Skip to Main Content
by Jane Allen | March 10, 2009


Are you dreaming about doing the work you really love, but keep putting it on hold? Does combining your passion with a money-making career seem like a distant fantasy? You don't have to wait until you win the lottery to start doing what you really love! Here's how one woman redesigned her life to create businesses that make money - without sacrificing passion for survival. She took an inventory of her passions, skills and interests and then figured out how to create an income from the themes of her life.

Lylie Fisher is an artist; that's her primary passion. She also conducts creativity workshops (helping others to find their passion), has alandscape design business and does multimedia consulting. She created these businesses without having a Web site or paying for advertising. Most of her new clients come from word of mouth and networking. It all started two years ago, simply because she needed some extra money for a vacation.

"In Australia, I was an artist who became an Artistic Director, developing multimedia projects, Web sites, a national radio series and books. I oversaw the first Australian symposium on multimedia and new technology in the arts. Even though I was on top of my career in Australia, it meant neglecting my own portfolio. Something was gnawing inside me to reconnect with my own art. I decided to make some changes. First, I thought about what I wanted, and then I asked for it.

"I applied to the Australian Arts Council for a fellowship to give me the opportunity (and the financial resources) to relocate to the U.S. and focus full-time on my portfolio. I got it! I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1998 and became a Research Fellow and Visiting Artist at San Francisco State University for three years. I use photographic images as performance art with shrouding, gauzes, fabrics, waxes and resins on images. It's like writing a performance, staging it and then photographing it.

"Two years ago I wanted to go on holiday, but didn't have enough money. I needed some work. I was in the midst of interviewing with a creative consulting firm when I realized that taking the job would mean neglecting my art. Once again, I would lose what's important to me. So I took an inventory - my interests, passions, experience and skills - to figure out how to create money by pulling the themes of my life together. The Magical Journey Workshop was my first idea.

"I'd run many workshops in my career. This one focused on being in the process of change, addressing fears, being more aware of the 'fire in the belly' and including your passion in your life. I marketed it by telling friends, and they told others. Not coincidentally, that workshop was about the same process I was going through. While assisting others, I worked on my own growth.

"Gardening and landscape design was next on my skills/interests list. I realized there was a demand for this passion, too, so Magical Goddess Gardens was born. My unique focus is to help people create calm oases in their backyards. I connect clients' physical domains with their spiritual well-being. The gardens become an emotional space matched to their spirit. Initially, I did some flyers for this business, but online marketing gave better results. Just posting announcements every 2-3 months to a few e-mail discussion lists is a more intimate, effective way to advertise. And it costs nothing. Now, most of my new clients are referrals from customers. It's a seasonal business, but generally I have as much or as little work as I care to do. When that part of my work is slow, I don't push it. I've learned to allow it to happen.

"And then I started a third branch of business that supports me and my art. I take on short-term project manager jobs in multimedia and graphics publishing. Again, my clients come from referrals and from my person-to-person marketing. I research companies that might use my services and ask for the contract.

"These three paths allow me to spend about half of my time on my passion - my art. I've achieved a balance among all the things I love to do. I've let go of the gotta-make-money, security-first mandate that can run your life if you allow it. My life now makes total sense, and I'm proud of who I am. What I've learned from this process is:

  • know what youre doing and what you want to do
  • know what your market is doing
  • success comes from having a good product and building trust with your customers

"My best advice is: life really is a journey, believe in yourself, pay attention to what's calling you and don't be afraid to ask for what youwant!"

Lylie now has a Web site. You can see some of her art and learn more about her creativity workshops.


Filed Under: Job Search