If I told you that there are so many ways you could make a living from your passion, would you believe me?
The reason why we're told to get a stable job and carry on with our passion on the side is because passion isn't seen as something profitable. Being your own boss seems risky.
But while I won't deny that business will always carry risks, the disadvantages are exaggerated because of the common belief that you'd be depending on only one thing.
That couldn't be farther from the truth.
Making money from your passion, or 'monetization' as the experts call it, from multiple sources is the smart thing to do. Scratch that, it's what you should totally do.
I'm going to tell you about 15 ways you can make money and get this -- you can also do a few at the same time! Can somebody say ka-ching?
To make them sound extra doable and achievable, I'll explain each item as if you're an aspiring fashion designer. But feel free to brainstorm along with your own passion!
When you work with other businesses or people and receive some sort of compensation in return, that's client work. This is the first category of monetization that most people encounter.
Client work is the easiest to get, the most difficult to handle, but it's also the most important type of monetization.
The reason why I say this is because working with clients will make you learn a lot quickly. In fact, if you're still unsure about your niche, doing a lot of client work will help you find it.
Once you have a very strong and unique niche, you'll be widely-known for it. That's when you'll be besieged by orders.
Let's look at ways to make money from your passion under this category.
1. Providing a personalized service to clients.
You design clothes for the clients based on their preferences and requirements, instead of designing RTW clothes.
2. Working with other people/brands to promote their products.
You become a brand ambassador for a sewing machine company or a textile company. In return, you're compensated with money or the products themselves. This is also known as creating sponsored content.
A product usually requires a considerable initial investment, but will pay for itself in the long run. It means that you won't have to put any more effort into developing it, but it will keep bringing in money. It sounds too good to be true, but...
The challenge in having a product as a money source is knowing the right product to sell. If you come up with the wrong one, your investment will go down the drain.
You need to find out what people need and want with regards to your industry. That's why I placed 'Products' in the second spot. 'Client work' is what I advise you to do first, so that after dealing with so many clients, you'll know what kind of product that they're looking for.
3. A product that solves a particular problem
You design a pair of pants that can be transformed from skinny to bell-bottom to palazzo, after realizing that a lot of women want something versatile to go with their tops.
4. A tool for customers or other business owners
You develop a special fabric softener that prevents clothes from wrinkling. Or you produce a special mannequin for other designers to design clothes on.
5. A book or e-book about a specific and relevant topic
You write about dressing etiquettes for different occassions.
6. A how-to guide on something people want to know
You publish a guide on choosing fabrics for clothes and how to care for them.
7. A software or app
You develop an app that helps women experiment with different styles of clothing based on their own body shape and size.
8. Digital templates or patterns
You produce digital patterns for baju kurung designs that women can take to their own tailors.
9. A membership site
You create a paid membership site where fashion designers from all over Malaysia can network with each other and exchange ideas.
10. A subscription product
You create a subscription product where people pay a sum of money to get a new and rare fabric (that you source for) every month. They can then send the fabric to be tailored into anything they like.
You may think that you're no teacher and no one will be your student, but hear me out. There's a reason why teaching is last on the list. You don't have to do it right away. Do it when you have some experience under your belt.
But that doesn't mean you have to be an absolute expert either. If you're currently at the 'intermediate' level, you can teach the beginners. There's always someone who can learn from you -- perhaps a person who started on their passion 6 months later than you did and are facing problems you've already gone through.
Those people want to avoid making mistakes and to make progress quickly. Your experience will help them do this, and they will pay you to learn from your experience.
11. A live workshop on a practical topic
You teach a live workshop on dressing for your body type for careerwomen.
12. An online course with a defined syllabus
You produce an online course to help aspiring fashion designers understand the basics of fashion design.
13. A class (or many) on an interesting subject matter
You teach a class on finding your own unique fashion style to fashion students.
14. Coaching for an individual or group
You guide a person who also wants to be a fashion designer in setting up their own business.
15. Consulting for another brand or business
You advise a fashion label on the technicalities of producing clothes.
Have the examples got you excited yet? If you haven't thought about your goals for your passion, I highly recommend that you brainstorm based on these 15 forms of monetization. And if you're feeling a bit overwhelmed by how much effort/money/brain cells that will have to die to make those a reality, fret not!
Start small then scale up. Start with client work, then move on to products, then move on to teaching. Don't spread yourself thin by multitasking. Choose one thing, develop it to the fullest, and add another thing to your plate. This way everything will be super awesome and of excellent quality, instead of being half-hearted and mediocre.
Which form of monetization will you choose to do first?