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Occasional gigs worth the risk?/ Insurance for occasional gigs?

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Occasional gigs worth the risk?/ Insurance for occasional gigs?

Post by BigBlueCat on Thu Jun 27, 2013 6:47 pm

Hi all! I am trying to decide weather or not it is worth the risks involved in doing an occasional gig, if you're not going to make face painting your main career?

Back Story: My primary job is being a cognitive neuroscience graduate student, but I have been doing face painting for me and my friends since middle school. I'd like to use face painting gigs to cover what I spend on face painting supplies. Maybe I could make some extra cash, but mostly I want more paints, more face painting books, and I can never seem to have too many brushes. However, I don't have time to do gigs very often and the money making at any gig has been pretty hit or miss. I still spend way more than I make. I have been doing charity events, where I split the profits with the charity 50/50, because I don't feel like I'm good enough yet to have someone pay me to paint for a party. Is it pretty standard to operate at a loss for awhile and do you just need to work a lot more frequently to increase your chances of getting a profitable gig? Or am I doing the wrong types of gigs?

I was also wondering if you could get insurance for specific gigs or events? I maybe do 3 events a year, so getting insured for a whole year doesn't make sense. However, at one of my last events I left for a moment and the two adult women, who were watching my kit, started painting each other's faces and just destroyed my paints! I made $15 and lost $50 in muddied paints Sad
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BigBlueCat

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Re: Occasional gigs worth the risk?/ Insurance for occasional gigs?

Post by TheGildedCat on Thu Jun 27, 2013 9:14 pm

BigBlueCat wrote:My primary job is being a cognitive neuroscience graduate student

Awesome! Welcome! That's a fantastic field.

BigBlueCat wrote:Is it pretty standard to operate at a loss for awhile and do you just need to work a lot more frequently to increase your chances of getting a profitable gig? Or am I doing the wrong types of gigs?


No, it's not standard to operate at a loss. though it's probably not unommon. The alternative is called capital and bootstrapping and saving up! You could run a fully profitable business on one small Wolfe palette and a brush and a car wash sponge cut into pieces. You'd spend less than $40 and, honestly, if you're not charging over that for an hour event, you're undervaluing yourself and the profession, though that's a topic for another post.

Insurance can be had for $181 and it lasts for a year. If you charge $60 an hour (bare min in my opinion), you'd recoup that in 3 hours worth of gigs.

I guess the question comes back to you. Do you want to charge money for your services (doing this makes you a professional), or do you want to do this as a hobby? If you charge for your services, people expect professional level work. If you're a volunteer, they probably won't have the same expectations on you. As a volunteer, you're probably covered by the event's insurance, though this may vary. If you're volunteering, have the organization BUY a small kit to keep for events. Many non-profits are willing to do this. I bought a small palette for my favorite NPO and wrote it off in taxes. That way, I know they're using good stuff when I don't work for them.

You stated you're only doing 3 gigs total a year - so why not donate your services since you're operating in the red anyhow? Yes, it sucks to "lose money," but if you're doing this as a hobby, donating more than you're making, and not a business, why muddy the waters with insurance and a business license (or whatever is required by your state)?

I'm trying to come up with some kind of analogy to another service industry, but having trouble thinking of one. Ultimately, when you deal with the public and charge money for your services, insurance is recommended. Can you paint without it? Sure. Would I personally risk it? Not on your life!
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Re: Occasional gigs worth the risk?/ Insurance for occasional gigs?

Post by PrairiePainter on Thu Jun 27, 2013 9:29 pm

I'm still new to the game but let me just point out that insurance may be very worth it if you work with the public. At least I feel it is in my case. While my husband and I are not "wealthy", we do own considerable physical assets by way of our family business. If some yahoo decides to sue us we stand to lose a lot should they win in court. I checked with our homeowners insurance agency (a small agency) who added my face painting onto our policy for free (or at a nominal few if my gross sales meet a certain point. It's at least worth considering. Specialty Insurance does a one event policy but it was at least half as much as a full year policy and just not a good value in my opinion. So that's my two cents...
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Re: Occasional gigs worth the risk?/ Insurance for occasional gigs?

Post by BigBlueCat on Fri Jun 28, 2013 1:40 am

TheGildedCat wrote: Insurance can be had for $181 and it lasts for a year. If you charge $60 an hour (bare min in my opinion), you'd recoup that in 3 hours worth of gigs.

I guess the question comes back to you. Do you want to charge money for your services (doing this makes you a professional), or do you want to do this as a hobby?

TheGildedCat wrote: You stated you're only doing 3 gigs total a year - so why not donate your services since you're operating in the red anyhow? Yes, it sucks to "lose money," but if you're doing this as a hobby, donating more than you're making, and not a business, why muddy the waters with insurance and a business license (or whatever is required by your state)?
... Ultimately, when you deal with the public and charge money for your services, insurance is recommended. Can you paint without it? Sure. Would I personally risk it? Not on your life!

TheGuildedCat: Thank you for your long thoughtful reply. I hadn't even thought about a business license! I was worried about insurance as volunteer. Thank you for answering that question.

Most of the gigs I do are purely volunteer and that I don't mind. In fact I've only had one or two paid events (it's telling that I cant remember). I started doing it for money, when my landlady asked me to go to an event for her non-profit. That was the one where the women messed up my paints. It was miserably hot and the event hat a very poor turn-out (less than 20 people and most were involved in a race, in a separate part of the venue). There were only two kids and one adult (@$5 each, plus the $15 donation the one mom gave me, because the daughter kept asking me about science and I kept encouraging her and answering questions/ 2 = $15 for me and $15 for the non-profit).  

After that I did one other event, where I was reimbursed for supplies and I had been content to be a full time amateur and volunteer. Then the sequester happened and research jobs disappeared (or why I'm going to Europe). So, I started practicing face painting in a less hobb-ish way and a more "how do I make quick designs that will make money, in case I have to change career paths" way. Instead I found a free two year joint master's hosted by universities France and Germany and I'm hoping to get connected with labs there, in the next two years. Honestly, at my age, I think it is good to work on multiple careers at the same time. The economy is changing in scary ways and none of us have any idea what will happen to research funding or anything else, for that matter.

Right now, I have two months to kill before I start an (unpaid, but free) masters in Europe. I'm thinking about trying to use face painting as a way to make money in the next two months. Since it is a lot more fun than anything else I could do for two months. There are a lot of tourists in my home town and parades. So I have been e-mailing the officials in charge of public areas, near where the tourists go to ask about setting up a face painting table. If I did this, I would want insurance, but after my landlady's event I am scared that I wont recoup the costs.

In Europe, my program is giving us (or requiring us to buy at a very reasonable price) personal liability insurance, because we will be working with human participants. I should see if this insurance we have to get anyway would cover suits related to face painting.

Prariepanter: Thank you for the tip about the homeowner's insurance. I know my renter's insurance covers some personal liability. I should check into that.
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BigBlueCat

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Re: Occasional gigs worth the risk?/ Insurance for occasional gigs?

Post by nikkili26 on Sat Jun 29, 2013 1:13 pm

I used to feel like you-until I got on craigslist and saw the local competition....ha.

then I went on facebook to view their gallery...
I was pretty much even steven....my first party costs the same as my insurance and small kit...my second party cost the same as my "real" paint palette and business cards. my third party paid for gas to the other parties and my brushes. my fourth party covered sponges, sanitary supplies, etc. my fifth party paid for second round of paints, new uniform (screen print name, apron, bag, mirror).

I really would love to be able to set up a stand in a public place and just face paint all day, but I have no idea how or where to do that, so for now, i'm making exactly enough to paint..which is about $200 a week.not bad at all, considering I have a full time career already.


I really really don't mind always breaking even...it'd be nice to profit, but as long as face painting isn't really costing me anything from my other job, I don't mind....lol...sure it takes time, but it is time I would have spent wasting.now my time is brightening the day for a bunch of other people Smile plus I love the extra time with my kids practicing.

I guess my advice is get a retainer fee and a deposit in advance...use that money to pay for your supplies...then use the party payment to fund the next party needs.
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nikkili26

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Re: Occasional gigs worth the risk?/ Insurance for occasional gigs?

Post by nikkili26 on Sat Jun 29, 2013 1:20 pm

I guess long story short, insurance was paid for by the first party...

if you aren't charging enough to cover your "training", you aren't charging enough!

if you still want to work for "free", you can explain to the client that you still won't be profiting, but you do need a fee to help cover the insurance, paints and fuel.
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nikkili26

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