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How to Pay the Bills while Pursuing Your Art

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How to Pay the Bills while Pursuing Your Art

Artists, actors, and other freelance workers definitely live a lifestyle that is different from a 9 to 5 office employees. Pursuing an artistic profession may prove to be less lucrative in money but rich in spirit. Unfortunately, many people don’t value artistic endeavors or give them the same financial credit as scientific or medical careers. Therefore, beginning artists often have to make due with supplemental forms of income while their main passion gets off the ground. A current Broadway star may have started out waiting tables, and a giant art icon may have made ends meet spraying cologne samples at a Macy’s. There is a story behind every artist of how they achieved their dream–but dreams can’t happen if you can’t pay rent. If you are trying to support yourself so you can live your dream, there are many avenues for you to explore. Whether you are in a huge city or a suburb, there are plenty of flexible, part-time jobs that will keep you on your feet without taking away your time to create. Life is all about balance, and that is true of art and work.

Make Your Budget

One of your first steps in figuring out how to pay your bills is figuring out the total amount you will have to pay. How much is your rent? How much do you spend on food? How expensive is your choice of transportation? Are you still paying back loans? There may be a decent amount of expenses that you don’t realize you have. These will also vary from place to place. For example, if you own a car you will have to spend money on gas, but if you don’t you’ll have to budget for public transportation. Either way, it is a factor.

There are many great online avenues to create a budget as well as writing one out by hand. Now, budgeting does become trickier if you do not necessarily have a set income. Freelance workers may run into this problem. You may be commissioned to write a play, so that month you will have more income. If you’re a wedding photographer, April through September will be quite busy for you, but there may be a bit of a lull in the winter months. Plan for this. If a huge bulk of income comes in at once, make sure you have enough set aside to pay your bills for the next few months. The more you can plan ahead, the better protected you will be. You can give yourself space if you experience writer’s block or an injury that puts you out of a job. Otherwise, record your income for a few months and average it out. Even though you won’t have a set salary coming in, you will at least know how much you can expect from your various jobs per month.

Multitasking Mania

One of the hardest things about freelancing a creative skill is finding balance between your survival jobs and your craft. As much as you may want to focus only on your artistic career, you will have to take on extra work to make money. It is simply a fact. So be prepared to start multitasking.

Often, survival jobs are part-time, which means you may need more than one to make ends meet. This will take some scheduling flexibility, but at least all of your days will be different! On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, you may be processing data at the office while spending the evening baking at the full market, deli, and bakery. Often, teaching can be a way to make money as well. If you are a singer, you can teach some lessons on your free evenings to make money. Nannying or dog-walking are also great options, because these are things you can easily fit into your life. Working in nighttime janitorial service may also give you the chance to work on your craft during the day. The key is to budget your time for work while also leaving time to pursue your art.

Know What Fits You

Finding your perfect survival job may require some searching. Even though this job may not be something you love or are passionate about, that doesn’t mean you should hate it. If you don’t enjoy hanging out with kids, nannying won’t be for you. If you maybe aren’t as much of a night owl, bartending till the wee hours of the morning won’t be your cup of tea either. You are already compromising a bit by accepting a secondary job, so you shouldn’t have to compromise completely. Enjoy your part-time job as much as you can!

There are also times when you can find a  part-time job that is somewhere in your field. If you are a physical dancer or actor, you and some friends could even be clowns in Queens working the circuit of children’s birthday parties. It may not be a specific acting career, but you are still performing in some circumstance. Even a somewhat creative part-time job will keep your skills sharp.

Manage Your Time and Your Priorities

The hardest thing about freelancing and working several jobs is managing your time. It is easy to get bogged down with the overwhelming need to earn. Often you may end up sacrificing your true passion to simply make ends meet. This becomes a tricky balancing act. The key is for you to know your priorities and what you’re willing to give up. Making a list of needs versus wants often helps. Maybe Wifi won’t be something you can afford every month if you want to be able to go to your art class. Constantly improving your skills, on your own or in a group setting, has to be a priority if you really want to make a living as an artist.

If you want to take classes and further improve your craft, you may be able to take advantage of accredited online degree programs that will let you keep growing as a writer or art historian while still balancing a work schedule.

Believe in yourself and commit to your craft. Remember that you work survival jobs to do just that — survive. You put a roof over your head and food on your table by waitressing or temping, but you make your heart and soul happy with your craft. Remember that everything can be as temporary as you would like. If you are completely miserable at your  part-time job, you aren’t required to stay. There are plenty of opportunities for flexible work, so feel free to explore and find something that will still fulfill you. You don’t have to sacrifice what you want to be doing. Keep your dream alive, because it is worth it.