A new category of work is emerging. It’s called the passion economy, and it’s built on the idea that you can turn your interests and passions into a livelihood. In many ways is not a new idea: services like YouTube, Kickstarter, and even Twitch have been around for 10+ years. What’s new is the stack of services and tools that make publishing, audience engagement and revenue much easier to manage.
Like the gig economy, the passion economy promises to remove the gatekeepers from one’s career: no resumes to submit, no hiring managers to impress, no ladders to climb. Work when you want, where you want, how you want.
But these freedoms inevitably come with snares of their own. With the gig economy, we’ve seen sparse protections for workers, incentive structures that require grueling hours (it’s not uncommon for Uber drivers to sleep in their cars), and the flattening of one’s identity down to a first name and a star rating. With the passion economy, we’re starting to see a different set of problems:
As a result, today’s passion economy today excludes a diversity of worthy people, passions, and projects.
Since launching Hello World in November 2020, we’ve seen some remarkable young people share their passions. Here are just a few examples from the 80,000 teens who’ve joined so far:
These promising young people do not have the financial runway to focus full-time on producing more content until they grow an audience. They do not offer services; rather, they are creating art and public goods. And while superstardom may await them, they aren’t striving for it.
So: do these projects belong in the passion economy? And if not, where do they belong? What institutions will support them? What tech companies will build for them?
Icons via the Noun Project created by Eucalyp, Flatart, Smalllike.