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As an entertainer, your primary income is derived from your creative product of bookings shows. Your creative product is dependent on you being physically present to create the product. That means, if unforeseen circumstances prevent you from performing or you fall ill, get injured, hospitalized or just want to take a vacation to recharge, your active income as an entertainer will stop. Developing other income streams will help tide you over without having to dip into your savings.
In addition, as professional commercial entertainer, you want to build wealth during your prime and generate as much income as possible. While some can make millions in a short span of time with their primary income, the reality is, most will have to work hard and smart to achieve financial independence over a longer period of time.
I know how hard I have to work to maintain a 6-figure income consistently for the past decade. Besides continually reinvesting in the show, a lot of focus, time and money is put into developing income-generating assets that provide cashflow so I don’t have to perform shows every week of the year and still live the lifestyle I want while building a nest egg.
This is essentially the concept behind the “Income Triangle” that I discuss here. While I originally developed this for creatives such as creative entrepreneurs and entertainers, this concept really applies to anyone; business owners, employers and employees.
In this post, I am focusing on just one side of the Income Triangle – additional streams of income. One point that I think is very important is that whatever income stream you develop, it should complement your active income. It should not distract or affect the quality or continued innovation of your primary creative product. The additional streams of income should also complement your market.
For example, if you are a musician who works showrooms and cruise liners, I don’t think baking cakes to sell is necessarily a good stream of income to develop. However, if you are a kids entertainer who specializes in children’s birthday parties, a side business of selling cakes is a great idea as it can complement your primary income as a kids entertainer and shares the same market. This allows each income stream to contribute to building your overall brand.
Some entertainers recommend that you find sales commission-driven jobs such as being a property agent, sales person or sign up for multi-level marketing programs. While they can provide an alternative income stream, my personal opinion is that these can distract you from your art and focus.
In creative fields especially, there is a need to be immersed in your craft if you want to reach a high level of proficiency, expertise and creativity. Your mind and energy have to be focused on your art or industry, even if it might be on different aspects of your field.
Another reason why I am a proponent of developing an additional stream of income based on your primary field or market is that the time, effort and money you spend on this income stream will have a direct positive impact on you as an entertainer.
Besides profiting in monetary terms, i.e. making money, you will also benefit by:
- Contributing to Your Brand
- Building Credibility as an Authority in Your Creative Field
- Building a Database of Potential Customers
- Expanding Your Knowledge
- Connecting with Other Like-minded Creative Entrepreneurs
The fringe benefits alone will make your efforts worthwhile even if you do not make much money initially.
Extra Income Ideas for Entertainers
Here are a couple of extra income ideas for entertainers:
Back of Room Sales
The most common way entertainers create an additional stream of income is to sell video or audio content of their performances. This allows the audience to buy a souvenir of their performance or watch/ listen to their art at home.
Besides video/ audio content, you can produce branded merchandise such as caps, T-shirts, mugs, key chains, fridge magnets, postcards and notepads to name a few. Depending on your art, many performers sell starter kits for kids or laymen to learn from. For example, jugglers sell simple bean bags, magicians sell magic tricks or sets and musicians may sell a unique mini instrument that they showcased in the show.
I know that some performers do very well with back of room sales, but my efforts in this area have not been rewarding. It could possibly be due to the culture in the markets that I perform in that do not support good back of room sales for magic shows or maybe I am just doing it wrong.
This is a very popular income stream that a lot of entertainers across fields do in their non-performing time. I know many musicians, dancers and actors who work as teachers in schools in a part-time position.
You can also offer private one-on-one lessons or conduct classes in community centers, colleges and social clubs.
Write a Book
If you have any original content that has value or have developed innovations and new thoughts on various aspects in your field, you can consider writing and publishing a book.
If you do not think you have any original inventions or creations to share, don’t worry. Original content need not just be in the form of inventions or creations.
Here are some ideas of topics that you can write on:
- Experiences as an entertainer in your field in general
- Experiences as an entertainer in your field specific to your geographical region, gender, age group, race or demographic
- Technical information or processes on specific aspects of your field
- How-to knowledge on any aspect of your field or own show
- Business, marketing, PR and sales strategies or tactics for your show
- Insights on using new technology to sell, market or share your show or act
- Profiles of successful people in your field
- Interviews with successful people in your field
In most cases, your target customer will be people in your industry or people interested in your creative field.
This is one of my personal sources of additional income through my own website at www.illusionbookstore.com as well as the Amazon platform.
Sell Products to Fellow Entertainers
If you have any original inventions such as equipment or instruction books and videos, you can sell it to fellow entertainers. There is a whole cottage industry within the entertainment community where performing artists buy and sell products to each other. This is the case for magicians, musicians, jugglers, comedians and just about any variety entertainer.
Even if you do not create your own products, you can source and sell other products to fellow entertainers. If you take the time to source for quality products that are relevant to your field, you can create value to the marketplace and earn extra income.
If you have original products that you have created but do not actually manufacture them, you can license your products to manufacturers to produce and sell for a fee. I do this for a number of illusions that I designed.
If you have an idea or an invention, you might see if it has value for a greater market within the performing arts, entertainment or theatre industry. It could be a physical product, service or an information product. It could be a piece of software or app that can be used in show production, planning, booking or marketing.
I invented a professional manual Kabuki Drop system that is low-cost and lightweight (compared to standard electronic systems) and it has found a niche market in small theatres, churches and performers around the world. This can be seen in www.MagicKabukiDrop.com
Create a Content Website
In its most basic form, this is called blogging. But most content websites and even blogs now are not limited to just writing. Most use written text with images, video and audio content or a combination of different media to communicate their content. Some focus on having just a video platform such as a YouTube channel.
A combination of all three media is ideal but naturally requires much more time, equipment and skills to put together. My suggestion is to start with just one medium first and then expand out to other media as you get more comfortable producing regular content.
The basic idea of a content website is to create a niche authority resource on a specific subject matter or for a specific audience. It can be from any perspective you want but I personally feel that the subject matter must be relevant to you professionally and relevant to the market.
The main purpose of such sites are to provide real value for its readers and build a brand or credibility within a niche. Monetization can come in different forms such as advertising, direct links to products or affiliate marketing.
A content site take a long time to monetize as it takes time to build an audience as well as to create good content consistently. However, over time (at least a year or two), it can be the backbone of potential revenue generating assets.
Just like your show, each idea will take time, money and effort to develop. However, the mindset should be developing a viable long-term income generating stream and not a one-off quick-money endeavor. Unfortunately, there are no short cuts and returns may initially seem minuscule when compared to your show fee.
However, over time, if you put in the time and work, the income will generate into a significant recurring amount that makes it worth the while. More importantly, it provides cashflow that allows you to reinvest in your financial future, whether it is back into more income generating assets or into investments that provide both some cashflow as well as possible capital gain in future.
When is the best time to plant a tree?
20 years ago.
All the best in developing your additional income streams!
Subscribe to Backstage Business Academy to get bonus content such as the “Cashflow Hobby Blueprint” and “The Essential Search Engine Checklist” as well as bonus videos like “How I Booked My First 10 Gigs” and “How I Booked My First $1000 Gig”.
If you are interested in earning extra income as an entertainer, I discuss how to build your career including generating multiple streams of income as well as my “income triangle” concept in my book “The Showbiz Master Plan: A Blueprint for Building a Successful Live Entertainment Career”.