If you live the freelance, working in the arts lifestyle, here is a protip for you:
You need a nest egg.
Today at work I was chatting with our brilliant and financially savvy choreographer and we realized we both take the same approach to our freelance lifestyles.
First, you need your magic money safety number.
This is different for everyone, but this is the number that makes you feel safe. It can also change from year to year.
For instance, my first magic money number was $5,000. Now it’s $10,000. $10,000 can stretch for about 6 months fairly easily in my lifestyle. When I have $10,000 in the bank, I feel safe.
I feel secure enough to take risks.
Risks are where my career grows.
When my bank account has $10,000 in it, I’m suddenly fine with taking a lower paying gig or doing a job I would normally scoff at. I’m fine with turning down a well paying gig that just doesn’t feel right. I’m fine with floating through a few weeks of unemployment while looking for the right opportunity.
But when my bank account dips below $10,000, I hustle my a$$ off. I pick up any gig I’m offered. I pick up a second minimum-wage-esque job. I do whatever I have to do to get back to my magic money safety number.
So many big opportunities for me come out of my magic money safety number comfort zone. The first production I worked on with Equity performers paid terribly but it opened up a ton of other jobs for me. I worked on another small scale show that turned out to be the pet project of a major conductor at the Metropolitan Opera. Honestly, most of my big deal career contacts have come out of these little projects.
And Murphy’s Law totally applies in this world too though. When my magic money safety number is met, I get tons of offers flowing in – high paying gigs, things I’ve always wanted to do. When my magic money safety number dips too low, everything seems to dry up and the struggle is real.
…maybe life is trying to keep me humble. It works.
So there’s my number one freelance tip for you. Rock the nest egg. Own the nest egg. Be one with your nest egg.