The Three Steps to Turn Your Hobby into Your Creative Dream Job!

My passion is painting. I paint on walls for a living. It’s a ridiculous career. In 2010 I had a realisation; I can do whatever I want. I stopped my job search, forgot about a fancy job title, and backed myself. I wasn’t sure at the time how it was all going to come together, but I knew I wasn’t going to get anything from career coaches. Hindsight has allowed me to plot the first three steps I took in successfully carving out my creative career.


1. Find your passion.


Many people don’t know what their passion is. How do you find it? Go and try a bunch of different things. Then pick one and double down. A passion doesn’t just land in your lap, first you find an interest and then you cultivate the passion.

I spent years trying different ‘hobbies’. I worked for three years as a tattoo artist, I tried photography, learned to breakdance, travelled to six countries using a student loan. I even worked in a school for a year. I weighed up the pros and cons of each practice and realised that graffiti was the most risky of my options. There was no blueprint at the time, no set path I could follow but I had a gut feeling that I could make it work. I also knew that I could always go back to the safer options of tattooing or teaching if street art didn’t work out. A back up plan isn’t essential, but it’s nice to have.

If you’re in a time in your life that you can, get a part time job. Limit your expenses, make sure your bills are paid and that there’s a roof over your head. Then spend every spare minute ‘trying’ with intention. Travel if you can. Make new friends and try to get immersed in different subcultures. And remember: the people you meet will change your life.


2. Get good


If you think you may have found your passion, you must put in the time to get so good that people will want to pay you for your craft. Ironically, some of the best advice I’ve heard is to pick something that you’d happily do for the next ten years even if you weren’t getting paid.

To get good is simple; all you need to know is that it’ll be really hard.

Expertise is rare, because it’s very, very difficult to obtain and most people don’t have the stomach for it. Are you prepared to sacrifice nights out, cancel your Netflix subscription and limit your social media use? If you want to turn your passion from a hobby to a career you need to get good. If you want to get good, you don’t really have ‘spare time’.

Practice your craft and learn from others, in equal measure.

Practice does not make perfect. Practice makes permanent. If you do something the wrong way over and over you may not get the results you were expecting. Reach out to experts, watch YouTube videos, read books. I believe there is no such thing as natural talent. Work hard, practice, and you’ll get good.


3. Build


Here’s the good news, you don’t need to reach expert status before you’ll start seeing some results, so getting good and building can go hand in hand.

As soon as you’re above average, you’ll get some attention because people will always react to things they can’t do themselves. You’ll probably be comparing yourself to experts in your field but try not to do this too much, just recognise how far you’ve come and look forward to catching up to them.

Most creatives suck at marketing, they focus on perfecting their craft – the fun part. We ignore the hard and often boring part; telling people about our work. If you build it they will not come; they’ve got too many other things to worry about. You have to build it and then go and get them. Be sensible with your time, it’s a delicate dance. Social media can devour your productivity, don’t get obsessed but don’t get lazy. Focus on providing for those who are following you and don’t obsess about going after those that don’t. People that noticed your talent early are likely to end up being your most loyal supporters.

The best way to do this is by putting out content consistently. Collaborate with others and don’t forget real-life connections; actively try to meet people offline and build your network. The more work you can put into your portfolio, the more tools you have to win new projects.


Now what?


Find your passion by exploring things that interest you. Consistently practice your new thing and over time you’ll get really good. Build by sharing your work, finding new projects and growing your network. After that, things will snowball. Follow the opportunities and there’s a good chance you’ll end up in a completely different place, more exciting than you could have imagined!

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