a means to promote your eventual business, service or products. It might be a Facebook or Twitter account, a blog, a LinkedIn profile, or a stack of pamphlets for a letterbox drop. If you start work on this now, you’ll have less work to do when it’s time to start searching for clients, or a job, or a market for your products.
14. Talk to some people who are doing the job that you would like to do. There's often a big difference between the career you fantasize about and the day-to-day reality of turning a passion into a full-time job. For many individuals, it's worth sorting through the mundane details in order to do what you love, but make sure you don't take the plunge with stars in your eyes. Few careers are as fun in practice as they seem to an outsider, and getting a clear picture of your potential “new career” can help ensure that you don't end up disappointed.
15. What makes you different makes you special. You don’t necessarily need to be an expert in your area of passion. You don’t need to have years of experience under your belt to do something with it either. That can come. Take whatever it is that makes you different, unique, special, interesting, quirky or uncommon and turn that into a fascinating story of why you’re pursuing a particular passion.
If you’re not sure how to turn your passion into a job, research what others have done before. What kind of jobs exist around your passion? What kind of products? Good luck!
Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples