How To Use the Internet to Turn your Passion into a Brand


It’s depressing, but a fact: most Americans are unhappy with their job. A recent study carried out by the Conference Board, a New York-based nonprofit research group, showed that 53.3% of Americans don’t have job satisfaction.

The Conference Board has been running its job satisfaction survey every year since 1987. Three decades ago, 61.1% of Americans said that they were happy with their jobs but sadly that number has dropped over the years – it’s now at an all-time low. Is there anything we can do to improve this situation? We think there is, and one idea is to turn your passion into a fulltime job.

The explosion of the internet over the last two decades has created a new platform upon which we can carve out our own job roles. We’re not just referring to work-from-home opportunities – although currently one in five Americans work from home – we’re talking about taking what you love and creating a business opportunity from it.

You’ve probably heard about the trend of internet “stars” who have reached their fame and fortune through social media sites such as Twitter, YouTube or Instagram. For some, a lot of chance and fortunate timing was involved; for others the moves were more calculated. In both cases, there are lessons to be learned about taking your passion and turning it into a personal brand that people will want to buy into.

Brandon Stanton – Humans of New York

You can’t live in New York and not know about Humans of New York. In fact, you probably know about HONY even if you live elsewhere. With over 12 million Facebook likes, Brandon Stanton has certainly achieved something phenomenal.

It all began for Brandon back in 2010, when he lost his job. An amateur photographer at the time, he began to take candid photos of people on the streets of New York. He would post them to Facebook along with the story of the photograph, which he would get from his subjects.

Image credit: http://theodysseyonline.com/

The internet crowd began to take notice. This was a unique idea at the time – and people liked this human perspective. Brandon has since launched a speaking, photography, philanthropic and media career off the back of the success of HONY.

How do we think Brandon achieved this success? Well, he took the chance to do something original, something different. Sometimes you’ve got to find that creative idea that will draw people in. He used this original idea to springboard a career that he loved. Coming up with something original is not always easy but learning from Brandon and finding opportunity in every situation is something we can all try. When he lost his job he could have sunk into pity. Instead he carried on doing what he enjoyed and recognized that the social media was the perfect platform to showcase his work. He learned social media tips and tricks and instilled as much passion and professionalism in his social media presence as he did in his actual photography.

Jason Somerville – Twitch Channel JCarverPoker

Jason Somerville is an American poker player, specializing in Texas Hold’em. He has won one prestigious World Series of Poker bracelet and $3.9 million in live tournaments. Jason is living his dream: poker is his passion and he’s carving out a successful career for himself. But how Jason got there is even more impressive than his subsequent success.

Jason discovered poker in 2004 while watching the World Poker Tour with his dad. After this, he began to play with his friends and researching the game online. It wasn’t long until he discovered online poker, and did pretty well at it – he currently has over 250 online tournament “in the money” finishes, totaling over $2.2 million in online winnings and also enjoys Team PokerStars fame.

Once Jason had built up some experience and knowledge from his online games, he started taking part in live tournaments. Alongside this, he started to forge his online video career: this was exactly when Jason became more than just another poker player – he became a brand.

Image credit: http://jaredtendlerpoker.com/

Jason used live video streaming service Twitch to launch his online brand with instructional videos and live tournament commentary. Twitch is the world’s leading video platform and community for gamers. With over 45 million gamers gathering every month, this was the perfect place for Jason to showcase his talent both as a player and as a commentator. The poker world took notice and Jason is now recognized as one of the strongest players at the felt table.

How do we think Jason achieved this success? Wits but also hard work. Jason could have simply carried on playing in the background but instead used his passion for technology and mentoring mentality to take his success further. He found the best platform to target his audience and gave them what they wanted: witty, insightful commentary of the competitive world of their favorite game.

Lain Ehmann – Layout a Day

Lain Ehmann has quite simply made a career out of her hobby – scrapbooking. If you’ve been reading this article doubting whether it’s truly possible to take what you love and turn it into a brand, then this might be the final proof that you need.

Scrapbooking is a very traditional hobby craft but that doesn’t mean it’s one without potential in the tech-driven world of today. The Craft and Hobby Association found that scrapbooking and paper crafting was the most common hobby enjoyed by the 62.5 million crafters of the United States, with 10% of respondents reporting their involvement in it.

We’re not sure if Lain knew the popularity of her craft all along or just wanted to share her passion, but she has managed to turn it into a six figure business, according to TimConley.co. Layout a day is a blog that offers advice on scrapbooking, with tutorials, tips, inspiration and more. Where the blog gets really clever is in the content that it publishes.

Image credit: http://layoutaday.com

Lain produces meaningful content for scrapbooking lovers and also hosts online events to bring the scrapbooking community together. She’s monetized her success though affiliate marketing, partnerships, sponsorships and online sales.

How do we think Lain achieved this success? A real passion for her subject, and the ability to communicate this to the masses in a unique way. Her background in journalism certainly helped her write in an attractive manner and address the needs of her audience. One of the big benefits of the internet is the fact that it can bring people together, and Lain has truly taken advantage of this.

Felix Kjellberg – PewDiePie

PewDiePie, otherwise known as Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg, is a Swedish web-based comedian and producer. If you haven’t heard of him then you obviously don’t spend much time on YouTube, as he is currently the highest subscribed-to channel site-wide, with over 42,500,000 subscribers and over 9 billion views.

Felix took his first career steps by studying Industrial Economics and Technology Management at Chalmers University of Technology. While at university he registered his PewDiePie YouTube account, started uploading videos, decided to quit his course… And the rest is history.

Felix’s parents did not support his move to drop out of university to spend time making films of himself playing games or fooling around for YouTube, so PewDiePie got a job and funded them himself. Going from working at a hotdog stand to making a recorded $7.4 million last year is a pretty good progression.

In addition to his YouTube ventures, he released a retro-style video game for mobile devices in 2015 called PewDiePie: Legend of the Brofist. According to The Guardian, it grossed over $100,000 on the day of its release in the USA. Felix has also published a book titled This Book Loves You, which became a New York Times Bestseller. We’re pretty sure his parents are pleased with his decision now.

How do we think Felix achieved this success? Well, like a lot of wannabe YouTube stars, PewDiePie is just posting himself online. But it’s more than that: he’s a likeable guy and he’s learned how to reach people. Yes, quite often it seems like he’s just playing games but actually he’s connecting and talking directly to an audience. He was also smart to make sure that any material associated with his brand was relevant and in line with his image. Plus, let’s admit it: he’s got a pretty genuine presence and doesn’t appear to put on an act, which is what internet-era audiences appreciate for sure.

If you’re not altogether happy with your current job, think about your passions and how you could use the internet to turn them into money-makers. Can you deliver something unique? Have you got something to offer that people are interested in? Can you bring a community together? Give it a try – not quitting your job before your new venture starts taking off.

Think about your passion, find the best platform, do lots and lots of research and start building your brand.

About the author: AlleyVoice

AlleyVoice is a platform that allows startups and marketers looking to connect with the AlleyWatch audience to provide content of interest – and giving them the opportunity to actively participate in the conversation.

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