7 min read

What is the passion economy (and why is it the future of work)?

As the world enters the biggest recession for over one hundred years, the passion economy is in the zeitgeist and giving seven and a half billion people the opportunity to connect with creators in all corners of the planet.
What is the passion economy (and why is it the future of work)?

Ok, so here's a starter for 10. What actually is the passion economy?

Well, if you're hosting a podcast as your side gig or main role, then you're in the passion economy. Have a full time career but teach yoga a few nights a week? That's the passion economy. Wake up in the morning with a burning desire to hit the waves and later on you'll be sharing your skills with a growing band of devotees at your surf school? Definitely passion economy!

All over the world right now, creative micro entrepreneurs are choosing a new career path where they get to indulge their interests and cast off the shackles of the old school 9-5. You may have heard it sometimes mentioned as the 'creator economy' or potentially some kind of advancement of the 'gig economy' but this description doesn't do this global movement justice. What makes the passion economy so special is that for the first time since before the industrial revolution, people are realising that they now live in an age where they have all the available tools and opportunities at hand to build their own career and take control of their own destiny.

Goodbye working for the man. Goodbye daily commute. Goodbye handing over your life to someone else to make them wealthy and their dream a reality. Hello the life we all deserve to live, where every day we're working on the things that get us really buzzed and energised.

Surfing in the passion economy

The passion economy democratises the world of work

The further globalisation of planet earth, the increasing rise in open source software and seamless connectivity 24/7 means that democratisation of career choice is now ready to explode as location and timezones become only a minor inconvenience.

It doesn't matter if 'creators' of killer content are operating millions of miles away from the consumer. If they're the best person around at 'their thing' i.e making a taco or teaching coding, then why shouldn't they be the master of their realm with a fanbase in every corner of the globe?

As our post COVID-19 world begins to emerge from the flames and disruption has given us all the opportunity to reassess what is important in life, there will be many new opportunities to develop new income streams for numerous segments of the traditional working population.  

In the past, graduates straight out of school were expected to walk into a comfortable job and start out on their linear but financially rewarding career path. Whilst this may still be the case for some people, we are definitely now entering a time of ever increasing uncertainty where traditional industries are either going to fold completely, contract by cutting fat (realising that their operations have become bloated over time) or just as dramatically, there's simply just no demand for their product anymore.

Bright sign saying Oi!

Throw together these uninspired youth of today with hundreds of millions of newly redundant employees and glacial slow centralised government intervention to support the new industries of tomorrow and you have the perfect storm of a cross generational workforce ready to embrace the DIY, do it yourself entrepreneurial work ethic.

The passion economy offers low barriers to entry

The beauty of the passion economy is that the barriers to entry are so low, but the opportunities to diversify your offering are so high. As an example, with the right digital platform, someone with a great personality and skillset could go from making cupcakes for their local neighbourhood to running 'in real life' baking classes, to developing a global online cookery empire all within 6-12 months. Throw in subscriptions for associated products with the right marketing mix and this creator entrepreneur could well be on the way to making multiple times what they could have earned as a salaried employee.

Beats By Dre In Passion Economy

Self-actualisation is a thing

If you've missed Netflix's excellent 'The Defiant Ones' with legendary music entrepreneurs Dr Dre and Jimmy Iovine then I highly recommend adding it to your watch list.

One of the most interesting lines from it was Dre talking about how he feels to this day that he was so lucky discovering at a young age that he had a God-given talent for spinning records and making beats. He basically says he has no idea what else he would have done if it wasn't for music. He discovered his passions early on, creating an incredible career out of it. He goes on to say he pities people who live their entire life without knowing their purpose or being given the opportunity to advance in an area they clearly love.

And that's the total crux of the passion economy. It's all about discovering who you are, what your real expertise is and mixing this with what really gets you up in the morning. It's all about realising how you can make money from a lifestyle and building a career on your own terms. It's the very top of Maslow's 'Hierarchy of Needs' in realising your full potential and taking control of your own destiny. Self-actualisation is a thing and something we should all be looking for as we begin to realise that life is short and we work out what we actually want out of our limited years on this ever crowded third rock from the sun....

Happy girl enjoying life

The passion economy is the future of work

This is why the passion economy is the future of employment. It has so many drivers beyond just being financial. The rise of platforms such as Instagram and Twitter haven given us all the ability to manifest huge amounts of followers, in essence the first step in building an audience. But the future is making this audience an active participant in your journey and taking them on the adventure with you. Just as old school brands like Coca Cola and McDonalds created loyal fans of their product over the past century, the new pioneers of the passion economy have the opportunity to monetise their own mini-brand and build their own empires around their personality and skill sets.

As social media begins to overcook from every 'influencer' sporting a few thousand followers trying to sell you their affiliated fashionwear, the conversation is now moving on to what value is being created for the user and their audience beyond some pouting pics.

If ever there was a time for anyone with an idea to take control of their own destiny by leading a new charge of micro entrepreneurship to move the planet and our people forward then it's now. Think of the post COVID-19 world as like the wild west. Everything is up for grabs!

Neon sign talking about opportunities

Creating real value in the creator economy, exit planet free

Since the internet really came to prominence 30 years ago, the vast majority of us have become increasingly used to consuming (and expecting) all of our information for free. This traditionally has worked well on many levels in terms of creating the current global online ecosystem of numerous niches and personalities across numerous horizontal platforms.

The mainstream social media giants have been more than happy to give away their product for free, fully aware that they were playing the long game in monetising their growing user bases and treating content creators audiences as the consumer for their adverts.

However the main problem with a 'totally free content' world is an ever increasing worry about which social media news sources to trust , fake news and a race to the bottom in terms of quality and low expectation experiences. With a willingness to ditch the old media and expert opinion we've entered a world where shallow consumption and ever decreasing attention spans have left a vacuum to fill with much needed quality content, products and expert experiences that people are willing to pay for.

For a smart 'creator' in the passion economy, they look at where they can diversify their offering and learn the skills they need to keep their new and future customers fulfilled. Want to generate more income? Learn a new skill, set up your platform and go!

Looking at the stars for inspiration

Show me the money

Quite simply, now is the time for creators in the passion economy to start getting paid for their effort and expertise. Forget free social media videos. Forget throw away webinars which are funnel filling marketing exercises. Forget lame ass taster sessions. If you're doing great work, the general public are starting to realise that it pays to pay!

This growing self sufficiency movement is starting to gather pace with creators using vertical platforms that support their niches, such as Anchor for podcasting, substack for newsletters and udemy for online video course creation. This range of platforms, sub genres and niches is only going to boom as more people realise that their future lies in the passion economy.

On the customer side, finding your tribe and 'guru' has never been more important in an ever increasingly connected but fragmented and noisy world. The ability to communicate directly with experts that talk your language and understand your specific needs is the real luxury that we are all striving for. Think of it as hyper personalisation 2.0, in effect like having a personal assistant or lifestyle concierge on call.

Mixed colour hands coming together

As the world enters the biggest recession for over one hundred years, the passion economy is in the zeitgeist and giving seven and a half billion people the opportunity to take control and live the life they truly want.

We are now in the forth industrial revolution with the current working model of a 'steady job for life' in factory to office conditions firmly a product of the mid 1800's-early 2000's. Who's to say that in another 100 years time, a global community of fulfilled micro entrepreneurs living life on their terms and following their passions won't be the norm?

I think that's a vision we can all get behind!

Until next time...keep winning

Jonny Quirk

If you like what you've read here, have your own success story, or want to join the conversation around entrepreneurship then hit me up on Twitter or check out our YouTube channel - I'm always around!

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