The Passion Economy

July 14, 2020

When you were a kid, did you ever say “when I grow up, I want to be a [insert your current job]”?

For most of us, we didn’t achieve our childhood dream of becoming an astronaut or movie star or dinosaur. And that’s okay — along the journey of life, we discover a wider range of subjects and interests.

But if you take a moment to reflect on your career, do you currently love what you do? If money did not matter, would you pursue a passion as a profession?

Maybe you’ve always wanted to write a newsletter about parenthood or record a podcast about your favourite sports team. Perhaps you’ve thought about streaming your video game sessions or recording makeup tutorials on YouTube.

A new generation of tech platforms are helping individuals not only share their talents with the world, but also increasing the potential of getting paid in the process.

Of course, too much of something — even a hobby you love — could lead to boredom and frustration. Would playing guitar still bring you joy if you spent countless hours each week trying to monetize your work? And while tech platforms for crowdfunding, streaming, and selling can accelerate your ambitions, they also take their cut and limit your independence.

In 2009, journalist Tina Brown coined the term “gig economy” to describe freelance work that was facilitated by online marketplaces. But instead of providing flexible self-employment opportunities for knowledge-based professionals, the gig economy largely commodified workers with low-skill, physically repetitious tasks: food delivery, ride sharing, personal shopping, and more. 

A decade later, investor Li Jin introduced the phrase “passion economy” to describe ways to capitalize on individual creativity. From podcasts to newsletters to video tutorials, the passion economy empowers people to share their talents with the world. Plus, new digital platforms streamline the process of monetizing an audience of dedicated fans. 

The passion economy offers promising opportunities for scalable projects that generate ongoing sources of revenue. The work-from-home era has accelerated people’s drive to make up lost income — or even replace their career to pursue a personal dream. 

How can participants in the passion economy leverage the services of new digital platforms while also protecting their individual and creative autonomy?

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