Find your passion. And get paid for it.
I’ve always been creative. I fell in love with art, drawing, blending different shapes, textures, and colors in elementary school. I could look at anything and replicate it. That led to my winning a city-wide art contest when I was 12 and a small cash prize.
Fast-forwarding to my 20’s, I fell in love with singing and writing. I appreciated how words strung together- whether spoken or sung- could transport a person to countries they had never visited, distant worlds they could only dream of, or change one’s perception of a deeply held idea. My affection for both landed me as a background singer for a jazz band that performed throughout New York City and a paid freelance writer for magazines like Black Hair Digest, Best of Rap and R&B, Today’s Black Woman, and a slew of underground Hip Hop publications. It led me to create my own e-zine Sable Magazine, which was the first of its kind on the web from 2001
to 2008. It seated me in front of entertainers like Mary J. Blige and movie producers like Lee Daniels.
Then, life happened. Things changed. Anxiety and ADHD reared their ugly heads. I kept missing deadlines, so I eventually stopped getting freelancing assignments. Smoking cigarettes for 15 years damaged my voice, so no more background singing gigs. I tried starting my first business and failed miserably. So, I resigned to living an ordinary life and settled into a regular corporate executive assistant job. I threw myself into ministry and working in the community with LGBTQ homeless young adults, which is my heart work. I was still creative, though. My ability to draw gave way to graphic design and my writing skills gave way to my developing newsletters for my church and others. Pro bono. I did it because I enjoyed it and wanted to help, but I didn’t have confidence that I could make a real living. Until the pandemic.
In 2020, the world experienced something many of us did not believe we would see in our lifetime – COVID-19. By March of that year, everything had shut down. Businesses, non-profit organizations, schools, and other programs, accustomed to providing in-person services, now had to find ways to connect with their constituents virtually. This was especially the case with small and medium-sized Houses of Worship, which found themselves figuring out how to maintain a connection with their congregations. My EA skillset helped me get my home church online and train our laity how to navigate the new virtual reality. Then the calls started coming from other faith institutions seeking the same, offering to pay for my guidance. Word started getting around, and when someone needed a blog done, they called me. When they needed graphic design done, they called me. When they wanted to begin broadcasting shows online, they called me. Almost overnight, I had a host of clients, all willing to pay me for my time and my talent. And Kara Solutions, LLC was born. I found my new creative thang, and I love it!
What does all of this have to do with turning your passion into profit? It will always lead to a stream of income IF you let it.
While talent and passion are two different things, what you are passionate about will stick because it is an offshoot of your natural talent and is threaded into your purpose. It’s the thing you’d do for free but shouldn’t. Though it may sound selfish, you are supposed to receive SOMETHING for it, whether it be a sense that you are fulfilling the work your soul must have or that Zelle payment. My passion is creativity in all of its forms. It shows up in the branding packages I create for my production clients, how I design programming for young people, and how I use technology to birth new ways of connecting into being. And that’s worth something.
If you’re wondering how to turn your passion into profit, here are a few tips from a 2020 Forbes.com article that have helped me tremendously since starting my company:
Dream big but start small – Turning passion into profit is inherently risky. Minimize risks by starting small and planning carefully.
Break down your big goal into manageable chunks. When turning passion into profit, keep goals small and attainable. Break down your overarching goal into small, actionable pieces.
Focus on your strengths and outsource the rest. The most successful entrepreneurs who turn passion into profit focus on their strengths and find others to help them fill in the gaps.
Use time travel to plan for tomorrow. Take a step back to think about what you’d like your company to look like two years into the future. Then consider what you are doing differently two years from now that you aren’t doing today.
Along with the Forbes tips, here are some of my own. Be flexible and open to change. Charge what you are worth! And above all, enjoy the journey!