How to Combine Your Profitable Freelance Business With Your Passion

By Liz Alton, Contributor, on May 1, 2017

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Operating a profitable freelance business can require you to focus on work that doesn’t tap into your deepest passions. I’m not saying business-to-business work or financial reporting isn’t intellectually stimulating, but there are few people who leap out of bed filled with anticipation to comb through yet another corporate earnings release for their next story.

However, even if your business steers you toward niches or clients who don’t speak to your most profound desires, you can find business-savvy ways to align at least some of your workload with things that truly interest you.

When Passion and Business Align, Success Grows

Based on my background in business, I quickly found my way to a well-paying niche within freelance writing. I’m engaged with marketing, business and technology, and I’m the type of nerdy person who reads about these topics in my spare time. However, there comes a point in every career where you begin to wonder how many times you can write about collaborative tools from a fresh angle or share the excitement behind server selection processes. I realized I needed to allocate some of my writing time to topics that proved personally refreshing and engaging.

For instance, I’m passionate about travel experiences. I’ll drive 16 hours in a crowded van down a bumpy road just to say I drank a Diet Coke at the Arctic Circle. And I’m oddly fascinated by the way Disney uses drones to bring their shows to life. Life is for living, and the way these stories are conceptualized, designed and executed inspires me. When an opportunity arose to cover the entertainment design space for a trade publication, I immediately jumped on the chance.

Not only was I provided a business-driven excuse to attend pilgrim-themed Thanksgiving dinners, deconstruct the way they were put together and ride the latest roller coaster, this assignment also helped me see opportunities in business. I realized how much innovation in technology was happening behind the scenes to bring those experience to life. This insight connected me early on with emerging trends, like artificial intelligence, virtual reality and personalized mobile tech.

The thrill ride of this project also enabled me to trend spot how many brands were starting to hire agencies that traditionally worked with Disney and Universal Studios to create experiences for their customers, which I’ve gone on to write about for Forbes, IBM Think Marketing and a number of other businesses. It also empowered me to build a portfolio at the intersection of creativity, marketing and technology that won me a contract with a major creativity-focused company. In other words, focusing on my passions took me in new directions and grew my business and profits in surprising ways.

How to Merge Your Passion With Your Job

If you’re feeling the need to forge deeper connections between your interests and your work, I hope my story shows you it’s more than possible to do so — without sacrificing one or the other. From an actionable standpoint, here are four steps you can take to knit your worlds together:

1. Choose a Focus

Are you passionate about quilting or pets? What elements would you like to bring to your business, whether you’re writing, designing or doing strategy consulting? For example, if you love animals, you could spend some of your time advising pet food companies or developing a niche in designing collateral for pet shelters. It all starts with a clear vision of what interests you. If you have a blend of diverse passions, choose one to get started.

2. Consider the Business Applications

I didn’t initially make the connection between the experience industry and marketing. However, once you define your focus area, ask yourself these questions:

  • How big is your audience? For example, if you’re interested in drones, the industry is exploding right now (well, hopefully not literally). That’s millions of people you can potentially reach.
  • Who are the companies behind your passion? How can they benefit from your services?
  • Are there publications, communities or organizations you can assist?

3. Design a Pitch to Address Business Needs

Consider drones again. One writer I know has a robust personal hobby in this area. He reached out to consumer publications covering drones and drone companies that needed content marketing. Soon, he was speaking at conferences about drones and was considered a top marketing expert in the field. It all began by him asking the question, “I wonder if there are ways to write about this?”

4. Connect Your Niche With Other Niches

Often, unique connections exist between different domains you can only see when you’re active in each one. In the case of technology and finance, that might position you perfectly to cover the bitcoin market. If you’re interested in crafting and business, you might be the right person to design packaging that appeals to crafters. Find the opportunities others miss, because they’re not looking.

Having a niche is an important part of running a profitable freelance business. While certain niches are more lucrative than others, you can certainly use your passions to align with your business goals. You might just find your outside interests belong inside your work. Your experience and enthusiasm can set you apart and help you see opportunities which elude other freelancers. Connecting to what ignites your soul can allow you to make valuable contributions to the industries related to your passions.

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