TAKE THE JOBS THAT DON’T PAY: INTERNSHIPS
Everybody wants to make money, but when you are pursuing a profession in the creative arts that might not be possible in the beginning stages of your career or building your platform. It might seem counter intuitive to take an internship that doesn’t pay or a gig that doesn’t pay, but you got to see the bigger picture.
In the short term, you might have to work at Denny’s and get people their pancakes, why you sneak off to auditions for wannabe film directors after your shift ends. This is called multitasking. This called being able to see the big picture.
When you are in the wannabe phase of your career other wannabes are your best friends. A first time film director probably has no funds to pay their actors. Most people don’t refuse to pay you because they are being cheap. It’s because they literally don’t have the money. Do what you love and the money will follow, but don’t expect it to be there in 42 hours. A solid platform might take years to build.
You should see working for free as a good thing. If you are an aspiring model you will need a portfolio. Now you can either pay a professional photographer to take your photo, or you can work with amateur photographers and build a portfolio for free. The difference between armatures and professional, is usually not talent or skill. It’s recognition that separates the two. A house hold name doesn't mean more talent.
Armature photographers are looking to expand their portfolios as well. This means if you have a cool or unique look they are willing to shoot for free because you are willing to work for free. Photographers want to get paid for taking photos and models want to get paid for having their picture taken. In the end, until your fan base is big enough to demand money, I would just focus on shooting a great face and I’m getting professional photos done for free.
Likewise a lot of aspiring musician want to get paid to play live. They may be a brilliant performer, but it doesn’t matter if you don’t come with a fan base. The way you get a fan base is to play live shows. For now you shouldn’t worry about if a venue will pay you or not. You should focus on the fact that a venue is letting you come in their space and play. What if you had to rent the space to play? You are getting a great deal to be allowed to sing in the bar. The bar is taking a risk on you, even if they are not paying you because a bad set could lose hundreds of dollars.If you rock, you can haggle next time.
Think about the venue. They have customers who are coming in for a good time and live music. If your music sucks you are going to drive business away. If your music is good, they are going to relax, order a drink and text their friends to come down. Whether you know it or not, the venue you’re performing at for free has already invested a lot in you.
They intertwined their reputation with yours, if only for a night and because they are an already established business they are bringing potential fans to you. When you play at an open mic, people don’t come for you. They come for the venue, so respect the space you are in and all that the venue does for you, like allows you to build your venue for free. They are doing you a favor. It’ not the other way around, so be humble about your beginnings.
The same goes for writing. A lot of people say you can’t make money off writing. Perhaps, the traditional ways people used to make money no longer work, but writing is certainly a skill that will never die. Most of the content on the internet is writing. All great movies started with a great script writer.
However, starting your career off as a writer is hard work. There is more competition than ever. It’s hard to get noticed and big publishing houses are interested in publishing celebrities. It doesn’t matter that Paris Hilton wrote dribble and you wrote something as profound as Socrates, because they have never heard of you and they have heard of Paris. If you want to compete with Paris, you are going to have to work for free. This is called paying your dues. Paying your dues means you are willing to work the crap job for a year because you know a big promotion is in your future if you show your worth.
Now, in the modern era of writing, most publications are online. If you can’t get your foot in the door with a magazine that pays, it honestly has little to do with your writing style and more to do with your rookie status. I don’t care how many English classes you took in college. Until you can point to ten reputable publications you have been featured in you are a rookie.
Until you reach professional status, which might take years to do, take the free writing gigs and be glad someone is publishing you. What happens when someone publishes you for free is you pop up in the search engines and you start building your platform for free.
See even if you are working for free you are usually getting something out of it. You get to build your platform. You get to pop up in search engines. You get experience and knowledge of the business you are pursuing. Take the free jobs. If you turn them down because you are money hungry and you will miss out on a lot of opportunity and working with a lot of creative people.Honestly, if you focus on money you might end up in the wrong field. That happened to me for many years, and my life was miserable. I was always working on projects that killed my soul. I had no time for fun. I was stressed and the money wasn't worth it in hindsight.
When you work with people who share the same dream as you that should be payment enough. The Pursuit of Happiness was based on Chris Gardner rising to fortune taking an unpaid internship. Based on a true story.
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