CAREER

How to Monetize Your Passion

What Giving a TED Talk taught me >
Recovering From Burnout >
The Time I got Fired >
Now Trending:

Getting Started with Travel Photography

Get the guide

Download my free guide to learn 5 days to get started in travel photography today!

Hi, I'm Erin!

I am a photographer and writer passionate about the outdoors, meaningful travel, and living deliberately. I hope to use my platform online to show the beauty and complexity of the world we live in, and to encourage genuine connection to the outdoors, culture, people and wildlife.

The Photo Series that Went *Viral*

AS SEEN IN

GET ON THE LIST

Wanna keep in touch? Subscribe to get notes from me in your inbox. We send updates, images, encouragement, discounts, and other treats we think you’ll dig.

Add some wonder to your space

SHOP PRINTS

I work as an adventure photographer and writer. The biggest question I get about what I do… is HOW.

How do I travel so much? How did I get started as a photographer? How do I get paid to blog? How did I make this my job? How do I live such an adventurous life and still eat food make a living?

If you’re curious about what I do and how I do it, see my FAQs here. But let me make it clear that there was a time when these questions plagued me. The career that I currently have would have absolutely baffled me in my early 20’s. How the hell was I supposed to make money doing something I actually liked?!

It turns out it was pretty simple. I had to answer a few important questions for myself really thoroughly and often (they’re coming, keep reading), then I had to take action.

Before we dive in, just a note on this whole analysis paralysis thing you’re probably going through that brought you to this post. In order for anything to happen, you have to do something. This article isn’t meant to be passive. Read it, then answer the following questions.

Let’s go.

WHAT YOU DO THAT PEOPLE WILL PAY FOR?

Make a list of your potential products and services. What are you good at? What do people ask you for advice about? What are you known for in your friends group? What kinds of questions do people come to you with naturally? What are you good at making or creating? What do you enjoy doing?

And which of these things can you make money from?

Are people always asking you for travel advice? For exercises to get a firmer butt? For smoothie recipes? For gardening tips? For super sweet video editing techniques? For makeup or hair? For help figuring out what’s wrong with their car? You don’t have to do all this stuff for free.

Make a list of items you could potentially charge money for.

WHAT IS YOUR THING WORTH?

When I first started blogging for brands and companies, I had no clue what I should have been charging. At first, I worked in exchange for exposure because it was worth it to me at the time.

I get that this is hard. I get that you can’t exactly reach out to a complete stranger and ask them for their rates– not everyone is comfortable talking numbers. Maybe you have to get a little creative. Make sure your questions are specific. Who do you know that does what you want to do? Find some kind of connection to that person and explain where you are coming from. Maybe they can give you some insight.

Do some market research using whatever resources are available to you. That includes Google.

Eventually, you have to pick a price and go with it. “I didn’t know what to charge” is a dumb reason for not selling a product or service that people want. Whatever you charge is probably more than you’re getting right now ($0.00, right?).

If everyone is saying “oh hell yeah” to your rate without trying to negotiate with you, then you’re charging too little. If nobody is responding, or if your pricing is shutting down the conversation altogether, then you’re charging too much or you’re in the wrong market. Change something and see what works.

Next to the list you just made, write the range of what you can charge for each item.

WHO WILL PAY YOU FOR YOUR THING?

Figure out your ideal consumer/demographic. Who are they? How old are they and where are they located? What are they going through in their life? What do they do in their spare time? How much money do they make? Where do they shop? Why do they need your product or service?

You need to identify your target demographic for a couple of reasons:

  1. You might need influence
  2. You definitely need people to buy your thing

If what you do/make is made more credible or valuable by having a large audience, you need to attract this audience (side note- do not buy followers) and give them value. How can you be most valuable to this group of people? How will you attract them? And why will they want to buy your thing?

For each item you could potentially sell, write a sentence or two describing your perfect customer.

WHERE WILL YOU SELL IT?

Where do you want your thing to be available for purchase? If you’re a consultant, how will people know you exist and how will they contact you? If you sell a product, is your store online? Do you sell at pop-ups, craft fairs, trade shows? If you lead workshops, how do people book those?

However people are giving you money, make it easy for them. Look at your own spending patterns. How do you spend your money and why? When you think about your own purchasing experience, what makes it smooth and seamless? What makes you want to buy something again?

Give your customer options, but make the best deal clear and obvious– all they have to do is say YES.

Make a list of how and/or where you will sell your thing.

WHAT IS YOUR PLAN?

Look at your answers to all of the questions above. They should give you some clarity on your next step. It should give you some idea of the options you have and the avenues you could potentially go down. It will also give you an idea of how scalable your thing is– and scalability matters if you are looking to make a fully grown career out of your passion.

If this feels overwhelming, ask yourself which of the things you wrote down is low-hanging fruit, i.e. which one of them feels easiest? Which of these could you start selling this week? Which of these could you start selling today?

Pick one of your products or services, and write yourself a 5-step plan from creation to sale. Here is a personal example:

Getting a project-based photography or collaboration job

  1. Make a list of 5 specific target brands
  2. Shoot or compile images I have taken that are consistent with their branding
  3. Make a portfolio specific to that style
  4. Send portfolio with package rates (& make one of the packages stand out as a great deal)
  5. Negotiate prices and packages

It won’t always be 5 steps– sometimes it’ll be 3 and sometimes it’ll be 10. Monetizing your passion can be big and scary. Breaking it down into actionable steps can make things seem much more attainable. After you make your plan, the next step is setting times or dates for when each of these will be completed.

CREATE, TRY, REPEAT.

Not everything you do will be a huge hit, and you have to accept that right now, otherwise failure will bog you down every step of the way. You can love it or hate it, failure is a crucial part of the process.

Do I think all passions can make you a ton of money? No. Do I think everyone should try to monetize their passions? No. But if you want to do it, now is the time. You are most likely not going to get any more clarity than what you now have. Entrepreneurship, creativity, starting a business or a side-hustle– these are not endeavors that come with a guidebook. You have to see what works and take it from there.

Get to it. And don’t forget to have fun.


 

Feature photo by William Reed Olds-Benton.

Please ignore this text box - Recoleta Font

+ show Comments

- Hide Comments

add a comment

  1. Sheema says:

    Great post! I think more people need to be encouraged that trying and (some) planning will allow them to reach their goal to monetize!

  2. Renee Hahnel says:

    LOVE this Erin! So very true

  3. Matthew Hell says:

    Soo, you’re awesome! I did the same working a corporate job until this year, and transitioned into my real estate career. By taking the leap, Ill have so much more time to travel, backpack, camp and do the things I love!

  4. Tiffiny says:

    “Can I pick your brain?”

    ..wondering how much brain is worth…

    😉 love it.

  5. Diana says:

    Thank you for the tips! Sometimes I feel like it’s impossible to monetize my blog, and I fear I’ll ruin what I love with it, but I think facing the fears are worth it. If you have a talent, you should pursue it! xx

    http://mylovelierdays.com

    • Thanks Diana! Glad you found this helpful. I think looking for different ways to monetize is key. The most successful bloggers aren’t necessarily the “best” at it, they’re just the best at the business aspect of it!

  6. NurHuriah says:

    Hi Erin.
    Your words are inspiring!
    Thank you for all your good tips.
    I do love all your photo.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

load MORE >

load MORE >

Well don't stop there

Read My Fave Posts

I'm Erin, Your New Tour Guide

If you’re interested in travel, love spending time outdoors, or want to learn more about photography, you’re in the right place. I’m an adventure trip leader turned travel photographer, passionate about learning & sharing the real stories from the places I visit.

MORE ABOUT ME 

PHOTOGRAPHER, ADVENTURER, nature nerd

Curious What Gear I use?

see inside

The TED Talk

WATCH NOW

 Top Resources

Does photographing a moment steal the experience from you? Is it good to document so much of our lives? These questions (and more) were on my mind .. so much so, that they are the subjects of my TED Talk.

My tools for creating: cameras, lenses, travel gear, and more.

Getting Started in Travel Photography

So many people say they want to be a travel photographer, but have no idea where to start. This guide gives you five actionable ways to start TODAY!

FREE DOWNLOAD