With or without additional education, the key for many actors is staying with it long enough to get the right opportunity. For instance, after years of occasional small parts in movies and guest roles on series TV, Parks and Recreation's Nick Offerman secured his breakthrough role of Ron Swanson at age 39. Up to that point, he had supported himself with Offerman Woodworkshop, a small business he still maintains. With a flexible source of income, he was able to audition, do the work that he landed, and develop his acting skills along with his IMDB page. (And – bonus! – the Parks and Recreation writers incorporated Offerman’s woodworking expertise into the character he portrays on the show.) And, though we always hope for the best and encourage people to follow their dreams, we know there are some people who will reach a point where they will choose to do something else entirely, after sometimes years of pursuing acting without a breakthrough, or after a run of acting success peters out. That is why having a day job with growth potential – or even a parallel career path – in place before that decision needs to be made is so valuable. Best worst case scenario: when the acting work is too plentiful to do both, you let the alternative work lapse. And worst worst case scenario: If acting ever stops being a feasible or desirable career path, you have something you’re already doing that can be your full-time job.
Flexible Day Jobs For Actors (And Anyone Else With The Right Skills)In the meantime, we all know that having a reliable and satisfying side income allows the acting work to be more joyful and takes the desperation out of the pursuit. So with that in mind, here is my list of three jobs which can be done as day jobs or as alternative careers, or even developed into businesses.
1. BookkeeperIn a nutshell: Bookkeepers do accounting projects and ongoing accounting tasks for small businesses and individuals. Everyone from your dentist to your therapist to your manager uses a bookkeeper. With the nationwide boom in entrepreneurship and small business development, they are more in demand than ever. Why it’s a good job for an actor: You can choose projects and clients that are flexible in terms of when you do the work. Sometimes you can even do it from home, such as with using Quickbooks Online application. Requirements: Good computer equipment and software, specific training and/or experience in accounting itself, and accounting applications (though some businesses will train you on their software). Specifics: People hire bookkeepers to reconcile bank accounts, invoice clients, do payroll, tax preparation, and expense reports. And, depending on their training and experience, people can have them do more complicated accounting jobs, such as revenue projections, project cost reports, and quarterly and year-end close. Pay: Bookkeeper pay in Los Angeles can range from $20/hour to $50/hour depending upon the job requirements and level of experience of the bookkeeper.How to get hired: You can put the word out – or look for posted opportunities on Elance.com, Craigslist, and other job-related boards for your area. Also, post your services on social media and send out an e-mail blast to all of your friends and professional contacts with a blurb on your qualifications and the services you offer. (Make it short and sweet and write it in such a way so it can be easily forwarded by the recipient to anyone they think would be interested in hiring you.)Best Practices:
1. Have a list of references ready to go for anyone who contacts you about a job or (better) have recommendations from previous employers on your LinkedIn profile page and your website, if you have one. If you haven’t been paid as a bookkeeper before, you might have to do some freebies for people you know in order to get some recommendations. It’s worth it to get started.
2. When working with a new client who needs someone for a large monthly time commitment or a large project, if they seem hesitant to commit, offer to do a “pilot” project, a few hours of work or a small part of the project, just so they can get confidence in your work in order to get the larger job.
3. Put it in writing. Even if it’s in an e-mail chain, define the scope of the job, the pay, and the turnaround time. Also, if it’s a project where real-time communication is needed, define what hours you will be working in order to assure compatible and efficient collaboration.
4. Get paid half (or all) up front. At first, that might seem awkward but get comfortable with it, especially as you become more in demand. You don’t want to have to track people down for payment at the end of a job.
5. If you want to get serious about this, set up a website that includes information about your services and qualifications, and which includes ample (and effusive) testimonials from satisfied clients.Cons of the job: Okay, you have to like getting numbers to add up and have some talent for it, plus you must be willing to get at least some training. But you figured that, right? Also, you’ll probably have to pay for your own medical benefits and possibly taxes unless you end up being a staff bookkeeper at a company that offers benefits and withholds taxes. Growth opportunity: If you find you like bookkeeping, you can seek out more training and even complete an associates or bachelors accounting degree program that will give you the ability to do higher-level jobs. Basic bookkeeping can turn into small business accounting for the career version of this day job. If you want to be a business owner, create a bookkeeping or small business accounting company and work with several clients and specialized accounting service providers.