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How to Monetize Your Passion

How to Monetize Your Passion

Ah, those dreams of being able to monetize your passion…

You’ve been working away on your project for a while now, haven’t you? Maybe you’ve switched projects a few times. You’ve tried a few things and it’s not quite brought in the cash you would have liked so maybe you’ve gone back to the drawing board. It’s got to the point where it’s all a bit of a muddle. You’re frustrated that you’re not making more money despite the huge amounts of effort you’ve put in. It even makes you want to give up at times.

If this resonates with you, then you’re not alone–and there is something you can do about it.

The Illusive Piece Of The Puzzle

Having coached individuals to rock their revenue for a few good years now, there are some patterns that crop up again and again, and here is what I can tell you for certain: You’re not the only one who is struggling to monetize their project.

The truth is, making cash out of your activities is the most difficult piece of the puzzle… if you don’t set it up right from the beginning. I’ve seen dozens of highly skilled, talented and driven individuals set up some awesome businesses: projects that could change the world.

They start with great ideas and they put in place awesome delivery systems, but getting the damn thing to cash flow can sometimes feel like trying to get blood out of a stone. If you can relate to this you need to know: the root of this problem, and the solution, starts way before you launch your product or service.

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If you understand what I’m about to outline, you will be able to position your business so that the monetization phase becomes the EASIEST part of the whole project.

The biggest problem you face is actually that monetization is the last thing that happens in the whole creation cycle. All the work has to be done upfront though. And even if you have cash, all of this needs to happen without even a minimal reward to spur you on.

It’s not that it is impossible, but it can be tough, and managing your own expectations from the start is key. There is a way to make all this MUCH easier.

Start with Your Day-to-Day Love

Every business becomes easier to get to (and through) the monetization phase successfully if day in and day out you’re doing something that you love. If you’re enjoying what you’re doing and not just doing it for the money then it becomes easier to go that extra mile to put in a few more hours, to influence one more person, to get up and dust yourself off and press on when the going gets tough.

In fact, if you love what you do every day, you’ll find very quickly that going to work on that project actually gives you energy. That’s right! You end up with more energy at the end of the day than when you started. Getting up and getting on with the tasks of the day becomes effortless because you’re aligned with what you naturally want to be spending your day doing. So you can see that monetising your passion is much easier to do than monetising any old business or side project.

This is a very important point, because it shapes everything that comes after it. This is where much of the pain and frustration has stemmed from already, because if you’re struggling to get to the point of it “working” (i.e. making a profit) it probably has something to do with you not being fully aligned with what you love to do. I mean this in both the conceptual sense, and in the day to day workings of what you do.

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When I work with clients we start with defining very clearly what they love to do and where their natural skills are, then align it with producing a business that delivers what the market wants. This is the step almost everyone misses out even if they’re passionate about the concept they are trying to deliver.

Concepts don’t get you to go the extra mile when you’re tired and you’ve suffered an intermediate defeat. Loving the day-to-day of what you do does.

Monetization: The Final Phase

When it comes to needing cash flow from your efforts you need to take lag time into account. Depending on how much ground work there is, being able to monetize your effort will vary from several weeks to several months. Heck, I’ve invested in companies that, three years down the line, aren’t paying dividends because they need to reinvest the profits into mega expansion.

The point is, you need to take this into account, whatever size you’re planning to grow the business to. You can’t start pulling an idea together and monetize it in a few days. Monetization is the *final* phase of a project. But here is how to short-cut it and stack the odds of success in your favor–BIG TIME.

1. Be Clear On Your Passion

Contrary to popular belief, your passion is what you want to spend your time doing and not some random vision written on a blackboard in the sky that you somehow need to “discover”.  Ask yourself what you love doing day in day out, because ultimately this is your passion.

2. Align Your Passion With What You Are Good At

Most people skip these two most important parts of the process, thinking it will get them to the money quicker. They think that there is more money to be made in another business, and that the grass is always greener. If you pick your industry based only on how much money you think you can make, then you can expect to always be chasing the money.

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If you take the time to align these two aspects effectively (your day-to-day passion and your skills) you will flat out make the rest of the process much easier.

3. Find A Market You Want To Work With and work out what their biggest pain is.

Again, most people do this the wrong way. They think “who is most likely to pay me money”, and even if they aren’t in the market they want to work with, they push on anyway. This again is the road to pain and struggle.

4. Tailor What You Offer (your passion, product or service) to the avatar of the people you most want to work with.

In other words, think of a character that represents the people you want to work with (your avatar) and design your offering for just that person. Give them a name, and describe every detail of their pain, their fears, their hopes, their current situation… down to even the more tangible aspects of their lives like where they shop and their educational backgrounds. This will allow you to hone what you have to offer precisely to what they want, and this will form the basis of your marketing messaging when you talk to them.

At this point, even early on in the process, you’re making it easy for them to buy.

5. Work A Marketing Plan

What I mean by this is simply create a plan around how you are going to connect with them.

Note: Facebook is not a marketing plan! Even those marketers who are rocking it on Facebook only get about 20% of their sales from it. If you’re in the online world you need an email list. Period.

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Create database of people you can email (or snail mail) and build up a relationship with them. This is your audience. These are the people who are an ideal fit for your product or service and are interested in hearing your message. Make sure you have an easy way to be in touch with them so that you can communicate about your product or service before it’s even ready. Part of this plan will then be to build a relationship with your audience, getting them involved in developing the product (or service), then communicate what is available and make it really easy for them to buy.

You Can Do It The Easy Way

What we’ve talked about are the first, most vital steps in creating cash from what you love to do, because they set the tone of everything else that comes later. The sales, marketing and positioning come much more easily once you’ve got the first few items figured out. In fact, monetising is just a process, one you’ve worked out what you want to spend your time doing, what your natural skills are and who you want to work with.

Remember lots of work goes in before you get anywhere near to being able to monetize. If you align with what you love to do every day, your natural skills AND the market you want to serve you will massively increase your chances of monetising your project effectively in the shortest possible time.

What Are You Going To Do About It?

Never leave the scene of learning something new without taking a new action. It’s time for you to declare which action step you’re going to put some attention onto and why. Share in the comments below.

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Last Updated on August 20, 2019

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

Finances can push anyone to the point of extreme anxiety and worry. Easier said than done, planning finances is not an egg meant for everyone’s basket. And that’s why most of us are often living pay check to pay check. But did anyone tell you that it is actually not a tough task to meet your financial goals?

In this article, we will explore ways on how to set financial goals and then actually meet them with ease.

5 Steps to Set Financial Goals

Though setting financial goals might seem to be a daunting task but if one has the will and clarity of thought, it is rather easy. Try using these steps:

1. Be Clear About the Objectives

Any goal (let alone financial) without a clear objective is nothing more than a pipe dream. And this couldn’t be more true for financial matters.

It is often said that savings is nothing but deferred consumption. Therefore if you are saving today, then you should be crystal clear about what it is for. It could be anything like kid’s education, retirement, marriage, that dream vacation, fancy car etc.

Once the objective is clear, put a monetary value to that objective and the time frame. The important point at this step of goal setting is to list all the objectives, however small they may be, that you foresee in the future and put a value to it.

2. Keep Them Realistic

It’s good to be an optimistic person but being a pollyanna is not desirable. Similarly, while it might be a good thing to keep your financial goals a bit aggressive, going out of the line will definitely hurt your chances of achieving them.

It’s important that you keep your goals realistic in nature for it will help you stay the course and keep you motivated throughout the journey.

3. Account for Inflation

Ronald Reagan once said – “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hitman”. And this quote sums up the best what inflation could do your financial goals.

Therefore account for inflation whenever you are putting a monetary value to a financial objective that is far away in the future.

For example, if one of your financial goal is your son’s college education, which is 15 years hence, then inflation would increase the monetary burden by more than 50% if inflation is mere 3%. So always account for inflation.

4. Short Term vs Long Term

Just like every calorie is not the same, the approach towards achieving every financial goal will not be the same. It is important to bifurcate goals in short term and long term.

As a rule of thumb, any financial goal, which is due in next 3 years should be termed as short term goal. Any longer duration goals are to be classified as long term goals. This bifurcation of goals into short term vs long term will help in choosing the right investment instrument to achieve them.

More on this later when we talk about how to achieve financial goals.

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5. To Each to His Own

The journey of setting financial goals is an individualistic affair i.e. your goals are your own goals and are determined by your want to achieve them. A lot of times we get on the bandwagon of goal setting only to realize later on that it was not meant for us.

It is important that your goals are actually your goals and not inspired by someone else. Take a hard look at this step at all the goals you’ve set for after this step, you will be on the way to achieve them.

By now, you would be ready with your financial goals, now it’s time to go all out and achieve them.

11 Ways to Achieve Your Financial Goals

Whenever we talk about chasing any financial goal, it is usually a 2 step process –

  • Ensuring healthy savings
  • Making smart investments

You will need to save enough; and invest those savings wisely so that they grow over a period of time to help you achieve goals. So let’s get down to ensuring healthy savings.

Ensuring Healthy Savings

Self realization is the best form of realisation and unless you decide what your current financial position is, you aren’t heading anywhere.

This is the focal point from where you start your journey of achieving financial goals.

1. Track Expenses

The first and the foremost thing to be done is to track your monthly expenses. Use any of the expense tracking mobile apps to record your expenses. Once you start doing it diligently, you would be surprised to see how small expenses add up to a sizeable amount.

Also categorize those expenses into different bucket so that you know which bucket is eating the most of your pay check. This record keeping will pave the way for cutting down on un-wanted expenses and pump up your savings rate.

2. Pay Yourself First

Generally, savings come after all the expenses have been taken care of. This is a classical mistake which almost everyone of us do. We pay ourselves last!

Ideally, this should be planned upside down. We should be paying ourselves first and then to the world i.e. we should be taking out the planned saving amount first and then manage all the expenses from the rest.

The best way to actually implement is to put the savings on automatic mode i.e. money flowing automatically into different financial instruments (for example – mutual funds, retirement corpus etc) every month.

Taking the automatic route will make us lose control of our money and hence will compel us to manage in what’s left with us thereby increasing the savings rate.

3. Make a Plan and Vow to Stick with It

Budgeting is the best to get around the uncertainty that financial plans always pose. Decide in advance how spending has to be made.

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Nowadays, several money management apps and wallets can help you do this automatically. It’s easy and who knows, you may just end up doing what people fail to do.

At first, you may not be able to stick to your plans completely but don’t let that become a reason why you stop budgeting entirely.

Make use of technology solutions you like. Explore options and alternatives that let you make use of the available wallet options and choose the one that suits you the most. In time, you will get accustomed to making use of these solutions.

You will find that they make it simpler for you to follow your plan, which would have been difficult otherwise.

4. Rise Again Even If You Fall

Let’s be realistic. It’s not like the world will come to an end if you made one mistake. This isn’t called leniency but discipline.

If you fail to meet your budget for a month, don’t give up the entire effort just like that. Instead, start again.

Remember that flexible plans are the most realistic plans. So go forward and try to follow your financial goals as planned but if for some reason, the plan gets out of hand for you, do not give up on it just yet. This has a lot to do with your psychology rather than any material commitment.

All you have to do is to stay on the road and vow to stay on it, no matter how much you fall down.

5. Make Savings a Habit and Not a Goal

In the book Nudge, authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein advocate that in order to achieve any goal, it should be broken down into habits since habits are more intuitive for people to adapt to.

Make Savings a habit rather than a goal. While it might seem to be counter intuitive to many but there are some deft ways of doing it. For example:

Always eat out (if at all) during weekdays rather than weekends. Usually weekends are expensive. Make it a habit and you would in turn be saving a great deal.

If you are travelling buff, try to travel during off season. Your outlay will be much less.

If you go out for shopping, always look out for coupons and see where can you get the best deal.

So the key point is to imbibe the action that results in savings rather than on the savings itself, which is the outcome. Focusing on the outcome will bring out the feeling of sacrifice which will be harder to sustain over a period of time.

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6. Talk About It

Sticking to the saving schedule (to achieve financial goals) is not an easy journey. There will be many distractions from those who are not aligned with your mission. And it would be rather easy to lose the grip over your discipline.

Therefore in order to stay the course, it is advisable that you keep yourself surrounded with people who are also on the same bandwagon. Daily discussions with them will keep you motivated to move forward.

7. Maintain a Journal

For some people, writing helps a great deal in making sure that they achieve what they plan.

So if you are one of them, maintain a proper journal, where you write down your goals and also jot down the extent to which you managed to meet them. This will help you in reviewing how far you have come and which goals you have met.

Use this journal to write down all essential points such as your short term, mid term and long term goals, your current sources of income, your regular expenses which you are aware of and any committed expenses which are of recurring nature.

When you have a written commitment on paper, you are going to feel more energised to follow the plan and stick to it. Moreover, it is going to be a lot more easier for you to follow you and track your progress.

At this point, you should be ready with your financial goals and would be doing brilliantly with savings; now it’s time to talk about the big daddy – Investments.

Making Smart Investments

Savings by themselves don’t take anyone too far. However savings when invested wisely can do wonders and we are at that stage where we will talk about making smart investments.

8. Consult a Financial Advisor

Investments doesn’t come naturally to most of us therefore rather than dabbling with it ourselves, it is wise to consult a financial advisor.

Talk to him/her about your financial goals and savings and then seek advice for the best investment instruments to achieve your goals.

9. Choose Your Investment Instrument Wisely

Though your financial advisor will suggest the best investment instruments, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about them.

Just like “no one is born a criminal”, no investment instrument is bad or good. It is the application of that instrument that makes all the difference.

Do you remember we talked about bifurcating financial goals in short term and long term?

It is here where that classification will help.

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So as a general rule, for all your short term financial goals, choose an investment instrument that has debt nature for example fixed deposits, debt mutual funds etc. The reason for going for debt instruments is that chances of capital loss is less as compared to equity instruments.

10. Compounding Is the Eighth Wonder

Einstein once remarked about compounding,

Compound Interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it… He who doesn’t… Pays it.

So make friends with this wonder kid. And sooner you become friends with it, quicker you will reach closer to your financial goals.

Start investing early so that time is on your side to help you bear the fruits of compounding.

11. Measure, Measure, Measure

All of us do good when it comes to earning more per month but fail miserably when it comes to measuring the investments; taking stock of how our investments are doing.

If there is one single step where everything (so far) can go wrong, it is at this step – Measuring the Progress.

If we don’t measure the progress timely, then we would be shooting in the dark. We wouldn’t know if our saving rate is appropriate or not; whether financial advisor is doing a decent job; whether we are moving closer to our target or not.

Do measure everything. If you can’t measure it all yourself, ask your financial advisor to do it for you. But do it!

The Bottom Line

This completes the list of tips for you to set financial goals and actually achieve them with not so great difficulty.

As you can see, all it requires is discipline. But guess that’s the most difficult part!

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Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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