My outline for making a living with what you love:

 

I did a panel sharing what I’ve learned with the DragonCon crowd a few years back, and used the following list to extemporaneously discourse on each point as I remembered stuff. I’m convinced that everyone would be happier if we all earned our keep doing what we were born to do.

Marrus’ Nine Suggestions (there are no rules) For Turning the Pictures in Your Head into a Roof Over It

1. Know what you want to do. 
Start with one thing. It’s the clearest thing in your head. It keeps you up at night, working. Too many projects is a great way to distract yourself from earning a living with one.

2. Have a plan.
Who needs this thing that you want to do? You’re gonna have to hit the road to find the people who are looking for YOU.

3. Learn what you need to get there.
A lot of success comes from being in the right place at the right time. Everything can be an opportunity. Even that job you hate. Keep in mind what it is you want to do, and keep at, keep learning, keep pushing. 

4. Stay true to your vision.
It’s fine to take a job off-center of ideal, but keep working on the thing for YOU. We lose our artistic integrity when we only cater to an established audience. Choose your allies and your addictions wisely.

5. Give back.
Teach the things you learn along the way. Sacred knowledge should be shared, not hoarded.

6. Use every tool you can find.
Barter. Use libraries, social networking sites. Blog. Question people more knowledgeable than you in your field – they started somewhere, too. Don’t overlook the guy who runs the bar down the street. Network everywhere, but be nice about it. And if an opportunity comes along that’s not right for you, pass it along to a friend.

7. Stay hungry.
That means keep learning. Keep looking. Get out of your comfort zone.

8. Be professional.
People will believe you are how you present yourself. Value your work and the time & knowledge that went into it. You’re gonna be a small business owner, so market yourself as well as your art. Remember, if it’s on the web, assume everyone you never wanted to see it WILL see it.

9. Never give up.
You won’t get the life you want if you quit fighting for it.

A final word: If you can see ANY other way to make a living, do that instead. This path can be long & hard, and unless it’s your entire world, the effort it’ll take probably won’t be worth it to you. You may realign your forces dozens of times, but each time, you’ll learn something new, make a new connection, and get that much closer to making a living with your passion.

(And if you want to hear more about this stuff, have I mentioned lately that I wrote a book? No really – I did. It’s good. (Other people have told me.)

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