Passion to Paid Summer 2017

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

Enrollment for this class is closed! To sign up for the Spring 2018 wait 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 can't believe how much has changed (for the better!). 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 150K.

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.
  • Follow a proven step-by-step process to create and market a passion project.
  • 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.


"I really enjoyed Lauren's direct approach to the material, the fact that she told us exactly how she went about starting her project/finding an agent/etc without using vague language or hypotheticals like lots of other designers do.

The project launch was the most exciting moment. The response I got was so enthusiastic I was really blown away. It was also so exciting to see this project of mine being featured on so many blogs and accounts. The thought that somehow I stumbled onto an idea that resonated with people—despite being so chronically bereft of ideas—was really thrilling!"

- Nick Misani, Project: Fauxsaics

Shortly after launching my passion project, For Fuck's Cake, I was contacted by a company called Ticings and was commissioned to letter using their sprinkles. This client likely would not have found me prior to launching my passion project and they have been an absolute dream to work with.

I now have more confidence in my abilities than I did before taking this course. I feel more experimental in my process and less worried about not being good enough to take something on. I am more likely to try things just for the sake of learning new skills and just to have some fun. After all, even if my design doesn't come out the way I imagined, there's still cake :) I would absolutely suggest signing up for Passion to Paid. The information you get in this course can be used repeatedly to launch endless side projects!

- Darcy Terry, Project: For Fuck's Cake

"One of my favorite parts of the program was the community. I didn't have many design friends before this class and to work with the other Passion to Paid participants was really helpful and fun. Also, it made me so happy to share my experience and to be a help to others. I think we're a great community and people are still connected and supporting each other in the Facebook group and on Instagram, even after the workshop ended!

Passion to Paid is great for anyone who is looking for a new way to approach creativity, wants to organize themselves to be more efficient when creating and/or to understand the connection between portfolio, project page, and social media.

- Anna Dittmer, Project: Pixel Passport

Course Curriculum

Class 1 - Be Your Own Muse

Inspiration is where the creative process starts: breathing life into a spark to create a bright and brilliant flame. Even though my top (not so) secret source of inspiration is unique, it’s also not exactly exclusive. Throughout this week, you’ll be taking some time to get reacquainted with yourself to see what sparks.

Class 2 - Feel Your Feels

We tend to believe that great ideas strike in obvious forms - the great creative muse whispering brilliance into our ears. However, the reality is that most great ideas begin as small moments of magic that we decide to pay attention to and cultivate. This week is about learning to pay attention to the words and images that resonate with you or other people.

Class 3 - Playing Favorites

The reason I focus on “passion” as a key part of my personal projects is because that enthusiasm and enjoyment ensures I’ll devote time and energy to bring them to life. So this week, we’ll be brainstorming the big and small things that we are eager to spend our free time nerding out on. One of the key aspects of creating a successful passion project is often coming up with a creative combination of two not-so-obviously related things, so we’ll be looking at existing examples and then thinking about which few of our favorite things we can fuse together into a brilliant project.

Class 4 - The Big Idea!

It’s time to hone in on the concept you want to work on - and don’t worry, you can always come back to other great ideas later for future passion projects. Before we dive into the process of creating, it’s important to do a little research and planning. Being thoughtful about what you’re trying to do and why will help you maximize the results (and avoid wasting time). By the end of this week, you should have a clear creative brief - as if you were going to show it to a “real” client. Feel free to sit down a friend, family member, coworker, pet, or imaginary friend and present your project idea. Practicing your pitches is never a bad thing.


With the recipe written for your big idea, it’s time to start cooking with gas! We’re going to talk about preparing the platform for your passion project - because no one can find it if you don’t share it with the world. Let’s turn the heat up!

Class 6 - Portfoli-OH YEAH

Remember that whole “paid” part of this passion project? You’ll want to be sure you have your portfolio ready to shine so that people who see your project can easily see what you do & who you are (& if you’re available for work!).

Class 7 - Let’s Launch

It’s time to show your passion to the world! We’ll discuss how to strategically share your project and how to amplify the effects so that your content reaches as many people as possible.

Class 8 - Become a Not So Starving Artist

You probably won’t be getting requests for your work immediately after launching (and congratulations if you do!), but it’s good to consider exactly what you can and want to do next.

Class 9 - Business Basics

If you are going to go freelance or pick up any side projects, this class will come in handy. We’ll talk about how to talk to a prospective client about scoping out a project as well as what to look for in contracts before signing off.

Class 10 - Keep It Up!

At this point, you should be continuing to create content for your passion project and sharing it with the world. To help broaden your audience & gain recognition for your project, this lesson covers staying inspired and getting official coverage of your work.

*** BONUS Content! ***

VIDEO: The Secret to Making Shareable Work

Just like we sometimes need to take a break from work to eat a delicious treat, I wanted to interrupt your regularly scheduled programming to talk about how being human is the most important part of our creative (or any) endeavors.

VIDEO: Time Management
It’s easy to get bogged down in daily life and the unexpected challenges that end up getting our time and attention. But, ultimately, we typically have the choice to make time for the important things. As you approach launch date for your passion project, keep putting one (proverbial) foot in front of the other towards the finish line.

PDF: How to Find an Agent

Ever wanted to know how to find representation as an artist? In this PDF, I break down the basics of what agents do, what they're looking for, and how you can find one.

PDF: Behind the Scenes of the Launch of 'Flour Crowns'

Take an inside look at my creative process, workflow, and marketing strategy behind my popular passion project, Flour Crowns. Watch me put the exact same lessons I've taught in this class to action!

"Before the course I used to just create what I wanted, without much strategy or consistency. I knew that I could do more, but I had no idea how. When the spots for Lauren’s course opened, I just knew I HAD to join, but I didn’t know why and I also didn’t have the money to do it, but my boyfriend felt my intuition and gave me the course as a gift!

After taking Passion to Paid, I’m now way more confident with my work and way more mature about treating what I love doing not as a hobby, but as a real job. I also learned A LOT of great marketing strategies with the classes, how to promote my work in the best way, and how to value myself as a freelancer!"

- Isabella Lião, Project: Thanking Around

"Getting my project featured in HuffPost was definitely an exciting moment (mostly because its something my family can recognize as a tangible achievement of my artwork). After taking Passion to Paid, I definitely have more confidence in my work and more of a understanding and realization that a good project or idea doesn’t inherently sell itself. You’ve gotta pound the pavement or the digital pavement and push your work out there."

- Josh Higgins, Project: Introflirted


Frequently Asked Questions

Passion to Paid is a 10-week creative course, guided by yours truly! Every Sunday morning starting August 20th, 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!).
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!
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 going LIVE in our private Facebook group for a 1-hour Q&A where I’ll answer your questions from the week’s lesson. In addition, I'll be providing personalized feedback & mentorship to students who purchase the Consultation & 1-on-1 Support packages. There's only one of me and so many hours in the day, so I structured this course to meet demand for the class + keep things manageable on my end. Check out the table at the bottom of the page for a complete breakdown of what you get at each of the 3 “levels” of Passion to Paid.
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.
Both! Though I do cover some business basics and share some of my strategies for working with clients, this is not a step-by-step course on how to run your whole business. Maybe someday I’ll create a second course that digs into the nitty gritty of freelancing, but for now, this course exists to set you up with an awesome idea for a passion project, plus the tools to begin getting eyes on your work and clients on your list! 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.
While I've only ever worked in a US market, the skills I'm teaching you about coming up with ideas and promoting your work online should be applicable to everywhere since the Internet is everywhere! Business-wise: any pricing information I share is based on my experience with the US market (specifically New York City). However, many of the things I cover in the freelance section of the course will be applicable to freelancers everywhere!
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.
Absolutely! If after 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.

"The biggest take-away for me is to pick one idea and make it. My head has always been full of possibilities, potentials, and yeah-I-could-totally-do-thats… but rarely do any of those potentials make it past the “wouldn’t it be cool, if…” stage. Passion to Paid taught me how to weed out the duds, and I learned that with a little structure, accountability, and iteration, I can go from zero to project and actually have something to show for my time!"

- Doris Fullgrabe, Project: Weightloss Wisdoms

The class made me realize I have a lot of untapped ideas I never knew I had! For some reason I thought I was only visually creative, but I discovered that I am also conceptually creative, which opens up a world of possibilities! It made me think of all the other myths I'm holding onto that are holding me back. I feel like I've gotten a big creative slap in the face, in a good way! You can quote me on that "Passion to Paid; a big fat creative slap in the face!” I now have a list of ideas that I just need the time to execute. I just launched my first passion project called idiYUMs and I’m very confident that it will lead to paid work.’

- Noah Camp, Project: IdiYUMS

My passion projects are the reason I have my career today, and are still the heart of my business.

I truly believe that every creative person has a brilliant idea for a passion project hidden inside of them.

No matter what creative industry you work in, the time you invest in creating a passion project will reinvest itself into your career in more ways than you can imagine!

Course $249

Perfect for those who want to take the lessons & run with them on their own.

  • 10 weeks of video lessons & workbooks
  • Access to the Passion to Paid Facebook community
  • Weekly 1-hour Facebook Live Q&A in Facebook group

Course + Support $449

Perfect for those who want me as their creative director. Let me help you refine your ideas + make suggestions on execution & marketing!

  • 10 weeks of video lessons & workbooks
  • Access to the Passion to Paid Facebook community
  • Weekly 1-hour Facebook Live Q&A in Facebook group
  • Recorded video + email feedback from me on 3 of your passion project ideas

Course + 1-on-1 Coaching $849

Perfect for those who want my eyes on their projects, portfolios, and creative careers.

  • 10 weeks of video lessons & workbooks
  • Access to the Passion to Paid Facebook community
  • Weekly 1-hour Facebook Live Q&A in Facebook group
  • Recorded video + email feedback from me on 3 of your passion project ideas
  • Personalized portfolio review (get my eyes on your work!)
  • Two 1-hour mentorship sessions with me via Skype

Get started now!