In recent years, it has become trendy for life coaches, self-improvement gurus and financial planners to tell us to “make money from what we love doing.” There’s only one problem. They never actually tell you how to do it! In addition, for most of our lives, we are so busy living that finding the time to build a side business around our passions is a distant dream. If you’re in your 50s or 60s, now may be the perfect time to give it a shot.
As I mentioned in a previous article, most people spend their 50s and 60s panicking about the amount of money that they saved (or didn’t save). But, while traditional retirement planning is essential, it is not the only path to success. Older adults, who develop systems for supplementing their income after “retirement,” will almost certainly come out ahead. If those systems are based on their passions, all the better!
Before I explain the paths to making money from your passions, I want to make a few things clear. First, making money from what you love requires you to do more than just enjoy a particular activity. It requires you to think about how you can enrich the lives of others, while leveraging your particular talents and passions.
Second, making money while doing what you love is not easy. Even if your business is based on your passions, it is still a business. As a result, there will be plenty of things that you will have to do that will be time-consuming, tedious and just plain boring.
So, with those somewhat depressing caveats out of the way, let’s return to the heart of our discussion. How can you really make money from your passions in retirement? Please keep in mind that the following “paths” are not necessarily separate. I have known plenty of people who have started out teaching and then moved on to developing products, for example.
One of the most direct ways to make money from what you love is to teach your skills to others. You could do this locally by setting up classes at your local community center, or, even at your home. Or, you could use the Internet to reach a wider audience.
It doesn’t matter how specific your skill is. I know people that have built profitable businesses teaching painting, paper crafts and chair yoga for seniors.
If you have never taught your particular skill before, you might consider starting by offering free lessons. This will take the pressure off and give you time to develop your curriculum. Then, once you have a good teaching format in place, you can start to offer paid lessons too.
The downside to this path is that the amount of money that you can make is limited to the number of people that you can reach. On the other hand, if you are looking for a low-pressure way to get started, while meeting new people, teaching may be a great option.
If your passion lends itself to being taught at a distance, product development is a possibility. For example, yoga DVDs, foreign language tapes and books are all examples of information products that you can build around your passions.
The good news is that your earning potential is pretty much unlimited when you build a product. The bad news is that developing and finding customers for your product can be complicated, expensive and time consuming.
Now, I know that there are plenty of internet marketing gurus out there that will tell you that you can produce a cheap video in a few hours, throw up a wordpress site and voila! Instant revenue! The truth is that making money from information products requires a lot of work. Here are just a few of the things that you will need to think about:
Content – what will you teach and how?
Production – who will help you with the filming, writing or editing?
Pricing – how much will you charge? How will you decide?
Distribution – where are you going to sell it? Amazon.com? Your website?
Payments – do you need a merchant account? Will you use PayPal?
Marketing – how will people find out about your product
The bottom line is that developing an information product based on your skills and passions can be fun and profitable. Just don’t let anyone tell you that it’s easy.
They say that necessity is the mother of invention and, when it comes to building successful physical products, this is almost always the case. Is there something that frustrates you about your particular passion or hobby? Is there something that you wish you could do that you can’t? These are the kinds of simple questions that can lead to new inventions.
In addition, as members of the Baby Boomer generation, we have a built in advantage when it comes to product development. We understand our friends’ needs and this positions us to develop products that meet their needs.
You don’t even need to be an inventor to bring your idea to life. There are plenty of websites that can help to connect you with freelance product designers, such as Elance.com and Freelancer.com.
As with information products, building a physical product can provide you with almost unlimited upside. If anything, it offers even more revenue potential. But, as you might expect, it is also more complex. For example, there will be additional legal and safety considerations, manufacturing and distribution may be complicated and your project may require financing.
If you are already comfortable with product development, path 3 may offer the revenue potential and scale that you are looking for. On the other hand, if you are just getting started, it may make more sense to start with path 1 or 2.
If you enjoy being in front of the camera, one final option for making money from your passions is to embrace the role of entertainer. How? By developing your own YouTube show. The YouTube Partner Program lets you take a share of the advertising revenue that your videos generate. All you have to do is create compelling and entertaining content based on what you love and they do the rest.
The truth is that YouTube is almost certainly not going to make you rich. The amount of money that you can make from your videos is small (a few dollars for every 1000 views). Producing videos can also be time consuming, especially if you are going to edit them yourself. But, if you are passionate about your hobby or skill and want to make a little extra cash, it is certainly another option.
I’ve been talking about these “paths” as if they were separate, but, the reality is more complex. Many people over 50 have used a combination of the paths above to build successful businesses. For example, you might start by teaching knitting in your local community center (path 1) and then tape your lesson and sell it online (path 2). Or, you might create a “yoga for seniors” DVD (path 2) and then create a show on YouTube to promote it (path 4).
Regardless of the path that you choose, there has never been a better time to make money from your passions. Let’s support each other as we embark on our journey to a new kind of retirement.
Have you started a business around one of your passions after 50? Which of the paths in this article did you take? What lessons did you learn? Please share your thoughts in the comments and share this article if you found it helpful.
Tags Small Business