I've been working as a social media marketer for over a year now, and have been exclusively freelancing for about 8 months. It's a tough road, but it has allowed me the space and freedom that I have needed to get out and participate in the art that I want to be making. I've found, though, that working in a somewhat corporate world has actually prepared me more for working as an artist. Here are the top four cards that I have been dealt that are giving me the artistic upper hand.
I am more assertive and go-getting
I had to take on these two qualities to survive in my business- social media marketing may be a relatively new job field, but that doesn't mean that there aren't hundreds of people out there looking to profit off of using Facebook. The job market in both theatre and marketing is very competitive- but it is much easier to get the skills I need to fit a job description as a marketer than it is to fit the narrow definition of many of the roles available to me. Plus, my location is not a factor in the marketing world as I am working remotely and can be anywhere and still working. In the theatre, not so much. I have been able to expand my network globally, something I was not bold enough to do in the theatre world until I recently moved to Paris. If I want a marketing job now, I know that I can usually negotiate my way into getting it by promoting myself and my skills. This self confidence has bled over into my artistic life and I am much better at asking for, preparing for, and getting what I want.
I have the freedom to say no (and yes!)
It's true that when an actor is desperate for work, it seems harder to get it. I've experienced this in many forms, but when you aren't worried about getting a gig to make your rent, you're probably going to have a better audition experience! It comes from that freedom of being able to say no because you are in a stable position in your life- theatre typically lacks stability and that can be very hard on your well being. Having a schedule you create yourself and an income that is ongoing can be a huge relief of stress, plus, no (or very little) negotiation with your employers to get time off for that audition or to see that show. That way you can say YES to participating in your community exactly the way that YOU want to!
I am practiced at negotiating contracts
Remember how I mentioned that social media marketing was a relatively new field? Many of my positions have been first go-rounds for the company. I've negotiated a ton of contracts over the past year or two that started from nothing, and some I even wrote out myself! The contracts also have to be reviewed as the job changes and shifts. So now that I have that practice under my belt, I feel more adequately prepared to argue for my worth (though with most theatre situations, the contracts are non-negotiable, I will never again find myself roped into doing work I never agreed to do).
I can participate in teams and groups because I look out for myself
Before my freelancer life, I was go-go-going literally all the time. At least three times a week I would work 11-5 and then 6-10 in service related jobs (which are EXHAUSTING, by the way). Now because my work life is not insane, I am better able to be well rested and prepared to work collaboratively, which ultimately makes it a better experience for me AND my audience! Social media marketing is also all about collaboration and doing what the client wants, while still being the "expert" and bringing your own ideas. It makes coming into a group creation setting much easier, as I am comfortable with listening to others and knowing where my expertise is. The marketer-client relationship is also rather similar to the actor-director relationship. I bring ideas, experiment, make mistakes- it's the client or director who looks at the big picture and tells me what is working (ie: our conversions are up/that fits with the world of the play).
So there you have it! I have always found it true that everything you do affects the sort of artist you will be or the art that you will make. Not only has working in a more traditional environment benefited me financially, it has given me new ways to be creative and new ways to get to work.