15 Survival Jobs and Side Gigs for Actors
As actors, we can’t always predict when our next acting job or life changing audition will come. Instead, we have to be ready at any minute to drop everything and seize an opportunity.
Only a handful of incredibly lucky actors are able to hop from one acting job to the next. The rest of us have to hustle.
So when we’re in a dry spell, how do we make sure we’ve got enough money to pay for rent, food, dance classes, voice lessons, subscriptions, submissions, coffee dates, yoga and/or a gym memberships, etc?
What do you love to do besides theatre? What are you inherently good at? Writing? Designing? Mathematics? Do you love working out? Are you good with kids? Pets? Are you a fast typer? Do you love organization?
Here are 15 survival jobs and side hustles you may want to look into.
1. Virtual / Personal Assistant
This is a rewarding position for actors, especially if you can do this on-the-go. A virtual assistant is someone who does administrative work for hire but is not in the same place as the employer, sometimes not in the same city. The work a virtual assistant does can be ongoing or project-based.
If you can type fast and you’re good with computers, temping may be perfect for you. As a temp, you work in an office environment and make from $12-$20/hour. When auditions come up, you either leave your temp job for an hour or call out for the day. You can take jobs that are day-to-day, or week-to-week.
3. Brand Ambassador
Many companies use brand ambassadors to spread the word about their products and services. Look up Brand Ambassador jobs on Indeed and you’re likely to find tons of opportunities.
Many of these jobs will require you to go to events to represent the company. Others will have you represent their brand through your Instagram and other social media platforms.
Paid by the hour, plus tips. Different location every time. Check out different staffing agencies for your city.
5. Waiting tables / Bartending
Amy Adams, Jon Hamm, Sandra Bullock, Russell Crowe, Julianne Moore, Chris Pratt, Renee Zellweger… they all started somewhere. Waiting tables is a classic side job for any actor looking to make some money. And assuming you're of age, bartending is a great way to earn a full-time income working part-time hours.
Check out this Backstage article “10 Things Waiting Tables Can Teach You About Acting.”
Nannying can be very lucrative if you are good with kids and have childcare experience. Parents are always looking, so if you’re in a social setting with parents it’s usually easy to work it in.
7. Dog walking
Early morning, late evening, and weekend hours make it very easy to balance dog-walking with auditions. If you love dogs and prefer being active in your work, this can be a great option. Wag! and Rover both have apps for iPhone and Android that make it easy to find clients.
8. Personal Trainor / Yoga Instructor
If you are physically fit, work out, and are interested in health and nutrition, being a personal trainer can be great option for you! You decide how hard you work, how many clients/classes you have, and how much money you make.
Just make sure you’re not making any false promises, or claiming qualifications you don’t have. There are various training programs, many of which require an initial investment, so decide what appeals to you.
9. Tutoring / Teaching
A company to work for that is highly recommend by actors is VIPKID. Earn $14-22/hr teaching English online and pick your own hours! You can also freelance or work for a staffing company, and they will match you up with parents looking for private tutors in specific subjects.
Keep in mind, many tutoring and teaching jobs require a college degree, experience with children, or TEFL/TESL/TESOL certificate.
10. Substitute teaching
Different states and school districts have varying requirements for substitute teachers, so look into your area to see if you’re qualified and how to get involved.
11. Teaching lessons in voice, dance, instruments
You can offer lessons for any skill under the sun. If you play an instrument, many parents will pay you to give lessons to their kids.
Create a website and market your lessons online, or post up flyers or leave business cards/postcards in coffee shops or other businesses in your area. You can use Skype to give your lessons remotely, or find local clients.
12. Freelance Driving
Uber and Lyft have become excellent ways to make money on a flexible schedule. If you have a desire to set your own work hours, own a registered vehicle made in 2000 or later, check out ridesharing apps. The more you drive, the more you earn!
13. Video editing
Your friends are actors, right? Help them by video editing their demo reels! If you have a Mac, go take a free iMovie seminar at the Apple store, and become a master video editor. It will come in handy for the rest of your career, and someone always needs footage edited.
14. Freelance Work
Upwork and Fiverr are websites where you can offer freelance services of pretty much any kind. Check them out and click around to see what other people are offering, and see if any of your skills happen to be in demand.
Social media management
15. Blogging/Affiliate Marketing
Creating your own blog can be especially awesome if you love writing, as it’s centralized to you – you don’t need to wait for clients to tell you what to write. As a blogger, you can choose to be an affiliate for various companies… promoting their products and services, while earning a commission from the sales.
Find this helpful? Be sure to check out the Actor Aesthetic podcast on Apple Podcasts and Google Play. New episodes every Monday!