Passion to Paid

How to Use Passion Projects to Get Noticed, Get Clients, and Get Paid!


***Due to the amazing and overwhelming demand for the class, enrollment for this class is closed! I want to give every one of my students quality feedback and personal attention, and (surprise!) I'm only one woman with 24 hours in a day. I am SO deeply grateful and honored that so many people want to learn from me, and we will absolutely get a chance to make magic in the future. To sign up for the Summer 2017 waiting list, click here.***

Are you a visual artist, designer, photographer, or all-around creative human dreaming of making your mark on the world…but don’t how to get started?

Maybe you’re still in art school wondering what’s next after you graduate and enter the “real world”. How do you stand out to potential employers in the endless sea of young, talented creatives?

Perhaps you’re already in the real world, working a job you thought you always wanted, but you just don’t feel a sense of creative satisfaction from the work you’re doing? Instead you feel burnt out and uninspired by the “put in your dues and climb your way up the corporate ladder” model of success. Every day, you open your phone and see your favorite artists running their own creative businesses, and you long for the freedom that comes with the freelance lifestyle.

It’s possible that you’re already freelancing, but want to take your creativity and visibility to the next level….but honestly? Marketing your work online feels overwhelming...and time-consuming...and a little inauthentic.

Bottom line?

  • You’re not sure how to really get your freelance career off the ground.
  • You frequently find yourself wondering if your ideas are “good enough” and know you’re holding yourself back from putting your work out there in a major way.
  • You want to come up with a creative project or BIG idea that will take your career to the next level, but feel stuck, lack inspiration, or just plain don’t know where to start.

I totally get it. A few years ago, I was an ambitious, recent art school graduate who was ready to take on the world. I landed my dream job as an art director at a big advertising agency…only to end up burning out in less than a year.

What I thought was my dream job turned out to be 11 hour workdays, weekends spent at my desk, and endless office politics. Exhausted and uninspired at the age of 23, I knew I had to make a change.

Fast forward to now, and I almost have to pinch myself when I look at my life. I’m a fully-nomadic freelance illustrator who has published two books and gets to travel around the world painting murals and teaching workshops - all while running an illustration business and working with clients like Google, Starbucks, and TIME Magazine.

I’ve grown my online following to over 130K.

I broke a 6-figure salary after freelancing full-time for 2 years. (Side note: When that happened I couldn't believe it. I had to call my agent and see if it was a mistake on my tax forms. I left a job that paid $60K and doubled it after two years.)

But above all else, this success has allowed me to work on my own terms.

People often ask how I found success in the creative industry at such a young age, and while there are many factors, my number one answer is: passion projects!

The first passion project I created, Daily Dishonesty, started as a drunk joke with a friend that led to a viral blog, and eventually turned into a 5-figure book deal from a NYC publisher at the age of 22.

Another passion project, Will Letter for Lunch, came to me as I was searching for brunch in NYC and realized the lack of quality chalkboard art on restaurant signs. I decided to combine two things I love (lettering + lunching) into a project and went from having ZERO chalk lettering experience to booking chalk lettering projects with clients like Samuel Adams, Microsoft, and LinkedIn.

My passion projects not only gave me the financial security I needed to leave my full-time job, they also gave me the creative confidence I needed to pursue hand lettering as a career.

So as a long overdue answer to the many amazing people who have asked some variation of the question, “How did you do it? And how can I?” I have created an offering I’m super excited about!

Introducing….Passion to Paid: a 10-week guided course to help you powerfully launch your creative career with a kick ass passion project!

Regardless of your current skill level or where you’re at now, this course will help you to get excited about your next steps.

Together we will…

  • Get your creative juices flowing if you’re feeling stuck or blocked.
  • Unearth a GOLDMINE of awesome ideas that you didn’t even know you had and pick the best (so you can start running with it).
  • Build an online following around your passion project
  • Turn that following into people and companies who will actually PAY YOU to be your creative awesome self (ie. live the badass freelance lifestyle of your dreams).
  • Increase your creative confidence (Translation? Get things out of your head, onto paper, and out into the world faster than ever before).
  • Get that inner voice of self-doubt and self-criticism to STFU so you can get to work!

Who is this course for:

  • Creative humans who want to be EVEN MORE CREATIVE.
  • People who have an idea for a project but want accountability + feedback to see it through.
  • Students who are looking to improve their portfolios so they can stand out amongst a sea of other applicants.
  • Full-time employees who want to transition out of the 9-to-5 and start working freelance.
  • Current freelancers who want to grow their existing platform, build their online following, get more clients, earn more money, and feel more fulfilled in their creative work (and life!)

Who is this course not for:

  • People who do not like the idea of starting a creative project.
  • People who are just looking for “a quick way to make money” or “overnight Instagram fame” - while the goal of this course is to help you create a kick-ass project that grows your visibility and attracts new clients, you’re going to have to put in the work and there are no guarantees.
  • People who don’t like jokes and snacks (Fun fact: I am made of exactly 50% puns and 50% potato chips)

Bottom line? If you want to…

  • Identify what you are passionate about and make something you are SO proud of.
  • Gain exposure for your work and ideas (so people who need what you have to offer can find you and start paying you for it).
  • Have way more creative confidence and a tribe of other artists supporting you.
  • Have me personally look over your passion project and guide you every step of the way.
  • Gain group access to me as your creative director and mentor for the next 10 weeks.

Then this course was made just for you!

If you've ever wanted to start a passion project to boost your career, this is the perfect opportunity to have me guide you every step of the way.

"Lauren is my go-to queen for all things related to accelerating my career as a freelance photographer & videographer. She continuously offers strategic solutions and advice to working with clients, charging my worth, and providing valuable service. Lauren has played a tremendous role in helping me gain the confidence needed to build a business doing what I love to do."

TJ Lee Travel Youtuber and Freelance Photographer

"I was a little lost regarding being a freelancer when I graduated, I had consistent work but still nothing felt sustainable for some reason, I could tell I had very little control over my career. To that I would say the biggest achievement of mine after my time with Lauren was simply feeling confident with the steps I was taking, shaking off that unnecessary stress, being able to work hard on the a-z without doubt as a distraction and only having good vibes when looking into the future."

Lauren Ronquillo Freelance Designer & Letterer

“Lauren is incredible when it comes to helping you start a side project that positions you for the type of fun, creative work you really want. I had been looking to attract more high-end, creative copywriting work and was inspired by Lauren to launch a passion project on social media that showed off the type of writing I LOVE to do.

Within a few weeks, I had a conversation with an ideal client who I really admired. She was interested in hiring me to redo all of her website copy. When I asked if she wanted me to send along writing samples, she replied, “That’s not necessary. I follow you on social media and love your writing - just do that.”

I mean...what?!?! I literally couldn’t believe it (or stop smiling). Two days later, I had a signed contract for $5K doing something that sounded so fun, I probably would have done it for free. Lauren, you’re a genius!”

Rebecca Rubin Writer + Marketing Strategist

Course Curriculum - beginning Sunday January 15th!

Week 1 - Be Your Own Muse Stuck in a creative rut? I’ll walk you through the questions I come back to again and again to spark a flurry of new ideas!

Week 2 - Feel Your Feels Learn how I turned a painful breakup into $10K PLUS get the secret formula I use to come up with “Why didn’t I think of that?!” ideas.

Week 3 - Playing Favorites Get my no-fail “detective trick” that will help you unearth the creative gems currently hiding in your everyday experiences.

Week 4 - The Big Idea! Now it’s time to filter through all of the ideas you’ve generated thus far and pick the winner, make sure no one has done it before, and come up with a super catchy name.

Week 5 - WERK WERK WERK My best advice for getting your ideas out of your head and into the world, staying in your creative flow when distractions and demands on your time threaten to derail you (plus my no fail get-shit-done playlist).

Week 6 - Portfoli-OH YEAH Time to build a beautiful home for your work! You'll learn my top portfolio tips (that I personally use), and I’ll walk you step-by-step through creating a website that most effectively showcases your work and personality.

Week 7 - Let’s Launch! I’ll teach you how to leverage social media, online publications and collaborations to boost your brand and get your work in front of large audiences.

Week 8 - Become a Not So Starving Artist You’ll get my top tips for landing your first few projects as a freelancer, how to price your work, and advice to help you avoid working for “exposure” (even if you’re just starting out).

Week 9 - Business Basics In this lesson you’ll learn EVERYTHING I wish I had known about running a freelance design business before I started, including how to price your work, read contracts like a pro, and manage your business.

Week 10 - Keep It Up! In our final module, I’ll leave you with my favorite tips on how to stay relevant on social media, confident in your abilities, and inspired to keep creating more meaningful work!


How to Find an Agent

Midweek Motivation - Time Management

Midweek Motivation - The Secret to Making Shareable Work

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the program format?
Passion to Paid is a 10-week creative course, guided by yours truly! Every Sunday morning starting January 15th, you’ll receive a new class video and workbook. The course is broken up into three sections - Creativity (4 classes), Promotion (3 classes), and Business (3 classes). Each week’s lesson and assignment should take up no more than 2-3 hours of your time (because I know you’ve got tons of other things going on in your life!).
Why is it 10 weeks? What if I want to go faster?
I designed the course this way because creativity takes time and a well-executed side project doesn’t just happen overnight! This course isn’t a magical “instant side project generator”; beautiful things happen when you give your ideas, talent, and passion time to evolve. If you’re interested in this course, you’re probably more ambitious than the average person…which probably also means you’ve got quite a packed schedule! I designed the course with busy people in mind, so I made sure the pace was manageable for even the busiest of bees. (It also gives me plenty of time to give you quality feedback and answer all of your questions in our private Facebook group.) You can’t be your most creative and inspired self when you’re feeling overwhelmed!
How much attention will I get from you, Lauren?
You'll have group access to me in a private Facebook group! Over the years, I’ve done my best to keep up with emails and social media, but there just aren’t enough hours in the day for me to respond to everyone…which is why I am SO excited to announce that I’ll be making special time in my schedule for students who enroll in this course. For the next 10 weeks, I’ll be opening up “office hours” in our private Facebook group every Tuesday and Friday from 6pm to 9pm EST. I’ll give you feedback on your projects and answer all of your questions from the week’s assignment. For those six hours every week, I’m all yours!
I’m not a visual artist….is this course still for me?
Yes! Creativity isn’t just limited to visual artists. I’ve seen baking bloggers, copywriters, and chefs all start passion projects that have made their way around the internet & boosted their business. This course is designed to give ALL creative individuals the framework (that I’ve had personal success with) to tap into their unique talents and skills and create a passion project. Though one of the business classes is geared towards visual artists, the rest of the course is meant to make ALL creatives more inspired, confident, and motivated.
Is this course just about creativity or do you teach actual business stuff?
Both! The course is broken up into three topics - Creativity, Promotion, and Business. The first four weeks focus on brainstorming and uncovering your best ideas. The next three weeks are focused on creating your project and getting as many eyes on it as possible. And the last three weeks are devoted to giving you an inside look at how I’ve managed and grown my business, from setting up contracts, pricing your work, making the jump from full-time to freelance, and finding an illustration agent.
How long do I have access to the course?
How does lifetime access sound? After enrolling, you have unlimited access to this course for as long as you like - across any and all devices you own.
What if I start the course and then decide it’s not right for me…do you offer refunds?
Absolutely! If after the first the first 30 days you’re not feeling more creative and inspired, just send me proof of the completed assignments and I’ll issue you a full refund.

***Due to the amazing and overwhelming demand for the class, enrollment for this class is closed! I want to give every one of my students quality feedback and personal attention, and (surprise!) I'm only one woman with 24 hours in a day. I am SO deeply grateful and honored that so many people want to learn from me, and we will absolutely get a chance to make magic in the future. To sign up for the Summer 2017 waiting list, click here.***

This course is not open for enrollment.