As the holidays are upon us, it's not just the retailers who are working extra hard to separate us from our money. The "other half" of the art/entertainment industry is hard at work too; the half that thrives off of aspiring artists.
I'll speak from an actor's point of view since that's what I'm most familiar with. The first things that are pushed on an actor are acting/improv/on-camera/audition classes and headshots; all with the promise of launching your lucrative acting career. You can't be successful if you don't "invest" in yourself, they say.
Yes, it's true that you must invest in yourself, but you must also invest wisely. There are too many people out there that only care about separating you from your money for their own personal gain and don't care if you speak bad about them because thousands of new aspiring artists move to Los Angeles every day. Do some research and have discussions with people who have already been in the pursuit for a while. Pay attention to who's telling you that you need those high priced services. Is the photographer telling you that you need new headshots? Is the acting teacher telling you that you need private acting lessons?
Too many people are too willing to buy their success. I know people who are constantly in classes, constantly getting new headshots, and then complaining that their career is not going anywhere and that they are broke. The idea of an investment is that you plant the seed once and watch it grow. You can't keep planting new seeds all over the place and ignoring the ones you previously planted.
For example, when I was choosing acting classes, I had two requirements: the class had to have a set curriculum, and the class must END at some point. There are too many classes that just go on forever and you don't know if you're getting better or learning anything, but it sure does feel good to be in class and acting, even if you're paying to act instead of your original idea of getting paid to act. I've built a solid foundation from my acting class and I'm going to let that grow as I focus on other areas of my career, such as networking and marketing.
A recent string of successful DIY projects has made me think about how we spend money and how often times we're convinced to freely give our money to others when it's not really necessary. The key is research. With search engines like Google, you can simply type in your question and you'll be amazed at how many people have the same question and solutions.
Don't throw your dreams and money at a wall and see what sticks. That only works with spaghetti.
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