I was hungry in 2007. I had just given up on my childhood dream of becoming a film director, and I held a diploma in Motion Picture Production that I knew would never be useful. I’d just wasted two years, and all I had was an entry-level DSLR and no plan. I knew I needed to make money, and I sure as hell wasn’t gonna do it in a Burger King. Even at 19, I thought I was too good for that shit. I was a typical millennial, full of pride and not enough shame. I was on my way to being a fuckup.
One night, I opened Craigslist. At this point, I’d been a casual photographer for seven months and was halfway through Project 365. I always had my camera on me, and took at least one picture a day that year as a sort of visual journal. I thought to myself, “What the hell, I’ll try and make some money as a photographer. Everyone else seems to be doing it.” I was naïve, but Craigslist was the ultimate equalizer. Browsing through the postings, I discovered a couple: Sarah and Russell. They were eloping in Vancouver and needed a shooter on the cheap. I had no experience and asked for $60. They said yes.
From 2010 to 2013, I had bills to pay and had a day job in a high-end liquor store. By then, I was making equal amounts in both jobs. The only difference was my liquor store took up 40 hours a week – the proverbial 9-to-5 – and my photography was relegated to 10 PM and into the night, or what I called my “10-to-2”. A mental shift happened when I was fired in 2013. If I was making the same amount of money in 20 hours a week doing photography, what was stopping me from utilizing my other 40 hours doing the same thing and making even MORE money? Maybe I could even have time to myself! Holy shit. So I started doing that, and it all began with my 10-to-2.
This isn’t a new idea. Gary Vaynerchuk talks about working on your passion from 7 PM to 2 AM in his book “Crush It!”, but I don’t know how sustainable that is. Four hours a night after a leisurely dinner was what produced the best results for me, and I’m a night owl, so 10-to-2 was what stuck. Some people, in dire need of money, might suggest taking on a SECOND full-time job similar to their 9-to-5. I’m here to tell you that’s a great way to kill your dreams. 80 hours a week? Faced with that, I’d rather swan dive into a wood chipper. 80 hours a week at jobs you’re not passionate about WILL kill you. I used to do 40 hours at my regular job and 20 at my passion, so 60 hours a week. That was tough. Within three years though, I’d moved to 20 hours at a liquor store job I don’t financially need and 8 hours at photography. Hell, throw in the 2 hours I put in every week writing for this blog for an even 30! Where some people grind out 80 hours a week wanting to die, I work way less and work for fun! And the bills all get paid!
You don’t even need to do it for the money. I fully advocate that ANYONE should have a “10-to-2”, whatever the hours. If you follow your passion and have even an iota of business sense, you CAN make money, but that’s not the point. What matters is you’re finally realizing the potential inside you to do something you actually care about. Write that novel. Fix up that old car. Learn to code. Start that personal finance blog. You’ll even be happier at your day job, knowing you can work FOR YOURSELF later in the day! It’s exhilarating.
In the movie of your life, what would you like to see? Is your narrative arc really as a photocopy jockey, or do you see yourself building a startup in your basement that will take over the world? Do you want to make someone else rich, or do you want to strive for greater and eclipse your boss? The decision is yours. What will YOU do tonight?