Today I want to talk about something weighing especially heavy on my mind with the holiday season upon us, and that’s how to earn a comfortable living while staying true to your art. It’s possible, I promise.
I know a lot of us read those clickbait articles titled ‘100 ways to save’, or ’50 legal ways to make money from home’…and while some of these articles may contain a few useful tidbits, I would argue that downloading survey apps or depriving yourself Starbucks won’t make much of a difference in the long run, other than making you cranky.
As obvious as it might seem, I’ve found that increasing your sources of income, (AKA: booking more gigs!) while decreasing your extraneous spending (creatively! —> this will be the subject of my next post) will allow you to work towards your financial goals without getting off-track artistically.
(In other words, NO, you don’t have to get that part-time “real job” to survive as an artist.)
Increasing your sources of income by getting booked more…let’s get started:
I get messages from time to time from my peers, asking, in short: “how do you book your gigs?”
I can offer plenty of advice and casting resources and that’s typically what I do…however, what I think ultimately sets you apart is your approach, sometimes it’s just as much about “how” we do what we do, so that’s what I want to talk about here:
Patience + persistence + communication.
Understand that finding work in your field may be difficult, but is not impossible.
Set aside at least 30 minutes per day to look for new gigs or employment opportunities. For me this is the first thing I do each morning: I make my coffee, curl up on my couch, and apply for as many castings as I can before getting my day started. Devote daily and weekly time to marketing yourself and your art, and accept that it may take weeks or months to start seeing this effort pay off. Remember that so much of casting is determined by factors completely out of your control, like height, ethnicity, and body type. These factors can cost you jobs but can just as well land you jobs. Don’t try to change the industry, change how you move through it.
People will forget about you, if you don’t remind them. Show up to auditions in-person as often as you can. Keep showing up after rejection, again and again, even when it makes you feel crazy. Reach out to former employers as well as those you hope to work with, on a quarterly basis, every 3-4 months or so, as you deem appropriate, to share your availability, and update your headshot and resume. Update your social media, portfolios, or website religiously, and with quality content.
Remember that everyone you work with or hope to work with is human first. Be direct in stating your intentions and asking for what you want, but keep in mind: fostering a relationship is the best way to increase your chances of being re-hired. Even in the most formal communications, pleasantries like, “I hope you are well and enjoying this nice weather.”, or “Thanks very much for your time and consideration.” go a LONG way. Send quick, sincere thank-you emails after every gig. If your agent or a friend lands you a particularly great gig, a hand-written note or gift basket is a nice touch as well. Take care of your people and they will take care of you.
What goes around comes around, right?
So…while you’re waiting for this new approach to start working its magic for you, how do you pay the bills that were due yesterday? Pick up classes or apply for work-study opportunities at your local studios, look for background talent opportunities, babysit, be a dog-walker, sell the things you don’t wear or use anymore on eBay, Poshmark or Offer Up, cash in all your spare change…nothing wrong with a side hustle or two, as long as it doesn’t distract from your big-picture goals!
Thanks so much for tuning back in friends, it means the world to me!
Have a question? Want to chat more about any of the ideas I touched on today? Have feedback for me?