Do You Have a “Side Gig?”

4 Tips for Artists Seeking an Extra Income Stream

by Ed Carter

Editor’s Note: This month’s blog will feature guest writer Ed Carter, a retired financial planner. (See his website here.) His piece intrigued me, and also made me reflect on the numerous music educators who do freelance work. Even for retired music educators, it is important to continue our active involvement in the field of “creative self-expression” – (what inspired us to go into music in the first place?) – regardless of whether it is for pay or pro bono and now part-time: private teaching, church directing or accompanying, performing in or conducting music ensembles or musical theater, adjudicating festivals, coaching, composing, or arranging for school groups, teaching in higher education, or serving in the music industry. How are you “making music” today?

Research shows that about 45 percent of Americans have a side gig, and they do this for many reasons. It’s obviously a great way to ease financial strain, but it’s also a chance to delve deeper into something that you enjoy, hone skills, and change up your network.

Artists, who often experience economic instability, are one party that might find themselves supplementing revenue from their artwork with a secondary job. On the flip side, you might be considering flexing your creative muscles by engaging in an artistic moonlighting opportunity.

If you need or are interested in earning extra cash while pursuing art, a side hustle may be the way to go. Here are four tips to help you get started. 

1. Do a Cost-Benefit Analysis

There are many profitable avenues you can pursue on the side, from blogging and data entry to making balloon animals at parties and walking dogs. A number of gigs even allow you to express your creative side while making a profit and leaving time for you to practice the art that is your main passion, such as selling items on Etsy. You need to pick a job that meets three criteria:

  • You get what you need from it
  • You can do it, and
  • You have what you need to do it.

List the options that appeal to you the most. Research startup costs, competition and markets. Look at each potential gig and ask yourself a few questions:

  • Does this give you enough flexibility?
  • Is the initial time and money investment something you can afford?
  • Do you have the skills and ability to keep doing the work long enough for it to pay off?
  • Is there enough profit potential to justify the effort, not just physically but emotionally and mentally?
  • What are the risks?

Tally up the costs and benefits and decide if the side gig is worth it. 

2. Start With a Trial Run 

If you are still inclined to take a chance on a side hustle after reviewing the above-mentioned aspects, don’t immediately throw everything you have into it. Do a test run instead; offer services for a limited period or only produce a set amount of product to see if your plan is feasible and if you enjoy it enough to stick with it. 

3. Don’t Underestimate the Importance of Organization

Keep your side gig details separate from other parts of your life. Use a different email, different files, and possibly even a different bank account. As the source Company Bug points out, the latter helps with filing taxes and looking professional.

Check out automation for bookkeeping and invoicing purposes. Keep detailed records with online backups, and consider adding an app that makes it easy to stay on top of your finances and share data with your accountant.

4. Manage Your Energy Efficiently

Everyone has a finite amount of energy. Managing your time and energy carefully helps you be more effective and happier as you go about your daily tasks. As Todoist recommends, write down a to-do list each morning and schedule out blocks of time so that you can stay abreast of your obligations. Consider planning ahead by weeks and months as well. If you need a break, though, be sure to take it to avoid burnout and waning motivation. 

Doing your art for art’s sake is one thing, and doing it as a business is another. When starting a side gig, it is important to make sure you understand what you are getting into and that you have the resources to do it. Being aware of the risks and costs, organizing and doling out energy cautiously can help you secure success. 

© 2021 Paul K. Fox

Photo from Pexels by MART PRODUCTION 
Images from Pixabay by Brenda Geisse (flute), artesitalia (conductor), Vlad Vasnetsov (guitar teaching), and Светлана Бердник (dance lesson)

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