Can you make a living, doing what you want to do?

The last day of September 2013 was the first day as a self-employed individual. My company 29 Pixel Studios, LLC went official in April of that year, but honestly, I’ve been building this business since I graduated in 2003. I knew moving from ‘part-time freelancer’ to ‘self-employed’ was inevitable.

So now I’m six-months deep into running my own business and wanted to share some thoughts. I’m writing these into a post because I’ve been asked a ton of times recently about making the switch. Ironically only a few of the people were in my ‘field’ (one of which was looking for an internship position!) but all were either breaking new ground or looking to take the world by storm.

Books upon books will describe running a successful business but to me, there is one all important question that MUST be answered.

Can you make a living, doing what you want to do?

My answers: no, yes, no.

No: I want to coach the Detroit Lions… but I can’t make a living doing it. I was blessed (and I mean BLESSED) to Coach the Patton Jr. High Tigers for about five years and to this day… it was the most exciting job I ever had. Can’t support a family on a Jr. High Football Coach salary, so… no.

Yes: I want to be a storyteller. It could be the artist captures your wedding day through photographs. A cinematographer who creates the short film that tells a birth mother about your family. Or even the guy that redesigned the approach the DoD and NATO design military symbols because… it just made sense to me. Yeah. I can do that on a level that will put food on the table.

No: Movie reviewer… I LOVE, LOOOOVE talking movie reviews with other film geeks. I mean I use the Huzzaah Scale for Pete’s sake (another post for another time I suppose).  It’s something I love. I think I’m good at it. But no one would ever PAY for it!!! Happy and Poor Movie Critic.

This post a few months ago by Lauren Panepinto is a good quick read but I wanted to highlight the first Venn diagram (all are fantastic) as it illustrates my question that must be answered. Personally I’d like to see the lower right circle read WHAT PEOPLE WILL PAY FOR vs WANT.

This is America baby, you can do what you love. We could all do what we love for free… and no customer would should complain. But when it comes time to pony up the dough, then the person paying the coin will look for WHO IS GOOD AT IT. Do you also fall into this circle as well? Perfect, Happy and Rich. (Well, lets not get crazy, I’d like to see this one as Happy and well off).

I also don’t mind doing a bit of the grind (unfulfilled + rich on the graphic). There are things I don’t particularly love but am happy to do because I’m good at it and people are willing to pay. With the end game in mind you might want to consider hiring or outsourcing if this stuff drives you crazy. For me, I don’t mind doing a bit of the work to help my business.

Bottom line here: Whatever you love… if someone, somewhere is wanting it enough to pay for it… you need to be GOOD AT IT! Never EVER stop learning.

One thought on “Can you make a living, doing what you want to do?

  1. Great post, Nick! It is kind of putting it into presepective with my private lessons. I’ve been trying to figure out if it is the best thing for my family… your post is exactly how I feel but not neccessarily what’s best for us. Its hard to maintain the balance.

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