Does this sound familiar?
You’re knee-deep in your creative business, but something feels off. The joy you once got from your work isn’t quite there anymore. You feel like you’re constantly hitting roadblocks every time you try to come up with something new.
As a creative entrepreneur, you know the highs and lows of the creative journey all too well. Lately, though, have you found yourself stuck in the lows more often than not? Maybe you’re struggling to find fresh inspiration or feeling a bit stuck in a creative rut.
It happens to the best of us!
Sometimes the solution to your creative blocks can be solved by doing some vision-setting work, cleaning up the backend systems in your business, leaning on your community and support system, or carving out creative time that’s just for you.
And I don’t recommend skipping over these key business-building pieces.
But, if you’ve exhausted these measures (aka your business is solid and aligned) and are still feeling uninspired, it may be time to try something different.
So, here’s a thought–
Have you ever considered diving into a passion project?
In this blog, we’re talking about passion projects—what they are as well as how they can seriously boost both your personal fulfillment and your creative business. We’ll explore ideas to help you find a passion project that really gets you going and aligns with your business goals and vision.
Who knows– maybe a passion project could be just the thing to reignite your creative spark and add a new dimension to your creative business.
So, what exactly is a passion project?
A passion project is where your personal drive meets professional impact. It could range from pro-bono work and community initiatives to opportunities that align with your values and skills.
Here are some examples to inspire you:
These projects might directly use your skills or indirectly tap into them.
Either way, passion projects can inject life back into your work and rekindle your creativity– all while doing something meaningful for the community or a cause!
In 2022 I took on a passion project of my own. I worked with Selfmade from Brit + Co. as a mentor!
Additionally, it went beyond that – it allowed me to support fellow women, ensuring they could access the tools, resources, and community backing to kick-start their business ideas!
At the time I had the capacity in my schedule to dedicate a set number of hours to this passion project each week. I really enjoyed that working with Selfmade was flexible and I could take on mentees when it made sense for me. I worked with this organization for a about year on and off and found the experience to be tremendously fulfilling.
In my current season of life and business, I choose to pour my energy into a different passion project. I co-chair the RISD Women in Business affinity group! We do quarterly programming to support our alumni as well as current RISD students who are interested in entrepreneurship!
I’ll even be speaking on a panel about our affinity group in February 2024!
While my passion projects have evolved from one season to the next, I am always on the lookout for opportunities to serve. Prioritizing passion projects has been so fulfilling and refueling for my professional mission!
If you’ve followed my work, you likely know I’m a big advocate of carving out creative time in your business.
So what’s the difference between creative time and a passion project?
Creative time is like your personal retreat. It’s that chunk of time that you carve out outside your usual work routine to experiment, have some fun, and just let the creativity flow.
Whether it’s trying something related to your work or going completely off-script (like a graphic designer exploring the world of bread baking), it’s all fair game. The goal is simply to have fun and hopefully bring fresh ideas and perspectives back into your professional creative work.
I highly recommend carving out creative time to push yourself beyond your comfort zone, broaden your horizons, and infuse new ideas.
Now, a passion project?
It’s like your creative skills on a mission. You might use your talents differently, but the intention is to further a cause or make a difference in a community that can benefit. It doesn’t have to mirror your business offers, but it should play to your strengths. Just like creative time, it’s still fun and can potentially bring some new ideas to your creative business.
Your creative time allows exploration beyond your business, while passion projects focus on using your professional skills for a purpose-driven venture.
Pouring energy into a passion project can be more rewarding and impactful than you might expect! Here are some of the most profound benefits of taking on a passion project in your creative business.
Often pouring your extra time and energy into a meaningful, service-driven project can help you remember that feeling of joy you experienced when you first started on your creative journey. As a result your work will feel less like a chore and more like a labor of love.
In the whirlwind of running a creative business, keeping the initial spark that drew you to your creative work in the first place can sometimes feel like chasing a fleeting dream.
Even if you love the work you do in your business, sometimes it’s helpful to shake things up!
A passion project could be a great way to break out of your routine. When you take on a project that resonates deeply with your values it can often unlock fresh inspiration, allowing your creativity to soar in unexpected ways.
By aligning your passion project with a community or cause, you not only enrich your life but also develop meaningful connections. Networking and collaborating within new circles can lead to exciting opportunities and unique perspectives.
These projects aren’t just about doing something you enjoy (although that’s definitely important), they’re about leveraging your professional expertise for a greater good. They allow you to flex your creative muscles in different ways, honing skills that might have grown stagnant in your usual workflow.
Before diving headfirst into a passion project though, it’s important to take a step back. It’s essential to gauge whether it fits within your goals and current capacity while also respecting the boundaries you’ve set for your time, your work, and your energy.
Remember, there’s no prize for having the longest to-do list (unless you consider burnout to be a reward, hint: it’s NOT).
It’s a passion project– it should fill you up not burn you out. There’s no quicker way to zap joy than burnout!
So before you start exploring passion project ideas, ask yourself these questions first:
If your creative business is profitable, you’re tending to your personal needs, and you feel like your business is running like a well-oiled machine behind the scenes but you’re still looking for that spark, it’s time to explore passion project ideas!
Let the fun begin!
So, how do you bring your passion project to life?
Here are 7 essential steps I recommend you take before committing to any new passion project in your creative business.
Have a crystal-clear vision for your business. Your big vision is all about where you want your business to go and what you are striving to achieve in the long run.
Your vision acts as a guiding light and should inform every action you take and every decision you make in your business. Writing an actionable vision statement can help you summarize that big vision as you make choices in your business.
When your passion project is in sync with this big vision, it won’t just FEEL good, it will actually help you achieve your vision (while doing some good along the way).
COO Tip: Need help with vision setting in your business? Check out these blog posts: ‘From Dream to Reality: How to Bring Your Creative Business Vision to Life’ and ‘How to Make a Vision Board to Build Your Dream Business in 5 Easy Steps.’
Pick a project that genuinely lights you up. This shouldn’t come from a place of obligation or “I should.” Instead, it should be a, “HELL YES I can’t wait to do this!”
Pursue the opportunities that get your creative juices flowing.
Explore what needs people have, or if you already have an idea in mind, pitch it to an audience you feel would be interested!
Work with people you genuinely enjoy.
For example, if working with kids isn’t your jam, volunteering your skills in a school setting may not be the right fit (and that’s totally okay!).
Reach out to organizations in the community, connect with their mission, and meet with the people you’d be working closely with so you can make sure it’s a good match!
Find a mission that hits home for you. Your passion project should tap into a cause that really means something to you on a deep, personal level. Not sure where to start? Consider the causes you donate to personally or in your business.
A passion project isn’t just about ticking boxes, or padding your wallet with some extra cash (it’s not a side hustle). It’s that thing you do because it feels right– because it matters deeply to you.
And hey, if it lets you build connections within a community that is in line with your values, that’s great too!
While your passion project doesn’t have to be a mirror reflection of your business, it should work in tandem with your big vision. This project should complement your journey, not send you on a detour or distract you from your professional goals.
Clearly map out what your passion project is, what you are (and are not) willing to do, and how this will impact your schedule both at work and at home!
Without a plan, your passion project could quickly snowball into a bigger undertaking than you had originally intended!
Once you commit to a passion project, make sure everyone is on the same page. If you’re working with an organization, let them know your availability as well as any non-negotiables. Clear, upfront communication is key to ensure everyone is on the same page and expectations are aligned.
Don’t forget about setting boundaries in your business too! Set expectations and boundaries with yourself and your team. Will tasks or responsibilities need to be handed off to open up capacity for your passion project? Think this through ahead of time to avoid a negative ripple effect on your workflows.
Also, be sure your new passion project doesn’t take away from any commitments you’ve made to your clients (they need to remain your #1 priority). If your availability to clients needs to change in any way, be sure to communicate this with them early and often!
Your passion project should bring joy and purpose to your creative work. Define it, own it, and build in the support you need to bring it to life successfully.
Simply put, a passion project in your creative business is like the artistic touch in a painting—it reveals new shades, adds layers of depth, and leaves you inspired to do and be more.
When you choose a passion project that resonates deeply and aligns thoughtfully with your business’ big vision, it’s like hitting the reset button on your creativity.
So, take a moment. Reflect on what sets your soul on fire and consider embracing a passion project.
It could be the game-changer that propels your business to new heights of fulfillment and creativity.