The dream of making a living or even thriving in the dance business is dreamt of many. I know it is doable because I did it in the past, and I will do it again after taking a time-out after our daughter’s birth. A not so obvious point: making a living as a dancer is not that much harder than finding regular employment that pays well and is good for your soul.
I outline a simple four-step strategy that will take you there. Strategy means we talk about “what are we going to do?” The needed steps are universal and timeless. Executing the strategy is an individual thing and might differ from dancer to dancer because our situations are different. But the strategy stays the same.
Four Steps to a sustainable dance career
- Create Value
- Monetize It
That does not sound like a strategy for dancers. It isn’t. It is one basic strategy for running a sustainable business. Too many people who try their luck in the dance world fall into tunnel vision and only focus on their dance skills. This makes the more significant part of being successful a gamble, which is stupid. If you only work on the dance, you will eventually become an excellent dancer. But without understanding how to turn your dance skills into money, you will not turn pro.
Creating Value, Monetizing it, Scaling, and investing everything extra back into your business will pay your bills, even if you are not the best dancer. I never won a major competition, but dance and dance-related work feed me since 2008, and now it does the same for my family. If I can do it, so can you.
Creating value as a dancer
Creating value means nothing else, but “you need to have something that other people want.” These can be extraordinary dance skills that every choreographer wants to have in the show. It could also be the ability to teach people to dance, or to win battles, to entertain, or everything else you can come up with. As long as there are people who want it.
The more specific your offer is, the better your chances that there is little or no competition. Reinforce your strengths, try to work with the things that nobody else in your area has, and dare cover topics that others avoid.
For some inspiration on how to create value with your dance, check out the article about possibilities to build your dance business around.
Turn your value into money
When you have something to offer, it will not be hard to earn money from it. If every choreographer wants your skills in the production, there will be more than enough productions that pay you. If you are a good teacher, students will happily pay a fee for your class. If you can entertain people, you can create your own piece for the stage, go for videos, host dance events, and much more. And suppose you are really a battle winner. In that case, there is price money (but I don’t consider that a viable option to build a business upon).
The point here is that you have to commit to turning your value into money. Because the other option is to do it for your enjoyment only, which means you have to find different ways to pay the bills. That is perfectly fine if you want to have it that way. But you are reading an article for those who don’t want to do something else to earn a living.
I also wrote about pricing your dance classes, if you want to check that one out.
Scale your dance business
Here comes the thing that every entrepreneur thinks about when building a business. Dancers usually don’t, which is a grave mistake. Scaling means to multiply your income. Simple as that. Scaling would be to dance more shows or teach more classes. That version of scaling is for beginners because you will run out of hours to scale your business or burn-out.
Smart scaling would be to find opportunities that pay you better for the same work or create products that you can sell. Teaching that one class at a camp for 50 people should pay you better than teaching 10. Think digital age. Can you create an online course, where you can teach 50 people per week? If you can, you win.
I opted-in for writing. That way, I can reach many more people than in regular classes or talks, even besides trying to be a good father. Choose a way you are comfortable with. The most popular method right now is video. Create a Youtube channel, stream on Twitch or Instagram, become the next big thing on Tik Tok.
The point is: find something that allows you to reach more people in the same time or less time. If you are doing primarily shows, this might be a good moment to think about getting an agent.
Invest in your dance business
As soon as you have money left invest it, instead of spending it needless:
- Learn something new that makes you better at what you do
- Learn something new that helps you to reach more people
- Create a new product that you can sell
- Advertise what you have
This is a strategy that works. If you really want to make it in dance, you can. If you are already working in dance, check your business against the four steps above. Where are you doing good, and where are you lacking?
Be brave and let us know.