The Importance of Doing What You’re Good At

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I read a blog post recently by the always awesome Mark Manson called “Screw Finding Your Passion.” The post explains that there's really no such thing as “finding” your passion – you already know what you love doing if you stop to think about it; your passion is already there.

The tricky part is deciding whether to pursue that passion to the point where you make your life revolve around it. For some people, turning a passion into a profession is a natural progression. You see this all the time with writers and photographers and other creative types.

For other people, though, the idea of turning a passion into a job is unrealistic. And, in some cases, it probably is – not every passion is something you can easily make money from.

But that's okay too. As Manson writes, “Who says you need to make money doing what you love? … Really, what is so wrong with working an OK normal job with some cool people you like, and then pursuing your passion in your free time on the side?”

And he's right, of course. Not everyone can turn their passion into a career. And even if you do, you're not going to love it 100% of the time. The problem with turning your passion into work is that it often ends up feeling like… well, work!

Amanda at Reynisfjara Beach in Iceland

Traveling is my passion. And so is writing about it. But, over the past couple of years, I've struggled with turning those passions into a viable career. The pay is inconsistent, and it gets stressful always hustling for that next paycheck. It's part of the reason why I ended up NOT quitting my job to travel full-time.

However, having said all of this, I've also learned that it's often impossible to keep your passion from seeping into your work.

My mind is always swirling around travel, whether I'm writing a blog post about New Mexico or putting together a webinar about social media. It's a part of me now.

So lately I've begun thinking that maybe the advice shouldn't be to “follow your passion” (or, conversely, to “get a real job”), but rather should be to embrace the things you're good at.

Snaefellsnes Peninsula, Iceland

Many times, the things we're good at ARE our passions. Other times, they're not. But by identifying what we're good at, it becomes a hell of a lot easier to build a life around both the things we love and the things we do really well. It's all about balance.

When I was younger, I would always tell people that I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up. I was convinced that I was going to teach art or English or maybe history. But then I got older and I realized two things: 1.) while I loved sharing knowledge, I couldn't imagine being told what to teach; and 2.) I kind of couldn't stand kids, and knew I didn't want to deal with hormonal teenagers, either.

As so my dreams of teaching ended.

Amanda in Iceland

Teaching was never my passion like writing and travel, but it was always something I thought I would be good at.

And, indeed, over the past couple of years, I've had the chance to test my teaching chops, first in graduate school and then with my most recent job with Edgar, where I created and presented educational webinars about social media. And guess what? I DID kind of love it. And, more importantly, I was pretty good at it.

It got me thinking. Here was this thing I was good at that already WAS a profession. And, while I didn't want to go out and start apply for teaching jobs, maybe there was a way to meld it together with my passion in order to create some sort of awesome combo.

Enter Travel Blog Success

Amanda at Jökulsárlón in Iceland

I've been a member and fan of TBS for a while – it's one of the best communities for budding travel bloggers out there. But, going through their course offerings, I realized that there was little offered beyond the basics. Which is fine when you're just starting out, of course. But, after a year or two of travel blogging, there are other things you start to get curious about – like how to work with destinations and brands, get invited on press trips, and even get paid to travel.

And so on a whim I pitched the idea to develop an online course focused around partnerships – how to prepare for them, how to pitch them, and how to follow through on them. Surprisingly, they loved it, and the course just went on sale this week.

Partnerships

I never imagined when I started blogging that one day I would be teaching others to do what I've done. But, when I think about it, it makes perfect sense. I'm good at teaching and passionate about traveling and blogging. Melding them both together is the perfect balance for me.

If you're a travel blogger interested in working with travel brands and destinations, now is the time to check out Bloggers, Brands, and Tourism Boards: A Guide to Successful Partnerships. It consists of 23 lessons, four expert interviews, and worksheets covering everything from developing and pitching ideas to delivering and following up on effective campaigns.

Topics covered include:

  • Best practices for working with brands and destinations
  • How to create a media kit (it’s easier than you think!)
  • Crafting the perfect pitch letter (with several real world examples)
  • Social campaigns (including three Instagram case studies)
  • How to ask for money
  • And much more

The course will normally sell for $197, but is more than 50% for this first week. Buy before 11p.m. EST on Friday, November 20, and you can get it for just $97

Partnerships course

This is my story of paying attention to what I'm good at and trying to mesh it with what I'm passionate about – hopefully it inspires you to think about how you might do the same!

What are you good at? What are you passionate about? Do you think the two can ever combine?

 

31 Comments

  • Sally says:

    Love this concept. I read the article by Mason when you shared it on Facebook and it spoke so much sense to me. I have only just realised that embracing your passions is actually ok even if it is not a viable career option, but then again, why can’t it be if that is what I am good at? A great reminder and congrats on the new course!
    Sally recently posted..A-Z Guidebook: Florence Cathedral, Italy

    • Amanda says:

      Thanks so much, Sally! I’m all about passionate people going after and embracing what they love – but if what you love isn’t going to make you money, that’s okay too! It doesn’t have to be an either-or situation. You can have a job you’re good at AND a passion, even if the two don’t mesh together.

  • Clazz says:

    Your new project sounds exciting, congrats!! 🙂 I have always shied away from turning passions into work because I’m afraid of them turning into just work and I won’t enjoy them any more – particularly when both travel writing and music writing (the main two passions of mine) are hugely competitive industries with often very little return. I think it’s great that you have managed to find a unique avenue! 🙂
    Clazz recently posted..#tbt Summer 2008: Living the American Dream

    • Amanda says:

      It’s definitely tough! I do some freelance travel writing here and there, so I definitely relate to how competitive it is, and also how disheartening it can be to constantly have to hustle to find work!

  • Kiara Gallop says:

    This article really strikes a chord with me. On one hand I’d love to travel and write full-time but on the other hand I imagine that working so hard to find work (which, like you say is often inconsistent and unreliable; my boyfriend is self-employed so I watch these struggles first-hand!) would take all the fun out of something that I love. I have a full-time day job at the moment and blog and travel in my spare time, but I’ve been too frightened to approach brands as yet because my numbers are so low. Is your course aimed at bloggers who have less than 5000 MUV / 1000 twitter followers or would you consider those numbers too low for brands to consider working with you?
    Kiara Gallop recently posted..11 Gifts the Traveller in Your Life Would Never Be Without

    • Amanda says:

      Numbers only tell part of the story – if your audience is a great fit for a brand, the numbers often don’t matter as much. Plus, you can always start small! Even if you don’t think you’re ready for pitching yet, I think the course can be helpful. You’ll learn how to put together a media kit, identify brands that you might reach out to in the future, and learn about some of the do’s and don’ts of sponsored travel.

  • Derek Cullen says:

    Nice post and great job with pitching that to TBS. I’ve yet to finish the bylines course but hopefully will get around to this one when time allows 😉

  • Cest La Vibe says:

    Great advice that I wish I heard earlier. I feel like I spent too long thinking about the “job market” and a “suitable career path” instead of just doing what I like.
    Cest La Vibe recently posted..The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

    • Amanda says:

      You definitely aren’t alone! But it’s also not a bad thing – I mean, you have to pay the bills somehow, right? I think, as with most things in life, it’s all about finding balance.

  • Brooklyn says:

    Congrats on your course!
    It looks like a really informational course that I’m sure many will benefit from.

    Also, all of the photos in this post are outstanding!

    http://www.justbeingbrooklyn.com
    Brooklyn recently posted..Future Friday- Johannesburg

  • Arti says:

    It must be so exciting to combine your passion and that which you are good at in such an innovative way. Wow. Sometimes I guess we just need to wait for the right time in life when things can materialize as wonderful a way as it has for you. Till then, embracing I surely the way! All the best for your course! 🙂
    Arti recently posted..The Sweeping Healers of the Agni Theertham in Rameshwaram!

  • Congratulations Amanda! I’m not surprised that you’re one of the leading bloggers on the TBS project as you’re professional, approachable, and very geniune doing what you like, how you like it.

    Do I think the two can ever combine? As long as you keep loving what you’re doing. Absolutely!
    Victoria@ The British Berliner recently posted..48 hours in Bristol – 48 things to do!

  • Ryan says:

    This is really stellar Amanda, and I’m happy that you’ve found something that pairs nicely with your passion and potentially career. I’ve read that article as well and it really stuck with me. I always struggle with thoughts of inadequacy because I always have to go back to work a normal job and that always takes away from being able to do the travel blogging full time, which in turn halts progress for it. I’ve given teaching a try a couple of times and I am pretty good at it (not to brag) but this last time around I just wasn’t feeling passionate about it. I’m sure I’ll do it again because it was enjoyable, but wasn’t right for now. In the meantime, I’m again at a restaurant job…but I get to save money fast and I’ve been blogging again. I just have to use my other skills to find my center. Thanks for the inspiration Amanda!
    Ryan recently posted..Battling Hundreds of Emotions When You First Start Traveling

    • Amanda says:

      I have a lot of respect for you, Ryan, because you never give up and you’re always finding ways to fund your travel dreams. A lot of people would just give up! Sometimes, though, like Manson writes, your job is just something you do, and your passion is something else entirely. Travel is a passion for a lot of people, but not a job – and there’s nothing wrong (or inadequate!) about that.

  • Great post, Amanda!
    Amanda | Lesson Plans & Layovers recently posted..Am I Over-Thinking Solo Travel?

  • Sadie says:

    You said it perfectly! I haven’t left my job completely yet because I don’t know how I am going to make money on the road. I love traveling and am growing to love writing more and more, but I’m now where near being able to support myself from it. I also don’t want to begin hating it if it turns into like you said “work.”
    There is a balance out there. You just have to work it out by trial and error I think.
    Congrats on the course!
    Sadie recently posted..Spending the Day in Ayutthaya

    • Amanda says:

      I can definitely relate! Trying to make a living from a blog is really, really difficult. You almost always have to supplement it with something else like freelance writing or social media consulting – and many times that might not be what you enjoy doing at all! Glad that you’re keeping with, it though!

  • Leigh says:

    Congrats to you on this new venture! Count me among the corporate drones who live their travel passion within the confines of 4 weeks PTO per year 🙂
    Leigh recently posted..11 Days of Grand Canyon Whitewater

  • Our Wanders says:

    Thanks for your thoughts, Amanda!

    We’ve just started a travel blog a couple of months ago and we love it so much – so as travelling! But we didn’t leave our jobs and don’t want to. Though we are following a lot of travel blogs for a while now and sometimes we feel like strangers because we don’t plan to sell everything and move to Bali. Not that it couldn’t be a path to happiness, but it’s just not for us. And so good to see that we are not the only ones out there. 🙂
    Our Wanders recently posted..Best Winter Hikes In California

    • Amanda says:

      You definitely aren’t the only ones out there! Do I have dreams of leaving Ohio behind and moving to Europe or New Zealand? Definitely! But even then I know I would want to have a home base and some semblance of a routine! Good luck with the new blog!

  • Yok says:

    That is a super impressive segue! Goes far to explain why and how you could build the course.

    Will you build on this initial course experience to expand the courses offered?
    Yok recently posted..เที่ยว อุทยานแห่งชาติขุนสถาน กันเถอะ ชมขุนเขา และ ทะเลหมอก

    • Amanda says:

      I will probably add to the course in the future to make sure it covers as much as possible, but I think one course is enough for me at the moment! 🙂

  • Mark says:

    You’re so right, and this is something I’ve been thinking about recently as well. Freelancing is great, but I don’t know if I can imagine constantly hustling for the next 30 or 40 years and always wondering how much money I’ll have that month!
    Mark recently posted..Tips for Your First Trip Overseas

    • Amanda says:

      There’s definitely something to be said of being your own boss and making your own hours. But I personally need some balance and stability, too – I need to at least have *some* idea of how much money I’m going to make each month!

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