It’s the ever-present bane of someone in the arts: how to actually make an income. Very few actors, painters, writers, and musicians can actually make a full living simply doing their craft and nothing else. Rarely does anyone actually become wealthy by it. Most artists take on a second (or third, or fourth) job in order to make ends meet. Waiting tables may be the classic method to go about generating income, but there are other, less exhausting options as well that provide the flexibility to let you pursue your craft while you make some dough.
If you have a particularly sought-after skill, such as web design, copy editing, or blog writing, freelancing may be a great option for you. As a freelancer, you hire yourself out to clients to perform a task for them. For instance, a company may need someone to proofread their monthly newsletter, but they don’t want to hire someone permanently just for that task. They will turn to a freelancer to do it as a one-off project or even on an ongoing basis. As a freelancer, you pick what projects you want to do, and you essentially piece together your own schedule, leaving you the time to pursue your art. Lots of freelance jobs are also remote, which means that you may even be able to work while you travel.
Freelancing can be great for artistic types, because you can freelance as you do your craft. An actor may go into voice-over work. A pianist may hire him or herself out to play for weddings and parties.
The drawback with freelancing is that it can be a bit tough to get started. Freelance platform sites like Upwork and MediaBistro can be great, but the competition is fierce. You might start by marketing yourself via word-of-mouth to friends and colleagues.
You also need to know how to file taxes as a freelancer. You should fill out a W-9 for your clients, get a 1099 form from the client (if you earned more than $600), and fill out a 1040 form for the IRS. How much you earn will determine the other types of forms you use. Since you’re self-employed, you won’t have part of your income withheld, so you may face a large sum come tax time. In order to keep this large amount from catching you off-guard, either stash away a percentage of your income every month or file taxes quarterly. You’ll have a lot of stuff you can write off, however. Keep track of everything that might be a business expense, right down to your computer! A good accountant can also help you figure out what you can write off.
If you’ve got a knack for numbers and tend to obsess over things, you might look into part-time trading. It usually takes about one to three hours of your time each day (during the official opening and closing of the market), especially once you get into the flow of it.
Trading, whether full-time or part-time, takes strategy and know-how. For instance, you should know what the Relative Strength Index (RSI) is. (It measure the speed and change of stock prices in order to determine if stocks are being overbought or oversold.) Make sure you educate yourself on a solid RSI trading Strategy from a reputable source.
There are some essential tips you should keep in mind if you’re a first-time trader. For instance, rather than jumping around from strategy to strategy, pick one and stick with it. As you gather facts about trading, make sure you learn how to trade as well. You might start with this strategy developed by a veteran part-time trader to help simplify and streamline the process for beginners.
And you can’t slack on it! Trading, even part-time, means you have to monitor the market all the time and make carefully-planned decisions. You can’t just trade when you feel like it; you have to dedicate yourself to a daily regimen. There’s not a lot of room for error. In the early days, you should also have another job, because you probably will make a lot of mistakes. Over time, though, successful trading can give you the flexibility you need to travel and say, “Yes,” to projects that forward your artistic career.
Lots of artists turn to temping as a way to make money. Temp jobs can last for one day, or they can last for months. If you are good at data entry, handling phones, or even cleaning, a temp agency may be a good way to go.
A temp job could be anything from covering the front desk for a day, stepping into retail service during Christmas, or stepping into a personal assistant role for a few months while the permanent employee is on maternity leave. You may go into a temp job knowing the exact end date, or you may go into one that turns into a permanent position–temp-to-hire is a common route lots of companies and employees take. And it’s a good way to learn new skills and make connections–that way, if you’re in a car wreck, you can call up that personal injury lawyer Surrey you worked for for a summer and get some advice.
When you apply for a temp agency, they do the vetting and interview process, so companies looking for, say, a new receptionist already know they have good options. And you can always turn down a temp job. Granted, you may have a maximum number of jobs you can reject, but if you are getting called for work on a day-by-day basis, and you have a gig come up, you do have the opportunity to decline. Since you’re technically hired by the staffing agency, you may be eligible for employer insurance if you work enough hours. And if there aren’t jobs available, lots of temp agencies will let you work a half-day for them, so you’re at least getting some pay for the day.
Of course, temping also means changing jobs frequently and having to get used to a new workplace environment time and time again. But if you want to financially support a life in the arts, temping may be a good, well, temporary way to pay the bills while you get established as an artist.