Passion can pay. But you already knew that. You just might not have figured out how to get yourself paid from your own passion.

If you’re already fully committed to a passion project, you already know that it’s a lot of work. Yeah, you love it—you love it a lot—but with all this damn work, you’d love it more if you were getting paid. As is the case with plenty of passion projects, you might be giving it away for free. Which was fine before—when you were just doing this for fun—but now that you have real fans, and real followers and real people emailing you that you’ve never met before, this has become a real time commitment. It’s basically a job.

As if you don’t already have a job and other responsibilities.

Now you’re feeling stuck. You want to keep doing what you’re doing and be able to contribute more to your passion project (getting paid would really help with that), but you also don’t want to lose the following you’ve worked hard to build by asking for money. But, let’s be clear, you do want the money.

So, how do you turn what you’ve been doing for free into something that people are willing to pay for—without losing your audience?

Here are a couple of things you can try:

Look at what parts you can monetize

If your passion project is something that your audience is used to receiving for free, it might be a bad move to just up and start charging for it. For example, if people are used to listening to your podcast for free, deciding to charge for it—out of the blue—will probably piss them off. But maybe people would pay for a “Best Of” compilation, complete with hilarious outtakes that no one ever got to hear, or some exclusive behind the scenes content that you don’t normally share.

Create a paid portion of your passion project

Another way of monetizing what you normally give away for free is to create an extension of your brand that people can interact with—after paying you. Sticking with the podcast example, maybe your podcast could host a few happy hours, during which your fans can participate in a live taping of the show—while they’re having a few drinks. You could charge a cover for these events instead of charging for your podcast directly.

Teach the skill that your passion project requires

Maybe you’re not interested in charging for the fruit of your actual labor, but you have built up a serious skill set that could be profitable for you. One thing that tends to happen as you gain visible success in an area is that people want to pick your brain or learn how you got to where you are. If they want it, that means it’s valuable. That’s money.

Use it to grow your day career

You might not be interested in growing your passion project into a full-out business (however, if you are trying to do that, Side Hustle Business School is the place for you), but you might want to take these skills and turn them into cash another way.

What you’ve learned in your side hustle could result in a promotion at work or even open up a new career path. Several fields, especially creative ones, don’t require “formal” experience as much as they require practical, demonstrated experience.

As an example, if you’ve built up a portfolio of your design work on your own time, you’ll have evidence that you’re capable of doing this kind of work. You may not have “LinkedIn experience”, but you definitely have proof that you know what you’re doing. And as you continue to work on your passion project on the side, you can experiment with new techniques and strategies without feeling like your day job is at risk.


If you didn’t get into your passion project with the aim of making money, that doesn’t mean you can’t make money from it. You just need to figure out how to use that passion project to create value that people will pay for without changing the part they already love.