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How to Really Get Paid Doing What You Love

Developing the mindset to build a sustainable, human-centered business on the Internet

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A friend recently asked me what my favorite kind of work was. We’re both building online businesses after a decade of “working for the man” and are still reveling in the fact that we’re making a go of it on our own.

I’ve been doing a lot of different things this year — customizing WordPress sites, creating SlideShare presentations, even designing book and album covers. It’s all been one big work experiment.

I thought about her question for a moment and then told her that it wasn’t one thing, actually. It’s whatever I can do (and do really well) to help people launch and build their big idea online.

I’ve learned that this is the mindset you have to have when you’re building a sustainable, human-centered business on the Internet.

In a world of unlimited consumer choices a click away, in a world where you’re competing with Odesk and Fiverrr and Craigslist, you have to do two things:

1. You have to really care about helping people and do the things that help them.

2. You have to communicate to them that you care and why you care.

That’s the secret to getting paid to do what you love. Because your love for social media marketing or web designing or consulting or whatever it is that you do can wane. 

It doesn’t matter what kind of work you do. It’s WORK. It’s hard. And most of it isn’t glamorous.

Learning to Love the Work

Being a Mom taught me this. There’s a lot to love about being a parent. All the firsts — the first time they walk, the first time they talk, their first day at school. 

But then there’s the lack of sleep and cleaning up constant messes and getting them — and you — through each day with a shred of your sanity intact.

That’s the work involved in raising kids. You love your kids and so you carry on, focused on your role in shaping their future.

It’s a lot like running a business.

Some days you’re tired. Some days everything goes wrong. Some days your clients act like children. Some days you are completely unmotivated and don’t want to do the work and think — hey, I work for myself! I should be binging on Netflix and homemade chocolate chip cookies! — but then you remember THIS:

You’re here doing the work because you really care about your people. They’re relying on you.

So you get back to work. And you enjoy the work because you understand why you’re doing it and who you’re doing it for.

For Madelaine, it’s a website.

For Mark, it’s presentation design.

For Melissa, it’s a social media plan.

[Does your first name begin with “M”? We were meant to work together. Inquire now about our special discount.]

Why This Mindset Matters

The reason this mindset is so liberating for me is because I spent a lot of years in a job I wasn’t meant for.

Perhaps you can relate to this scenario.

I enjoyed working with clients but I was held up by bureaucracy and paperwork (oh, the paperwork) and meetings and office politics, starring in my own one-woman show of “How to Get Paid Doing What You Hate”.

I was part of a system where the flames of creativity were routinely extinguished with the standard line, “That’s not your job”.

It was just the way things worked. I had a job to do — a job I was paid well for — but the truth was the real work I craved — the actual work part where I could solve problems and create things and not have to fight for every new idea — wasn’t part of that job.

Over time, I had no choice BUT to find another way to make a living.

That’s what led me here — to design and marketing strategy tailored for online businesses built my real, living, breathing humans. This is my way to help people like me who are launching new chapters of their lives online.

I love design and marketing. But what I love more is helping people. I love having an immediate, tangible impact on their lives.

That’s what keeps me going.

I’m not here to fulfill some kind of “4 Hour Work Week” fantasy life.

I’m here to do good work with great people that supports my family. That’s how I get paid doing what I love.

The Framework for Getting Paid to Do What You Love

I promise — this really works. It doesn’t happen overnight. But you’re in this for the long run.

So here’s the framework.

1. Focus on helping people. Get really specific on what they need help with — design, marketing, accounting, coaching, training. Understand why that matters to them.

2. Find ways to consistently communicate to them that you care and why you care. Email them, call them, send them homemade chocolate chip cookies! Root for their success. Listen. Empathize. Celebrate. Repeat often.

That’s how to get paid doing what you love.

Got it? Good, now get to work.

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  • Thanks to Laura Click of Blue Kite Marketing, I landed here. Fabbytastic post, Sarah!

    On the toughest days, we have to keep traveling back to the “why” of what we’re working on and stay laser-focused on the “helping” aspect. Mindset definitely matters. Luckily, online we have friends and colleagues to rely on for encouragement, inspiration, and motivation. I don’t know about you, but my circle or support is invaluable! I couldn’t make it without them.

    Yes, some days you want to pull your hair out or scream … or just eat ice cream. 😉

    • Thanks so much, Melanie. Welcome! Laura is a great friend and one of my cheerleaders that helps me carry on.

      You are absolutely right about circling back to the “why”. Very important but often lost in the thick of things.

      • No question about it, Sarah …
        You and I are in really good company. 🙂

        I’m going to give your sign-up form another whirl.

  • Also, Sarah …
    You might want to jump into your Mail Chimp dashboard. Your sign-up form is not working. 🙁

    • Thanks for the heads up! Something’s gone haywire. Try my standby: eepurl.com/xL-av

    • P.S. It’s fixed now! 🙂

  • Enjoyed reading your post. Thanks! KS