The Role of Personal Branding in The Passion Economy

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Ask yourself an important question: what will you be known for?

Think hard for a minute. To get you motivated – my favorite quote of all time:

“Every man has two lives.

The second starts when he realizes

he has just one.” – Confucius. 

Your second life is the life you were meant to live. The one that’s meaningful and brings you happiness. It takes time to discover it but when you do, you realize you’ve wasted time on less important things, and want the rest to be as fulfilling as possible.

Have you started your second life yet?

If you have or haven’t, I’ll ask it a bit differently: what do you want to be known for?

There are two parts to this answer. The first part is the what: what will you spend your life doing? A 9-5 (probably 8-6) job that doesn’t motivate you, doesn’t bring out your spirit or your true talents. Doesn’t celebrate your incredible uniqueness or personal interests. Some of us are lucky to have fulfilling jobs. Many of us don’t.

You’ll spend 1/3 of your life working, or 90,000 hours.

Want something more meaningful? That engages you, your passions, and what you love to do. Great news – it’s never been easier to do it. Let’s go.

Welcome to the Passion Economy

I wanted to nail down a great narrative to inspire our customers. In my head it had to do with celebrating being unique and sharing your interests. And that due to new digital tools, you can create things around your passions with ease. Not only that, you can turn them into something substantial, like a future business. When you invest in yourself and create things online, great things can happen.

And then a friend (thanks Marco E. Chong) shared a remarkable trend that was taking off, that captured everything I was looking for. 

It’s called The Passion Economy – a new era where people are turning their passions into projects, side-hustles and into livelihoods. It’s the future of work. We see it around us every day: from food bloggers, to yoga-streaming instructors. The 20 year corporate vet that left the workplace to start her own consultancy. Leaving a life of endless PowerPoints, to selling and scaling your own educational curriculum. And there’s plenty of opportunity within the corporate world that’s can be a fit based on what you love to do.

They key is to focus on what motivates you, do it passionately, and do it for a living. And it’s all very possible thanks to digital tools. First a bit of history.

From widgets to gigs to passions

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Different from past economies before it, in the Passion Economy you need to be unique to succeed. Adam Davidson, author of The Passion Economy: New Rules for Thriving in the 21st Century, describes how past economies pretty much suppressed the individual.

The Widget Economy as he labels it, was most industry in the 20th century, focused on industrialization and making all the exact same things, but better. Great things came from this – think medicine, travel, technology – but it’s about sameness. As a person you’re a number or a title, and your individuality is suppressed. Your passions, if you had some outside of work, were something VERY different than your job. There was almost no opportunity to combine them.

The Gig economy which we are still in, offers more individuality due to worker flexibility. This means more freedom for the worker, but not the ultimate pay/benefits. You are working for someone else, probably not involving your passions, and the more financial gain you desire, requires the same amount of time. Inability to scale and profit as an individual.

The Passion Economy – the key to growth is not making the same thing, but quite the opposite. It’s about creating special things that only some people want, but they want it a lot! It means fewer big companies, and many more smaller companies. It means more entrepreneurs, small business, and more fulfilling livelihoods. It’s largely enabled by digital technology.

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According to Davidson, it offers “Unprecedented opportunities for curious, ambitious individuals to combine the things they love with their careers.”

“Where individuality is a feature, not a glitch.” – Li Jin.  

All credit is due to the person that coined the phrase Passion Economy, and that’s Li Jin. A remarkable thought leader in this space, she wrote The Passion Economy and the Future of Work.

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“Users can now build audiences at scale and turn their passions into livelihoods. This has huge implications for entrepreneurship and what we’ll think of as a “job” in the future.”

In this refreshing piece, Li focuses on the monetization possibilities, and how the top seller on Substack (a service where you can generate revenue through newsletters) earns $500,000/year. Other tools that fall into this category for content creators: Podia, Teachable, Medium, Udemy, Skillshare, and many more. It’s about creating unique content, to a unique audience, building your own brand and generating income. Follow Li on Substack to get familiar. She produces great content.

The key to success in The Passion Economy: your personal brand

I mentioned there were two parts to living your second life. What you do for a living is ‘the what’. The second ingredient is ‘the how’ you do it. Or even the why. And for me, that’s your personal brand.

There are a hundred definitions of a personal brand: how you promote yourself, what you think, what you share. The one I like the most: How do people remember you? What will you be known for?

We’re at the start of a massive wave of personal branding: over half the world’s population is now active on social. Floods of people are leaving the traditional workforce to start their own business. And the most inspiring of the stats: ~`60% of Gen Zs want to become online influencers. The inspiring part is that they want to do this to make a difference in the world

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It doesn’t matter if you work in a large organization, it’s already proven that your customers want to buy from humans, and human-centric brands, and people who love that they do. Personal branding is just as important to the corporate exec as the entrepreneur. No excuses.

How do you create a memorable personal brand? Build your digital presence

It’s a shame to hide that remarkable personal brand from others. In fact, it’s your duty to share yourself! Digital channels will help you do that. Read about your interests every day. Make bold comments and share them on social. Create your own website. Start a group or contribute to one. Add connections on LinkedIn every day. Start a newsletter. Write, discuss, record, connect.

Start by creating a little plan. What are the topics you want to be known for? What is your angle? What’s your tone of voice and visual branding? What kind of content will you share on what channels? And most importantly, what your plan to keep consistent?

Another one of my top quotes from my top influencers, Gerald Peters. He’s built a unique and loyal following in the real estate and stock trading community. He has monetized it brilliantly including selling PDFs, books, training and access to private stock trading communities. But he gives so much more than he asks for in return – part of what he believes and what makes him unique. Part of his personal brand. Follow Gerald on Instagram for top content and free live streams.

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You don’t have to get it right. Just get it going!

Push your intent into the digital universe, and watch what happens. You too can be a part of the Passion Economy and begin your second life.

It all starts with you 

How can help? It doesn’t matter your goal – building a digital presence can help you achieve it. Start a business, grow your network, shine in your workplace, get hired, impress your colleagues, or just spend more time sharing your passions. But building a digital presence online can be hard to keep up. We want to help you do it, and do it well! is a next-generation personal marketing platform – simple to use and designed to keep you active. We’ll bring you daily content on your interests, to add to your personal website, share on social and newsletters, and help you do it well with tips from marketing pros. Start your free trial! We also have a solution for brands that want to help their people shine.

Dan Di Federico
I'm the Executive Director at and Finity.