does innovation require desperation?



One thing I learned over the period of time that I was “problogging” was that working at home is a train wreck for me. Part of it is simply that I have no backbone. I don’t have the steel core that allows me to shout at the rest of clan Blap “I’m going downstairs, locking the door and working!” I think if you were going to work at home you’d have to have either a full-time babysitter/nanny or a will of steel to brush off a child who wants to play, play, play.  Or ship them off to daycare full-time.

I also think that if I knew blogging – or freelance writing, or taking photos for cookbooks, or whatever – was going to be my primary source of income, I’d pull it together and get it done. As long as any activity like blogging is more of a hobby than a primary source of income it’s hard to get motivated to pursue it to the exclusion of other activities. And that leads me to this question:

Can I ever make a go of ANY alternative way of making a living without quitting my contracting work?

In my line of work, contracting is lucrative. I do not feel any burning need to make side income. I’d like to make PASSIVE income, of course, but blogging is far from passive – for every hour I spend writing posts I probably spend three answering emails, taking care of links, comments, etc. It’s still a labor of love but it is labor.

Yet I wonder… if I had no income coming in, would I become a successful problogger? Would I figure out other ways to make income if I had to in order to keep income coming to keep our home? I bet I would. I think the challenge is lacking for me, because I know the base income needs – and then some – are taken care of by contracting.

It’s not a bad thing at all. I know that some other bloggers blogged on the side for a while before leaping into problogging. I’m picking on blogging since as a reader of blogs you understand what that entails, but it just as easily could be income from investing or knitting sweaters or being a notary public on the side.

Is it just that some people need desperation to become successful in an area? Can anyone ever make their “hobby” their cash cow? Can you actually make significant career shifts without at least a bit of desperation?

Creative Commons License photo credit: ReefRaff

10 comments

  • Steve, don’t confuse hunger with desperation. You can be “hungry” for income, recognition, or achievement without being financially desperate. You exhibit some of the characteristics of hunger by investing your time and talents into this blog, even though your expectations of income are either small or pushed off into the future.

    I’ve been a freelance writer, almost always as a side business, for over 15 years. A number of those years I had a six-figure income from my regular job, yet continued an active freelance regimen. I will say, however, that those years when my regular income was in the six figures, I became less interested in collecting payment on my freelance work, because I was less in need of the money. But I still had the hunger for the work.

  • There is only 1 way to find out. You could always save up a bit of money, then take the plunge and quit contracting and give the problogging a go. You’re a good writer, I think you could do it.

  • I don’t know. I’m a much more dedicated blogger now that it’s one of my larger income streams than I was when I had a full-time job. But sometimes desperation leads to stagnation because you put too much pressure on yourself. It squashes passion. Not always, but some days.

    Of course, blogging isn’t my only income either, so maybe that’s part of it.

  • Greg the Writer

    It’s not desperation as much as desire. Which, desperation can be a huge motivator for harvesting desire!

    I think the best way of motivation is burning the bridge. By burning all methods of return, there is only forward. You must proceed into the daunting, haunting forests of whatever your endeavor may be.

    Like Napoleon Hill says, one must become full of a burning desire.

    Man, that book is so good. I still cannot believe it.

    -Greg

  • I think Curmudgeon and Greg hit the nail on the head. It’s more about desire than desperation. But your desire can easily be influenced by need. A common example of this is professional athletes. Some will continue to train and play well beyond their prime years because they love it, when others can’t be bothered once they make their millions (of course there will always be those who squandered their millions and continue to train and play out of necessity, not desire… but that is another post altogether!).

    If you want it, Steve, I think you could do it. But it would involve changes to your current standard of living.

  • Chad @ Sentient Money

    I have to agree that desire is more important than desperation. Bill Gates and Warren Buffett aren’t billionaires because of desperation. They both could have quite when they were just millionaires, but their desire kept them working.

  • Innovation might require desperation to be sustainable in the long-term, but only until you hit the “cross-over” point where it isn’t really “innovative”. Once it starts becoming your daily business, then it just is what it is.

    I think we see this with now with environmental issues. Desperation is fueling our drive (no puns intended) towards alternative fuels and enviro-friendly consumer goods. But we’re nearing a tipping point, I think, where soon these types of things (the latter sooner than the former) will become the mainstream.

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