From Surviving to Thriving [Part 2]: Jobs For Actors – 10 Ways to Support Yourself As An Actor

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This is Part Two of a two-part series on jobs for actors aka how to go from surviving to thriving in your acting career.

Part 1: 7 Truths About Supporting Yourself As An Actor
Part 2: [You Are Here]  10 Ways to Support Yourself As An Actor

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Two words every actor should take seriously…


Arnold. Schwarzenegger.

Here’s why…

Love him or hate him, there’s no denying that he was pretty darn smart in HOW he transitioned from professional bodybuilder (day job) to professional actor (dream job).

Well before he moved on to a career in politics, there’s one thing he did that every actor needs to focus on…

He built a successful acting career because he treated it like a business.

This is such an important truth to remember when it comes to supporting yourself as an actor.

And in just a sec, I'll share with you 10 ways you can do it that.

But first take note of this:

Arnold didn’t just go into bodybuilding to compete; he was in it to win it.

He had that winning mentality down pat right from the start.

“You were born to win, but to be a winner, you must plan to win, prepare to win, and expect to win.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger 

He got cast in his first major role in a feature as Conan the Barbarian in the early 80s, but it still took some time before he was really considered a “real”, mainstream actor.

He had some work to do to get to that point. Still, he was smart about the business side of his acting career, even back then.

Arnold understood the bigger picture.

If you’re going to create a successful acting career, keep your eye on the big picture.Click To Tweet
Author Tim Ferriss explains this in his book, Tools of The Titans. Arnold told Ferriss in an interview how, early in his acting career, he would go to the gym and see a lot of other actors working out. He listened intently as they talked about how they were struggling to get by, just barely surviving.

But Arnold refused to think that way.

He understood that if he created a thriving income stream, he could set himself up to be selective in his acting career.

He could study, get better, make connections and THRIVE.

This way, he wouldn’t have to stress about jumping from job to job.  So, he threw himself into the real estate market and learned how to flip properties.

He created a plan; he took his time. And he set himself up so he wouldn’t have to struggle as an actor.

He created a thriving income stream (business) to support his passion (acting career).

This is how he was able to do the creative things he wanted to do.

You can, too. And you don’t have to start a business to get there.  You can create a thriving income stream that’s either a business OR a job.

You have options (10 of which you'll see below).

Remember, there is no right or wrong way to build a successful acting career.

So, how do you find the time to devote yourself to your acting career?

Get creative with your time…

Use your lunch breaks. Your sick days. Your vacation or personal days. Use your nights and your weekends.

It's amazing what you can get done when you channel your passion in small focused bursts.

But remember, as we discussed in Part One of this series…

In order to invest in your acting career (AKA YOUR BUSINESS), you need an income stream to support you.

So, let’s dive into some ways you can go about doing this.

Here are some examples of flexible jobs for actors you might consider to support your acting business…

10 Ways To Create A Thriving, Flexible Income Stream To Support Your Acting Career

1. Virtual Assistant

The great thing about being a Virtual Assistant is that oftentimes the hours are flexible and it’s a chance to use many of the regular “office skills” you might already have, except not in an office environment. It’s a great option for giving yourself the freedom to build your acting career while creating a steady income stream at the same time.

2. Social Media Manager

If you’re constantly on your Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook or Twitter feed, posting, scrolling and liking, you’re already developing the basic skills of a social media manager. Why not do it for someone else, and get paid for it? Build upon your existing skills and learn how to manage other people’s online platforms. #easypeasy

3. Uber/Lyft Driver

Maybe there’s something about turning up the volume in the car and going for a long drive that really gets you excited. Or you’re a people person, and you like meeting and making friends with strangers. You can easily combine these skills and make an income as an Uber or Lyft Driver. In terms of jobs for actors, this one has tons of flexibility.

4. Product Flipper

Here’s your chance to channel your inner Arnold. Except rather than flipping properties (which requires a significant investment up front), consider buying products on eBay, and then selling them somewhere else. I actually know someone who is making a lot of money buying expensive sneakers from a hot, trendy brand and then flipping them, because they’re so sought after. Don’t be afraid to get creative here. You can flip anything as long as there is demand. 

5. Personal Trainer

You’re an actor. You probably find yourself dedicating a lot of time to staying fit. Why not extend your passion to help other people do the same? It gives the words “flexible income” for actors a whole new meaning.

6. Freelancer

Maybe you have a love for stringing the words together. Have you considered getting paid to write for someone else? There are several sites online, like Freelancer.com and Upwork.com, where you can apply for freelance work and build up a portfolio. Or if you have some skills in graphic design, etc., you can offer your services online through those same sites, and others like Fiverr.com.

7. Dog Walker/Pet Sitter

This is a great job for actors who are animal lovers, and a potentially lucrative side gig (especially if you’re living in Los Angeles, where people tend to value their dogs almost more than people).  #doggiedaycare

8. Professional Organizer

Are you a hyper organized person? Consider organizing for other people. You can start your own organizing business; or, if you’re not as entrepreneurial, you can work for an organizing company – the hours are usually pretty flexible.

9. Tutor

Take advantage of those book smarts. There are always opportunities for tutoring, and this is an especially great option if you’re looking for extra work on evenings and weekends.

10. Video Editor

Maybe you have a knack for video editing. You don’t have to be a professional videographer to edit people’s videos. There are plenty of business owners, bloggers or YouTubers who will pay you to edit their marketing videos…not to mention actors who need demo reels!

These are just some ideas to get you started. When it comes to flexible businesses and jobs for actors, the list really is endless.

You don’t have to just wait tables or be an office slave anymore (if you don’t want to).

When you open your mind to new ways to support your acting career, the ideas will start flowing! Click To Tweet
REMEMBER: You don’t have to love your side job, but you don’t want to hate it either. You have options.

Start thinking outside of the box.

And create multiple, flexible income streams to support you along the way.

Create a plan. Take your time.

Give your acting career the space it needs to thrive.

Your turn! Were these tips for supporting yourself as an actor helpful? What other flexible income streams would you add to the list? Let’s hear it in the comments below… :-)

You DESERVE the Red Carpet!


Did this post on going from jobs for actors help you? If so, I would greatly appreciate if you commented below and shared on Facebook.

Amy Jo Berman - Acting Coach
Amy Jo Berman's Tips On Acting & Auditioning Blog
Email: Asst@AmyJoBerman.com

“I show actors how to be better, book more jobs and live The Red Carpet life!”

If you enjoyed From Jobs For Actors: 10 Ways to Support Yourself As An Actor, retweet and comment please.


13 Responses

  1. April says:

    Just started acting again after over a decade hiatus. I have since started making jewelry, in which I make a decent amount of money. I also do makeup and work 2 days in retail with sucks…but I am soon able to quit when i incorporate clothes into my jewelry biz…My passion has always been in acting…so I am in it for the long haul.

  2. Lianne says:

    Amy Jo, I just love you. I am a librarian, and I’ve been slowly but surely building my acting resume for the past two years. In 2017 I’ve been booking more acting gigs than I thought possible, even though I’m in a small market. So far, my M-F 8-4 job has been flexible with me when I need time off because I have a ton of personal time on the books. I’m thinking through possible ways to continue the income stream if (ahem…when) my career gets to a point that I need even more flexibility. Thanks for all the suggestions. I’m going to look more into the possibilities of a virtual assistant, a professional organizer, or a pet sitter.

  3. Ronald Patrick Thompson says:

    Ever since Amy turned me on to the book Rich Dad, Poor Dad a few years ago I took a closer look at real estate and every day I am getting closer to flipping my first house! Just yesterday I had a contractor walk through a property for me and gave me an estimate on the renovation. Now I have to crunch the numbers and see if it will work. But if not this one, one will happen very soon!

  4. Kristina Latour says:

    Thanks Amy Jo! GREAT article! And yes, #10 is my specialty!! Am happy to provide further info., if you approve…thank you! :)

  5. Kui says:

    Thanks so much for this. I’m currently doing my masters in Ms Data Analytics and some part of me felt like I was loosing sight of what I want to do. But at the same time, I need an education to do the side job like you said having some sort of income And it’s so interesting because I was having this conversation with a friend 2 weeks ago and he suggested consulting. Thank you sooo much Amy

  6. I like the ones that don’t require you to trade your time for money- like social media manager. The ones that pay for RESULTS versus time spent. As you know, I haven’t had a day job for over 15 years, and teach other actors to make money with “Online vending machines” instead of jobs.
    So- instead of being a personal trainer, how to have people buy weight loss products THROUGH a website that you own, so you just collect the money.
    Amy Jo has an “Online vending machine” too- when she posts a blog post like this, some people buy whatever she is selling, and she gets paid.
    That’s how I have been without a day job for so long, and have a great commercial career because of it.
    Thanks Amy Jo!

  7. Diana S. Rice says:

    I am a substitute teacher, brand ambassador, producer assistant and just opened an etsy shop where I sell affordable art/crafts that I have created. All this leaves my time flexible, because I pick and choose when I work, but have income coming from different places. Thank you for always sharing productive and informative information to us. God bless!

  8. Kathleen Thompson says:

    Amy Jo you are a woman of many assessments :) Thank you!

  9. Racheal White says:

    This is great! I always walk away feeling well equipped & empowered. You’re so Awesome at providing highly structured, detailed, tangible information that appeals to all of the reading senses. I’m at that place in my life where I’ve found the courage to fight for my career. I’m pushing beyond the excuses, fears, doubts, and circumstances. Finding a way to provide for my family financially, that gave me flexibility, was the biggest obstacle. I’ve gained more clarity in that area as to how I can make that happen. I recently purchased the Branding/Social Discover me package, and It truly has had made a huge positive impact. Soooo…Thank You For Everything Amy! From One BadA$$ to Another!???

  10. Archie Cogollos says:

    Excellent Amy…you have to be creative and just do…stay busy…your time is your own…you can work and choose..I’ve worked as a census taker , Parking Garage attendant, cashier, bagger and cashier, Court and medical interpreter…even cleaned pools for a fellow actor..I’ve worked the elections early voting and election day…took extra jobs that paid minimums for projects that were connection value, commercials..and yes a lot of extra work..in my 50’s and 60’s.also acted on stage while I had a full time career job at the airlines…as many as 5 different jobs at the same time…so had to be organized. Meanwhile still going to auditions….wanted it ain’t enough…you gotta have heart and weather the blows and mountains and avalanches of of rejection and
    disappointment…the ones that make it are the ones that stick it out..the ones that are left .I read a lot of biographies…When Edison was once asked how he di it with the light bulb…he said I found out 1999 ways how not to make one..Kevin Costner when asked what have I seen you in what are doing..he said I’m and actor without a resume..and Harrison Ford sated he came out with 20 guys…he was the only one left who stayed…Rocky Balboa is my hero…that should tell …thanks for all you do…and well..opinions will vary…

  11. Jennie O'Donnell says:

    i worked as some of the side jobs you mentioned above, organizer, dog walker/pet sitter. also did house sitter, massage therapist, reilki, energy worker, (chakra balancing , sound vibration, healing facilitator , type work) hypnotherapist, packing, and mover, property/apartment managing- leasing, and a few more. funny, i got into acting for love, and thought.. i really don’t know how to do anything else; but act.. so this better work. as a result of it not working as well as i would have liked “yet”, to afford all expenses, i have learned to do a lot of really fun, and for me, interesting things~(but i am ready for a good, and steady- paying acting gig to come along)

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