What does it take to make it as a freelance performer? Besides being able to sing, dance and act, today’s artists also have to have to be their own boss—the CEO of their personal brand. You can practice songs and rehearse your choreography until you are a showstopper, but if you don’t have the management skills to get yourself off the ground, your talents won’t make it past your living room audience.
Here’s what you need to know to become the best business owner of YOU.
Once you become a professional dancer, there’s no one waking you up in the morning for rehearsal, and no one shuttling you to dance class on time. When you become a freelance performer, you set your schedule; that means managing call-times, deadlines, appointments, bookings, and rehearsals. Beyond that, you must remain accountable to your schedule and build up a reputation for always being on time.
Go Above and Beyond:
The entertainment industry is competitive, which means setting yourself apart from the crowd is crucial. As your own boss, you need to monitor your work ethic and personal goals. Make sure you’re always delivering your best performance. When possible, find ways to exceed expectations. These sort of encounters are what casting directors and co-workers remember.
Jobs come and go quickly. Castings often arise and disappear within the day. It’s important to be diligent about checking call boards for auditions and workshops daily. If you don’t have an agent, this task is all the more important. Be ruthless about finding the next opportunity to audition, network, or learn a new skill. Don’t forget to network in unexpected places, like at your side-hustle job.
If you’ve ever been to an open-call, you know how many faces go in front of a casting director in one day. Even if you nail the audition, it’s unlikely that casting will know your face, name, and availability. Be persistent about emailing casting directors and keeping them abreast of what you’re doing and when you’re available to work for them. When I was offered a contract to perform with Princess Cruises it had been almost a full year since my audition. After that audition I kept emailing, letting casting know that I was eager and ready to work. Check out some cruise ship auditions I’ve rounded up for you and get dates on your calendar!
Keep yourself current:
In today’s digital world, it is essential you have an online presence that is clean and well presented. Make sure you have a functional website with your best (and most current) composite photographs. For an added bonus, develop a professional social media presence. Clean up your Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn to reflect your work as a professional. Make your social activity squeaky clean and a proper reflection of your values and work ethic.
Diversify your Network:
The age-old adage is true—It’s who you know, not what you know. Networking in the entertainment industry is a must. This means attending meet-ups and being active in online performing arts groups. Keep in touch with another freelance performer to keep yourself in check and on task. The entertainment world is small—be the person everyone wants to work with again.
Being a freelancer, much less a freelancer performer, is not easy. It takes work and a lot of self-discipline. But the reward when you book a gig or watch your career take off is incomparable. What tips do you have for freelancers?
*this blog was originally written for “My Dance Dreams,” in partnership with Gerber Tours