My Gmail inbox read thus:
You are among the runners up in Agunbiade 2020 essay competition titled “The Nigeria of my dream”. You won #20k ($40). Please send me your account info to credit your award to. Thank you and congratulations!
While the rest of the world grappled over the effect of the global lockdown and job losses due to the Covid-19, a young Nigerian from an agrarian region in Nigeria who originally should have been on the field cultivating yams and cassava had his teary eyes glued to his phone screen while perusing through the above message. Could this be true? Isn’t this another swindle? He questioned rhetorically. Prior to this moment, he had been writing for over 15 years without satisfying his human need for both material security and meaning. On one occasion, an intermediary nearly swindled him of $20 after tasking himself to write a creative essay. Fortunately, for him, he escaped the trap. There were times he performed tasks for organizations online without receiving pay. All these made him sceptical but immediately his bank account was credited with the said amount from the organizers, nerves settled.
Indeed this was the springboard that set me on a projectile motion across the creative writing niche in the passion economy. With technology refining the future of work in this age of automation, I am leveraging upon its uniqueness to cut out the influence of intermediaries and earn continuously. Although I have continued to earn through my creative writing skills, the place of digital technology cannot be neglected as it assisted me to forge a livelihood on my own terms, save my time and cut out the bad influence of intermediaries to reach my clients directly.
What then is “passion economy”? Passion economy also known as the creative economy is a new way for individuals to monetize their skills. It lets freelancers and entrepreneurs scale their businesses exponentially and earn passive income. It removes the shackles associated with freelance, gig work and provide platforms for users to produce content that can be consumed at all times3.
According to litereature, the rise of the creator economy can be traced to the period in which many brands realized that their social media accounts had turned into brands in itself, they started tapping into the massive market of influencer economy where advertisers and brands were spending dollars to tap into influencers social media following8.
Although the pandemic induced lockdown was instrumental in boosting the passion economy’s rapid growth, factors such as the emergence of low code tools, percolation of 4G network and the affordability of high-speed internet led to a significant rise in the consumption of content thereby, leading to more content creators8.
Drucker’s rule of thumb on how to innovate states that “ideas should start by analysing opportunity carefully and to go out and look at the customers, and users to see what their expectations, values and needs are”. It is pertinent for every aspiring passion economist to follow suit in order to be strategically equipped to weather the storms that may arise due to the activities of big tech gatekeepers with enlarged stomach compartments to siphon the benefits.
Will it be short-lived?
Proponents’ argument that the passion economy’s time has come is true but let’s remember that, “as requirements for an invention to succeed, Drucker believes in careful analysis of all necessary internal and external factors and focus to occupy a strategic position in the market”. Passionate economists should therefore continuously analyse these factors and employ unique techniques that will make their businesses to continuously occupy strategic positions and not be short-lived.
Democratization of the passion economy
Democratization of the passion economy refers to the process by which access to passion economy rapidly continues to become more accessible to more people.
Due to lower capital requirements for start-up, minimized educational requirements, provision of direct access to an audience, and availability of digital technology, the passion economy is gradually being democratized to give everyone everywhere the competitive edge to thrive.
Will big tech gatekeepers siphon the benefits?
To answer this question, let’s nod our heads in rhythm as we sing the “Economy” song by Dan Bern.
Now that our economy is
Going to the dogs
Maybe we’ll have flamenco
Music like they’ve always
Done in Spain
Maybe we’ll have a champion
Like Raphael Nadal
Full of passion and the need
To prove himself time and again14.
The big tech gatekeepers will certainly do all they can to siphon the benefits. In my opinion, the passion economy needs to raise selfless Raphael Nadalike champions, policies, laws, influencers and watch dogs to safe guard the economy’s benefits from going to big tech gatekeepers.
Is everyone fitted to do it?
To address this question, I will like to digress a little to the Bible to capture a parable for better understanding.
“For the Kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability: and straight way took his journey. Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same and received made them other five talents. And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. But he that had received one went and digged in the earth and hid his lords money. After a long time, the lord of those servants cometh and, and reckoneth with them. And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold I have gained beside them five talents more. He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strewed. And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: Lo, there thou hast that is thine. His Lord answered and said unto him, thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strewed: Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury”- Matthew: 25:14-20, 22, 24-27. (KJV)
From this parable, it is safe to say that although every living soul on earth is endowed with unique talents to actively partake in the passion economy, not everyone will be willing to leverage upon this opportunity. Like the third servant that went to hide his talent maybe due to fear, educational limitation, and management bankruptcy, many in our world today are following suit. To this end, the discussion will be steered towards the education, management and finance needed to scale it and make everyone fit to participate.
Education, Management and Finance needed to scale it
According to Drucker, “if there is one thing certain under automation, it is that the job will change radically and often”. With this prediction, it is pertinent to note that to make everyone fit, “on every level, adult education will be needed”; updating the knowledge and skill set of every player to continue being round pegs in round holes.
Drucker further lent his voice to say “employers have their role, including active and energetic attempts at retraining for specific new job opportunities and each employee must step up and be ready to embrace what’s being taught over and over and over again . People have to learn how to learn. The passion economist will also need to amalgamate the Southern and Northern poles of continuous innovation and entrepreneurship to successfully nurture, manage and scale the business.
Priority should also be given to education through how-to-do tutorials for easy understanding for everyone everywhere. Vernacular language support should also be allowed to bridge the literacy divide and help people display their unique talents.
“The husband and wife who open another delicatessen store or another Mexican restaurant in the American suburb surely take a risk. But are they entrepreneurs? All they do is what has been done many times before. They gamble on the increasing popularity of eating out in their areas, but create neither a new satisfaction nor new consumer demand. Seen under this perspective they are surely not entrepreneurs even though theirs is a new venture. McDonalds, however was entrepreneurship. It did not invent anything, to be sure. Its final product was what any decent American restaurant had produced years ago. But by applying management concepts and techniques (asking what is “value” to the customer?) standardizing the “product”, designing process and tools , and by basing training on the analysis of the work to be done and then setting the standards it required, McDonalds both drastically upgraded the yield from resources , and created a new market and a new customer. This is entrepreneurship”.1--Peter Drucker
The passion economist will need to learn how to manage himself before translating it into his business. With the time for money dynamic relegated and focus on building a profitable passive income from ones interest elevated, he needs a mind-set where, management is doing things right7-Peter Drucker
Like every other traditional business, finance will be needed to scale the passion economy. The passion economist will need to start with the little resource available while honing his passion to generate an audience with specific needs craving for the offer. Adopting this measure will help him generate the needed revenue to scale. In difficult circumstances where finance becomes a challenge, passion economists in similar niches can pool resources together and share accrued profits to scale their individual businesses.
Potentials of passion economy
Ryan Kaji, a nine-year-old boy from Texas made nearly $30 million in a year from “unboxing” and reviewing toys and games on YouTube to hold the title of highest paid YouTuber for the third year running. He first began making YouTube videos in March 2015 after watching other toy review channels and asking his mother, “how come I’m not on YouTube when all the other kids are?”. Huge eggs surprise toys challenge, which was his most popular video, has more than 2 billion views, making it one of the 60 most viewed videos ever on YouTube6.
The young boy discussed above now have the potential of starting his own toy producing business because of the passion economy. With many content creators gaining fame, more businesses are expected to spring up in no distant time.
According to a study, by university of Arkansas in collaboration with the Manchester Business School in London, celebrity endorsements resonates with youth within the ages of 15-349. Collaborating with responsible creative economist have the potential to influence youths globally to shun vices and work towards the actualization of the SDGs.
Passion economy can help in diversifying the income streams of its players. This is true because creators are now creatively monetizing their skills through innovative mediums like sponsored content.
I was able to learn the art of creative writing through the passion industry free of charge. In the past, people paid huge tuition to be educated about unpopular niches like voice alteration but today, the narrative is changing. Through passion economy, the democratization of the education sector has been made possible.
Promises of passion economy
The passion economy promises to make work less painful with purpose and alignment. It also has the reality of soberness and relentless professionalism10. As people work in their purpose, there will be reduced unemployment and gender inequality, enhanced dignity of labour and a reduction in climate change. With more people, engaging their unique skill set to carryout environmentally friendly activities, there will be less idle hands to over fish, pollute the environment, destroy the forest and make the ecosystem uninhabitable.
Pitfalls of passion economy
Although the passion economy has many juicy opportunities, pitfalls still litter the corridor of this emerging new economy. In Nigeria for instance, an online vendor was allegedly raped to death while delivering clothes to a male customer in Benue state. The young woman was into a business where she posts clothes and foot wears online to get orders for drop shipping. On the 10/19/2021, she got an order from a customer for two turtlenecks, which she went to deliver. She never returned home. After a worried search for her, news of her murder broke out to the dismay of everyone4.
Despite the huge benefits one can get from the passion economy, there is need for players to tread carefully with caution. The above woman’s niche in the passion industry could not escape the pitfall of danger due to the dual nature of her services that required posting virtually before physical delivery. This unfortunately led to her premature death in the hand of disguised customers.
The changing nature of customer needs often relegate many passion economist businesses down the pecking order. Failure on the part of the passion economist to undertake customer satisfaction surveys that will help him fine-tune products and services to consumer taste is the major fuel for this pitfall. Tailoring the offerings of the passion economy to meet the specific needs of the customer per time is the medication to this menace.
Furthermore, in effective marketing is another pitfall to avoid. With varying degrees of skill set needed by the passion economists to turn an idea into a reality, many fall into the temptation of overlooking marketing. According to Drucker, “marketing is so basic that it is not just enough to have a strong sales department and to entrust marketing to it. Marketing is not only much broader than selling; it is not a specialised activity at all. It encompasses the entire business. Concern and responsibility for marketing must therefore permeate all areas of the enterprise”5.
In addition, there is increased non-accountability for creators in the passion economy. “More established content collectives behave as organisations and often commit to companies in terms of what the performance of sponsored content would be. The lesser known, independent creators are not often clear on when their next creation would come out”- Instorieds Ali.
Inequality in the sharing of finance is glaring as the top 10% of creators make 90% of the revenues8 leaving the rest impoverished.
I advise passion economists to carefully analyse these pitfalls and relate them with context to their niche to be able to adopt smart Drucker crisis management measures.
From my experience, it is a testament to the fact that anyone anywhere can become a passion economist provided there is a willingness to unlearn, learn, relearn and convert passion into consumables needed by consumers.
With the global lockdown proving the durability of passion economy as the future of work in this age of automation, everyone everywhere needs to be trained formally or informally to enable them fit properly while leveraging upon the ongoing global democratization of the internet.
“Finally, don’t try to innovate for the future. Innovate for the present! An innovation may have long range impact; It may not reach its full maturity until twenty years later”-Peter Drucker.