"A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night, and in between does what he wants to do." ~ Bob Dylan
It's what we all want, isn't it? To live a life where we love what we do. To have a "dream job" – whatever that may mean – and the freedom to choose how we create a livelihood for ourselves and our families.
Unfortunately, very few of us are successful by Bob's definition.
But you can be.
If you have a skill, a talent, a passion, a voice ... you can find an audience. If you have a phone or a laptop, you've got the tools to engage that audience. And an engaged audience can give you the means to make a living by doing what you want to do.
"Find out who you are and do it on purpose." ~ Dolly Parton
First and foremost, you have to start thinking about who you are. What are you curious, knowledgeable and passionate about? Don't worry if a thousand other people are curious and knowledgeable and passionate about the same thing (there's your niche!). They aren't you. So find your something and ...
Do that something purposefully.
Is it really that simple? Find a thing and do it? Yes.
But simple doesn't equal easy. Taking the first step may be the hardest, but even once you've got some momentum, you have to keep it up. It will take months, or more likely years, to build an audience that can support your work. You'll want to quit. You'll feel like it isn't worth the effort.
But it will be.
Every journey begins with a single step. There are many more after that, but in the finest tradition of Internet listicles, I've reduced them down to a simple, five-part alliterative process. I call it ... the 5 Steps:
The hardest step. Most people never get off the starting blocks. Decide that you will. Define what "success" will mean for you. Most likely that's figuring out how much you need to make every month to have the lifestyle you want. Then, own your space and commit to putting a piece of your own work in your owned space every day for two years at least. It sounds like a lot, but remember you'll be investing that time and energy in you. Think long term. Think process over product.
Show up and show your work. There are no get-rich-quick schemes. You must make time every day to publish something in your owned space. A blog post, a sketch, a video – anything. It doesn't have to be perfect. Make content that is interesting to you! Make things in a way that only you can. This part should feel like play, not work. Just dedicate some time to creating for yourself and sharing your process. Every day.
Share your journey transparently. Don't be afraid of unpolished outputs. It's intimidating to put yourself out there. It makes you vulnerable. But trust that there are people who will want to see what you make, who will love to watch you grow and who will help you succeed. Post content on your site, share everything on social. Keep it up and your audience will find you. Some of them will be true fans. Bring them along on your journey and invite them to share themselves with you in return.
4. Serve (aka Sell)
Serve your audience. You started, you showed up, you shared with your audience and they shared with you. Now give them what they want. Create things you know they'll love and put them in your store. Reward your true fans. Teach them the skills you've learned. Sell your sawdust. Give your audience something of value and they will give you the means to earn an honest living doing what you love to do.
It was all worth it. You showed up every day (for years!). You showed your work, found an audience and learned how to create ethical wealth by adding your unique value to the world. You don't need an employer anymore. YOU are your employer. Your calendar is your own. You get up in the morning, do what you want to do for a living, and go to bed at night knowing Bob would be proud of you.
But you're not done. This was just the start of what you're capable of.