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black and white photo of people seated cross-legged meditating | Side Hustle Ideas for Performing Artists | Dance Insight

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I probably don’t need to tell you that performing artists rarely make enough money to thrive, or even live comfortably. If you’re reading this post, I’m sure you’re all-too-familiar with the reality of being a “starving artist.”

In a perfect world, we wouldn’t need posts about “side hustles for dancers,” “side hustles for actors,” and so on, because performing artists would be making enough money just doing their thing. But sadly, that’s not the reality we live in. I want to help you thrive in the here and now, so until we achieve that “perfect world,” here are my tips and ideas for making money on the side as a performing artist.

Disclaimer: Though I’ve had my fair share of side hustles, I obviously haven’t tried everything on this list. The side hustle ideas below are a combination of things that I’ve done, things that my friends have recommended, and things that I’ve observed that a lot of performing artists do. This article is simply a list of recommendations for your further research. Everyone will have a different side hustle setup that works for them, so it’s up to you to decide which, if any, options are right for you.


What to Look For in a Side Hustle

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You’re rarely, if ever, going to have a consistent weekly schedule as a performing artist. Sometimes you’ll be in rehearsals at the crack of dawn, sometimes you’ll be doing shows until 10pm. The ideal side hustle for performers is one that offers flexible hours, or allows you to work on your own time.

Pay and Available Hours

If you’re going to spend your time and mental/physical energy on a side job, it has to be worth it. Don’t settle for less than your time is worth. The less you get paid per hour, the more hours you’ll have to work to make any substantial amount of money. The more hours you work, the more this job will take away from what you really want to be doing. So make sure you’re being adequately compensated.

Additionally, make sure there are enough available hours for the job to be worth your while. My highest paying job so far was teaching ballet for $60/hr. That’s an amazing rate for a dance teacher. The problem was that they only had one class for me per week. So while that was an extremely lucrative hour and a half, the job as a whole only brought in $90/wk. If I had taught at a studio that paid $30/hr but let me teach for 4 hours a week, that would have been a better choice at $120/wk.

See what I’m getting at here? Your hourly rate is very important, but you also have to look at how much work is available at that rate.

Doesn’t Hinder Your Performing Career

Side hustles can hinder your performing career in ways you might not even realize.

Is your “other job” preventing you from going to auditions?

Is your side hustle draining you so much – mentally or physically – that you’re not able to give your best performance?

Is it affecting your health? (i.e. Are you getting sick all the time because you work at a daycare?)

You might not always be able to tell at the beginning that a job is going to hinder your performing career, but if you notice it happening, it’s time to find a different job if you can.

Bonus if it Offers You Something Extra

Some companies will offer part-time employees health insurance if they work a certain number of hours a week. Probably the best-known one is Starbucks, which at the time of this writing offers health insurance to employees who work 20+ hours per week. It’s a very common side hustle for performers for that reason.

Keep the “extras” in mind when you’re choosing a supplemental job. It might be worth dealing with less-than-ideal pay/hours/etc if you get good enough perks. That’s a decision you’ll have to weigh for yourself if it comes up.

Remote Side Hustles for Performing Artists

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  • Remote Freelance Work (such as virtual coaching or graphic design)
  • Social Media Manager
  • Project Manager
  • Copywriting/Ghost Writing
  • Virtual Assistant
  • Selling Online
  • Voice Over Work

In-Person Side Hustles for Performing Artists

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  • In-Person Freelance Work (such as photography or mowing lawns)
  • House/Pet/Baby Sitting
  • Theater Box Office
  • Front Desk Receptionist
  • Food Service
  • Retail
  • Teaching/Substitute Teaching/Private Lessons
  • Choreography
  • Cleaning Service/Maid
  • Delivery (i.e. Door Dash, Instacart, Amazon Delivery)
  • Ride Service (i.e. Uber, Lyft)
  • Princess Parties (or superheroes, mermaids, whatever skill you have)

Specialized/Education-Required Side Hustles for Performing Artists

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  • Group Fitness/Pilates/Yoga Instructor, or Personal Trainer
  • Lifeguard
  • Web Design/IT/Cybersecurity
  • Insurance
  • DJ
  • Substitute Teacher (in the Public School System)
  • Other Performing Arts Genres

Side Hustle Ideas for Performing Artists to Avoid

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Avoid Side Hustles with Lots of Manual Labor

Performing is strenuous enough as it is. Don’t wear yourself out even more by taking on a job that requires a lot of manual labor. Because you know what will happen? You’ll say to yourself, “I’m going to take a dance class after work this evening,” and then you’ll get to the end of your shift and you’ll be too tired. And it’ll snowball from there. Save your energy for classes, rehearsals, and shows! Find a side hustle that won’t wear you out.

Avoid Side Hustles that Don’t Pay Well

If you’re going to dedicate hours of your time every week to a job, and that job’s sole purpose is to make you money, don’t settle for something that’s going to pay you pennies.

Avoid Side Hustles that are Bad for Your Mental Health

Been there, done that, 10/10 do NOT recommend.

The point of a side hustle is to make extra money on the side so you can live comfortably and focus on your real career. The moment a side job starts causing you undue stress, anxiety, depression, burnout, and so on, especially if it’s lingering with you outside of the workplace, get out.

Ask yourself, is the extra money worth all this [insert bad feeling here]? Maybe it is, maybe it’s not. But make sure to keep checking in with yourself. Don’t let your side hustle turn into something that’s doing more harm than good.

My Personal Side Hustles

Big caveat before we start here. While my side hustles work really well for me, they’re both specialized skills and aren’t something the average person can just pick up and do without years of training. Therefore, I can’t really recommend them as something that you try for yourself. I’m only including them in this post in case 1) you’re just curious, or 2) you happen to also possess these skills and want to try these side hustles out for yourself.

Web Design/Cybersecurity

I’m one of those rare “artsy people” who’s also tech-savvy. I double majored in dance and web design in college, and since graduation I’ve kept up my tech skills by taking online certification courses. Right now, I do freelance web design projects, and I have a remote part-time job as a cybersecurity analyst. The part-time job is choose-your-own-hours, so I don’t necessarily need to be available during business hours except for the occasional Zoom meeting. It works perfectly with my unpredictable performing schedule.

Etsy Shop Selling Digital Crochet Patterns

Crocheting is pretty trendy right now, and I know a lot of people who sell crocheted items online. I wanted to join that trend, but crocheted items take a long time to make. I simply didn’t have time to crochet enough projects to stock a shop, and it wouldn’t have been a big monetary return for the time spent. I eventually thought of a better idea, though.

I’m advanced enough at crochet that I can create my own original designs, so I thought, why not create an Etsy shop where I sell crochet patterns for other crafters to use? Selling digital products is far more profitable than selling physical products, because you only have to make the item once.

My Etsy shop is very much in the fledgling stages as of the writing of this post, but if you want to check it out, you can find me at Busy Butterfly Crochet!

In Summary

As you search for side hustle ideas, remember to weigh the benefits of the job against the sacrifices you’d have to make in your personal life and your performing career. Make the decisions that will best serve the pursuit of your big dreams. Don’t be afraid to keep searching if the side hustle you try doesn’t work out. Keep trying new things until you find the perfect setup for you.

Have more side hustle ideas you think should be included in the list? Let me know in the comments!

Post Author: nicole

Welcome to Dance Insight!

Thanks for stopping by Dance Insight! We’re a blog dedicated to helping emerging and aspiring dance professionals thrive in their artistic careers. My name is Nicole, and I’m so glad you’re here! Click the picture above to learn more about us. Happy dancing!

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Some of the links on this site are affiliate links, which means that if you click on the link and make a purchase, I may earn a commission at no extra cost to you.