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?

Grab your business resume, check out job board sites like LinkedIn and Indeed, and take advantage of your unique skillset.

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.

New York City

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. 

2. Temping

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. Temping schedules are easy to work around for auditions..

 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.

4. Catering

Paid by the hour, plus tips in various locations. 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.”

6. Nannying

Nannying is an excellent option for actors 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

If you’re active and interested in health and nutrition, consider becoming a personal trainer! There are plenty of options for getting a certification.

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

Help your actor friends by video editing their demo reels! I use iMovie to edit my videos and its incredibly easy and efficient.

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.

            Graphic design

            Build websites



            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!


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