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Acting School Monthly -- How to Make Money While You Wait For Your Big Break
June 16, 2010

Acting School Monthly Newsletter - Issue #017 - June 16th, 2010

How to Make Money While You Wait For Your Big Break


Here's the news from Acting School Stop, your one stop on the road to an acting career!

In this issue... We're taking a look at how to make a living in between acting jobs or while you wait for your big break. We'll also tell you about our new video feature where you can share your favorite acting videos and view quick acting lessons.

1) Article of the Month - Rent Paying Jobs for Actors in the Making

No one gets into acting because they like struggling to pay the rent, yet countless actors everyday have to take small jobs to pay not just for the rent, but also for headshots, acting classes, audition sites, casting director workshops and all the other expenses that come with promoting yourself as an actor and getting that next role. If you're getting ready to go to acting school, you'll definitely want to have a plan on what to do to sustain your acting career until you get your big break. But even working actors sometimes need to take another job in between acting gigs or during down times.

So if you need a day job while you look for acting jobs, read this article. First, we'll share some tips on how to quickly get flexible jobs that allow you to audition. Next, we'll give you a short list of other small flexible jobs actors can do. Finally, we'll share some ideas on how to plan ahead so you eventually don't have to wait tables just because you want to act. Hopefully, you'll get a few ideas on how to make money you never thought of before.

1) Easy Tips To Get A Quick Day Job

First, let's look at the most popular "survival jobs" for actors. These are not ideal jobs, but they are more flexible then 9-5 jobs and you can get started quickly if you need money right away.

  • Waiting Tables

    Waiting Tables is probably the most common day job for actors because you can literally go out looking for a job one morning, train that afternoon and come home with money from tips in the evening. Of course, it's not always that fast, but if you're looking hard, you can usually land a job within a week or two.

    Here's the best way to go about getting a waiter or waitress job.

    - Get a copy of a good restaurant review guide like Zagat and pick 5-10 restaurants in your area.

    - If you have any experience in the dining industry (or the service industry in general), print out a bunch of resumes. - Unless you are shooting for sports bars and diners, dress upscale.

    - The best way to get a job in a restaurant is to walk in and ask to see the manager. Don't waste your time trying to set up interviews over the phone. In this industry, it's important you meet people face to face. Even when they are no openings, you'll often be able to leave your resume. There is so much turnaround in restaurants a job may open up before you know it. - Make sure you visit restaurants outside of busy lunch and dinner hours. The best times to stop by is during set up time in the morning (around 11 am) or during down time after lunch (around 3-4 pm). Plan to see 2-5 restaurants each time.

    - If you pick places near each other, you should get a lot done in one day. If you don't get a good lead the first day, expand your search area a little bit the following day.

    - If you're going to work long shifts in a waiting tables job, make sure you get one that pays well, which usually means targeting more expensive restaurants. If you don't have any fine dining experience, know that many managers may interview you on the spot. You may be asked questions about wines and cuisine or even have to demonstrate how you would serve lobster or pour champagne. The extra cash you will make in fine dining is well worth learning the basics. If you have no experience at all, see if they need a host or hostess to start with or go with a more casual restaurant that has a well-stocked bar.

    - Waiters and waitresses make money from tips. Drinks make an important part of restaurant bills, so stay away from jobs at eateries with no liquor license.

    - Try to stick to dinner shifts, which usually start at 4 pm, so you can have your day free to audition. If you have a choice, pick larger restaurants so you can get someone to cover your shift if you need time off for an acting job.

  • Temping

    Working as a temp is probably the second most popular actor day job. It is much less flexible then waiting tables for auditioning because you usually work 9-5 pm. On the other hand, it is more flexible when you get an acting job since you don't have to make any long term commitments. Although the pay is usually low, temping can bring in a steady source of income while you look for other more lucrative options.

    Start by researching temping companies in your area. Once you found one you like, set up an appointment for an interview. The process usually includes a typing test, as well as different computer skill tests, like Microsoft Office and any other specific software you are proficient with. If you do well, the temp agency will call you once they have a short-term position for you.

    Temping makes more sense for those who have special skills. For example, if you speak another language, have advanced computer knowledge or can type incredibly fast. If that's not you, you will probably do better exploring other avenues to make a living.

  • Extra work

    A lot of actors do "background" work to pay the bills. Being an extra on a movie can be a short-term option if you need cash right away and want to learn more about what happens on set. If you want to try being an extra for a while, read this post on how to sign up with casting directors that specialize in background.

    Keep in mind that you really shouldn't plan to work as an extra for too long if you're serious about your acting career. First of all, you will work very long hours, sometimes 12-16 hour days. If you do it regularly, extra work will leave you with very little energy and time to do anything else. Second, you will not be able to leave the set to go on auditions. Finally, you may become known on sets as an extra rather then the actor you want to be.

    That being said, working in the film industry can be a great way to make money while you network (see below).

2) Suggestions for Lesser Known and More Flexible Jobs for your Acting Career

  • Industry Assistant
    If you want to try to make a living while networking as an actor, look for part-time or freelance jobs in the industry, like working for a casting director or an agent's office. You will probably have to start out as an intern, but it can be a great way to learn while you work. If you like reading, another possibility is to do script coverage for production companies. A good place to look for industry job listings is Entertainment
  • Babysitter/Tutor
    Being a babysitter is completely flexible and perfect for auditioning, since you usually work only in the evenings. Reliable babysitters can charge $15-$20 an hour in cities like New York and Los Angeles, so you can make a decent income if you get along with kids and establish a good reputation. To get started, get a CPR certification and advertise through mom groups and newsletters. If you like working with kids, you can also approach places like Gymboree or Kindermusic to see if they need part-time teachers for baby and toddler classes. Tutoring is another option if you charge enough to cover your travel time.
  • Personal Trainer
    Since you're going to have to work out to stay in shape for your acting career anyway, why not get a certification and become a personal trainer? You can work in partnership with a gym at first and then develop your own clientele to make a better living. You'll have to do some rescheduling from time to time to audition but you'll find a lot of your regular clients are supportive of your acting career.
  • Entertainer
    If you're a born performer and miss being onstage between acting gigs, you may want to look into live entertainment companies that hire actors for things like special events and kid parties. You don't have to be an impersonator but any special skills help, like singing, dancing, juggling or playing a musical instrument. If you find that you keep getting requests for your act, you may want to start your own business and specialize in one thing, like birthday parties!

No matter how flexible these jobs are, as you get more auditions and acting jobs, you will have more scheduling conflicts. Hopefully, you'll get to a point where you can quit your day job. In the meantime, working from home can free up your schedule if you pick a job that lets you choose when you work.

3) Planning Ahead - Jobs Working from Home

When it comes to day jobs, the goal is to make enough money to support yourself and your acting career while having the complete flexibility in your schedule to go out on auditions and take acting roles. A great way to reach that goal is to work from home. This wasn't an option in the past, but now, thanks to the internet, there are plenty of opportunities for actors to make money online.

Below are a few examples:

  • Freelance Online Jobs
    A lot of companies are now outsourcing small jobs on the Internet through websites like Elance and Amazon's Mechanical Turk. All you need to do is sign up online and look for jobs that fit your qualifications. Some jobs pay very little, but some pay much better then temping, which is not as flexible.
  • Content Writing
    If you like to write and are good at it, you can find plenty of content writing jobs on the web. If you're an expert on a subject, you can write article directories like Article Income, large websites like eHow (which also hires content filmmakers) and even smaller websites like this one. For example, you can apply to become a guide on a website like Last time I checked, they were looking for a theatre aficionado to guide their theatre section According to their website, guides make between $500 - $8,000 a month, with $2,000 being the average. You need to have writing experience and know tons about theater, but this is a great example of an internet writing job that not only would enrich your career but give you full flexibility to go out on auditions too.
  • Start your Own Internet Business
    Once you decide the internet works for you, you can take it a step further and start your own online business. It will take time, but if you're the entrepreneur type, you can pave the road to eventually quitting your day job and fully concentrating on your acting.

I hope all the information in this article helps you reach your goals, whether it is to quickly find a small job to pay the rent, or plan ahead so you can work where you want when you want…

Eventually, you'll do nothing but act!

2) What's new on

Want to see some acting videos? The new "Add a video" feature on Acting School Stop allows visitors to share their favorite videos about acting and view helpful acting lessons on video. You can add a clip, view clips by others and comment. Just scroll down the page to view the latest contributions. We'll also regularly add good videos we come across on the internet. The first video we posted is a demonstration on how to fake a stage kick. You can subscribe to the Acting School Blog to get updates on new videos added.

3) A word of inspiration

"Reach for the stars. You may not reach them, but you won't come up with a handful of mud either." - Leo Burnett

If you enjoyed this newsletter and found its information valuable, feel free to forward it to a friend. If a friend forwarded this to you and you like what you read, please subscribe by by clicking here.

Comments? I'd love to hear from you. Just reply to this newsletter with your feedback and thoughts.

Good luck with your acting career!

Alex Swenson

Acting School

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