Episode 28: Gig Insecurity with COVID-19

by Liz

A blog post of resources and suggestions to help storytellers who work gigs in all arts and entertainment industries during a time of cancellations, uncertainties and restrictions to accompany “In the Telling’s” podcast episode of personal discussion and adaptation.

With Governer Herbert’s restrictions regarding crowds over the size of 100, many arts and entertainment organizations in the state are making a variety of adjustments, announcements and cancellations.
Anthony Buck joined “In theTelling” as a guest co-host for a discussion on how social distancing and Coronavirus is impacting work, gigs, side hustles and hobbies in Utah arts.

“We don’t want to spread alarm any more than we want to spread the virus, and even though we both have a sense of stress, we remain optimistic.”

― Liz Christensen

Lessening the stress of uncertainty 

We share what we personally are doing and not doing as a result of COVID-19 and talk philosophically and practically about financial, emotional, mental, physical and career implications and adaptations. We don’t want to spread alarm any more than we want to spread the virus, and even though we both have a sense of stress, we remain optimistic.

I hope you’ll listen to this discussion between two good friends who are both deeply involved in the local performing arts industries and feel a little of the social distance between us and the stress of uncertainty lessen. Below the episode are tons of links and resources including and additional to those mentioned in the discussion. Bonus content from the conversation with Anthony is available on the “In the Telling” YouTube channel and embedded in the blog below.

Understand your Money

The best day to plant a tree was yesterday, the second best day is today. Or something like that. If you don’t understand your taxes or have a handle on your gig-based income and finances, now is the time. Don’t be at the mercy of your financial ignorance simply because you consider yourself a creative, artistic or right-brained. “You need to understand your personal burn rate, which is about cash flow management,” Diane Mulcahy, author of The Gig Economy: The Complete Guide to Getting Better Work, Taking More Time Off, and Financing the Life you Want says. “I tell students, ‘Imagine you had no revenue whatsoever. What would your expenses look like in that month?’ Then prepare by saving and considering expenses.”

Unemployment Benefits

Are you eligible for unemployment?  If you only worked 1099 Independent Contractor gigs, likely not.  If you did a combination of 1099 and W2 work, you likely are eligible. The more W2 work, the better your returns.  When you file for unemployment, you’ll need every W2 gig you’ve done in probably the last 18 months. Get your paperwork together.  They’ll also want to know the reason the W2 job ended, and an employer or company contact person. Get out an excel spreadsheet and be ready.

Things you can do with your social-distancing/quarantine time that can help your career in the long-term:

  • Continue your education
    • “I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it.”  Vincent Van Gogh
  • Keep working, keep creating
    • “Don’t be ‘a writer.’ Be writing.” William Faulkner
  • Work on that backburner project you’ve been ignoring
  • Social media promotion, branding and networking
  • Read, anything. Reading isn’t ever wasted unless you are reading aimlessly.
  • Understand the difference between solitude (a constructive solitary state) and loneliness
  • Clean up your work space, your digital files
  • Touch up that portfolio, website, create some demos
  • Workshop, practice, train, edit
  • Think about how you can maintain a diversified portfolio of work that gives you income security
  • Make time for that hobbie or creative passion that isn’t your work
  • Consider what you will need to do if venture fundraising and similar types of donations, investments in the arts and entertainment industries are difficult to come by in months ahead.  Many traditional financial options will be made unavailable for a time by risk adverse companies and individuals.
  • Reframe this as time to create future opportunity

Things you can do to benefit your immediate financial situation:

  • Tighten your budget
  • Call your credit card companies to see if they can lower your interest rate
  • If you are making student loan payments, call the company to find out how deferrals would work if you can’t make payments
  • Reach out to your union, if you are a member of one
  • Amp up your teaching.  Remote teaching, daily warmup class streaming, hold virtual mock auditions with feedback.  People are gonna get bored, stir crazy and want to learn.
  • If this is going to be the final straw, consult with a bankruptcy lawyer.  They may be able to help intercede from your being evicted and help you understand your financial situation
  • Look for trade of goods or services
  • Pick up temporary work
    • Delivery work, like doordash, gets quickly overwhelmed in quarantined areas
    • Take online surveys
    • Census
    • Sell stuff
      •  sell your finished items on sites like Etsy, Zazzle or CafePress
      • Other ways you can turn your passion into money is by selling or licensing photography through Shutterstock or listening to new music on Slicethepie.
    • Sell your time
      • Look into an online transcription service like Rev
      • Teach English online, if you have a Bachlor’s degree through a company like VIPkid
      • Become a virtual assistant Red Butler, oDesk, LinkedIn and Zirtual are available to connect busy people with individuals looking to make a little extra cash on the side as a personal assistant.
      • Check out REmote.co for jobs you can do from anywhere
      • Website and app testing User TestingWhatusersdo, Enroll and YouEye 
    • Sell your expertise

Social, Emotional and Mental Care

  • Shift your social life to one-one one, small group hangouts, private spaces, nature with lots of space
  • Sunshine
  • Exercise
  • Passions, hobbies, enjoyments, recreation
  • Articulate to yourself your coping mechanisms and support networks.  Make a plan for managing with likely disruptions and restrictions.

Full Interviews Available on


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