What is the passion economy?
The passion economy is an economy built around “creators with a purpose”—people who are powerfully motivated to start a brand, business, or community, usually on digital platforms, around a shared passion. Today, there’s an ongoing demand for three things that the passion economy provides: expertise, experiences, and relationships.
In a way that wasn’t possible even a decade ago, the rise in new digital platforms—including those like Shopify for e-commerce and Mighty Networks for online courses and communities—has made it easier for individuals to build a fulfilling livelihood around their own passions. These digital platforms overcome roadblocks of geography and timezones in a more agile way than the traditional economy, and—most importantly—allow people to connect and build the relationships that maintain and fuel the passion economy.
The passion economy has three main elements that all work in tandem together:
- The creator, who are building a business around a unique skill, idea, topic, or passion.
- The digital platform, which is key for supporting and growing the creator’s product or service.
- The market, or who’s buying the good or service produced by the creator.
Who wrote the book The Passion Economy?
The term “passion economy” and its definition were coined in a book called The Passion Economy by Adam Davidson, a New Yorker staff writer and cofounder of the Planet Money podcast on NPR. He argues that in today’s economic setting, passion and profit, as well as business and art, aren’t opposites but elements that go hand-in-hand to building a successful business.
What are some examples of the passion economy?
- Slow AF Run Club: Martinus Evans has grown an Instagram and podcast following centered on a unique running niche—slow runners—into an over 6,000-strong online community of runners. On his Mighty Networks platform, Evans offers training plans, weekly live coaching, and courses.
- Substack newsletters: Many writers took to Substack during the pandemic to produce newsletters that often focused on a niche topic but attract paid subscribers. “Maybe Baby,” for example, is a newsletter about “hard-to-describe feelings”—and it’s currently No. 24 on Substack.
- Hello My Tribe: This online community was founded by Alex, a new mom who found the postpartum transition into motherhood challenging—and realized she wasn’t alone in it. She created Hello My Tribe to form a community around support for new moms, where each new member adds value to the network. There’s an online course that focuses on wellness for postpartum moms, as well as an app where women have a safe space to connect, seek advice, and learn from each other.