Passion to Paid

How to use creative passion projects to get noticed, get clients, and get paid!

Are you a visual artist, designer, photographer, or all-around creative human dreaming of making your mark on the world…but don’t know 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. Nine years ago, I was an ambitious, recent art school graduate who was ready to take on the world. I landed my dream job as a junior 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 lettering artist who has published two books and traveled around the world painting murals, teaching workshops and speaking at design events...

...all while running a location-independent freelance business and working with clients like Google, Target, and TIME Magazine...

...and growing my combined social media following to over 250K.

I broke a 6-figure income 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 an accounting mistake - it wasn't!). I left a job that paid $60K and nearly doubled it after two years; While I knew this was no guarantee of future 6-figure years, I kept learning and my business kept growing...

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, 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 lettering blog, and eventually turned into a 5-figure book deal with 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 in less than a year.

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 the answer to anyone who's ever looked at my work and wondered:

“How does she come up with so many clever f*cking ideas?"

"How did she build her skills, her online audience, AND her freelance business so quickly?"

"How did she get to where she is today, and how can I get there, too?”

...I created something special for you: Passion to Paid, a step-by-step 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 learn how to…

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).

Create a strategic plan to promote your project (aka make your beautiful work WORK harder for your business).

Build an online following around your passion project.

Turn that following into people and companies who will actually PAY YOU to create things you *actually* want to work on.

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.

Artists who want to grow their businesses but cringe at traditional self-promotion, like cold emails to art directors and going to networking events.

People who have an idea for a project but want accountability + feedback to see it through.

People who have NO ideas for a project but want to learn how to translate their brain jumble into something clever and creative.

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.

Anyone who feels stuck in a creative rut and wants to feel motivated & inspired again.

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, figure out a direction for your creative work 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 community of other artists supporting you.

Follow a proven step-by-step process to create and market the heck out of a passion project.

...then this course was made just for you!

If you've ever wanted to start a passion project to boost your career like I have, this is the perfect opportunity to learn from my playbook and 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

"I now have more confidence in what I do and the ability to get paid work. When I was noodling around on my own, the idea of how to attract clients and a following seemed very experimental and mysterious, but Lauren outlined actual strategies that are pretty easy to follow once you’ve made the content. I feel like I know a lot of people that make brilliant artwork but struggle with how to get it seen.

Part of that has to do with having the confidence to believe it is worth being seen, then the rest is just following the steps outlined in the course. What I saw Passion to Paid doing for myself and a lot of the students was helping us realize the internet is big enough for our ideas to gain an audience."

- Annie Wong, Project: Ovary Actions

"Having the girls from 2 Dope Queens notice my work and commission a print was a major highlight (and Jessica Williams follows me now, which is totally a fan-girl's dream!). I may have let out a little scream at work when I got the notification. I was also reposted by the ladies from My Favorite Murder, which resulted in 300+ new followers over the course of two days.

Hands down the greatest take away from the course was helping me to define my personal style. The worksheets were absolutely invaluable, and working through them helped me to find my voice. I learned to fully embrace my inner weirdo, and as a result I'm finally producing work that feels like ME."

- Lucy Giller, Project: Two Turntables & a Podcast

The magic formula Lauren helps you unlock in yourself is incredibly powerful & develops a strong inner confidence. I’ll never forget that "AH HA!" moment when I realized I had the ability to connect the dots & create a thoughtful project.

My Instagram has doubled since I've started consistently posting pieces from my passion project & those followers have been super engaged. It also felt surreal when I received my first big freelance client specifically because they loved a piece from my passion project!

I truly believe I will never need to take another online course from anyone else. This class is PACKED with so much quality education, plus so many helpful tips & answers Lauren provides along the way!

- Kat Goodloe, Project: Candid Giftcards

My students and I have had our passion projects featured by

...just to name a few!


Modules consist of video lessons, workbooks and written guides.

Module 1 / Gathering Inspiration and Brainstorming: Inspiration is where the creative process starts: breathing life into a spark to create a bright and brilliant flame. 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. In this module, I’ll show you 6 ways to get reacquainted with yourself to see what sparks.

Module 2 / The Big Idea: It’s time to hone in on the concept you want to work on. 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 module, you should have a clear creative brief - as if you were going to show it to a “real” client.

Module 3 / Getting to Work: 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. Oh, and remember that whole “paid” part of this passion project? We’ll go over ways to make your portfolio shine so that people who see your project can easily see what you do & who you are (& if you’re available for work!).

Module 4 / Launching Your Project: 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. This module is all about making your artwork WORK harder for you.

Module 5 - Business Basics: This module will set you up with the knowledge & confidence to manage your first freelance client project if inquiries start hitting your inbox after launching your project (which I hope they do!). 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. Plus, I’ll discuss a few other ways to monetize your passion project besides picking up client work!

Module 6 / Conclusion: To help broaden your audience & gain recognition for your project, this module covers staying inspired, getting official coverage of your project, and getting recognition for your work & business.

Plus over 10 hours of Q&A recordings from previous sessions of the class!

Plus access to our private Passion to Paid Facebook community of over 1,500!

"I had followed Lauren's work for a long time, and I'd seen her launch passion project after passion project that really moved her career forward in a way I'd never seen any other artist do! So if I could get even the smallest nugget of genius from her process, I knew it would be worth it.

In the 7 months since launching my passion project, it's amassed over 200,000 followers on Instagram, and I've quit my job to focus on my illustration work full time. I've been featured in the Wall Street Journal, O Magazine, Buzzfeed...and have gotten tons of amazing client work from it!

Lauren has some inexplicable magic in her coursework that helps you unlock ideas and see the things you already love in a new, creative light, and the community of students is supportive, creative, and so engaged. It's worth every penny and more."

- Amber Share, Project: Subpar Parks

"Through taking this course I’ve gained priceless relationships with incredible, talented people in the group, as well as self confidence in my skills and my passion project. Additionally, being able to talk about my passion project has given me opportunities to meet even more people outside of the Passion to Paid community. It all goes full circle!

Regardless of the skills or experience level you come into the course with, Passion to Paid will help you find a fun, unique, and meaningful passion project that you will pour your heart into. The resources and guidance Lauren provides in this class are so valuable, I can't say enough great things about the course!"

- Chie Tamada, Project: Piece of Mind Puzzles

"Getting a couple book deals for my project was cool, but mostly finding a support system within the group and then finding a group of likeminded internet friends and followers through my project were the best.

After taking Passion to Paid, I definitely have more confidence in my work. If you're unsure how to promote your work, you haven't felt fulfilled with past passion projects, or you want to learn a method for making solid passion projects this class is for you. You have to put in the work and you might not make a hit right away, but the process taught is made to be used over and over again."

- Josh Higgins, Project: Introflirted

"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

Frequently Asked Questions

Passion to Paid is a 6-part creative course, taught by yours truly! When you enroll, you'll get instant access to the videos, workbooks and resources that you can go through at your own pace. The course is broken up into three sections - Creativity, Promotion and Business.
Everyone who enrolls in the class will have group access to me in a private Facebook group that I check in on every other week via comments! 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 and still run my business, but running this course twice a year allows me to block off special time in my schedule for my students. In addition, I'll be providing personalized feedback & mentorship to students who purchase the Idea Feedback 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 with each of the “levels” of Passion to Paid.
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 two sections focus on brainstorming and uncovering your best ideas. The next two are focused on creating your project and getting as many eyes on it as possible. And the last one is 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. There are students who have launched projects in as few as 10 weeks, and there are students who launch projects a year after taking the class - everyone works at their own pace!
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.
I used to teach this class as a 5-week program, but after revising and refining the program over three years, I decided to give self-guided a try to accommodate everyone's busy schedules (including mine!). I incorporated all of the Q&A from previous classes into the actual curriculum, so now students can get the same amount of information at a pace that suits them.
Once enrolled in the course, students will have the option to purchase feedback from me on up to three of their passion project ideas for the price of $199. Details can be found at the end of Module 2 - The Big Idea.
Yes! All video lessons have closed captioning in English.

"Passion to Paid is by far the best investment I’ve made for myself since leaving school. Lauren has put together a no-nonsense curriculum that shows people EXACTLY how she went from having a small project on the internet to being one of the most sought after designers out there. She shares everything from her brainstorming process to her social media strategy to the tools she uses. If you’re willing to put in the work, you’ll come out the other side a much better designer than you were going in."

- Mariana Martinez, Project: Mexican Moms Be Like

"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: Just Pick Up a Pen

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

"I worked on a few different passion projects since taking the program. One of my projects was about redesigning book covers, and it got me an internship at Penguin Random House! Even though this particular project wasn't meant to be shared on social media, the skills I learned at Passion to Paid helped me bring my idea to life.

Before this course, I was never good at personal projects. I would have an idea, get excited, then quickly get overwhelmed and not know where or how to start. Needless to say, my personal projects never went anywhere. What I loved about Passion to Paid was how practical it was. The program is structured in a steady pace that gave me enough time to digest the information and apply it to my project. My greatest take away from the program is not the project itself, but the process of creating a personal project from start to finish that is so valuable."

- Zainab Lari, Project: I Would Love to But...

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

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!

I truly believe that every creative person has a brilliant idea for a passion project hidden inside of them, and it would be an honor to help you discover yours!

x Lauren / @homsweethom

Sliding scale pricing is available for those who need it.

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