Back in November, I informed my fellows on the Zazzle forums that I was finally able to quit my day job and become a full time "Zazzler". I received many wonderful responses, including a shoutout from the Zazzle staff themselves in the Zazzle blog. After a while, folks stopped posting on the thread and it slipped into the oblivion of inactivity, as all threads do in time.
Then one day a short while ago, I checked the forums and found that someone had dug up my old "I am now a full-time Zazzler!" thread and responded to it, commenting that they wished for my success as well. I thought, "isn't that odd that someone would resurrect such a long-dead thread?" thinking for sure it would quickly slip back into the abyss of hundreds of pages of inactive threads.
But that's not what happened. More and more people responded to the thread, commenting on how inspiring it was to know that you CAN make a living on Zazzle, telling me that I'd motivated them, inspired them to give their shops a renewed effort. Before I knew what was happening, Zazzle stickied the thread at the top of the forum, ensuring that it would never again slip away into nothingness...
It may seem like I'm being overly poetic about this whole thing, but there is something you have to understand about the world I come from. I live in a part of the country where people don't buy art. If it weren't for a site like Zazzle, I never would have been able to make a living doing what I love. With the internet, it's now possible for just about anyone, with just about any hobbies or passions to make a living doing what makes them happiest, and for years, I've been encouraging the people around me to explore those possibilities. I've encouraged coworkers at Wal-Mart to sell their crafts through etsy, I've coaxed friends into taking up blogging to discuss their passions, and I've been toiling with my dad to make his dream of a profitable produce stand a reality. Why? Because I believe that people shouldn't have to feel like they're stuck doing something they hate just so they can pay the bills. I believe that within every coherent human being there is the ability to step off the beaten path and forge your own way. Whatever it is you love, whether it's art, writing, gardening, cooking, or whatever else, if you have the imagination, you have a way to do great things with your passion.
So when I log onto the Zazzle forums and I see people telling me that I'm an inspiration, it makes me rather warm and fuzzy inside. I'm still rather baffled that of all the successful Zazzle designers and shopkeepers out there, I'm the one inspiring people. I'm hardly the most organized person. I don't have the greatest designs out there, and I'm certainly not as successful as many Zazzlers I could name, but maybe that's part of it? If a 20-something from the sticks that barely graduated high school can be a successful shopkeeper and designer, then surely, anyone can be, right? That's what I believe, anyway.
So for those of you out there that still have doubts, know this--if you have the desire and if you have the imagination, there is nothing stopping you from making a living doing what YOU love. I'm rootin' for you!