“You don’t have to be the smartest. Don’t have to be the strongest. But you MUST have heart, and you gotta learn to hustle!” ~ Marshawn Evans
What is the #1 key to survival in the dance industry? What is the #1 key to survival in any industry, and in the current economy? This is the $1,000,000 question! And the answer is one that artists have known about and figured out a long time ago, because we had no choice. But this key to survival really applies to everyone, no matter what industry you work in. Because if there’s one thing this economy has taught us, it’s that, there’s no such thing as “job security”.
The #1 Key To Survival In The Dance Industry (And Any Industry) is:
Multiple Streams of Income.
One stream of income just isn’t good enough. If you’re wondering why, here are two reasons for you.
There is no such thing as job security. Shows close, dance studios close, non-profits lose their funding, there are always cutbacks, lay-offs, outsourcing, etc. going on at any given moment. So if your entire livelihood is dependent upon one source of income, you’re in serious trouble.
Things happen. Sometimes dance studios, dance companies, and non-profit organizations, have financial challenges that cause them to delay your payroll for a certain amount of time. If that’s your only source of income, how will you survive when these unexpected situations arise? You have to have another source of income to fall back on (and no, your savings account does not count as a source of income).
One stream of income is not good enough. I don’t care how good it is. It’s not permanent. Think of your income the same way you would think of investing. You don’t want to invest all of your money in one thing, because if the value of that one thing decreases significantly, then you’re in serious trouble. Never put all of your eggs in one basket, no matter how good the situation or job may be at the moment. There is one thing that is guaranteed, and that is change. Things change, times change, people change, organizations change, climates change, leadership changes. So you have to always be set up in such a way that you’re able to adapt to change in as smooth a transition as possible.
So the first step to surviving in the dance industry is:
Have different sources of income at all times, and always be open to adding side gigs, or one-time gigs to supplement your other steady forms of income.
Here Are 20 different Income Sources/Options For Dancers:
1. Dance Performing – This is by far one of the top choices for professional dancers, especially if you have the opportunity to perform on a consistent basis through a dance company, tour, Broadway, or Off-Broadway show.
2. Teaching Dance – Teaching Dance is a great way to earn a significant, steady income as a dancer. It’s one of the options that offer the most stability in our field.
3. Pilates/Yoga/Zumba Instructor – These are great because you have more options for who and where you teach. You’re not limited to only dance studios, you can teach at gyms, fitness centers, small groups, and private sessions.
4. Massage Therapy – This industry is huge, and I see more and more dancers getting involved with it everyday. That mind-body connection is something that we’re already in tune with, so it makes perfect sense for us.
5. Your own business. This is definitely one of my top 3 options (even though it’s #5 on this list). There is nothing like owning your own business. It’s about as secure as it gets when speaking of job security. If you have a great idea, and are willing to invest the time, energy, and hard work that it takes to bring it to life, go for it! Owning your own business has the potential to earn you more residual, and sizable income over time, than anything else on this list.
6. Coaching/Consulting – There are people all over the world who are willing to pay you to share your expertise in various areas, and help them to reach their personal or professional goals. You can charge by the hour, make your own schedule, and easily build a successful side hustle.
7. Competition Adjudicator – I honestly can’t even keep track of all of the dance competitions that are happening in the U.S., let alone, internationally. Although it takes a good amount of focus, patience, and perseverance, this is also a great way to make some extra cash.
8. Dance Company Manager – Are you good with marketing, administrative work, planning, preparation, delegating, grant writing, stage managing, etc? You may be a great asset to a local dance company, as their manager, or assistant manager.
9. PR/Marketing Consultant – Some of us dancers, have experience in marketing or pr as a result of a major or minor in college, or through work experience, outside of dance. Or, you may just have a knack for PR. Whatever the case, every company or organization needs great pr and marketing in order to be successful. If you have the skills and experience to make it happen, then take advantage of that, and build another career, alongside your dance career.
10. Modeling (Art and commercial print) – Since dancers tend to be in excellent shape, modeling can be a great option for you. You may not be tall enough to walk the runways during NY Fashion Week, but commercial print modeling, or modeling for art studios/art students, can be a great way to supplement your income.
11. Paid Focus Groups – These are great! And they are legit, believe me, I’ve done them before. You can actually get paid to give your feedback and opinions on different products and services. It’s some of the easiest money you’ll ever make, with the exception of #12…
12. Paid Audience Member – Okay, this is by far, the easiest money you’ll ever make! I’ve done it, and it’s great! Get paid to be in the audience for talk shows, or other tv shows, for a few hours. It won’t pay your rent, but, it can definitely buy your groceries for the week, by you some new dance shoes/clothes, or help to build up your savings account.
13. Live Hosting/Media Personality – The opportunities as a media personality are truly endless. You can host live events, dance or otherwise, you can host online tv shows, become a vlogger, be a radio personality, the list goes on and on. If you have the personality for it, and love being in front of the camera, this may be for you.
14. Writing/Editing – Dancers are smart people, and many of us write as well as we dance. Why not use your writing skills to bring in more income? You can write for dance-related publications, or for other industries, or write a book. You can also get paid very well for editing other people’s writing.
15. Commercials – All I have to say is residuals. Now that’s smart money! Do a commercial once, get paid over and over again for a year or two. You can’t beat that!
16. Acting – Whether you want to be a triple threat, do Musical Theater, or just do background work on tv shows and films, dancers can transition into acting very gracefully, given the proper training and practice. Hollywood, here you come!
17. Tutoring. Just because you chose to become a professional dancer, doesn’t mean that you weren’t a great student in school. There are always non-profits, and even parents in your local neighborhood, with kids who are in need of tutoring. Use your excellent writing, math, or science skills to help a young person become a better student, and add to your income along the way.
18. Dog-Walking. I will say that, this job is not as easy as it sounds, especially if you want to work for an actual company, and not just walk dogs on an independent basis. It requires knowledge about dog health and psychology, and can be very tiring. But hey, you’re a dancer, and you’re in great shape, so you should be able to handle it. If you’re looking for some extra cash to have at the end of every week/month, this is definitely something you should consider.
19. Social Media Management – Now that most everyone has jumped onto the social media bandwagon, and recognizes the actual, positive results it can bring to your business, organization, or personal brand, there is a huge opportunity. Many people and organizations don’t really know how to manage their social media presence successfully, and/or don’t have the time. That’s where you come in. Provide a freelance social media management service, and bring in some extra cash, using skills that you already use everyday.
20. Blogging – Who would’ve ever thought that you could actually make money blogging? But, you can. It won’t happen over night, but it is very possible.
These are just some of the many options for you to look into in order to build and maintain a stable, consistent income throughout your career. What other types of jobs have you tried? Please add your suggestions and comments to this post below.
Ashani Mfuko is a Social Media Strategist, Digital Marketing Specialist, Award-Winning Blogger, and Professional Dancer. Ashani works with small businesses, corporations, & non-profit organizations as a Social Media Strategist and Digital Marketing Specialist. She creates results-driven, innovative social media strategies that are proven to increase your revenue and catapult your brand to expert status in your niche! She has an extensive track record of creating and implementing successful social media strategies for her clients.
She is also the Host and Executive Producer of the “Inside New York City Dance” television show on MNN, and is a proud wife and new mom.
Ashani has been featured in Dance Magazine, as a “Media Maven”, as well as in Dance Mogul magazine, Inside Woman magazine, & Dance Studio Life magazine, in addition to various dance blogs online. She is the author and creator of the, “Finance Your Dance: How To Turn Your Passion Into Profit“ e-book and workshop, and her dance blog won the Reader’s Choice, “Top Dance Business Blog” of the year award, two years in a row. She is a leader in the field of social media and digital marketing, and is highly sought after as a dance performer and dance teacher in the New York City dance community. Ashani is on staff at the Joffrey Ballet School in New York City, and teaches Advanced Jazz classes for their Jazz & Contemporary program & Ballet program.