How to make money on the side

How to make money on the side

By Rachel Segal Hamilton IdeasTap 20/03/12

At the most creative end of the spectrum, arts jobs are notoriously irregular. Whether you’re an actor, painter or dancer it’s good to have a side job up your sleeve – something flexible and decently paid that you can fit around your main career to earn some extra dosh. Here are a few options to consider…

Share your talent with others

Your brain is a goldmine, full of useful knowledge and skills that people would pay good money to acquire. Depending on your subject and location, you could earn from £20 to £40 an hour as a private tutor for secondary school or university students. Generally you need to have an undergraduate degree in a related academic subject – but there are some exceptions. “I put my foreignness to good use and teach Italian pronunciation to opera students,” says actress Alma Fournier Carballo.

For a less formal alternative to tutoring, organise workshops or taster sessions in dance, circus skills or whatever your specialism might be. Run these at events, corporate team building days or through Kicktable, an online platform where members host experiences and others pay to join them. “The organisers decide everything – the dates, the price and the number of people,” says founder George Henry de Frahan. An experience could be presentation training or it could be a pizza-making lesson. Many are arts related. “We had someone bringing people inside an artist’s studio to understand the creative process of an artist,” says George.

 

Get down with the kids

You’ll need enough energy to power a small country, but working as a children’s entertainer can be enormous fun. “It's usually weekend work or after-school hours,” says actress Lianne Robertson, who also works part-time at Surviving Actors, supporting actors to find work in between acting jobs. Debra J Carter charges from £25 an hour as a face painter at children’s parties. “I’ve got a website and advertise on Gumtree but a lot of it has been through people I know hearing that somebody needs a face painter and giving my number,” she says.

 

Set the world to write

If you’re a secret grammar fascist then proofreading could be the perfect side job for you. Some proofreaders register with an agency to find work proofing anything from blog posts to university dissertations. Elizabeth Gregory prefers to approach clients directly. “It’s the kind of thing that you can sit and do at home if you find somewhere quiet with a cup of tea,” she says. “To read something, you don’t need to do it between 9 and 5 – as long as you meet the client’s deadline, it’s really flexible.” The Society for Editors and Proofreaders suggests a minimum hourly rate of £20.75 for freelance proofreading.

 

Use your hands

Have a think about things you could make or mend for a fee. IdeasMag journalist Nell Frizzell moonlights as a knitter of hats, snoods and scarfs, selling her woollen creations through a Facebook page, while actress Pip Henderson does fitting and stitching for theatrical costume. When Vanessa Hodgkinson was looking for something to do on the side of her work as a fine artist, she decided to train as a tiler. “I’ve worked in a few shops and things but I wanted to do something flexible, something that was manual labour instead of standing around,” she says. As a tiler you earn around £140 a day and are free to set your own hours. “You can just turn jobs down and then when you want to, you can take them,” says Vanessa. Tiling has also helped her practice as an artist. “It gives you a good sense of spatial awareness – it’s made me think about installation of my work in a more practical sense.”

 

Useful resources 

Carfax Tutors, Bonas Macfarlane, Blue Tutors

Home tutoring agencies, as recommended by theatre director Chelsea Walker.

Kicktable

Website where members host experiences and others pay to join them. 

Arty Party

Arty Party runs arts and crafts workshops for kids. 

Bish Bash Birthdays

Children’s party entertainment company based in London.

The Society for Editors and Proofreaders

Professional body for the editing and proofreading industry.

Specialist Trade Courses

Apply for courses in tiling, plastering or painting and decorating.

 

Image: Face Painting by m-oo on a CC BY-ND 2.0 license. 

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