Career Renegade: Make a Living Doing What You Love

“You don't have to be world-class great to make a great living doing what you love,” Jonathan Fields writes in Career Renegade, “if you are willing to step outside the box, approach your passion differently, find innovative ways to mine that passion for money, and work like crazy to make it happen.”

In Career Renegade, Fields draws upon his own experience, as well as that of others, to provide a blueprint for those willing to take that entrepreneurial leap of faith.

Career Renegade is an odd book. Its title and marketing might lead you to believe it's about careers. As I write this, it's the number one book in Amazon's “job hunting” category, which is baffling. Career Renegade isn't about job hunting or changing careers. It's about taking your passion and turning it into a business. It's about entrepreneurship. As long as you expect this going in, it's a great book.

Profiting from your passion
Career Renegade starts by exploring the relationship between what we do and what we love. Fields encourages readers to examine their own lives to discover what it is they're passionate about. His message is that although it might seem impossible, although it might take some hard work, you can turn your dreams into a career.

“The paths to transforming a moneyless passion into a lucrative future are limited only by your own creativity,” Fields writes. Career Renegade suggests seven possible paths for turning passion into profit:

  1. Redeploying your passion in a hungrier market. Do what you love in an area where there's high demand.
  2. Refocusing and mining the most lucrative micro-markets. Sometimes the solution is to narrow your market, to focus on doing something valuable for a select group of people.
  3. Exploiting gaps in the information needed to excel at an activity. Fields argues that one way to succeed at doing what you love is to provide information that nobody else offers, or to offer it in a way that others don't. Get Rich Slowly is an example of following this path.
  4. Exploiting gaps in education. Beyond just providing information, some people can profit by directly teaching others.
  5. Exploiting gaps in gear or merchandise. Using this path, you turn your passion into a product. You “build a better mousetrap”, so to speak.
  6. Exploiting gaps in community. People value networks, and if you're the first or best to create one devoted to your subject, you can become the leader in the field. Fields mentions Ladies Who Launch as an example of taking a passion for community-building and it into a career.
  7. Exploiting gaps in the way a pursuit is provided. The final path is to make it easier for people to do what you love (and what they love).

Fields writes that it's possible to “turn your passion loose in unexpected places”. He cites the example of Liv Hansen, a young woman just out of school who couldn't find a job in the art world. She went to work at her mother's bakery, and began to create fanciful designs on the wedding cakes and cupcakes. Though this may not have been how she had planned to use her art degree, it turned out to be profitable and fulfilling work.

While the first half of Career Renegade is devoted to helping you find your passion, the second half is all about developing an entrepreneurial mindset and marketing your idea.

What if you're not an entrepreneur?
Many of my friends love their jobs and have no desire to become self-employed. They use hustle, passion, and patience to make the most of working for somebody else. It's very possible to make a great living doing what you love without striking out on your own.

My wife, for example, just isn't an entrepreneur. Kris loves her job as much as I love mine. She enjoys her co-workers and the workplace culture. She has no desire to work for herself. What does Career Renegade have to offer folks who don't want to become entrepreneurs? I asked the author to comment on this. Jonathan Fields responded:

I lean strongly toward taking more control and being an entrepreneur. And, most of the people in my book seem to be wired that way, too. But that's not necessarily true.

There will still be some people that just want to keep working for someone else. The cool thing is, you can tap many of the market research strategies that I lay out in the early part of the book to not only test your idea, but identify other people and companies to connect with. They'll reveal companies who are doing something similar, then you can:

  • approach them for a job, or
  • build your personal brand online to showcase your abilities in the area of your passion, then tap social media to find key influencers and hiring managers and make them aware of your showcase

That whole process is largely what the second half of the book is about.

All the same, I'd hesitate to recommend Career Renegade to somebody simply hunting for a new job. I don't think it's appropriate.

Career Renegade also suffers from one of the same flaws as The Power of Less [my review]: it's tech-centric. Its examples and suggestions are based on the assumption that you can leverage the web and social media to make your business succeed. This isn't always true. My father's passion was to start a small manufacturer of custom boxes. There is nothing that Twitter could offer my family's box factory. Podcasts and blogs won't help either. It's not that sort of business.

The bottom line
Career Renegade is not a bad book — not at all! It is, however, a book aimed a narrow target audience, one much narrower than the cover and title might lead you to believe. Entrepreneurs are a subset of the general population. This book is written for a subset of entrepreneurs.

There's a lot of fine information here for those interested in launching a business in which the internet will play a key role. I love the case histories that Fields uses to flesh out his topics. I never tire of reading how other people have managed to turn their passion into a business. I can learn a lot, for example, from reading how Anita Campbell moved from lawyer to blogger at Small Business Trends.

Career Renegade is a great book — for a certain type of person. If you believe you might enjoy working for yourself — even if you don't know what it is you'd do — this book is worth reading. If you are looking to start your own business and if that business requires a strong online presence, this book is a tremendous resource. But it's not the next What Color is Your Parachute?

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HowToMakeMyBlog.com
HowToMakeMyBlog.com
11 years ago

Sounds like a great book!

Certainly in times like these, with all the economy meltdown, anyone can use some inspiration and motivation to work on their lives / dreams / passions. You never know where you may find yourself tomorrow so to be able to have some passion that help build your personal brand and help you get some side-income is a great way of having a bit of security.

And it may turn to be so good, that it may end up being your new job…

Kalle
Kalle
11 years ago

Awesome review, not at all like some of the thinly-veiled selling pieces I’ve seen written about this book. It would have been easier for you to just praise the book for a few paragraphs and then stick in your affiliate link, but I appreciate how you took the effort to actually share your thoughts. I’m sure Mr Fields appreciates it, too.

Antonio
Antonio
11 years ago

I’ve seen a lot of people complaining on their lifes, without knowing that they “own” their lives. What if you start a new carreer at 33? so what? you will have at least 40 YEARS TO SUCCEED in your new area!.

WHAT IF YOU HAVE 50? no problem, you will have at least 25 YEARS to continue in life doing what you like the most! so don’t panic.

Thanks JD I’ll check the book and thanks for the review.

Jane
Jane
11 years ago

I just started reading this book last week and so far I’d agree with everything J.D says about it. It is very tech-centric. It reminds me of Scott Fox’s book “Internet Riches.” If you want to develop a greater understanding of how to market yourself using today’s technology, then Fields has some useful points, but it very much promotes entrepeneurial thinking.

Beth@SmartFamilyTips
11 years ago

I love the way you do book reviews, J.D. As another commenter mentioned, it’s that you’re willing to point out (with specificity) the good AND the bad about a book, and to highlight its limitations. I recently finished Fields’ book and found it very interesting. I’m not looking, at this point, to completely go out on my own, but I am entertaining the idea of something part-time that involves the things I’m truly passionate about more than my full-time job does. In light of that, the book was extremely helpful, primarily because Fields offers ideas and suggestions that are different… Read more »

J.D.
J.D.
11 years ago

Beth, I think your point is awesome. I hadn’t considered that, but it’s worth re-iterating: This book is also excellent if you’re interested in trying to make a little money pursuing your passion part-time.

Really, though, I think of it more as a “library book first”. I do think it’s a good book, but I think a person should browse it before buying. For the right person, yes, absolutely, buy the book and keep it as a reference. But be sure you’re the right person.

Sherry
Sherry
11 years ago

JD thanks for the review.

PDX girl
PDX girl
11 years ago

I keep coming back to the idea of starting a sewing business and making an online presence selling a niche (and expensive) custom item that I’m particularly skilled at designing and making.

I’m not ready right now, but I’m trying to lay the groundwork, practice and save for the equipment that I’ll need, and maybe I’ll pick up this book too.

Thanks JD.

Greg C.
Greg C.
11 years ago

Services like Twitter may not offer any obvious benefit to a box manufacturer, but the web can certainly be leveraged to sell boxes and any number of other non-tech products.

I have not read the book, so I don’t know how much the guy relies on things like social media ( which I find useless for a lot of things) versus the many other ways to use the web and technology to increase business.

Jefro
Jefro
11 years ago

Fantastic and honest review, JD. I am in the middle of a project at work creating an online community, and this book sounds like it might have some very valuable advice. Along the same lines, I am finding myself very surprised at how much I am enjoying the challenges of working with online communities (and now blogging as well). I have been a technical writer for 16 years and was stagnating until I was hired to take on this project. I feel happy about going to work for the first time in many years, and it makes me wonder what… Read more »

m
m
11 years ago

I am thinking about, in fact i have been trying, figuring, promoting, exhibiting some of works that i did in my pastime.

no luck so far. I realized that certain things like artwork/ paintings must appeal to the right place where people look for and no place else. Im gonna keep on doing it till i find the right people at the right place.

I need some $ to push my work into Galleries, that will take some time.

If there’s any ideas/ artist outhere who love sharing some insight, I’ll be delighted to know. thanks

Monevator
Monevator
11 years ago

I set up a business a few years back with some friends, and while we did pretty well, when it came to the early morning bottom-of-the-bank-account moments, I just didn’t personally have the passion for the subject to pull me through. I questioned why I was doing it, and in the end I had to exit the group.

Next time I would definitely put passion first. The advantage is even if you only get moderate success, it’s success doing something you love – something you might even pay to do.

Productive Pinoy
Productive Pinoy
11 years ago

Thanks for this review. I find the book interesting.

I believe that there are many ways to turn your passion into profits. However, not everybody will prefer to do that, many will not be willing to pay for the price and not all passions can be turned into a business. There are just things not related to money.

allen
allen
11 years ago

Maybe i can’t find it, but: Most of these books/articles seem to assume you KNOW what your passion is, or that your passion is monitariable. What if your passion is just to take photos of weird root configurations? (sure, you could sell those prints, but what if that part doesn’t interest you?) What if your passion is to become a good husband? What if, as far as you can tell, you have no passion at all? Sometimes it feels like we’re trying to get from day to day so hard, that to imagine something greater for ourselves doesn’t seem possible.… Read more »

chacha1
chacha1
11 years ago

@Allen, hey buddy, just keep looking! I found my passion at the movies (“Shall We Dance,” Japan, 1997). Saw the movie three weekends in a row; a local ballroom studio had left flyers at the theatre; I went and signed up for classes. Have been dancing (socially and in competition) ever since, and I am now less than six months from completing certification as a ballroom dance instructor. Recommendations: local community centers often have a roster of low-cost classes in a crazy range of subjects … everything from calligraphy to karate to computer skills to cooking. You just never know… Read more »

Praveen
Praveen
11 years ago

I really enjoyed the book review – it was really thoughtfully done and the timing is perfect. For the last 3 years, I’ve been blogging about my passions: simplicity, minimalism, and Taoism, and my stock trading system based on these values. I made some money through Adsense and affiliate marketing, and was thinking of repeating this in other niches. Then, I wrote a book based on my stock system and realized how much more fulfilling it is to make money based on my passions, rather than passive “niche sites”. Those are a dime a dozen, but now I have a… Read more »

Helen
Helen
11 years ago

@Allen, some people don’t really have just one ‘passion’. Maybe you need a ‘good enough’ job that will allow you to work without doing too much overtime, to spend time with family, fishing, tinkering with cars or whatever.

I like Jonathan Fields but I doubt this book would interest me, so I appreciate the good review.

I’m a bit over this constant push for ditching your day job and becoming an entrepreneur. I have NO business skills and an aversion to paperwork. Running my own business would be hell on earth for me!

allen
allen
11 years ago

@chacha1 & @Helen:

Thank you both. regarding chacha1’s suggestion, to keep one’s eyes & hearts open to possibilities is one we could all keep in mind; and to Helen’s point that not all of us might have a passion that is something we can/should base our monitary lives around.

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