Side Hustle? Yay or Nay? Well, there are two things I know in this world.
1: If there is something you want – like actually really want – you’ll find a way to make it happen.
2: Big cities are expensive to live in.
You probably moved to a big city to pursue your dream. But sometimes our expectations are a liiiittle different from reality. I really believe that the higher your expectations are, the harder it’s gonna get in the beginning. Let’s take a look at it, shall we:
Oh, moving to Los Angeles. Waking up every morning in your penthouse, sipping on a $17 venti-matcha-latte-no-ice-but-double-ice-and-extra-health-with-cinnamon from Starbucks before you order an Uber X to the gallery and casually paint a couple of master pieces. Oh, #ArtIsLife. You go to lunch with your boyfriend Zac Efron, your agent calls you to tell you that you booked 5 major jobs next week and something about Paris. Carpe Diem. You sip on some champagne and end wrap up the afternoon with a sushi-influencer-meet-up and a yoga class. Live, love, laugh. Your life in the big city is vegan, glutenfree and organic, you only wear sponsored Gucci and you have some sort of content creator who follows you and your abs around to take those “caught-in-the-act” pictures for your social media. You go on your IG-live every night to tell your followers: You only life once. Hakuna Matata. Stay blessed. Life is a highway I wanna ride it all night long”, you know, just to give back to the community. Then you throw some cucumbers on your eyes and sleep 12 hours.
I’m not saying that’s not going to happen for you! My god, I would never say that. But when you move to a new and big city it can be very beneficial to set the bar just a tiny bit lower in the beginning and acknowledge, that you need patience, money and that it’s gonna be rough. Especially if you’re a freelancer like myself. It’s basically a mf process and the source of income can be quite unpredictable.
The side hustle you DO NOT see on Instagram
So let’s talk about having side job aka. a side hustle today. You don’t see it a lot on social media… unfortunately. Why? Because people moved to LA to become the new Beyoncé. And Beyoncé does NOT have a side job. I get it. It’s not fun to serve coffee, change diapers or wait tables all night. And you of course should DEFINITELY not, when you’re THAT talented. But listen up Beyoncé 2.0 – you gotta do what you gotta do.
The whole quit-your-day-job-and-go-100%-for-your-dream is definitely very romantic and it sounds great, but especially if you’re a freelancer you have to invest a whole lot of money in yourself and your craft. From classes, lectures, clothes, headshots, casting sites, books, rent to just even be in the city, transportation to interviews and auditions… it’s just expensive. But also necessary. Which is what side jobs are for! And even though it can be hard to believe that serving coffee at 4.30 AM can teach you anything, it really does teach you a lot.
I know, because I definitely did my fare share of that. Let me tell you!
What the milk factory taught me about dance
I came back home to Denmark after three months of teaching dance in China. My next career goal was loud and clear: Get my American work VISA for dance and move to L.A. The VISA including lawyer fees was about $10,000.
Big surprise – I didn’t have $10,000 + the money I needed to actually move and start a life in LA. I also didn’t have time nor the contacts to wait for inconsistent $300 dance gigs once a twice a month in Denmark.
So I did what I had to do. I started working 8 different jobs.
I was babysitting, I worked 10+ hours a day for 2 weeks at the Ice Hockey World Championship, cleaned people’s houses, taught private dance classes to kids, flew to London once to teach, worked a lot as some sort of waitress/bottle service-girl in inappropriate dresses in bars, and I also picked up a job in a clothing store. I knew n-o-t-h-i-n-g about fashion. I still don’t, let’s be honest here. Last but not least I worked at: The Milk Factory.
I hated the Milk Factory so much. From the bottom of my heart I h-a-t-e-d it. I remember showing up at the factory the first day, soaking wet from the snow, just to get laughed at by the 5 middle-aged men that I apparently was working with: “You must be wrong. Are you working here in the factory? Not in the cantina?”. I smiled. Assholes.
I mainly worked 12 hour night shifts that started at 7 PM and ended at 7 AM. After that I would go home, sleep fom 8 AM – 9 AM and showed up in the clothing store from 10 AM -6 PM. After that I would show up at the factory again at 7 PM ready for 12 more hours. Obviously not all days were like that, but many of them were. And I was as m-i-s-e-r-a-b-l-e as I’ve ever been.
But I was so hyper focused on the $10,000 and knew what it took to get it, so for a long time I didn’t even think about how I felt. I remember the lack of sleep and how my mom very often dropped me off at 11 PM in front of a dirty bar I had to serve at for the next 5 hours. I always stood out of the car, went to a corner in an alley, cried the tiredness out and went inside to change into a gold dress or whatever they asked me to wear, ready to smile to inappropriate guys to make them buy more alcohol. Those nights definitely taught me about selective hearing. It went on for three months.
How did I make it through three months? I’m honestly still surprised, but I think it was because I knew it was temporary. I turned a whole wall in my room into one big vision-board with pictures of LA, pictures of people I look up to and even pictures of something as small as palm trees. On the wall I would constantly write down how much money I would make every day, so I could keep track. I got completely obsessed with that board. If the money didn’t add up I would start selling my things and ended up selling everything I owned. It was pretty simple in my head: The faster I made the money, the faster I would get out of here.
Every month I would transfer everything I had in my bank account to the lawyers in California, and the feeling of working so hard but seeing the thousands of dollars disappear into a VISA that might – but might not get approved – didn’t feel very rewarding at that time.
But sure as hell it was all worth it when it got approved months later. I remember my brother looking at me when I completely broke down when I got the news. He was so confused by how much I cried:
“Uh…. You’re.. like.. happy, right?”
Cue narrator: She was very happy.
NO. Don’t “just be grateful for your side hustle “
It’s so easy to say. Very easy to say. And I get the whole “stay blessed, stay grateful”-thing. But do you understand how difficult it is to be grateful when you’re on the 10th hour in the milk factory standing on your lifter with your earmuffs between coating machines with inappropriate men, when all you wanna do is dance? You can’t just always feel that intense feeling of gratefulness for your side job.
Sometimes, your side hustle IS going to suck. And it’s okay not to be grateful, wanting to kill your coworkers and maybe even cuss the annoying obnoxious Berverly Hills Botox Btches out in your head when they scream at you at Starbucks like there was no day tomorrow for getting soymilk instead of almond milk. No it’s not f*cking fun to stand there when all you wanna do is dance or paint or sing. No, I’m not grateful right now. I’m tired. And I wanna go home.
Focus on your “WHY”
But what I think is important is to fall so in love with your why. As much – if not more – as you’re in love with your fridge during quarentine.
Focusing on WHY you work your side hustle and thinking about what you get to do with all the money you make, can really spark some motivation in you. All the money I’ve ever made the past 8 years has all been spent on investing in dance. I would get money from a dance job and spend it on new classes. Or on paying rent, so I can stay here in L.A. I spent all the tour money from China on flights, AirBnB’s and classes in L.A. Lately I’ve spent a lot of money on renting space in studios and filming dance tutorials, so I now have a dance mentorship program for kids in Denmark that I’m running. All of it is something that makes me so excited and happy.
What are you gonna do with your money?
Remember the side hustle is temporary
When you’re having a hard time with your side job (or having a hard time finding motivation to find one), just remember, that it can all be temporary if you work hard enough on your main passion on the side. If you knew that you only had to push through with this side job for 3 more months, wouldn’t it be easier for you to get up in the morning? That could be your reality.
For you who has a big ego
I get it. You’re too proud to make a living out of anything else than your passion. Which is cool and amazing if you can make it work from the beginning! But I’m telling you – WAY MORE people than you think, have side jobs in LA. It’s normal. I know you don’t see it on social media and I know you wanna call your friend back home who is now married, has a stable income and a husband that went to the same college as you, and tell her all about how great you’re doing with your passion. It hurts your ego to “admit” that you have to pick up a minimum wage job when you’re shooting for the stars.
But dude – it’s normal. And honestly, props to you for doing it – that means that you are willing to go through a whole lot of discomfort in order to follow your dream. I don’t know about you, but personally I don’t care about anyones resumé, but if you’re willing to go through so much discomfort in order to achieve whatever it is that you want… that’s cool. Like, really cool. And I wish society applauded those people a little bit more.
The more you make the more you can invest in your dream
Having a side job is not about not believing in yourself and not believing in your dream, but it’s about making sure that you have as many resources to invest in your dream as you can. You can buy the books you have to read, go to that seminar, take those private lessons, buy that casting subscription package, build your own webpage.. what ever it is that will make you better and more qualified for what you do.
Improve your mental health through a side hustle
Big cities already come with a lot of uncertainty and a whole lot of expenses all the time. If you know, you know. Training, transport, headshots, casting site subscriptions, VISAS for foreigners, food, phone bills, rent… It’s a lot! So if you can remove just a percentage of that daily anxiety by having a side job so you know that you at least know that you can pay rent and aren’t gonna be homeless next month I would say it’s worth it. Not living from pay check to pay check and reducing stress by having a reliable source of income is ideal. Mental health over pride. Get a tattoo of that or something. Or maybe just like… remember it.
If you feel sane, you have more energy. If you have more energy you’re more creative. And if you’re that guy you might even wanna go as far as saying that it will put you in a more positive mindset and therefore attract more success and abundance.
If my VISA would allow me to have a side job, I would be so proud to have one. Very proud actually.
Economic independence is hot
And that’s that. You gain more confidence by making your own money. You learn new skills and talents – and you don’t desperately rely on either one source of income, or your parents.
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MANY are sponsored by parents
Way more people than you think are getting financial help from their parents. But because noone talks about it, you look at these people that are getting their nails and hair done every week and consider that as normal. Then you look at yourself and goes: wtf, why do I suck.
Instead of being mad and jealous of these people and consider them as spoiled A-holes that don’t deserve success and wish they step on a LEGO-brick, just know that you gain something that they don’t by having a side hustle. You get to work even harder for your dream. (It was supposed to sound encouraging, but now that I read it again, I can see why it doesn’t.) But well – that’s how it is. You gain way more life experience.
You learn how to fight for what you want, you learn to go through discomfort and you find out what really matters by having to decide whether you wanna go out and rage in WeHo and drink $17 margs OR spend the $17 on a class tomorrow. You learn to be a little smarter with your money and you get to feel the consequences of your actions the hard way.
Gain time management skills with a side hustle
As a freelancer there is not a lot of certainy. Jobs come and go. Maybe you have 5 auditions next week, maybe you have zero. But as humans (it’s getting deep now so buckle up) we have a fundamental need for safety which we can create through habits, traditions and structure. By having a scheduled side job, you also know when you have to work on your passion. If you have the whole day to film a selftape, it will probably take the whole day. If you have to get it done before work at noon, you will get it done before noon.
What side hustle should I get?
If you are a freelancer in a big city, you for sure want a job that is flexible! To be able to work from home is great for people with a lot of self-dicipline, but a night mare for those who don’t. I think we have all tried to make a 30 min job take 5 hours (thank you Instagram feed). Some people prefer to be around a lot of people while others prefer to sit alone at home and avoid all the chit-chat.
Depending what your passion is, you might also wanna consider how physical your side job should be. You don’t wanna be completely physically exhausted, so you’ll end up napping for 6 hours instead of going to class or that networking event.
Here are some side hustle ideas:
- Coffee shops
You can usually get a lot of hours early in the day, so you have all afternoon and night to work on your passion
If you have a car, this one can be a good little side job that you can literally schedule 100% on your own. If you don’t have a car they’ll even give you one if you drive a certain amount of hours a month.
- Dog walker
There are different app’s where you walk people’s precious puppy’s. Definitely flexible and you get to spend so much time outside!
- Online Shopper (Fab Fit Fun, Stitch Fix etc.)
If fashion is your thing, this one might be fun! Some companies will have you style their costumers online and send them a box with items for them to keep. You get a certain amount of hours a week, but you can schedule when you work.
- Social media manager
We all know the power of social media now a days, so if that’s your thing, try to do your reasearch in your area and offer to create content for the different stores! Super flexible, you get to be creative and you can learn a lot about marketing too!
- Personal trainer
Obviously it takes a certificate (but you can do it online) in order to become a personal trainer, but if you’re good at it you can get a lot of very well paying people. AND you get in shape while doing so! AND it’s flexible! What’s not to like?
- Any front desk work
I work at the front desk at a dance studio which allows me to get free dance classes. If you choose a front desk job at somewhere that’s related to your passion (gym’s, croosfit places, galleries, museums, an agency, an attorney office etc.), you get to do a whole lot of networking while working, which is very benificial.
- Waiting tables
The tips are good, you can get a lot of hours or choose to only work weekends, and there are plenty of restaurants in big cities.
Especially if you’re a night own, being a bartender could be fun. It can be flexible, you get to meet a LOT of people, you get tips and most importantly – you get to impress future dates with your ability to make bomb drinks.
So what’s the point?
If you have the opportunity to find a side job that gives you more ressources to invest in yourself and your dreams, I would say go for it. It would definitely make you less anxious and stressed to have a stable source of income. And hey – I’m not necessarily saying full time! You do not wanna be one of those that are so tired from your regular job, that you don’t work on what you moved to the big city for. You came here for a reason, and that reason is so important.
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