Backstage Chat #1 – Diversify Your Income

Stage Hands Chat #1

Stage Hands Chat #1Hopefully this will be a series of short snippets of chats that I’ve had backstage with other stage hands and people in the live entertainment industry. These are real topics with real people.

Seldom is there much time to chat for more than a few minutes during calls. It happens mostly during breaks or when 10 of us are tying up a drop, hanging lights, or pushing boxes. Mostly, the talk is about family or work calls that we just came off of or work calls that we’ve got coming up. Occasionally, we’re able to get deep into conversation about long-term projects or topics besides the day-to-day grind. The other day just happened to be one of those days…

A while ago, I was loading trucks. Where we work, loaders are 4 to a team. There’s generally more than 1 team and sometimes even 5 or more. There isn’t always enough room on the dock to get 5 trucks in so we end up alternating unloading or loading trucks so no one team is getting slammed with all of the loading. This gives us a few minutes to get a drink of water and chew the fat.

It was during one of these breaks between trucks that one of my loader buddies and I got to chatting about what we were up to besides well…loading trucks. I mentioned that I did some writing on a blog I just started and did some freelance business development and marketing.

“You should like my page”, he said, and proceeded to pull out his cell phone He then showed my his new Instagram page where he had just started showcasing his own side hustle – graphic design. It was pretty good and after sharing some Photoshop techniques and talking some basics of business startups, we agreed to get back together again outside of work to talk some real business.

Now I bring this story up because in our industry – heck in any industry – it’s important to diversify your income. If you were to go to a financial planner, they might tell you that you would want to diversify your investments across different sectors say between real estate and tech stocks or Chinese holdings and US holdings. You diversify so that if one investment tanks, the other one might hold or increase in value, offsetting the loses of the other investment. You stand a good chance of losing your job, getting fired, downsized, or getting hurt and being unable to work about 10 times over the course of your working years. Shouldn’t you diversify that income source as well?

First of all, most people don’t diversify because they don’t know how to or they are used to the model of trading time for money and they just can’t see any extra time in the day. If you don’t know how, you need to find a mentor or someone who IS doing what you’d like to be doing on the side. Robert Kiyosaki is an author out there who turned out to be my own first virtual mentor by proxy through reading his books. If you haven’t read any of Robert Kiyosaki’s books, check out Rich Dad Poor Dad  or Cash Flow Quadrant.

If you think you don’t have the time, you need to do a time audit because there are 168 hours in the week and chances are there are things you’re doing with your time that don’t yield you squat. Idle TV or Facebooking is top on the list. Either way, you should read my blog on “You Can’t Handle the Truth” to give yourself a good butt-kicking. I read it myself every day as a motivator.

A Few Ways to Diversify Your Income

Start a Business

I know this sounds a little WHOA for some of you but it’s not as difficult as it seems. In fact you might even be engaging in a side business or hustle now. What type of business you start is entirely up to you but I would highly recommend you spend some time thinking about WHY you’re doing this and WHAT you hope to achieve. Starting a business is simple but it requires a bit more intentional planning than simply starting a blog or picking up some hours at 7-Eleven.

Part Time Work

Loads of options out there but flexibility is probably one of the biggest factors to consider when looking at another gig. If you generally make more money at your primary gig, you’ll want to work your p/t work around that. I met a couple of guys who were earning extra money by picking up misplaced dockless scooters around town and returning them to collection points during lunch breaks or between calls. Here’s an article that describes one such company’s program.

Online Business

In this day and age, doing ANYTHING online is wicked easy. Websites are pretty cookie-cutter and user-friendly so non-programmers can easily set up a and a basic website for less than a few hours and little more than $15. You can sell anything under the sun online. Marketing is the real key and again, since this will be akin to starting your own business, you’ll need to invest time before reaping the rewards.

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate Marketing is very simply you advertising someone else’s product or service and getting a piece of the marketing money that is available. Consider yourself a paid referrer. We already refer people every day to stuff so you mine as well make some money doing it. Amazon Affiliates has a slick and easy to integrate program if you want to put links to relevant material from Amazon. Many of my own links in my blog take advantage of this program but there a lot of different programs out there that offer you access to their product line that you can add to your own website.

Multilevel marketing

Actually MLMs are great examples of the direct selling and affiliate marketing programs. There are definitely some duds out there, which is why they sometimes get a bad rap, but the good ones take your hand from ground zero and coach you through the process. They’re generally self-contained and have everything you need already built and running – you just need to take care of the marketing. I’m always happy to talk MLMs so give me a holler.


Take a look at the stock market. I’m not suggesting that you just throw money into the market, but know that there are opportunities to at least keep up with the cost of inflation. Heck, I’m an idiot and I at least am doing better than a 0.5% return on my savings account. Talk to your financial planner or someone you know and trust with investments to refer you to their financial planner. I have some friends in my network who deal with this stuff if you need a name.

Working backstage is hard work. It can pay well, but it’s also dangerous work. People get hurt and have a lifespan they can work in this business. Right after 9/11, anywhere lots of people would congregate for concerts, theatrical productions, trade shows were avoided like the plague. Convention activity was down 25% and places like New York City essentially became a desert for stagehand work. I was in Denver at the time and witnessed the flux of thousands of stagehands who migrated West to pick up work. If you don’t diversify your income sources, instances like this become catastrophic. Don’t be a victim.

Hope this helps.

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