For Love or For Money?

Elizabeth Lada, like many of us, struggles to decide which job to take. She asks …

What to do when you have a number of medium-sized talents, and the ones that make you money aren’t quite as fun to do (that would be painting/illustrating) and the ones that are more fun to do are not (yet? ever?) remunerative (that would be screenwriting and playing music). How to focus? Reward so many hours of doing the money-maker with a half-hour of the fun stuff? Focus exclusively on the money-maker until some (arbitrary?) goal is met? Do the fun stuff first and wait till the deadline for the money-maker is looming and work like crazy?

Steve: This is another great question and it kind of goes back to an old axiom in Tinseltown, which is “one for love and one for money,” and, uh . . . A lot of actors and writers and directors kind of go by this, where they’ll make a movie that they know is a commercial slam dunk to make enough money so that then they can do a project for love. And I think that that is another possible, there are pitfalls to that, but I think it’s a pretty good way for some people anyway to do it.

So, again, if you’re thinking about a year, you can say “Okay, I’m gonna do, for the first three months, I’m going to work on this project that’s going to bring in some money, and that’ll bring me enough to do the next four months, so that I could work on my web series or whatever it is that I really love, and then meanwhile I will book the last three months to do something for money.”

And, again, one of the great skills that you have to develop if you’re going to manage your time is compartmentalization—to be able to work on one thing and then bring down the gate and work on another. So Liz, this is one way to look at it. One for love and one for money.


Steve shows you the predictable Resistance points that every writer hits in a work-in-progress and then shows you how to deal with each one of these sticking points. This book shows you how to keep going with your work.

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A short book about the writing of a first novel: for Steve, The Legend of Bagger Vance. Having failed with three earlier attempts at novels, here's how Steve finally succeeded.



Steve shares his "lessons learned" from the trenches of the five different writing careers—advertising, screenwriting, fiction, nonfiction, and self-help. This is tradecraft. An MFA in Writing in 197 pages.



Amateurs have amateur habits. Pros have pro habits. When we turn pro, we give up the comfortable life but we find our power. Steve answers the question, "How do we overcome Resistance?"



  1. Seth Godin on March 10, 2014 at 4:24 am

    My take: the professional loves what he does and gets paid for it too.

    In other words, love and money aren’t natural enemies when you’re doing your best work.

    Many artists have set themselves up to believe that they are, that making a living doing great work is impossible, and that if you’re getting paid fairly, there must be some element of what you’re doing that’s wrong or sold out.

    Another way to think about this: Whatever you’re getting paid to do, make it your art, and do it like your life depended on it.

    • Barbara on March 10, 2014 at 9:23 am

      For me, that’s an unsatisfying answer to the original question. Painting is not playing music. And it may be the case that music is a long haul that needs to be supplemented for a time. The music is far less likely ever to take off, I believe, if she weakens her focus on it and makes painting her art instead.

    • Pheralyn on March 10, 2014 at 11:04 am

      While I certainly see Steve’s point about compartmentalization, this is great advice, Seth. Adopting this mindset will set a lot of us artists free. Thanks.

    • George Kao on March 10, 2014 at 6:37 pm

      I love that Seth replied!

      To bring in an overtly spiritual perspective, whatever we “must” do for money at the moment, we are called to be as mindful, grateful, and excellent as we can be, in doing the job.

      And on evenings/weekends (or off-job times) to do the hobby we love, until we get so good at it the world just can’t ignore us, and would even pay us to do it full-time. It takes persistence, but it’s much easier to persist when you do something for the love whether or not you ever get paid.

      For the day job though, keep doing a good job… and switch day jobs as often as needed to remain sane.

    • George Kao on March 10, 2014 at 6:40 pm

      I recently read “Real Happiness at Work” by Sharon Salzberg. I’d recommend it to anyone working a “day job” especially if it’s hard to bear…

  2. tolladay on March 10, 2014 at 6:53 am

    This one hits exactly where I live as I devote about 70% of my time to my day job, and the rest to writing. I should note that this division comes naturally, and is not of my doing, as my day job is working freelance.

    If I may be so bold, what I have learned, seems to match up with what Seth is saying above. The more I write, the more I demand out of my day job and the more rewarding it also has become. In fact, I’ve found that when I have 100% of my time devoted to writing I tend to fall apart and find it difficult to master the energy to work that hard. But when I work my day job and cannot write, it makes the upcoming time when I can write all the more precious.

    Mind you, I can do this only because I have a full staff (well my lovely wife, but she’s like a whole army all on her own) behind my efforts, balancing the money and keeping our bank account green when no one calls for work. But what I did not expect was that by demanding more of my writing actually made my day job more fulfilling.

    One last thing. Oliver Emberton has a great blog entry called “How to succeed when you have no special skills”, which is essentially about how a combination of job skills is actually better then any particular one. I highly recommend it.

  3. Greg on March 10, 2014 at 8:41 am

    Perhaps the secret here is a lacking entrepreneurial skill. With increasing platforms and opportunities growing by the day, the list is endless for the artist to make a fantastic living doing what she loves – without sacrificing integrity. And just mean mastering the fundamentals of value exchange + a business model.

    I think outdated is the old model of the starving artist who has to sell out to put food on the table, but rather it’s due time for the sophisticated artist who steps up and takes responsibility to intelligently merge their heat’s work with compensation. Just setting a simple system up such that money flowing mirrors that outpouring of rich value into the world.

    I humbly suggest a 3rd area to allocate our time, where we artists spend x number of hours per week investing in our ability to monetize our gifts to the world.

    • Eva Rawposa on March 10, 2014 at 2:23 pm

      AGREED 100%! You and Seth both hit the nail on the head – there is no good reason not to have both. It’s nearly always possible; it’s really just finding out how that’s the challenge. Often we creatives don’t market ourselves in a way that brings in the green… But we could… 🙂

    • George Kao on March 10, 2014 at 6:42 pm

      Brilliant response… yes on the 3rd area!

  4. Krystol on March 10, 2014 at 8:48 am

    This is a tough question. It depends on what you have to work on and what time frame that you have. As a writer time management is tough for me,but I’m getting a lot better. For this question I would time management is a MUST. Get one of those calendars (the really big ones) where you are tear off the page and write out your projects month by month depending on how big or small they are. At least that’s how I would do it. Currently, I don’t have a normal 9-5 but i do work and make money from home so I have more time to work on my projects. This task may seem harder for those who work and possibly have children. Kudos to those that do!

  5. Mike B on March 14, 2014 at 7:39 pm

    If you have medium-sized talents but you can deliver professional grade work in each area, why not develop your own project that combines each of these skills in a creatively satisfying way? This takes an extra dose of entrepreneurial chutzpah and may take longer to complete and realize a profit. But right now everyone is down with mixed media. The best example I can think of is Shel Silverstein. He was not the greatest artist and would never win a national poetry award. But the combination of his humor, wit, funny drawings and ingenious rhymes produced some of the most original children’s books that are still loved by both kids and the parents who read to them.

  6. Kathleen Howard on January 26, 2022 at 6:07 am

    Interesting post! Really I am very glad to read this amazing post about love and money. It’s true that money can’t buy happiness, but it can buy security and safety for you and your loved ones. we always need money to pay for all the things that make our life possible, such as shelter, food, healthcare bills, and a good education, So we should give more importance to making money, Recently I checked the FitMyMoney website you can Go Now to get instant loans and smartest finance-related tips that can help people to get the right financial solution. Anyway, I really appreciate you @steven for this good post. keep up to your writing.

  7. emma james on June 8, 2022 at 2:57 am

    What an interesting post! I am so delighted to have read this wonderful piece on love and money. Money cannot purchase happiness, but it can provide protection and safety for you and your loved ones. We always need money to pay for the things that make our lives possible, such as shelter, food, medical costs, and a good education, thus we should prioritize earning money. Recently, I visited the Easyqualifymoney website, which you can visit now to acquire immediate loans and the finest finance-related tips that can assist people in finding the best financial solution. Anyway, thank you so much, @steven, for this excellent post. Continue your writing.

  8. carlmarx on April 20, 2023 at 6:54 am

    For both, I guess. When you trade Bitcoin, it comes out to be not easy to earn much if you do it only for money, without love.

  9. SonaSood on April 20, 2023 at 8:04 am

    Agree. Whenever you do something, you must do it with love and passion. If we speak of cryptocurrency trading, that will not be easy to excel in this, if you don’t spend much time learning how to do it. I advise you to visit for exchange rates and purchase opportunities though.

  10. Tristan and Isolda on May 29, 2023 at 1:48 am

    Hi there, I think we won’t be able to prosper, because Bitcoin exchange rate is changing too rapidly. I bought it for 30K and then it dropped to 19 K. What the heck?

  11. Hakunamatata on May 29, 2023 at 3:03 am

    Hard to convince anybody, unless you reduce your level of pessimism. To trade more successfully, you need to analyze the quotes as well as make technical analysis. You can also visit Bitcoin Decode site and get to know the authomated trading platform options that I am using, for example. Even with a minimum deposit you can enter live trading.

  12. Shad on September 14, 2023 at 4:12 am

    I’m willing to take risks for money, but not if that risk involves fraud. It is for this reason that I rejected the idea of investing in NFTs for a long time. Now this process has become much safer, and it’s cool that blockchain solutions like really help improve the security of investors in the NFT market. At a minimum, there is no doubt about the authenticity of digital assets.

  13. sultan on April 27, 2024 at 2:09 pm

    Cryptocurrency is notorious for its market volatility, and while that might seem daunting, it’s also part of the allure. For those with an appetite for risk, crypto offers the ultimate thrill ride, with the potential for high ROI. It’s not just about making money; it’s about being part of an exhilarating financial revolution. OWNR Wallet enhances the thrill by providing a reliable and secure way to participate in the market. Check out the details at The wallet ensures you can jump on opportunities the moment they arise, and with its robust features, you’re well-equipped to navigate through the crypto landscape’s peaks and valleys.

  14. Sara Ponce on May 5, 2024 at 10:56 am

    Suena genial, felicitaciones por el trabajo. Y saludos desde la calculadora de interés compuesto con la que podemos ver los beneficios totales intereses incluidos de un ahorro o inversión a largo plazo.

  15. maxwill on June 2, 2024 at 7:54 am

    Crypto casinos are online casinos that allow you to gamble using cryptocurrency instead of traditional forms of money like fiat currency (USD, EUR, etc.). They offer a number of advantages, including. crypto casinos

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