Hello Friends! I’m Ilana Griffo (@ilanagriffo), an Artist and Author from Upstate New York, and I’m so excited to be over here at The Pigeon Letters today! While I make art for a living, I LOVE talking shop with my peers! Today I’m going to be talking all about Passion Projects, why they’re important, and how they can open so many doors creatively, and professionally.
When you’re creative for a living, it can be easy to fall down the comparison trap, or feel so overwhelmed with ideas that you don’t know where to start. When you’ve got that burning passion to create, you have to listen to that voice and follow through. Even when you’re learning a new skill, the best way to follow that creative passion is to immerse yourself in that, which can be in the form of a Passion Project!
Passion Projects are self-initiated projects. Projects that no one is paying you to do, but you feel so passionate and fulfilled by it, you just can’t stop. There’s no end goal, you’re simply creating because you’re curious and excited about it. By putting some parameters on Passion Projects, they can lead to so many opportunities, fill voids in your life or business, increase happiness, and foster your creativity. You’re doing this because it’s fun, it’s good for your soul, and your spirit.
They’re also a great place to start if you want to book clients on YOUR terms, because you’re sharing work that’s directed by YOU! Your dream project! What better way to attract your dream clients, then showing off the work you love doing?
Fun fact: My book, Mind Your Business was a Passion Project! I felt called to write about my experience as a business owner, the highs, and especially the lows. I started a list of the things I wanted to share, and started testing the waters by sharing the topics on social media and my blog. I had no idea where the idea would take me!
Passion projects aren’t just for those who are ALREADY creative, they’re a great way to learn a new skill too! Remember, this is about fostering creativity and channeling your passion, there’s more to this than results.
Here’s the thing: there’s no real RULES about passion projects, you’re the BOSS!
Step 1 - Pick Your Passions
If you’re not sure what kind of project you’d like to pursue, take some time to do your research. Start by making a two column list of things you’re interested in, and see if you can put two together to make an interesting combination. Let’s say you love snail mail, and you also love college, you could put the two together by mailing a new collage out to a random person every week!
Remember not to spend too much time researching, someone has probably done a similar project, but your unique voice makes it special and different. Listen to that!
Step 2 - Remember your WHY.
Take a minute to reflect on WHY you’re creating this project. When you’re feeling stuck, you can reflect on these goals. You’ll be reminded that passion projects aren’t for perfection, they’re for fun! They can definitely be challenging, but keeping your purpose at the forefront will help you when you’re feeling down.
Step 3 - Create Goals
Create a timeline for yourself - it could be 100 days, it could be 6 months, it all depends on how much time your “pieces” take, and how much many you think you want to complete. Remember that growth isn’t overnight, so if you’re taking on a new skill, make sure to buffer in time to mess up, learn, and re-learn. There doesn’t always need to be an end in sight, but it helps to put some boundaries on your project so you can really dive in with a clear plan. Remember, you are in charge of setting the goals, and the timeline. You get to decide when your project is “finished”.
Friendly Reminder: Life happens, if you miss a day, or a few, don’t waste time feeling bad about it, just get right back on the work-horse and into the swing of things again!
Step 4: Set Up Accountability
It can be really easy to push passion projects to the back burner, especially when you have paying clients, a job, or a handful of other responsibilities that can get in the way. By adding in some accountability, you’ll have a set commitment, a friend, or maybe an audience or community that can cheer you on. A great way to do this is to share the project to social media. You can create a unique account just for the project, or simply create a hashtag for it. Pick whatever platform suits the project best, and share away! It’s OK if you’re feeling a little nervous about sharing, but that’s the fun part! It also allows you to go back and see the whole collection, and how it has evolved from the beginning! Progress is progress is progress. Get feedback, inspire someone else, and you’ll have a whole group of people who can hold you accountable, want to connect with you, or maybe even participate too! People who relate, or love what you’re making will share it, and help your message spread. This can even lead to your dream projects and clients finding their way to you! Forget that self-doubt, and just start creating, and sharing.
If you’re an early bird, you may want to carve out 30 minutes every morning to work on this (or at night for night owls!). Make a schedule that works for your life so you’ll always have time to work on it - even in small chunks. Since you’re probably always thinking about the project anyway - having a dedicated time or space to work on it will help you stay committed.
Step 5: Have fun!
Have fun, stop worrying about it being perfect, and remember that this is part of the journey - it’s PLAY! It sounds cliche, but everyone starts somewhere! There are so many benefits to pursuing a passion project. I hope your project sparks joy and creativity. You’ll find it also has the potential to open doors, enhance your portfolio and create meaningful connections.
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