3 Essential Skills to Go from Starving Artist to Thriving Artist

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you already know that I’m not a fan of the title, “starving artist” . Sure, it’s funny to joke about moving to the city and being a starving artist when you’re in school. But after say, oh, a year or so of “starving,” it becomes not so fun.

It’s not necessary to starve in order to make art that you’re passionate about, that fuels your fire and makes you jump out of bed in the morning!

In my work with clients, I have found that there are 3 key skills to develop in order to dump the “starving artist” gig – for good. Read on to find out more...

Essential Skill #1: Reframe Your Mindset

Of course, it’s impossible to make any changes in your life if you’re not willing to really go there and believe that not only is it possible, but it’s inevitable!

Sometimes actors get into a rut of thinking detrimental thoughts like, “it’s nearly impossible to make a living as an actor,” and “it’s natural for artists to be poor.”

Not true! I have many friends and colleagues who earn a decent living, either solely through acting or through acting that is supplemented by a side business or job that they created themselves. The point here is to recognize that, yes, other artists just like you are able to earn a living doing what they love. And you can, too.

Here are some of my favorite mantras to help shift this mindset:

“People love to give me money,”

“I provide tremendous value in whatever I do,”

“I am a thriving artist!”

Essential Skill #2: Embrace Your J.O.B.

Marianne Williamson wrote a wonderful little book called The Law of Divine Compensation that looks at exactly what it means to work and earn a living. In it, she says:

One day, you might find yourself called to a task that makes no money at all. But if it contributes to your stature as a human being, to your character and integrity; if it teaches you about yourself and the world; if it provides you an opportunity to show up fully for life – then it was a prosperous activity. Another day, you might find yourself in a job you don’t really love, and yet if you’re honest with yourself you realize it’s teaching you discipline, or humility, or responsibility – necessary lessons in order to attract and manage money correctly.

I love that quote because it encompasses our work as actors. The work we do that isn’t necessarily paid very well (which might sometimes be our artistic work) and the work we do every day in our J.O.B. to keep the bills paid.

Whether you’re mopping floors, babysitting, or doing temp work to keep yourself alive and well, it’s important to honor and appreciate the work! Do your very best at it, every day, because it’s only through embracing and feeling grateful for where you are today that you can powerfully step forward into your next reality.

"yes, other artists just like you are able to earn a living doing what they love. And you can, too." Share on Twitter if you agree!

Essential Skill #3:  Educate Yourself about Money

Many artists hate this, but it’s so important! Track your income and expenses. Know where you’re spending money, and where you can save. This is a key skill especially if you are working as a freelancer or running your own business.

It’s true that as actors, we’ve chosen a path that is very different from most traditional careers. Ironically, because of this, it’s all the more important to understand how to save money and create our own security.

I have one actress friend who runs a side business. She’s been in business for about 3 years now, but for all 3 years, she’s been terrified of paperwork and taxes. Terrified! It took her 3 entire years to finally get up the courage to create a budgeting system, and you know what? As soon as she got that system in place, she was able to save more money and feel more confident about her financial situation!

Bonus Points: Start Your Own Side Biz (if You Haven’t Already)

As actors, we need flexible schedules, freedom to work whenever, and the ability to work remotely.

The easiest way I have found to accomplish this is to start your own side business. Here are some of my favorite examples of actors who started a side business that keeps them thriving:

Angela Matemotja started a business called Self-Producing Partner that shows actors a strategic way to create their own content to move their career forward.  

Moniqua Plante started a business called The Plante Life that’s all about health coaching.

Tony Howell created a business called Get Creative Social Media that designs brands and websites for actors.

Ajarae Coleman is the founder of The Workshop Guru a website that organizes and categorizes casting director workshops in New York and Los Angeles.

Allison Volk used her script writing skills to start a business called The Blog Babe, a company that creates ghost written blog posts and web content for businesses.

Actors all across the country are successfully doing this, and you can too! If you’d like a little help getting your business ideas formulated and off the ground, let’s talk. Click HERE to set up a time to speak with me directly.

Wherever you are on your journey is just right. Keep moving forward, because the world needs your unique skills and talents! If you enjoyed this post, please leave a comment in the area below.

Courtney Rioux, The Whole Artist coaches actors and other creative talent who feel stuck in their career and want more out of life. She's here to help you shift your mindset from stuck and unhappy to empowered and joyful — all while making it feel fun and easy. It’s like therapy without the therapy. Check out My BIG Year!