My desire for money and passion are at odds with each other

I was inspired to write this post after reading another post about someone who felt like they were waiting for something they were passionate enough about to build. I related to a reasonable extent because for a long time I've felt like if I could come up with an idea that I was passionate enough about I could see it through. However as I thought more about it, I realized that I have actually built plenty of things that I was passionate about. I've written a book and released a couple of games, but none of these projects really made any money. And I can't help but wonder if that is because my interests/passion just don't really mesh well with making money?

Part of it is also that I tend to jump around between too many things, though I have gotten better about that by making a pact with myself that if I'm going to start something new I need to see it through. I've been doing that with my blog which is the only ongoing project I have at the moment, but I keep wondering if I would be better off building a product. I have enough skills that I think I could build quite a range of products, because I have worked professionally as a web developer for over 4 years.

I have this creative side of me that is very unsatisfied with the technical work in my day job, so a lot of my side projects end up being focused on getting my creative fix rather than making any income. But at the same time I think that BECAUSE I am dissatisfied with my day job, the better investment of my free time would be making a product that could free me from my day job forever.

If we treat my dissatisfaction with my day job as a hole in the boat, I am basically just trying to remove water with a bucket when I use my free time to express myself creatively. What would actually fix the boat would be to build a product that would give me reliable passive income. BUT then when I focus on the money, I lose the passion. I can't figure out how I can have enough of both to actually see something through that makes revenue.

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    You're not alone Nadya, many of us share your pain.

    I suspect so many "makers" can fall into the same trap, we have so much in common in that sense. I think our weakness is always that it's easier and more rewarding to "make things" rather than build businesses, and some of us need to endure difficult lessons before we learn what it really takes to build a business that can free us from the mundane.

    That said, every failed side project had a role to play in your story. They gave you an opportunity to be creative and have fun, offsetting the misery of your unrewarding work-for-survival, and beyond that, they gave you the ability to build skills and gain experience, which can be leveraged in your future ventures.

    My advise is to never stop trying, lick your wounds, reflect on why things didn't pan out so you can avoid those pitfalls for the next go-around, and get back into the ring.

    If you are a creator and a dreamer, you'll never be happy doing anything else, so keep fighting for your dream, you got this! :)

    1. 1

      Thanks for the encouraging words. It is true I won't be happy doing anything else, that much I have certainly learned!

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    Here’s a tip. Forget about waiting for something you’re passionate about.

    Instead look for a real problem... a real pain point for a clearly identifiable customer group.

    I PROMISE you.... you will become passionate about it when you start to get users.

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      There is one idea I've been stewing over that I think is a real pain point, especially for women in tech. Maybe the best thing to do is just dive into it.

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        That is 100% the right thing to do.

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      This. The adrenaline rush you get when you see people using what you built is just magical.

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    just my 2c:

    When moving fun projects into the work sphere "to make money" the priorities and choices you make will change. In many cases the financially viable version of your fun project will no longer be fun they way you imagined it would be. It can still be fun, but not the same way.

    Business perspective is not parallel with the technical perspective, and a lot of the activities you will have to do to turn a "maker" thingamajig into a viable project to support yourself or even a small business is not what many typical makers will consider as fun.

    ? Do you enjoy marketing?

    ? If you don't have enough seed capital saved up, do you enjoy raising investment capital?

    ? Do you enjoy handling customer support, feedback, requests, complaints?

    ? Do you enjoy contracting services and production, or do you have capital to hire people, or perhaps take on collaborators?

    Go through the daily task schedule of others who have successfully turned a fun project into a small business. Look at how they have done it and what it actually entails.

    My guess, from your description, is that you're currently working in an established organisation, filling a specific role. How many of the other roles in that organisation would you enjoy filling? Granted, most companies are highly inefficient and do a lot of unnecessary work. I continuously have to tell my customers to stop doing a lot of pointless stuff.

    If you're aiming below full income, perhaps just some side cash, then it's different.

  4. 2

    I'v built several projects in the past (maybe 7 or 8) only 2 made some money (not enough to leave my daily job), I also made all the mistakes in the book x-x!
    Hopefully I learned a few things:

    • Focus on the customer not the product
    • Ask the big question: where are my potential customers and how I can get a few
    • Create first 5% of the product and go the market asking if people are interested in buying it
      What will really make a difference is: Can you cold call people (phone) or not ? if your response is a big Yes, then nothing can stop you, else maybe you'r just wasting a lot of time.
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      Wow, I am very impressed you did not lose motivation or drive, kudos to you. Thank you for the tips and I would love to hear about your mental approach in moving on after a project that did not make as much money or garner as much attention as you hoped. For me, I always experience a pretty bad slump after that.

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        Mental model: before starting a project I set the goal and the expected reward.
        A- Goal: is obvious, solving X, Y problem
        B- Reward: there is tow kind,
        1- Monetary: How much money can I get from this (maximum & minimum )
        2- Learning: What I can learn if I succeed or if I failed
        Sometimes a project is just a learning step (B.2), sometimes it's a moderate financial success (B.1).
        I try to balance B upfront as much as I can, that saves me from a hug disappointment that may lead to paralyzing and self doubt.

  5. 1

    A few things that have helped me:

    Treat the day job as an investor that is funding the new business, with the best terms possible (no equity taken). The alternative is actually raising money to build something, which would suck.

    Shift from connecting creativity/passion from the product to the people that it is helping. Entrepreneurship is about serving others, not building product.

    Understand that the best way to measure the value you deliver to someone is the $ that they pay for it. It's also the only way you can continue to deliver value to the over long periods of time. If someone isn't willing to pay to keep you in business, how much value is your creativity actually driving?

    Hope that helps!

    1. 1

      "Entrepreneurship is about serving others, not building product" - well said

  6. 1

    Looks like you are in a full time job. Here is what I would have done. Try doing freelance gigs while at job (if the position allows for it), and quit your full time job when you are confident that you can go independent.

    Hire someone at that point of time to work for you so that money can keep coming in and at the same time, you can free up your time for more creative passions. Very few of us are lucky to do what we truly love and also make money from it.

    1. 1

      I have def thought about going freelance before. I think my biggest fear with that is I was freelance designer right after graduating college and had some projects fall apart in a very disappointing manner. I guess I am afraid of having a repeat of that if I try to go freelance as a software developer. On the other hand, it does seem like the clearest path to freedom. I've been contacted about freelance work before and now there are so many services you can sign up to be a freelancer with that have intrigued me in the past.

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    a story maybe similar to yours: I have a big side-project / small startup ( https://openlowcode.com/ ), and I have kept my dayjob. This dayjob is interesting, but also with many frustrations.

    Combining side project and day job is not a recommendation from wise people in thestartup world, nonetheless, it is a reasonnable compromise for me, especially as there are some synergies between my dayjob and my side-project.

    I think you can also come with 'composite' solutions rather than looking for a single answer to all your life aspirations.

  8. 1

    Hey Nadya, great question! I had and I still have the same problem.

    In the past I started several projects, which I was super passionate about. All the time the problem was money. I understood, that if I want to make a long live project - I need to find the way how I can get money from the project. Otherwise, I need to do other things - just for money. And then there is conflict with the time and money.

    I've changed my mindset and from lot of variety of products which I can build, I am trying to find these, where is potential to get money out of it. I am passionate about all of them. In the future, I want to focus on them more. If getting money out of it is the main rule, I will play around it. It is like a game.

    As @avonian recommended, we are makers, it is our passion to build things, to bring value. I find it more rewarding if the users are using the product repeatedly than just build something which will last few months and nobody will use it.

    Then you are getting closer to the "money" question. If you find great solution to problem of other people, the question around money will be answered.

    And this is where the fun begin.

    Don't stop, create.

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    This comment was deleted a year ago.

    1. 2

      Yeah I have thought of switching into a role that has less programming. Maybe some sort of blended role that is a mix of design and programming, or teaching programming. Leaving programming all together would probably mean taking a massive paycut which would be difficult in my current situation but DEFINITELY something I have considered before.

    2. 2

      "8 hrs per day of programming would be too much for me. It would ruin this "passion". Hear hear

    3. 1

      Do what you love (for yourself not an employer) and you'll never work a day in your life.

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