Gone are the days when a degree in medicine, pharmacy, law or engineering meant securing a job with a huge pay cheque after graduation. The rate of unemployment increases yearly with many graduates sitting at home, watching their lives pass by without anything to show for their education. Many companies have downsized due to inability to pay staff salaries or meet up with their obligations to stakeholders. In such a stiff economy and scarcity of jobs, how do you make ends meet. The world is evolving so fast that only people who can tap into their inner fire and talent can survive it when faced with tough economic situations. Daniel Pink, the author of “A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future” explains that the future belongs to the creative minds, logical thinkers and pattern recognizers who can tap into the right brain to conceptualize ideas and craft a fulfilled life. #passiontoprofit
In July, I was invited to be a mentor for a youth conference in Lagos where youths were taught to acquire extra-curricular skills to prepare them for the real world when they graduate from school. I was quite impressed that this was happening in Nigeria and parents have become enlightened to help their children grow their passion. Not many of us had the privilege of nurturing our passion/talents/gifts from a young age; but it is not too late to find that inner fire in you, develop it and monetize it for profit. One of the most creative photographers in the world today is a mechanical engineer; I also know a medical doctor who is a renowned fashion designer and a chartered accountant who is a big event planner. Whatever your passion is, there is always a way to turn it to profit; just follow these 5 simple steps:
Harness your skills: the only way you can attract new customers and retain existing ones is to keep improving yourself to become better at what you do. Personal skills could become obsolete if not refined; therefore it is extremely important that you become a student of the industry in whatever field your passion lies, soaking up new skills and knowledge in order to keep your business as current and competitive as possible. Today, more than ever, there are a growing number of web-based applications, systems and software that can help you. Alternatively, you can register for a workshop, training or seminar to keep sharpening the saw. Remember, “the more you learn, the more you earn”.
Start from the known to the unknown – after you have added some poise to your passion, start by offering pro bono services to family & friends in order to get good reviews/recommendations. In the early stages, your main priority should be building a portfolio of clients who can help spread the news about your product/services. You need as much recommendation as possible to show prospective clients that you are a master of your craft. People are more comfortable to do business with you when they read reviews from previous customers or when there is proof of excellence in past jobs.
Marketing Yourself Effectively (Talk about it “a lot”) – you need to be the champion of your own cause and a professional who is not afraid to tell people what you can do for them. One of my friends will say, “you cannot speak to Lynda for more than 5 minutes without her telling you what she does”. If you want to turn your passion to profit, then you MUST publicize yourself; talk about it to everyone in your sphere of contact – your neighbours, church members, colleagues, BBM/WhatsApp contacts etc. Change your social media profiles to show what you do; share photos of your work on your timeline, disturb everybody you know – do whatever you can to put the word out there that you are a photographer, hair stylist, writer, caterer, musician, make-up artist etc., definitely somebody, somewhere will hear about you and ask for your services.
Pinpoint Your Target and Aim: This is taking the bull by the horn; go straight to the people who need the products/services you offer. For instance, if your passion is designing album covers for musicians, you should market yourself in places where these people congregate. Look for performance venues, musical theatres, and online entertainment sites that cater to people involved in your target area. The more specific and focused you are with your marketing strategies, the better results you will see!
Network with like-minded people (Join an online community) – as a writer, after attending the Writers for Profit workshop, the first thing I did was to join a freelance writing community. This step works like magic; in less than 14 days I got a new client who loved my work so much that he continued requesting for more work and also gave a very good review about my work. Follow people on social media who have shared interests with you; leverage on technology to build strong connections that will help grow your passion. Don’t be a solo-ranger, “your network equals your net worth”.
Bonus Tip: Packaging – this defines your brand and can determine your selling price; a good package attracts the buyer even before they find out what is in the package. Create a blog or website to document your work; if possible get a business card and share at social events. Add some substance to your efforts so that when clients see you, they will know you’re truly a professional in your field.