Inspired by the lyrics from one of my fave films “Flashdance”, or as I like to call it “Flashy-Pants”, you too can take whatever it is that sets your soul on fire career-wise – and make it happen! Yes, your passion CAN be your paycheck – you just have to be smartly sussed up, be prepared to work hard…and have a little leap of faith! So click this way as I share my top tips on taking your passion and making it happen career-wise, leg warmers optional…
As a child, I remember a theatre company coming into the school. They performed and I was in awe. Afterwards they gave a workshop and I was completely dumbfounded! What kind of magic was this? Where people could become anything they wanted to and called it a job? Well that was it – I was smitten. My career was decided through that one experience and I would start putting things into place that would carve out my pathway from where I was to where I wanted to be.
As an adult, I can wholeheartedly say that yes, I am living my passion and making a living from it. I work regularly as a professional actress for stage and screen, as well as drama facilitator for numerous theatres and theatre companies. I have moulded myself a career that I am completely in control of – I am my own boss and I am a self-employed master of my own destiny. Has it taken a lot of work? Yes. Has it been stressful? Heck Yes! Have there been times where I have wondered where the next gig was coming from/not had money for rent? DOUBLE heck yes! BUT have I been happy every step of the way? ABSO-BLINKING-LUTELY! I am self-employed, self-motivated and happy in myself and my work. And what better way is there to live?
Following your passion and forming it into a fruitful career is more than possible for you too! Being the driving force of your own destiny is rewarding beyond belief. The old adage, as cheesy and cliche as it is, ultimately rings truer still – do something you enjoy and you will never work a day in your life.
So what is your bliss? Are you wanting to turn your part time passion into a full time job? Or perhaps sticking a tentative toe to start earning from your part time passion water, whilst keeping your full time employment? Here are some of the things to consider before and during being or becoming a self-employed star or a career change cutie. Buckle in, it’s quite a read!
NEVER TOO OLD TO START AGAIN:
If you are good at something but the fear of starting again scares the be-Jesus out of you, think on! The thought of “what if” should be spooking the pants off you more! Now, I’m not suggesting that you leap out of your comfy job straight away with no money and no plan. But there a number of things you can put in place to make the transition of career, whether you are going into something completely different to what you are currently doing OR wanting to carry on with what you are doing, by being your own boss and/or starting your own business. Trust me – you can always teach an old dog new tricks – ruff!!! You are not too old to start a new job or go back to school. Looking into part-time training, weekend/night school or even doing a part-time apprenticeship to learn key skills for your new profession means you can still work whilst you are figuring it all out or indeed seeing if you actually want to make it your career! Plus if you hang on to your full-time job? You still have a regular income (more on that later). AND you can always use your holiday time to actually DO your part time passion jobs, if you are smart about it and super on top of your schedule.
Also think about your current job and what transferable skills you can bring across to your new career. You’ll be surprised at how many things you have already got ticked off! Whether it’s major social media skills, your’re the queen of budgets or timetabling or able to manage people, these are skills that pretty much apply to most jobs.
BUDGET, BUDGET, BUDGET:
The horrid reality of life is that there will always be bills! It’s a reassuring safety blanket to have a consistent income whilst seeing the viability of turning your part time passion full time. So do not quit on a whim and only transition when you are confident you can afford to live, covering the cost of your travel, food, rent and bills. Sit down and work out REALISTICALLY what you can happily live on each month. Can you meet that minimum with your new career choice? Can you afford to go full time with it yet? Or how long do you need to carry on with your current job whilst you train/build up your new business’ profile? Or can you do it around a part time job? Getting a part time job that gives you the flexibility of pursuing your new area of work, but with the reliability of a regular income whilst you transition can be a vital stepping stone. More on that later!
Alongside this, prep for the life you want by saving. Set aside any cash that is spare each month in a savings account, both if you have not left your full time job AND whilst you are pursuing your new career. I speak from experience – there are good months and bad months. I have had months where I am batting acting and facilitating work away, offered basically a whole year’s work in one month. They are the best kind of months! But then there can be the months were you can’t afford a pair of socks and your phone and email has gone completely quiet…and you wonder whether you DID pay your phone bill?! That’s when those savings you squirrelled away can make up the deficit and mean you don’t have to go and take any crappy job to fill the gap.
If you do decide to go self-employed, whether that be full or part time, HMRC are going to be your best friend and great sites like Talk Tax are awesome for helping you find out great ways of what you can claim back, what is tax deductible etc.
A good friend of mine who is a musician once said the following to me and it stuck: “In doing the career you love, you have to be prepared to possibly take three jobs. The one you really want to do, something that is similar that you enjoy and finally one that is in the same area but supports the other two as needed”. This has been the basis of my career as it stands. All my work is in the Performing Arts – all in the same industry but different areas: I act (the one I really want to do), I am a drama facilitator and character entertainer (something similar that I really enjoy) and I also do various flexible box office, front of house and backstage reception work (the work that supports everything else). I wake up excited and motivated each day by the variety of work I have – each day is different and enjoyable and is in the field I love! Find things that don’t kill your soul whilst waiting to do the thing you REALLY want to do. Plus it is a great way of networking with people in your industry, getting your name out there. The amount of work and recommendations that have come through to me by talking to the people I work with in my “job that supports the others” has been priceless, because they have similar passions/careers.
THE SOCIAL NETWORK:
Do not underestimate the power of friends…and friends of friends! Use your social platforms to your mountain to shout about your new career or venture you are pursuing. You never know who knows someone that can help or guide you OR are looking for your skills! Set up business accounts separate from your personal account as well to act as a live CV or marketplace to sell your new business or career. Research what Facebook groups or Twitter Hashtags you can join/follow that act as networking or opportunity sharing platforms. I have also found these invaluable for getting myself out there, as well as places to share knowledge or ask questions. Working for yourself CAN be lonely, but finding your community can be both reassuring as you can tap into a wealth of experience and support. Speaking of support, also be sure to join unions that represent your profession.
KNOW YOUR WORTH AND KNOW WHAT SOMETHING IS WORTH TO YOU:
When you are starting out, you can undervalue yourself and your worth. “What’s that? Do all this work for free! Yes please! AND I have to pay for my own travel? Where do I sign?!” You might want to do things for nowt because you think it will make a name for yourself/get you seen in front of the right people. Taking acting as my point of reference, I cannot begin to explain the amount of crap work people will take for little or no pay, in a bid that it will lead to more paid work. No! It is unlikely – you have marked yourself as someone who does not know their worth and willing to settle. Speaking to various people in the industry, when they see people flinging themselves at any opportunity and taking no money from it, they are viewed very differently. Those that apply value to their work are seen in a better light and are more likely to secure the rates they want. Those that have done things for free once, are likely to be offered stuff again, sure…but for free. When they then ask to be paid, it can be highly unlikely and the employer will move onto the next person who will do it for free.
This goes for any industry though – value yourself and your work and apply your rate to that accordingly. Sure you might be starting out, but you deserve to be paid something or at least have your expenses covered. Unsure as what to charge/what is an acceptable rate of pay for the work you are doing? Look to those social media groups to help advise or your unions. If you are doing any kind of placement or apprenticeship – you should be paid a minimum and/or expenses.
However, all the above being said…if something is unpaid but gives you an experience that you could have had to pay for, like learning a new skill to add to your CV or company that holds value/respect in the industry – it could be said that is where the value is. Is it something you can find worth from? Like getting in with a company you like or opening the door to more opportunities. Then it might be worth thinking about.
Now I am not saying the above is a blueprint of what to do, these are things that have worked for me. I have enjoyed a varied and rewarding career which I have earnt a good living from and not had to compromise on! Now…go take your passion and make it happen in your way!
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Until next time fillies,
Leigh at Fashion Du Jour LDN HQ x
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*This post is in collaboration with Talk Tax – all opinions are our own as always though fillies.