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  • Writer's pictureErika Nichols-Frazer

Get That Side Hustle

We live in a gig economy, where many are forced to piece together a living with multiple jobs, often low-paying. I have friends who juggle two or three (or even more!) jobs to support their families. In particular, artists often have to support themselves with several different jobs, from commissions to driving Uber or tending bar. Why is it so hard to make a living as an artist these days? Our society doesn't value the hard work artists put in or the nature of juggling side gigs to make it all work. Creating art in of itself is work, but why doesn't it (too often) not pay? I know writers who teach, write or edit articles, edit manuscripts, nanny, serve tables, write grants, in addition to being barely paid for their art, which might take up most of their time. Once upon a time, it was possible for working artists to support themselves with their art alone. Now, it might take half an hour to respond to the question "What do you do?"

For years I've had a paying job in addition to my writing, which I've often referred to as "my unpaid job." That's finally starting to change as I try to focus more on my writing and am starting to actually (occasionally) get paid for my work! Of course, $100-200 here and there for a story or essay isn't paying the bills, but it's something. Just getting paid anything to create art feels like a victory in this age. When I tell people I work part-time at a non-profit, I feel the need to add "But I work full-time as a writer! I just don't always get paid for it."

Since graduating with my MFA in January, I've been writing more than ever, taking on editing jobs and teaching gigs here and there, trying to make it all work. People have asked me if I've thought about getting a full-time job again, and I respond that I want to keep my writing time, but this may not work forever if I don't start getting fairly compensated for my work. I'd love to be writing full-time, but it's scary not to have the safety net of a regular paycheck. As one of my friends said, "You gotta get that side hustle, girl."

How do you make it all work?

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