Not too long ago I wrote about needing a change. Desperately. My life has been quite simple up to this point (those who know me may disagree with that) but essentially it's been - pursue acting, make coffee in the meantime and stay focused.
This plan has made for a very predictable six years. Since graduating from my Acting degree in 2009 I've done just that; made coffee while pursuing acting and, let me jump in with the obvious; there's been significantly more coffee making than there has been acting jobs.
This does get me down sometimes. Of course it does. A few days ago a friend of mine had a game-changing audition and I felt the jealousy creep in. I want only good things for those I love, but it's much easier to wish them success if you're successful too. It's much easier to "like" a promotional poster on Facebook when you've got a poster of your own to push around.
I don't know what's happened this year to create my breaking point. But it happened. Stupid customers are inevitable, but shifts were becoming more and more frequent where I could not hide how stupid I thought people were. I couldn't pretend that I cared how often the coffee machine was cleaned. I couldn't pretend that I wanted to stock up the fridges or do a temperature check or ANY THING along those lines. It's upsetting and tedious and soul-destroying after a point. I am not someone who will ever intentionally be bad at their job. EVER. That's been the motto for everything I do (even hospitality): always do a good job. Always. You never know who you're serving, you never know where something is going to lead. So always put your best foot forward and give 100%. So, with that ethos, when you feel yourself incapable of giving that 100%, something HAS to change.
There are "bread and butter" jobs for actors that I've done and washed my hands of. School Touring being the most obvious example. Actors can make a lot of money going around schools and doing educational shows and, sometimes it's okay. You can get lucky with your touring buddies, a decent script and a decent company, but MOST of the time, it's a load of shit, hard work, underpaid and as soul destroying as six years behind a bar.
I vowed to never do a schools tour again.
After my Hospitality Breaking Point, I took the plunge. I auditioned for a Theatre in Education company (a five-week tour) and quit my hospitality job the very next day. In a blink, my entire life looked different. I was terrified.
I'd just given myself five weeks to decide what I would do with my life when this tour is over and how I could escape hospitality forever.
I'm 26 years old now. I have adult responsibilities like Council tax, rent and bills. Life is much easier when you don't have to worry about finances, but that is not the case for me. I do have to worry about my finances and make sure I have a certain amount coming in each month, which, up until now has largely been from coffee making.
But now, I'm going to get creative with my income.
Getting Creative With Your Income - Hannah's Financial Tree
I have a dream.
A dream where I make money doing things I enjoy.
My weeks of touring provided invaluable alone time to figure this out. Our final week was up in Stroud, surrounded by beautiful English countryside and I had plenty of time to think about creative income. The picture above I took sitting at a gorgeous English pub with my laptop, a glass of water and nothing but silence.
So, what do I want to do?
1) Actress, check
2) Blogger/Writer, check
3) Foodie (of the Vegan variety) check
4) Theatre Lover/Producer, check
And, as a skill - 5) Coffee Making, check
Surely there's a way to make this work? Could I be the freelancer I dream of?
Acting is the hardest one. As I mentioned above, there are 'bread and butter' jobs you can get, some enjoyable, some less-so, but it's preferable to be doing SOMETHING. A great job is role play, which is in no way reliable or full-time, but you can get days here and there that pay well and keep your toe in the Acting water. Besides school tours, independent theatre, role play and getting together with mates, there isn't much more I can do towards my acting other than be available for my agent and keep myself positive!
My blogging and writing is a long-term goal that I need to be more proactive towards. I blog regularly and love it, but I'm no closer to making this a financially viable career. To do so I need to commit to seeking advertisers and networking more and maybe finally learning how to use Twitter. Screw you Twitter.
Coffee Maker? Well, this one is surprisingly lucrative! I have gone to a few cafes to train staff, but never advertised or taken it to the next level. I recently posted an ad on Gumtree, nothing special, advertising my services in this area and have actually had a decent response! Hello Coffee-Trainer income. Check.
About a month ago I went to Oak Street Cafe (you may remember from the latest post!) and found my cafe kindred spirit. A gorgeous haven I had never stepped in before, but was there training staff and fell in love instantly. "Do you need staff?!?" I begged the owner. She didn't at the time, BUT, as fate would have it, only a week later one of their part-timers left and I was offered a job. Immediately it felt like things were falling perfectly into place. A reliable few days with this gorgeous vegan-friendly cafe and with the rest of the time I can pursue my other income branches?
Another game-changer happened back in June when the delightful Rosie and I did our Zoodle Bar food stall at the Leeds Vegan Festival.
Vegan Foodie income? CHECK!
We worked our bottoms off, made lots of yummy food and it paid off in spades! Not only did we have an amazing day, but actually made profit. BONUS.
It opened up an obvious possibility. Should I do a food stall more regularly? I know that I don't want to be a caterer, but this may be a perfect additional branch on my financial tree.
I love cooking and here is a way I can make some money doing what I love. Set up a food stall, have some business cards ready with my blog and contact details and see what comes of it.
A New Average Day
It's now been six weeks since I left my job. The same job I'd had since arriving in Manchester, only taking short bouts of time off to perform in plays.
And my life looks pretty different. I'm so, so much happier and, incredibly, my bank account has never looked healthier.
These days I have four days a week at the beautiful Craft Centre. Yes, it is still hospitality, but with some massive differences. Firstly, it's a lovely, creative atmosphere that inspires me. I feel inspired to write, to talk to customers again, to feel proud of where I am. It makes a difference selling vegan salads than it does selling Pulled Pork burgers, let me tell you!
Another difference is that I get to cook at the Craft Centre. A few shifts will be spent cooking away in the kitchen and that is beyond enjoyable.
I spend a few hours each day plugging away at my theatre company "Play With Fire", set up with my best friend only a few months ago. We have applied for Arts Council funding and, if that is successful, I'll have a month of creative income while producing our debut show. At the moment, I spend my time building up a social media presence, brainstorming networking events and production planning. Theatre lover income? Check!
There's my blog, of course, coffee training days, a food stall to work towards in October AND I even have two days of role play.
I love this life. All branches are enjoyable and every day is different. Every email I get to book in coffee training, every message with a new follower on twitter, every new salad recipe, every theatre company update or blog post idea .... it's all just utter bliss. I'm not rich and will likely not be for a very long time. But I'm happy.
Acting comes first and it always will. The day I get an amazing audition or opportunity, my priorities will undoubtedly shift. But for now, my priority is ENJOYING myself. So much of life is spent making money, so I refuse to not enjoy it a moment longer.
Today I have spent nearly completely on my Mac, I've booked in a training day, I've written out a budget, I've written this blog and, as a happy random surprise, been asked to understudy in a new play with some amazing people.
Every day is different.
AND I can pay my rent.
Not too shabby.
Love and Sweet Potatoes!
PS - A very happy image for you below. A GIANT banana smoothie and some website work on Play With Fire. Yes, happy with this life right now....
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