YOU ARE YOUR GREATEST ASSET – INVEST IN YOURSELF
“The average career for a dancer is a race against the clock and body and coping with the knowledge their career will be short-lived.” Laura Kei Simmons
You are your greatest asset. You must invest in yourself by being proactive about your personal & professional development. We live in a world that is in a constant state of flux. This present both opportunities and challenges.
You should always be learning, growing and adapting with the times; keep up with the latest techniques and what is new in your industry to remain relevant.
Read widely. Attend seminars and workshops. Be proactive about developing yourself.
COMPLETE YOUR EDUCATION
Becoming a professional dancer doesn’t require formal education or an academic degree. Indeed your educational background is not directly correlated to knowledge and application of dance. Your reputation among the dancing community, your experience and your demonstration of your work speak volumes.
It is tempting for entertainers to ride on early successes and drop out of school. Talent gets you only so far. Get a relevant qualification; it doesn’t necessarily have to be a degree. Finish school; you need to have the basic written, numeric and communication skills; critical life skills that help you along a more sustainable path to success.
ADVANTAGES OF CERTIFICATION
Whilst “experience is the greatest teacher,” nothing beats formal instruction to broaden your knowledge base with exposure to new ideas and approaches.
It is a differentiator; competition is stiff so you need to be a better, more recognised and more respected.
It boosts confidence; just knowing you have achieved a milestone gives you a sense of accomplishment and achievement.
Knowledge is power; you can put your new body of knowledge to use in so many ways and in all aspects of your life.
It can boost earning power. Often, earning a certification can make it possible for you to charge more.
The dance industry is not license regulated. This means that the onus is on creative professionals to self-regulate, and demand the highest standards for themselves.
Be ahead of your game.
SHOULD YOU WORK FOR FREE?
It’s almost inevitable that you will be asked to work for free or for next to nothing. Here are some reasons to say NO.
It devalues your work, time and abilities, and that of your competitors too. Why should clients pay for a project, when somebody else will do it for free? Time is money. Value yours.
If you work for free, you’ve set a precedent and makes it can be awkward to negotiate a fair price on a future project.
You probably have several jobs on the go. Naturally, you will give precedence to paid work. Over time, the quality of your unpaid project is likely to suffer; it will show.
Probably the biggest argument you’ll face is that it will look great in your portfolio and get you exposure. How do you quantify exposure? Good reviews? More followers? More work?
So, should you ever work for free?
Yes, absolutely. Consider accepting unpaid work for the following:
Can it bring you real exposure? You need to continually build your brand, so think strategically, and on a case-by-case basis weigh it up as long as it’s on your terms.
Close friends and family, but beware of emotional blackmail and being taken advantage of!
Volunteering or charity work on something you are passionate about and that is aligned with your brand.
Read the full piece at http://www.wholegraindigital.com/blog/7-reasons-creatives-never-work-free/
BE IN CONTROL OF YOUR DEBT
“DANCING IN DEBT”
Financial planning for entertainers and creatives requires special attention; planning should be not just for now, but for after their career wanes. If money earned today is not properly budgeted, saved and invested, the vast majority will end up either bankrupt or in debt. Remember, it’s not the money you make; it’s the money you keep.
Do you regularly have to borrow from friends and relations just to make ends meet? How did you get to this point? Is it your lifestyle? Are you extravagant? Are you trying to keep up with the “pressure of celebrity?” Perhaps you just don’t earn enough to fund your lifestyle and obligations.
Your attitude to your debt matters; wishing it away or inaction only makes things worse.
Here are some tips:
1. List all your debt in order of priority.
2. Cut back drastically on spending.
3. Tackle the high interest loans first.
4. Try to earn additional income by putting all your skills to work.
5. Approach lenders, apologize for the delay and reschedule
6. You may need to sell some assets.
Don’t be one of those that avoid friends, colleagues and relatives that you owe. Your borrowing behaviour affects lenders’ attitude towards you both now and in future.
YOU NEED EMERGENCY SAVINGS
SURVIVING ON IRREGULAR INCOME
Creative professionals, including artists, musicians, dancers, photographers, writers etc, face unique challenges when it comes to budgeting and planning. Instead of earning a salary, income is irregular. One month an actor or a dancer may be working steadily and then for the next 3 months there is absolutely nothing.
Try to manage cashflow when funds do come in, as you just don’t know when you will book your next job. Track your expenses and calculate how much money you’ll need every month for food, transport, utilities, mobilephone, rent, personal-care, entertainment etc.
Building an “Emergency Fund” is key. Determine what is the minimum amount that you can live on? Budget around that number and try to save 3-6 months’ worth of expenses. This is your financial cushion for when income dries up; It literally is your survival fund.
It is easy to go on a spending spree with the financial and emotional “yo-yo” that entertainers face. The “dry” months seem endless, then you get that “alert” for a commercial or a gig and euphoria sets in; the big break must be around the corner! When you’ve just received thousands of naira in your account, you forget that you
could be broke in a few months. Be conservative; Try not to splurge just yet until you have some savings.
INVEST FOR THE FUTURE
Entertainers can come into large sums of money quite suddenly and at an early age. Many delegate total responsibility to “advisors” who may end up either
mismanaging their money, defrauding them or making some poor investment choices with their money.
It is important to do a thorough due diligence before
engaging any professional. You also owe it to yourself to understand the basic tenets of investing. Ultimately you are responsible for your own financial security.
Build a diversified portfolio of cash, stocks, bonds, property and business interests; Putting most of your capital into one asset class or investment is a high risk
strategy and is a recipe for financial disaster; often the mistake is only realized when all the money is gone. If you pay little attention to your investments and do
not understand what you are getting into, you become very vulnerable.
CAREER ARCS “These career arcs differ enormously from average full-time employees, who have an earning trajectory of maybe 30 to 40 years. Paul McCartney and King Sunny Ade, superstars blessed with extreme career longevity, are the exception, not the rule.”
CREATE MULTIPLE STREAMS OF INCOME
Whilst a few entertainers make millions in a short span of time, the vast majority of artistes, performers, dancers etc, have to work hard and smart to achieve long-term financial security.
As an entertainer, your primary income usually comes from LIVE shows. If you don’t perform for whatever reason, illness, injury etc, you simply don’t earn. We all need alternate sources of income but it is an absolute necessity for entertainers or those with irregular income. This will keep you from wiping out your savings or going into debt.
There is a need to be immersed in your craft to be at your best, in terms of expertise and creativity. Your mind and energy should be focused on your craft, even if it is in different aspects of the same field. For example, for a dancer, teaching, fitness, wellness, choreography may be complementary areas to explore.
Apart from the additional income this brings, there are other advantages of staying close to your craft: •Building credibility as an expert •Deepening your knowledge •Enhances your brand •Broadens clientbase
Creatives often have more than one talent. Pursue other areas that you are passionate about and can do effortlessly. Photography, graphicdesign, make-up, hairstyling, blogging, merchandise etc all have a good fit in the entertainmentindustry and will keep you earning.
GET A MENTOR
FIND A MENTOR
A mentor is usually someone who has experience and expertise in your chosen field that can take you under their wing. They can help navigate you towards opportunities and help you grow. They understand your path and can offer real solutions because they’ve been there.
A mentor will seek to point you in the right direction, introduce you to their network and provide emotional support when you are flagging. They will not hesitate to tell you the hard truths if need be.
HERE ARE SOME TIPS:
If you have a connection to someone you admire and want to meet, just ask for an introduction.
Don’t be discouraged if you are turned down. You will eventually find the right person.
Approach someone you admire with a similar career path or one that interests you; do your research to get the conversation started.
Read widely, and develop yourself attending classes, auditions, workshops and conferences.
Clearly articulate your expectations of the relationship.
Be professional. Be prepared. Don’t be late and don’t miss appointments.
Your mentor is not there to solve all your problems. You are responsible for your own growth.
The mentor/mentee relationship should not be one-sided. It should be a fulfilling one of mutual benefit, shared interests, respect and trust. Don’t take it for-granted. It is one of the most important relationships you can ever have.
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