Find something you love to do, and don’t make any money.

by Robb Sutton
Make No Money

Serial entrepreneurs run into a major problem in life…we try to make money off of everything we do.

While this can be a great thing in many aspects, we run into one major problem that is ultimately not a good thing. We create a life that is nothing but work by thinking that everything has to create a revenue stream. Our hobbies, our free time, our passions…they all turn into billable hours during the day as we can’t seem to turn the entrepreneur brain off for 5 freaking seconds.

It’s ok. You can love to do something that other people make money at without having to do the same thing yourself.

In life, we need passions and hobbies. We need to be able to escape the life of work and be able to truly enjoy ourselves. For me, that used to be riding my bike…then I turned it into work with What used to be my escape was now my source of income so every ride became a test, review or brainstorming session. It actually got to the point that my personal bike was never getting ridden and my brain just continued to run 24/7. It was stressful and it sucked.

About a year in, I made an important decision that has helped me get an escape and stress relief back. Even when I was riding heavily during the peak season and reviewing products was the #1 most important thing I was doing for my business, I would grab my personal bike and go on a “just me” ride. No reviewing, no content generation…just me, the bike and the dirt like it was the good old days. I was getting back to what I really enjoyed every now and then and that was making me happier and better at my “work”.

During that time, I also started taking up photography as a way to keep creative and have an outlet. I had always enjoyed it, but I decided to really invest in trying to get better.

But…I’m not going to lie…

Even during that time, I was thinking of ways to make money off of photography online. And that was stupid. Maybe I could start a blog as a regular guy reviewing photography equipment! Wait…turning it into work again. Not only was I not a pro level photographer, but I was taking something that was supposed to be a fun hobby and tried to turn it into work! I guess that is how our brains work sometimes, but I squashed that idea about as fast as it started.

I guess the point of this whole story is to calm down and just enjoy some things in life. While we can get so focused on starting new ideas, it is becoming increasingly important to enjoy life and find things that make us happy with no stress.

Yes, starting a business or finding new ways to make money off of something you are good at can be joyous and fun, you are still adding a stress to something that started off with a simple goal…to be a hobby, not work.

Do not confuse “I love what I do” with “I have to work at everything I do”

The ultimate goal is to love your work and love your personal life. But, I do believe we often fall into a trap where our brains tell us “since you love what you do, everything you love should be ‘what you do'” and that could not be farther from the truth.

Even if you are on of those lucky individuals that has found to a way to make what you love to do and your passion a way to live a stable life, you still need to get out every now and then and enjoy that activity without the stress of work. It is important for your mental health as well as your work. You will work better and be happier…and who doesn’t want that?

As you go throughout your day, think about how you can sit back and enjoy yourself without any reservation. Then, actually take the time to escape and enjoy it.

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Andreas January 30, 2012 - 5:46 pm

Hi Robb –

An insightful post – thank you! I must say I’ve been fairly good about keeping passions and business separate. It’s one of the reasons I continue to resist writing some kind of travel niche blog because I know travel is my escape and I don’t want to bring work in to it. I must say I’ve been getting into photography more myself and it has really helped my cycling blog. I can muster up a pretty good picture these days and it gets the word about the blog.

Thanks again for an insightful post – a good reminder of the importance of having some down time.


Robb Sutton January 30, 2012 - 5:51 pm

Andreas, I completely get where you are coming from on the travel side of things. That is the ultimate in a break from the daily. Turning that into work would leave no outlet! Some can do it…I wouldn’t be able to on that end.

Andreas January 30, 2012 - 5:53 pm

It’s interesting because everyone says “Turn your passions into business” and I wholeheartedly believe that is when you do best in business – but you have to know where to draw the line. This post put into words what I’d been thinking – thanks again!

Robb Sutton January 30, 2012 - 5:53 pm

Sure thing and I agree with you 100%.

Todd January 30, 2012 - 5:49 pm

Robb, that is right on point. Even though I don’t make much, if any, money with PhitZone, I’ve gone through similar scenarios. I was always looking for how I could make money off of the site, or brainstorming new site/blog ideas.

I started blogging for fun, and just happened to write about something that I love, fitness. I eventually came to the conclusion that if I don’t enjoy doing it without making any money at all, HAVING to do it to pay the bills was going to zap the enjoyment out of it.

Robb Sutton January 30, 2012 - 5:52 pm

Having to do what you love for money is a tough spot to be in. However, if you live with in your means (not saying anything about you personally…just in general), the pressure to produce isn’t as great. Ironically enough, when I live within my means, I make more money because I am back to loving it again. Interesting how that works out.

Mark Shepard January 30, 2012 - 5:53 pm

Hey Rob,

great article. I got totally hooked by your headline. I totally and completely agree with your point… I get stuck in that entrepreneurial “I love this so how can I make money at it?” trap. It’s stressful and counterproductive. Thank you for giving me permission to just have some damn fun! thanks! – Mark

Robb Sutton January 30, 2012 - 5:54 pm

haha! Glad to help Mark! I have been in that rut of thinking I have to turn everything into income. Been there and know exactly how you feel. Enjoy it!

Keith January 30, 2012 - 8:30 pm

I love beer.
Maybe I should start a beer review blog, or build an iPhone app.
I love beer.

Just drink beer.

Robb Sutton January 30, 2012 - 8:32 pm

haha! Very well put. I should own a bar (How I Met Your Mother reference)!

Keith January 30, 2012 - 8:37 pm

It’s true though, I find myself doing the same thing ALL the time (well I used to), last year I came dangerously close to beginning development of several iPhone apps having to do with beer/drinks, I had even interviewed a few developers. Then, I love the beach…. so I started a blog about the beach where I live (sits there, I think I sold it for $250 after I get back from trip to FL). Now I work, I do what I love (mostly SEO for companies) and my income is shooting up!

I go to the beach, I ride my bike, I drink beer. But I work first, then I leave work in this room.

Melissa Galt January 30, 2012 - 9:28 pm

On the other hand, if you don’t love it, but do it a lot, like I do dating, then maybe making money off it (or trying to) is a good idea. LOL

Kier January 31, 2012 - 3:25 pm

Oh so very true!

Of course, the other problem with what you love becoming what you make money on is what happens when your interests/likes/abilities change. For some people, that may not be an issue (depending on how good they are at accepting that change), but I know far too many who would feel compelled to keep doing things they no longer liked because “I have to!”

Much like sucking the joy out of your leisure activities, you can also lose any meaningful purpose in the work you do.

So many fine lines to walk in the modern business world! 😉

Kim February 22, 2012 - 4:27 pm

Thank you for writing this. You have really inspired me to look at myself and get ahold of my behavior.

Will March 28, 2012 - 5:32 pm

Really timely. I’ve been trying for years to make money selling guitar lessons online. So when I’m not doing the lucrative IT projects, I start working on mobile apps, or try to get more lesson sales. When I’m doing this current contract I’m going to try to focus on just studying jazz guitar instead of trying to turn it into a business but it’s hard. Now I’m thinking of building it up offline in my new local community. Somebody stop me!


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