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Indulge your passion, job or not

You'd love to have a career pursuing your passion, for example, being an artist, athlete, musician or writer.

Yes, if you're very talented and driven it's probably worth going for. But my rule of thumb is: If after a year of trying to get paid for your passion it's not earning you enough to pay the rent, it's time to look for a day job.

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Don't worry. You can probably achieve your dream -- as long as you don't insist on making a living at it. For example:

Athletes

  • Volunteer to be an assistant coach at a high school or small college.
  • Ever thought of officiating? Perhaps your next vacation should be at the Florida-based Jim Evans Umpiring Academy, umpireacademy.com. Many high-school leagues are desperate for officials. They even pay.
  • Actors

    • Do community theater. It can be as rewarding, except financially, as professional theater.
    • Write, or get someone to write a play for you and perhaps one or two fellow actors. Perform it for friends or in a rented-out space, for example, a church or school stage.
    • Get paid to play patient at a local medical school.
    • Colleges hire people to read books for visually or learning-impaired students. Or try organizations that serve the blind.
    • Be a reader during a children's library story hour.

    Artists

    • With your work in tow, drive from gallery to gallery showing your wares. It's much harder to refuse a request from an earnest artist with his canvas in hand than a disembodied e-mail or letter.
    • Have a show at a local bank, restaurant or rented space, perhaps with another artist or two.
    • Rent a booth at a local street fair.
    • Give a speech on art, using your work as examples. Need to find a group to talk to? Try the groups listed under "speakers" below.

    Musicians

    • If your music appeals to young people, volunteer to perform at a junior high school or high school dance.
    • If your music appeals to older adults, do a concert at a senior center or convalescent hospital.
    • See if a local municipality will allow you to do street performances.
    • Rent a recording studio for a few hours, burn some CDs and use them as holiday gifts.

    Speakers

    • Host a talk show on public access cable TV. Many communities welcome anyone with the desire to do a show.
    • Host a talk show on a local radio station. Surprisingly, many radio stations, especially university-based radio stations, rent out air time to the public.
    • Volunteer to give a speech at the public library, a religious organization or service club such as the unfairly belittled Rotary, Kiwanis or Lions clubs.
    • Teach a class at the local adult school or at the Learning Annex, which offers a few several-hour courses in hotels in most major cities. They pay the speakers.
    • Teach a "teleclass," a class you teach by telephone. People call in to a special phone number so everyone can hear everyone else. You can receive online training and marketing of your teleclasses for a fee at courseregistrationsystems.com.

    Writers

    • Write what you'd love to write. Pull no punches. Write what you find important and believe in without worrying what anyone else thinks of it. A client of mine is passionate about getting more African American single women to adopt more African-American babies. She wrote an op-ed about it. If it doesn't get published, she'll send it as an e-mail to everyone she can think of. Most of the pleasure of writing comes not from its getting published but from the process of writing it, rereading it and showing it to even a few people.
    • Can't get your book published? Publish it on your Web site and sell it as an e-book (doc2pdf.net converts MSWord files to the required pdf format) or get your book printed on demand through xlibris.com or iuniverse.com.
    • Weblog. You get to write your thought of the day, short or long. Set up your blog using the easy and free blogger.com. It even helps direct traffic to your blog. You'll probably find that people will actually visit your blog, read your stuff, and comment.
    • Want to make your opinion known? Write reader reviews on amazon.com, epinions.com or shopzilla.com.

    Craftspeople

    • Volunteer for Habitat for Humanity.
    • Create stage sets or costumes for high school, college or community theater productions.
    • Sew Halloween costumes. To get customers, put up flyers around your neighborhood.
    • Sell your crafts on craigslist.com or ebay.com.
    • Decorate homes for Christmas.

    Inventors

    • United Inventors Association offers plenty of advice for inventors: www.uiausa.com.

    For more ways to achieve seemingly long-shot dreams, see Barbara Sher's Idea Book (available only from geniuspress.com).

    Advice I'd give my child
    Keep knitting. Give away everything you knit.

    Bankrate.com's corrections policy
    -- Posted: July 18, 2005
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