I built my first website at 16 for fun, but it became the catalyst to discovering what I truly love: a career in graphic design.
I wanted a way to share my passion with others, so I made a webpage through a free hosting site. That free little fansite got so much traffic, the owners of the hosting platform started offering me more design work.
And while that’s how my story starts, it isn’t where it ends.
I knew I loved design, but I never considered it as my career path—I went to college for electronics and English translation instead. Just like everyone else, it took me a long time to realize I could turn my passion into my day job.
You may not know what you’re passionate about yet. Or maybe you already know, but pursuing it full time is too scary.
You have to take the leap and do what you love. You’re only going to benefit, personally and professionally. Doing work you’re passionate about means you’ll be proud and excited about what you make. You’ll produce more work at a higher caliber because you’re happy in what you’re doing.
This is how I ultimately found my way into a career in graphic design.
But you can’t get started until you know what inspires you.
For as long as I can remember, I didn’t care if I was making money or getting famous working on a project. I was just excited to be learning new ways to code and talking with people who shared similar passions. And in less than a year, I started to find myself receiving client work as a result.
Webs.com, where I was hosting my site, had a selection of free web templates that users could apply to their own pages. A few people at Webs.com who were impressed with my work, reached out and asked if I would design new templates for them. This was my first design job, and it led me down my future path.
Because I pursued what inspired me, I made connections that allowed me to turn what I loved into a career. One client relationship turned into a client recommendation which, in turn, led to more projects. Much later, after I had a body of work and years of experience from this process, I was able to start my own design firm.
Digging into what inspires you may not pay off immediately. But knowing what lights the creative fires within is the best place to start on a new path—even if it’s something silly or “weird.”
Once you know what you love, you can dive into it, completely.
This is the scary part, and no one does it on the first try.
I went off to college, but I didn’t believe I could study design as a career. I loved it too much. I didn’t understand at the time that I could make money from it. Passions, in my mind, weren’t something for profit.
But the entire time I was in college, I was always working freelance on design, taking clients and building websites. After switching between electronics and English translation, I finally gave in and started studying design.
And I’ve never looked back.
You have to understand: if you’re going to put all of your time, energy, and resources into something, you should find it fulfilling. Otherwise, it won’t be worth it. You’re also more likely to burn out working hard at something that isn’t feeding you in other ways.
Of course, that doesn’t mean making the decision to quit your day job and do what you love is going to be easy. On the contrary: it’s really scary.
It took me three years to finally give in and study design. Three years of studying other things, working other jobs, and not feeling fulfilled in my day-to-day.
But once I made the hard decision, everything else came naturally, even though it was still a lot of work.
Get ready to throw all of yourself into your work—all of it.
When I started working full-time in design, I worked constantly.
The only way I was able to keep up my momentum was that I felt satisfied and fulfilled by the work I was doing. It didn’t feel like work, so I didn’t feel overworked.
If you’re going to pursue what you love, you have to feel the same way.
In my opinion, if you’re only putting 50% of yourself into your work, you aren’t going to see 100% of the results. I see it a lot in this generation’s startup culture. They’re pursuing something they love with deep and focused intent. The startups that succeed are the ones propelled by passionate people—not the ones who are in it for a paycheck or financial success.
Think of yourself like a one-person startup in the beginning. In order to go public and cash in on all your hard work, you’re going to have to really love what you’re doing in the first place.
This is what it boils down to: there are only good things to be gained from truly committing to your passions. Dive in, dig deep and get going.
You’re going to love it.