23 January 2008, 15:21
“Suggestions for job hunting, or really any way to make money that isn’t completely depressing to the creative heart would be so great!”
While, ultimately, I think most of us are searching for the work that truly fulfils us, sometimes it can take a while for that to become apparent, or for us to be able to start acting on our dreams. At this point, of course, we still need cash to survive — so here are some ways to spin gold.
While selling on Ebay for the rest of your life would probably be a very trying exercise, there is no doubt that it is still an excellent way to make cash. You can use it to get good money for the things you don’t want anymore — clothes, appliances, books & weird trinkets — & then use that money to kick you off in any direction you want. You can also make your own stuff or become a hardcore second-hand shopper & then do bulk Ebay listings. Lots of people do this & seem to make a pretty good living from it. I know, for example, that Audrey, our men’s style writer, supported himself for several months while he was in the USA by buying t-shirts in second-hand stores & flogging them on Ebay. If he can do it, you can too!
I know that sounds a bit obvious, but there are a lot of retail jobs that don’t suck. Yes, you have to deal with customers, but you will probably get fantastic deals on whatever you’re selling, & you might even end up in a shop full of fun people! When I worked at Lush, we got a fabulous discount (I hear it is not quite so fabulous any more, unfortunately), were allowed to take home all the old stock, & sang & danced around the store all day to the sounds of Grease (or whatever else we were loving at that moment). Working in an upbeat vintage clothing store, frantic ice-cream parlour or sprawling bookshop can be really lovely if you give it a chance.
Offer to help someone
I remember hearing some insane statistic, something like 80% of all available jobs ARE NOT advertised in the newspaper. I was filled with glee when I heard it, because to me it meant that I could do practically anything I wanted if I approached the right people. The thing is, there are people all over the place who could use a little bit of extra help. Your bed-ridden neighbour might want someone to mow their lawn, your mother might need help with her accounting, your friend might need a college tutor or perhaps the billionaire across the street could use a personal assistant. People who need help are often too busy to think about asking for it or placing an ad to find it, so do the leg-work for them — ask if they need some assistance! Likewise, drop your C.V. in anywhere you like the look of — with a big smile & lots of enthusiasm — regardless of whether they’re hiring or not. That’s how I got my job at Lush!
Think outside the box
Trading hours for cash is the usual way of making money, but it’s not the only way. Get a stall at a market, start making & selling cupcakes, play music in the street, get a job at your favourite cafe, design flyers for bands, put on shows, become an artist’s model, try working in a library, make jewellery & sell it on Etsy, pick fruit, design websites, screenprint t-shirts, teach art classes, work as a nanny, apply for a grant, play the piano in a hotel bar, write horoscopes, become a telephone psychic, grow your own vegetables & sell them, shine shoes, do street portraits, clean houses, garden, teach yoga classes, design postcards & note paper, make journals, hold workshops…
Generally, the best thing to do is think about what you’re good at & what you enjoy, then head in that direction. As crazy as it sounds, one of my best jobs was working in a huge awful corporate — but it had a lax dress code, I was allowed to wear headphones, the internet connection was super-quick, it paid well, I did data entry which was mindless enough that I could think about my own stuff all day, & I worked with entertaining people. I also had a lot of fun working as a book-buyer for a bookshop, as well as working at Lush Cosmetics (where they promoted me to manager in about two months!).
One thing worth considering is whether you really need to be working 40 hours a week in some crazy job. If you’re in the process of starting your own small business or working on your art, you really only need enough cash to pay your rent & bills & buy food — which is something you probably don’t need to work 40 hours to afford. Think about your expenses, do a budget: how much money do you spend on rubbish? It’s easy to cut that back. Start making your own lunches, hold pot luck dinners instead of going to restaurants, sneak in to the movies, make coffee at home & take it to work in a Thermos, cancel your gym membership & buy some free weights… If you can pare back your spending, you won’t need to work in a generic “job” as much — & you can spend your free time bettering your present & constructing your future.
Lots of people have worked ridiculous jobs before they got their big break or started doing what they really loved. Steve Buscemi used to drive an ice-cream truck! John Candy sold paper napkins… door-to-door! Jerry Seinfeld sold lightbulbs over the telephone, Dan Aykroyd sorted mail & Jennifer Aniston was a telemarketer! People do all kinds of crazy things to make ends meet before their real careers take off — even Madonna used to work at Dunkin Donuts & do nude modelling for extra cash.
The most important thing to remember is that what you do to pay the bills doesn’t define you. It’s okay. It’s just a means to an end. What makes people desperate is when they feel that their title as “Junior Hamburger Griller” is who they are — & that they will never do or be anything else. See the light at the end of the tunnel. You can, truly, do anything you like with your life. The only person limiting you is you.
That’s the major problem with working in a bookshop or doing data entry or peddling soap. After a while, you are bound to feel some kind of dissatisfaction. You will yearn for more, even if you’re thinking ‘more of what?’. I think that eventually we all want to contribute to society in some way — to feel that we are helping, making a difference, constructing something of value to other people. Doing something you love, or owning your own business, can really help to fill that gap.
Even once you find what you love to do, you will find that your work will change & evolve as time progresses. Life is always in a state of flux, & the best thing we can do is hold on tight & enjoy the journey!
Extra For Experts:
My articles I Don’t Know What To Do With My Life!, How To Make Your CV Impressive & How To Be A Writer might be of use!
These books — The Lost Soul Companion: A Book of Comfort & Constructive Advice For Black Sheep, Square Pegs, Struggling Artists, & Other Free Spirits & The Not-So-Lost Soul Companion by Susan M. Brackney are both worth a read.
Orbiting The Giant Hairball: A Corporate Fool’s Guide To Surviving With Grace by Gordon MacKenzie is the perfect book to help you survive cubicle life!