Side Hustles vs Passion Projects

A painting of mine — a scene from one of my favourite movies.

A painting of mine — a scene from one of my favourite movies.

You're at work, you're comfortable knowing that the job will be done — actually it's so mind-numbingly easy, that you can do it blind-folded.

You don't say this to anyone of course, because it's a job, it pays your bills and you are somewhat confident that this job will be there for you tomorrow.

Pending any unknown surprises of course, but you're confident nonetheless.

You complete the tasks for the day at 2pm, you consider asking someone if they have any more jobs for you to jump on but you opt out. Actually you zone out.

"Fuck it, I'm sneaking in some 'me time'" you say to yourself.

You opt in to looking busy and working on your passion project because this is when your mind truly wakes up.

You're sitting straighter, you're posture makes a ballerina jealous and you're in the zone. No one, and I mean no one can enter this zone because you're in deep.

This is the power of passion projects.

They inspire you in ways that some of our day jobs simply can not.

When I was in my teens I believed in my heart of hearts that I was going to be a Concept Artist. I believed that one day, I'd be visualising scripts for the Star Wars Trilogy, the next Alien franchise and possibly, if I was lucky enough to get there, Sofia Coppola's follow up to the Godfather Trilogy; I'm still waiting for this.

I can't remember a time when I didn't draw. 

I can't remember a single moment in my life when I couldn't draw or didn't want to. It's a simple dance my brain and hands enjoy. 

It's also one of the few things in my life that provide me with the truest sense of calm.

"It's your special mindfulness task." An old friend once said to me. And it is.

This was my passion project for the better part of my life — a constant need to perfect my skill in drawing to achieve the goal of one day — oh God one day — sitting at dinner with Sofia Coppola and discussing script treatments, amongst other things... 😏

After much soul-searching I came to the realisation that Sofia will never know who I am and I wasn't going to be the great creative mind behind her great masterpiece.

I came to the realisation because of toilet paper.

Yes, toilet paper.

I realised that if my passion project couldn't fund the purchase of a single roll of toilet paper, why was I doing it?

Then food.

If my passion project couldn't fund the purchase of food to sustain me, why was I so sure that it was going to be the great career story of my life?

Yes, it gave me and still does give me so much. 

An outlet for my creative mind, an exercise that isolates the right side of my brain and challenges the left. 

A mindfulness and peaceful time that can't compare to any other task I perform.

I realised that if I wasn't able to sustain myself financially, put food on the table, pay the rent and live my life - I needed to refocus my passion project.

And that, for me, was the truest definition of a passion project — one that fulfils you but doesn't necessarily provide for you financially. So today, I simply draw for the sake of drawing.

Enter, the side hustle.

I launched on online course in strategy in early 2017 — The Strategy Masterclass is one of my two side hustles. Along with Photify, an iOs app that prints your iPhone and Instagram photos, The Strategy Masterclass fits neatly into the comfortable centre of the Side Hustle vs Passion Project Venn Diagram. 

Both of these ventures inspire something in me that blends the creative fulfilment I receive from drawing, and the entrepreneurial endeavour that sees products developed, tested and launched to markets.

Neither are 100% perfect because in the wise words of Mark Zuckerberg, 'Done, is better than perfect.'

Photify is now an app my wife owns and runs — launching in 2013, we experiment and hacked it together to see if there was an appetite in the market.

There was, and still are, more refined players to compete with, but entrepreneurship sees that as a great challenge, not a road block.

Strategy Masterclass was an initiative which fulfils me in a number of ways. The course is filled with students from all around the world and I'm receiving praise, feedback and insights almost daily from interactions I have within it.

I've met and liaised with people from afar as Florida, Munich and Oslo to as near as Sydney, Brisbane and upstairs in the building where my office is located. I've learned so much simply by teaching what I already know and it's a side hustle which I'll grow and grow as time goes on — providing continual value to the people who are in it. It's the one side hustle I'm quite passionate about.

A side hustle nourishes you creatively and unlike a passion project, it pays you. There is an exchange of value between you and an audience and real money hits your bank account.
It may not pay you as much as your 'main hustle' (ie. your job) but it does pay a slice of your living expenses. This is the critical difference.

A side hustle is entrepreneurial whereas a passion project is creative and possibly just for fun.

I hear a lot from people of all levels of experience. 

Some, early in their careers ask how to gain experience, how to get a foot in the door and how to get traction in a career. Others, well into their career, ask about levelling up, scaling their skills and becoming more valuable to current, potential and future employers.

Many have passions, and only the successful few have the entrepreneurial endeavour and the capability to have a side hustle.

The Strategy Masterclass