8th May 2021
The Global Media Site for Entertainment.

Discover Your Why and Diversify: Advice for Artists

discover and diversify
By Guest Contributor

Many artists struggle with the idea of “diversifying”.

I can relate!

We build our identity around becoming a particular type of artist that works in a specific sector of the performing arts world. Maybe you are a theatre actor/actress and only book touring shows. Perhaps you are a cirque performer and only take aerial corporate work, perhaps you are a ballet dancer and only work for ballet companies. Many of us find our specialty and we create identify around that…. Full stop.

We have been made to feel like we are “selling out” if we diversify. We feel bad, even guilty, if we bring in money some other way and even worse, we don’t take work that doesn’t fall into our narrow spectrum of what we would consider “acceptable” employment.

My question for you is, are you actually being a “sell-out”? Or is this perception just an outdated framework we have unconsciously adopted from generations before us?

If you have been around the performing arts block for a while, then you have surely witnessed the evolution of live performances. Going back 30 years ago you might have survived performing as a niche artist, specializing in one main genre, instrument, or style. Today, this is an extremely hard road to travel.

Enter diversification from stage left.

Rewinding back to my childhood for a hot second…

I consider it a privilege to have been raised with a performing artist as a father and a show producer as a mother. It gave me great insight into this idea of diversifying. My parents have sustained the live performance industry for over four decades now. It is incredible really! I can say with absolute certainty that their success relied heavily on consistent diversification, even back in the day! I remember them talking often about some friends {who were self-identified “purists” when it came to their art form} and how badly they were suffering financially when times were tough. I always thought, ‘Why can’t they just branch out a bit like my parents?’ but therein lies the core dilemma…

Perhaps they were told to never adopt a Plan B?

Because a Plan B means you will never fully make it with your plan A, right?

Or perhaps they only liked performing for one kind of audience, IE a blues bar crowd, theatre-goers, international groups, etc. Whatever it the reason it was obvious in my eyes (even as an observant child!) that every artist needs to diversify OR they need to prepare themselves for a sparse artistic career.

As someone who wishes we could all banish the term “starving artist” from our collective vocabulary, I LOVE to help freelance performing artists feel amazing about diversifying their financial portfolios.

Just like investors don’t invest in ONE stock forever, you too should be open to diversifying how you earn money. If Covid-19 has put any theory to the test, it is this… So let’s delve into why diversifying is so critical for performing artists world-wide:

  1. Diversifying will make you the most attractive performer to hire!
    As a co-producer in the circus arts we are always looking for performers who have skills both in the air and on the ground. If you can play an instrument even better. If you can also act – YOU HAVE THE ROLL! The more you can offer producers, the better chance you have of landing a part/ securing your next gig.
  2. Our industry is always changing and we very often experience the ups and downs of a roller coaster.
    So many things effect our industry. The value of our country’s currency exchange, travel restrictions, the economy, the stock market, etc. If our industry relies on so many factors you can see how necessary it is for us to be flexible and willing to adapt. When things are up, GREAT! But when things are down how flexible are you? How willing are you to pivot?
  3. If you are reading this, you are in the business of show business.
    This means you need to think like a businessperson. You need to treat your career like a well-rounded business. Dropping our ego and figuring out WHY we love being a performing artist will literally FREE you from feeling like a sell-out when you diversify how you earn a living

If the idea of earning money in some alternate way can make some artists feel ill, curl up in a corner and plug their ears.

If you’re over there like “Na na na – I can’t hear you…” This one is for you, friend.

Perhaps you haven’t discovered WHY you do what you do.

Do you perform because you love to see people smile? Because you like attention? Or maybe because you want to pass on your love for your art to others? Whatever the reason is you need to KNOW it because this will help you find peace in adding other stream of income to your career.

I, and my business partners have tried many ways of diversifying our income and they all relate/ circle back to our WHYs.

Side note: If you are new to the whole “finding your why” concept, I recommend reading Simon Sinek’s “Start with WHY” as a jumping off point. But for now…

Here are my top suggestions for diversifying your income both inside and outside of the performing arts industry…

  • Instructing: Teaching your art form in live or virtual formats
  • Coaching: Be a mentor and pass your knowledge along. Nothing is more rewarding than helping others succeed!
  • Content Creation: Podcasts, blogging, vlogging and guest speaking (these skillsets can be monetized!)
  • Social Selling or Network Marketing: For those looking for a business-in-a-box this is a great way to run a viable side hustle alongside your performance career. Find a product or service you are passionate about and give it a try. Typically, NWM companies have  low investments to start AND have potential to earn you a decent side-income if worked with consistency over time (just like any other worthwhile venture!)
  • Become an Ambassador: Find a brand that you love and become a paid ambassador. It’s easy to recommend and share something you love with those you love and care about.
  • Adjudicate/ Judge: Help elevate our industry and become an adjudicator. If you love giving back this is a great way to make some side-income as you help elevate the next generation.

The moral of the story is that you simply need to be open to opportunities. Assess if they are in line with your WHY and then go for it. Side-hustles can be very forgiving. If you don’t like it then you can always stop, reassess, and try something else.

The future is yours. Discover your why and diversify.

Elisa Kovacic is Co-Founder of A2D2 ~Aerial Dance Cirque Co, A2D2 Cirque Centre, Perform & Prosper Inc, and Glow Girl Extensions. She is also a proud Area Manager and Independent Consultant with Arbonne International. Elisa’s favorite job is being mom to Hugo, Aria, and Ella Rose and wife to her partner Tony.

Also on TheatreArtLife:

Virtual Theater Burnout Blues

“Set Up Your Future Success: Invite the Artists!”

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