Let’s get real. The amount of merfolk who do nothing but work as mers are very few and far between- if there are any at all. Many of the well known famous mermaids diversify their income.
Hannah Fraser- world famous mermaid, not only works as a mermaid but works as a model, performer, artist, and photographer. Mermaid Melissa supplemented her income for years while working at SeaWorld, modelling, stunt work, and monetizing YouTube. Mermaid Linden in addition to being a mermaid launched a line of monofins and kid’s tails, monetized a popular YouTube series, and Freediving judging.
“Working as a mer” can come in many varieties as well. From parties, to filming, selling accessories and tails, teaching lessons, educational events, tourism events, and more.
I have spent about half of my professional mermaid career doing only mermaid work. The other half I was also a student, working part time, or working full time in addition. For the first half of my mermaid career I was still ramping up my business and it was very seasonal. This made it a bit easier to cope with school, or a part time job. Twice in my mermaid career I have worked full time at a 9-5 job while taking time off as needed for weekday mermaid gigs, and working gigs all weekend.
In this blog I will cover tips for balancing your mer career with your other career and/or education, diversifying your income, and provide you with resources and problem-solving tips.
Diversifying Your Income Streams for Success
One of the best ways to achieve success in a financial way and make it easier to focus is to diversify your income. Diversifying your income means having multiple ways that you can get paid! For many of us this comes down to various types of gigs, but there are other easy income streams that require minimal long-term commitment. In my case, I diversify my income in the following ways:
-Main business income comes from gigs
-Monetizing Youtube Videos
-Monetizing adspace on my websites/blogs
-Workshops for Professional mers
In looking at that list we can see three tiers of commitment level. At the top tier are the items that require the most time and effort. Obviously, that means gigs and lessons. Videos can sometimes fall into here as well. In person workshops take a lot of work too.
At the middle tier are items that require commitment at the start, but then once they’re launched they become self-sustaining. You only need to check in on them occasionally to make sure things are going according to plan. Videos take a lot of work to start, but once monetized you can leave them alone. Same with clothing and selling pre-made items.
At the lowest tier are things like monetizing adspace on your website. It takes about a minute to set up and will generate income.
Diversifying your income will help you with time management. The more self-sustaining items you have at the middle and lower tier, the less time you’ll have to spend on the top tier. You’ll feel less pressure to constantly accept gigs and stretch yourself too thin. Plus, you’re making more money!
Project Management Skills
Managing your time and tasks in both your regular life and you mer-life is a key factor in success and lower stress levels. There are many free programs out there that can help you do this, and also some inexpensive ones as well.
I like to use Google programs to keep our business organized. When I use google calendar I can easily schedule out all my commitments for both real life and mermaid life. They integrate with your phone, and if you can afford it, a Google Home device. You can set reminders that will show up on your phone/calendar and alert you If you have a Google Home. You also can do all this handsfree by simply talking to your Android device.
I use google calendar to schedule my whole life. The calendars can be shared with all members of my team. It makes booking things very quick as I can see availability. I can change or input event and info on the go! This is super helpful.
I also like to use online payment systems such as Square or Paypal. I can create invoice templates so when I am ready to invoice a client it can be done quickly and efficiently.
Having a thorough FAQ on your website will also cutdown on the amount of emails you get that are just asking questions. Setting up an auto reply to let people know it’ll take you X amount of days to reply also helps with stress levels.
I personally also carry a hard copy agenda or calendar as a backup. Sometimes having the visual and the act of writing things down really helps me remember things better.
There are some excellent paid for project management programs that may help you better balance things. One that I love is called “Confluence” and it’s as cheap as $10 a month for 10 users! Perfect if you have a few mermaids working with you.
Using the Resources Around You and Outsourcing
A great way to get better at managing things is to take free online courses/training in areas where you’re weaker. You can even overlap them with the requirements for your school or job. Two great websites for this are Udemy and Courseparks. While they have many courses you can pay for, they also have courses that are free. Everything from learning how to better use Microsoft Office, to video editing, photo editing, writing contracts and more.
There are often free business development and support programs as well through city recreation, libraries, universities, and support programs. If you’re in school, it’s worth it to check out and see what resources they have available. Having that extra bit of training and support can help you be more efficient with your time and make less mistakes. I joined one through my university called “The Center for Women in Business” and through them I get to do a lot of Networking and have access to training if need be.
Outsourcing is also a great time management tool, though it costs money, it may be worth it to you. Fiverr is a website people use to outsource. Some things cost as little as 5$! You can have someone set up your FB page for you, or manage your twitter, or update your website! You can commission someone to make a logo for you, edit a video, optimize your search engine keywords so you show up on Google, or write and distribute a press release for you.
I use Fiverr all the time, though first I’ll look in my friend pool to see If there’s anyone I can hire to do the work for me. I had a friend design all my logos and I am so happy with it. I used Fiverr for a while to help me with press releases, and create an intro for my videos. If you’re a student you can also see if there’s anyway to line up some of the things you need for your business with projects you must do in school. You’ll be surprised how some things can overlap! That way you’ll feel less guilty about spending the time, and you’ll get real world feedback on what you’re working with. I did this when I built my first website!
Burning the Candle at Both Ends
There’s a saying that gets passed around about entrepreneurs. They are the only people who will work 60 hours to avoid working 40! It basically means that when you’re starting your own business, you’re going to be putting in far more time than you would for a normal 9-5. This is very true- especially in the early stages of setting up a business.
I must be honest, I am 100% guilty of falling into the trap of stretching myself too thin. Even when I am only working as a mermaid, I’ll often take on too much. It’s obviously a big issue when I work full time as well. Working full time means I can’t take weekday gigs or meet with potential clients in the weekdays.
Often what happens for me because I spend my weekends doing gigs is that I spent my week evenings playing catch up on the rest of my life. This can be so exhausting.
Only you can know what you’re totally capable of, and the balance you need. But my suggestion is to figure that out early on, and set yourself some boundaries.
For instance, I have an auto reply on my email whenever I get really swamped. It lets clients know that it’ll take me 2 business days to reply. It buys me a bit more time so I can catch up.
I don’t answer any emails during weekends. My weekends are so busy with mermaid work I need whatever downtime I can get, so unless something pressing comes up I don’t answer emails. (obviously I will for the clients I have that weekend)
I sit down and create my to-do list each Monday, but I put the most pressing items at the top and then have a separate section for things I’d “like” to do but aren’t mandatory.
I also schedule myself things to help me relax ahead of time. Scheduling a massage, a chiropractic adjustment, or even seeing a movie. It’s important I stop and schedule these things.
I ask family to let me know about family events well ahead of time so I can be sure to schedule them in. This doesn’t always work or happen, but at least I have an idea what will be going on.
I find it’s very important to keep your home work environment sperate from where you eat or sleep- and there’s been a lot of studies that back up the importance of this. That means if you work at your computer to run your mermaid business, you don’t eat there or take your computer to bed with you. Same goes for your phone. Having that boundary will help you create a better and healthier routine.
Keeping up on exercise is important. It helps flush the stress hormone from your body, and will keep you mentally alert. If you can’t get to the gym, even going for a 10-15 minute walk in your neighborhood will help. And obviously, sleeping is incredibly important too.
I like to create a sleep routine. It is a routine that helps me relax, detach from stress, and have a better chance of sleeping properly. I do this by using no devices with a screen 30 minutes before when I want to fall asleep. I have a nice warm bath and make sure my room is comfortable. It’s important for your mental health to keep these things separate.
Meet the Needs of Your Day Job
Whether you’re just having fun doing mermaiding on the side, or eventually hoping to make it your main income- you need to remember to give your best to the job you have for now. Many companies when they hire you have a clause in the contract you sign saying that your outside business can’t interfere with your work for them.
These are some of the things you need to be concerned about:
-Many companies say no solicitating of outside business in the workplace
-In more corporate spaces it may not be appropriate to speak often about your outside work
-A company wants to know your committed to doing your job and not distracted
I’ve had many up and down experiences with this. I remember how different it was for each of my student teaching experiences back when I did my Bachelor of Education. For one experience, they flipped out when I spoke about mermaid work- even though a substitute teacher invited me to talk about it. I was so scared after that I didn’t bring it up at my next teaching placement. But at that school they put a newspaper article of me on the wall, said congrats in the morning announcements, and encouraged me to show a video of my mermaid work at the end of the school year.
I have had a similar experience working for other businesses full time. In one corporate workplace they seemed like they were OK with things, but I got negative feedback from management for speaking out my business. I would only do it when co-workers asked me, but it still caused an issue. I’ve have periods of time at that job without any work to do, and I’d answer business emails or work on something related to my business. Despite the fact was keeping busy and they literally had no work for me, I got reprimanded for that.
Contrast that with another similar corporate environment where I worked. I was terrified to talk about my mermaid stuff for fear of running into the same problem. But everyone including the CEO wanted to hear about it. I was encouraged to use some of my skills within the company, and everyone would cheer me on when something good happened.
Booking time off for your business isn’t usually a problem so long as you stick within company protocol. If you’re taking vacation time, it’s no one’s business how you’re spending it. Some offices will reimburse you for a certain amount of hours volunteering and you may be able to cross that with your mermaid work. Some offices will also let you take days unpaid. I’ve utilized these things in order to accommodate the odd weekday booking, and media appearances.
It all depends on where you work, and sometimes you’ll experience those “unspoken rules”. It really does help to keep things mentally separate whenever possible. It’ll keep you out of trouble, but it’ll also help you be more successful in the end.
In conclusion, working in any kind of art or performing arts field tends to be a lot of juggling. Each person is unique and will have to experiment to figure out what works best for them. To have the best chance at success and keep your sanity, it really helps to sit down and plan for how you will handle things. I like to keep a notebook for when ideas pop into my head at random times so I won’t forget them when it’s time to work on business stuff.
The reality is, most people aren’t going to be able to quit their day job and be a mermaid full time. It’s very stressful to have your life revolve from gig to gig, not have work provided insurance, and be unable to really take vacation or sick days. So learning to balance a job (or school) is key!