We often get emails asking for advice on how to make performing a career – and often from people who have never performed before! We also get emails from people asking how to run their own creative business. Well, if you fancy turning something you love into your income, here’s a few tips:
Make sure you do love what you are doing!
Sounds pretty obvious, doesn’t it? But if you are doing something because it is currently the new thing or you’ve seen something that looks fun and think it’ll earn you lots of money, think again! You have to really love what you do, whether it’s performing, making bespoke hats, costumes or props, writing, collecting vintage things and selling them… What ever it is that you do, if you love it, your work will come across as genuine, you will impart genuine enthusiasm into what you are doing and because you are a fan of whatever it is you do, you will be able to talk about it with knowledge, which is really important to those investing in what you do.
Be prepared to Work… HARD!
If you were thinking that changing from your 9-5 in an office would give you an easier life, then listen: it won’t! People who run their own business and those who perform often work a lot longer than the usual 8 hours a day, and we’ve never heard of anyone get anywhere through sheer luck! Self employed performers and small business owners are the ones burning the midnight oil to finish off an order or travel back from a show, they are the ones up at the crack of dawn to fit in rehearsals or finish costumes, they are the ones answering emails at 4am because it’s the only chance they might get before the day starts again tomorrow. The benefits are that you will be in control of your own destiny, but only if you are prepared to put the hours in to make it happen.
Be flexible and fluid
No two days will be the same… Yes, you might have planned out a timetable of what you are doing and when but in order to be available for work you must be prepared for anything at anytime. Also, you may be working with others and might have to compromise how you think you should work. If you are a performer, you must be flexible in terms of being available for work and arriving at the time requested by a producer, you must also be flexible and adaptable to perform in various spaces so never work your routines out with a set space or entrance in mind. You can always adjust entrances and exits, and staging when arrive at a venue in your tech run.
Never take a back seat
You are the master of your own destiny. In the world of self-employment, things have to work at a fast pace, there is always some other bright and creative thing waiting in the wings. Be prepared! put in the leg work months ahead of time, which means if you are applying to shows, do it months in advance, if you are launching a new product or advertising a service, do it months ahead of time. Similarly, don’t think that all promotion is done at a launch of an event or business, it isn’t. You need to keep on top of promotion (if producing shows), applications, CVs, show reels and photos of acts if you are a performer and if you are running a small business or are self employed, you need to push everything you do all the time.
That’s right! Network… We don’t mean contrived networking events that you have to pay a join up fee just to sit next to James Bloggs who owns his own plastics factory, although these sorts of things can be useful to those who work from home and run small businesses as you never know who someone knows… We mean if you are at a show always be the best you you can be. You never know who is sharing the dressing room with you. Talk to your fellow performers as you never know, they might be running shows themselves. They also might know others who are too… But beware – we don’t mean talk to your fellow performers just to get other work as that is very calculated and will come across as such. We mean be yourself, perform well, and enjoy the company of those who share your space. You also might be making great friends 🙂
Do your homework
When applying for shows, make sure you are exactly what they are asking for the casting – as that is the quickest way not to be booked (comes across as not reading details properly or desperate so will apply for anything regardless). Be choosy in what you apply for and do your homework on the type of event, town it is in (some producers will want you to quote the cheapest travel costs so you will need to have these in advance) and make sure it is do-able before you apply as there’s no point in wasting an opportunity by turning down something you’ve applied to as you’ve now decided it is too far to get to…
Also, in terms of products/services and acts, do your homework to ensure you stand out from the market and are not copying an already established product/service or act. If is bad practice to deliberately copy something that already exists, not only will you come worse off, as you will be compared to the original and bad news travels fast! but you may be inviting a heap of legal trouble. Making something original requires patience, research and sometimes disappointments, but it is totally rewarding when you get the end result to think you created something that people love.
Taxes and National Insurance
You will be responsible for paying your own taxes and National Insurance stamps…. We’ve written a whole post on this previously, which you can find here: https://bluestockingloungeburlesque.wordpress.com/2014/08/30/how-to-get-paid-and-how-to-account-for-payment/