Making money doing what you love…maybe

One of the most popular pieces of advice when entering into business is: do what you love. I’ve said it a million times and it is advice I follow myself. I realize as an adult I have to do things I don’t like to do (I do them everyday) but when it comes to work, I’ve been there, done that and I promised myself if possible I would never do it again.

But what if you can’t monetize what you love? Seth Godin wrote an article about this. There are pitfalls to doing what you love and he nailed two of them on the head:

1. In order to monetize your work, you’ll probably corrupt it, taking out the magic in search of dollars

and

2. Attention doesn’t always equal significant cash flow.

Doing what you love is as important as ever, but if you’re going to make a living at it, it helps to find a niche where money flows as a regular consequence of the success of your idea. Loving what you do is almost as important as doing what you love, especially if you need to make a living at it. Go find a job you can commit to, a career or a business you can fall in love with.

Do your art. But don’t wreck your art if it doesn’t lend itself to paying the bills. That would be a tragedy.

(And the twist, because there is always a twist, is that as soon as you focus on your art and leave the money behind, you may just discover that this focus turns out to be the secret of actually breaking through and making money.)

When I had my first gaming site I started it for fun and my passion for gaming showed as I built the site. Then it became very profitable because I would do things (work) that didn’t feel like work to me. I wanted to talk to game developers. I wanted to spend the time in games thoroughly picking them apart.

With my second gaming site I’ve been slacking royally because I wasn’t having fun with the game. I was exploring areas I had not been to before but everyone else had so what was the point in writing about it? The character I really wanted to play wasn’t released yet. I was completely blah about the site. It didn’t help that it doesn’t cost me anything to have the site online. I had zero incentive and it showed when I attempted to write something.

I was talking to a friend about this and we were saying that with our upcoming new things the beauty of it was that we didn’t have to worry about monetizing it. We could focus on finding our groove and building up the content on our respective projects. I realize one day the site will be monetized but I will have found my voice, the perspective I want to take with the site and it will be “strong”, instead of building something TO make money – which might take it completely away from what I really want to do.

Which is exactly what I felt myself doing and why I was slacking. I was thinking four or five steps ahead and thinking “this would be best since I’m monetizing it” instead of digging deep on what I want to do, which is not the norm for a gaming site. As the ideas first started to form into my mind I immediately rejected it because it “might be” tough to monetize it. My displeasure showed itself in my lack of enthusiasm for the game. Even with the new expansion I still would not have fun in the game because while playing the game I can’t help but think about the site.

Gaming is my source of entertainment. When I’m done with “work” I’ll play a game. There is a delicate balance turning entertainment into work. That is the main reason why, although I love clubs and my parents used to own a club, I don’t want one myself. I thought I did at first. I thought it would be a good fit but I realized when I go to the club for fun, the last thing I want to do is work. The “fun” is going there, having a good time, and not having any responsibilities.

I’ve seen many times people corrupt their work to pay the bills. I understand this completely but many times people don’t realize it is happening. Once you drop to rock bottom prices to compete it will be incredibly hard to raise them. If you cut corners on quality the end product suffers, opening the door for competition. Throwing up articles just to get them up doesn’t fool anyone if they don’t compare to the previous ones. Having millions of page views no longer means guaranteed ability to sell ads on the inventory.

Look at what you’re doing and more important why you are doing it. You might learn something.