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The Work Behind the Werk: Part 1

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As much as I hate to admit it, acting does not pay the bills for 90% of actors; we must come up with creative ways of finding jobs that keep us alive while also giving us the flexibility to live out our dream. Many actors have taken up serving, but I want to continue to like people, and I imagine that would be hard to accomplish as a server. Because I used to teach full time, I decided to substitute teach for CPS. This has provided pretty good money, and when I have auditions, I simply cancel or don’t take a job for the day. Easy. I also do a lot of promotional work for various products, which last anywhere from 2 hours in Boystown to 8 hours at O’Hare and pay anywhere from $20 to $35 an hour.

The most difficult change for me from being a full time teacher to having several part-time jobs was keeping track of income. As a full-time teacher, I got the same paycheck twice a month, but now, I work for CPS as a sub and five different promotional companies, not to mention the checks I’m still waiting on from previous print jobs and short films I’ve done. CPS and one promotional company automatically deposit my earnings into my bank account, and I get checks via snail-mail from the other promo companies. When I get checks from my Chicago agent, I drive to the office to pick them up, and my Milwaukee agent mails me checks. (While I have the option of providing my Chicago agent with self-addressed stamped envelopes to mail me my checks, I choose to pick them up in person. This gives me a great reason to stick my head in and have a chat with my agent in person.) Some companies take 90 days to pay. Some need timesheets filled out online weekly, while others don’t need them at all.

This is a lot to keep track of. It took me way too long to realize I can’t keep everything straight in my head. I finally started an Excel spreadsheet. In the headings, I list the company names along with any pertinent information (lead contact, how to submit timesheets, etc.), and underneath, I input the date, location, and hours I work. When timesheets are submitted, I highlight the information yellow, and when I see the money in my account, I change the color from yellow to green.

This process has eliminated so much stress. I just wish I thought of it sooner!

If you work multiple jobs and haven’t started to keep track of where your money is, I strongly recommend you start today, and just in time for tax season, too. Getting it out of your head and onto your computer or notebook is a great way to ensure you get paid for your hard work. What a great practice until you land that series regular on your favorite TV show!

Your turn! How do you keep track of your work? Tweet me @TheEricFeltes, or Facebook me!