Achieve Your Dream Job Without Killing Your Creative Spirit

Making the decision to be “an artist” can be a difficult and courageous one.

There is no exact, linear route into the creative world.

It’s a zigzagged, pothole filled path that resembles more of a minefield riddled with parts of right-brained, open-minded creative thinkers.

People lose hope.  

People burn out.  

And, man!… artists can spend months and years of just being BROKE!  There…I’ve said it. The one word synonymous with art: broke. The second being, unfulfilled.

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When I was in film school, my screenwriting teacher told me something that I’ve never forgotten. He said that when it comes to work, practice, and a social life, you can only have 2 of the 3.

Unless you’ve got rich parents, we all have to work, and that only leaves time to either have a social life or practice your craft.  You’re an artist, so of course your craft wins out (because you want to make it right?) So now you have to find a day job just to survive until your dream job manifests into reality.

The main issue with a day job is the lack of flexibility.  Plus, employers don’t typically care about your dream, and they won’t take it lightly if they feel that you’re using them as a stepping-stone.

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So now comes the balancing act that many fail miserably:  You work a day job, which you hate and by the time you get home, you have no energy or creative spark left to practice your craft.

Having realized a long time ago that I was tired of being a “starving artist”, I decided that the only way I’d satisfy my hunger for art was by finding and working some of the best day jobs that gave me total creative freedom and paid decently.

So speaking from experience, here are the 10 best day jobs that will support your dream job.

The Best Day Jobs to Support a Hollywood Dream

1.) Brand Ambassadors

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Day Job Description: A brand ambassador (not to be confused with a Promotional Model) is someone hired to drive consumer demand for a product, service, brand, or concept by directly interacting with potential customers via street teams, large promotions, smaller events, and trade shows.

The Pay: National Average = 50K / $20 per hour (ranges from $9 – $50)

Experience: Product knowledge, fun personality, good, clean image, and (of course) excellent conversational skills

Dream Job Compatibility: If you like meeting new people while knowing how to work a crowd (and showing off your sales savvy-side), this job’s for you. It’s also a great day job if you know how to put on a “happy face” and have previous customer service experience, because you’ll need to engage with potential customers in a fun and friendly manner.  Being a brand ambassador can be an excellent dual-career boost because most creative industries are based on networking, networking, networking.

2.)  Overnight Security

Day Job Description: Many office buildings, hotels, apartment complexes, hospitals and even movie sets need security 24/7, especially overnight. You’ll spend the majority of your time at a desk, watching paint dry, but who knows, you might get lucky and have a chance to disrupt the crime of the century! Most likely though, you’ll be stealthily watching paint dry.

The Pay: National Average = 18K – 35K per year / $10.50 per hour

Experience: Retired police officers usually get the high profile, better paying positions, but as long as you can read and write, you can probably get one of these gigs. CPR or first-aid certification is sometimes preferred.

Dream Job Compatibility: Okay, so this isn’t a day job, but it completely frees up your days; and if you plan ahead, you can really maximize your week. For those who don’t get bored easily, enjoy their own company, and have a lot of patience, security detail may be worth checking out. Don’t get me wrong, you have to be alert, but most security jobs give you the free time to read or jot down notes for your artistic work. Writers, are you listening? Being a security guard will give you plenty of time to people-watch, which helps shape the backbone of any solid story-line: strong, three-dimensional characters.

3.) Resume Writer

Day Job Description: Help people craft the perfect resume so they can get the job of their dreams.

The Pay: You can charge anywhere from $20 to $300+ per resume

Experience: This is mostly a freelance job where you can work for yourself and be your own boss. Professionally though, a degree in English or writing may be required. Also, one should have an understanding of what specific employers are looking for and be up-to-speed on trends in various job markets. If you possess a background in job development, you’re ahead of the pack.

Dream Job Compatibility: Just like screenwriting, if you have superb formatting skills and know how to catch someone’s attention with industry-worthy buzzwords that keeps them drawn in from the first word to the last, then resume writer is a day job any serious writer should consider. This also works for creative souls because writing tens or hundreds of resumes for others will only make yours a rock-star. If you have excellent grammar and punctuation, then this might be the hustle for you, because you’ll be crossing t’s, dotting i’s and making sure you’ve scored 100% accuracy across the page.  Lastly, there’s no better feeling than someone telling you they got the job!

4.) SEO (Search Engine Optimization) & Internet Marketing

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Day Job Description: Manage online content strategy, web link building and keyword strategy to increase rankings on all major search engines for a website or particular brand.

The Pay: National Average: $29 – $59K

Experience: A passion for technology, and a background in marketing or technical writing is recommended but not always required.

Dream Job Compatibility: This job is a perfect match for those who are more tech-savvy and know how to take website content and figure out how to make it more engaging via “optimization”. Your number one goal is to maximize Internet traffic and become a brand influencer by being “in the know” of what’s trending online and what real people are “searching” for. They say cream rises to the top and that’s basically you’re job, ensuring that your client places first in search rankings or at least makes the first page of search results.  There’s a saying in the viral world that “if it doesn’t spread, your dead” and it’s completely true.  Branding has become extremely important in this day and age as online visibility equates real-world credibility and sustainability.

5.) Landscaping

Day Job Description: Cutting grass, trimming hedges, and giving yards curbside appeal!

The Pay: National Average:  $30K / $14 hourly (Varies, depending on project)

Experience: It helps to have cut a few lawns here and there, but all you really need to get started is equipment (lawnmower, trimmer, etc.) and a vehicle. Get some business cards and start with family and friends to create a word of mouth buzz. Plus, this shows that you actually have the chops for the job.

Dream Job Compatibility: If you love the outdoors and getting in a good workout, there’s a pair of sheers with your name on it. You’ll only work during the day, and you can create your own schedule, unless you decide to work for a company. This day job also gives you a chance to network with your clients. Depending on where you live, this job is seasonal, so this gives you the opportunity to try out a different day job throughout the year.  I worked weekends for my friend’s landscaping business, and it was back-breaking, hard-work at times.  However, the day job was good for me, because I was down on myself, doubting my creative path, and I didn’t feel like interacting with people. This job gave me a lot of time to brainstorm, re-calibrate, and re-strategize my future.

6.) Catering

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Day Job Description: Making large quantities of food for parties, galas and events. Prepare all the dishes at once instead of having them made to order.

The Pay: National Average: $40K / $19 per hour

Experience: Restaurant experience is recommended. Culinary school, or an apprenticeship is also recommended but not required.

Dream Job Compatibility: Some would say that cooking is an art within itself. But if you pretty much know your way around the kitchen, catering is a good way to make big cash without working a regular 9-5 gig. In some instances you can earn more money working one day, or a weekend versus what a regular day job brings in over the course of five days a week! I held a catering job and it was awesome, similar to a film set because there’s always food around, and sometimes you can leave with whatever’s left, which is clutch for the struggling film student with the empty refrigerator!

7.) Parking / Toll Booth Attendant

Day Job Description: Sitting inside a booth, taking toll / parking tickets, and giving change. You sometimes give directions, so it might be handy to be familiar with your surroundings.

The Pay: National Average: $10 – $30+ per hour (depends on seniority)

Experience: None other than basic math skills and a friendly attitude.

Dream Job Compatibility: You spend a majority of your day sitting and standing inside of a booth, doing nothing more than giving change and taking tickets. It’s that relaxed and easy. With long stretches of time on your hands, make the most of this ideal day job that’s an essential public service. Speaking from personal experience, this was one of the best jobs I’ve ever had, and even though I worked at the slowest toll interchange in the state, I was able to write at break-neck speed and interact with all walks of life. You learn how all types of people speak, and develop a sense of speech patterns, plus hear certain words, slang and expressions that – up until that point – I had never heard before.

8.) Mystery Shopping

Day Job Description: Evaluating the performance of retail stores and their employees through a third party company and improve customer experience.

The Pay: You can make anywhere from $10 – $75 per assignment.

Experience: Knowing how to read a mall directory and maybe a penchant for shopping, but not required!

Dream Job Compatibility: The biggest mystery I can’t understand is why more people aren’t doing this.  As a mystery shopper, the artistic benefit you reap is “people watching” and what separates a good working relationship from a bad one. While this isn’t quite Undercover Boss, you’ll gain unique insight into workplace dynamics and psychology. Plus, it’s another chance to hear real, unrehearsed conversational dialogue, which is an invaluable asset to any screenwriter.

9.) Rideshare Driver (Uber / Lyft)

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Day Job Description: Using your personal car as a taxicab. Taking customers to and from their destination as their personal driver.

The Pay: $300 – $1,000 per week depending on how often you want to drive.

Experience: Clean background, driving record, plus an insured and registered 4-door vehicle. It goes without saying that you also need a valid driver’s license.

Dream Job Compatibility: This day (and night) job offers steady money and ultimate flexibility because you make your own hours. The marketing is done for you so all you need is your smart phone to start cashing in. I’ve also heard so many stories from such drivers who’ve swapped business cards with people who work in their desired industry, and before you know it, they’ve put the brakes on being a ride-share driver and moved on up! This also works for creative types who need to write believable dialogue for their projects. You’ll hear a lot of crazy stories and meet a lot of interesting material, I mean, passengers.

10.) Roadie

Day Job Description: This app is the Uber / Lyft of shipping items! Use your smart phone to deliver packages for everyday people!

The Pay: Varies – Starts around $50 and increases depending on driving distance and job-type.

Experience: 18 years old, valid driver’s license & insurance

Dream Job Compatibility: From high school and college students to young professionals, anyone can be a “roadie”… especially for those who want to be their own boss! As artists, we all know inspiration can come at any moment, and having flexibility can help land you an audition, high-level meeting or just give you the time to flesh out a creative breakthrough. If you like driving, and just need some wiggle money to give you more time to pursue your dream job, Roadie is for you. The best part? You can write off the mileage on your taxes as well as enjoy other benefits.

So as the talented artist I know you are, I’m begging you to not get stressed if you haven’t yet reached your dream job just because life and work are getting in the way. Take it from me; if you’re willing to be patient and make sacrifices for just a little longer, I know one of these day jobs will be the bridge that connects where you are now with where you want to be tomorrow. Live smarter, create stronger, and try and have a little fun along the way.