How do you make money?

  • Spinning off from ranting over my life, I'm really curious about what other people do, and what they've done in the past, to make a living. It's one of few things I find particularly fascinating about other people, and I could also use ideas! I know I've mentioned some of this already, as have a handful of other people, but I'll start this off with my whole work experience (that I can remember).

    I got my first 'job' when I was 8, cleaning horse stalls in exchange for being able to ride an old horse around for the rest of the afternoon. I did some babysitting when I got more into my teens. I did some house/pet sitting in high school. I cleaned stalls in exchange for boarding my own horse. I was a groom at a greyhound racing park, which is the person who pulls the dogs out of the kennels before each race, or is running around on the track before/during/after the race. I worked as a rural mail carrier. I became a dog groomer when my car died and I had to quit carrying mail. I stuck with grooming for 12 years, moving states and a couple of different places, even trying to do it on my own for awhile. I also cleaned stalls at a couple different barns within those 12 years. I worked at a humane society for a couple months as a second job to grooming before they fired me because apparently wanting to take perfectly healthy and nice animals home instead of letting them get euthanized is considered a 'red flag'. cough Then I became a web developer. And now I'm unemployed!

    I have some future plans, but most of them are 'hobby' jobs and not, like, making a living jobs. I'm kind of at a loss there. Before I became unemployed, I bought a rare breed stallion and I eventually plan on starting my own breeding program with him. He's still too young for that nonsense (even if he doesn't always agree), so no hurry there. I want to write books and/or screenplays. I want to build a couple of different web apps (that have no real hope of monetization). I have a couple mobile/browser based games in my head. I'm working on my bachelor's in software development. I've considered moving to CO and becoming a weed farmer (my friend's mom does this, so I'd sort of have a mentor). I want to train horses to compete in dressage. I want to compete in dressage.

    Sorry, that got really long! It became a little cathartic after spending most of the night slogging through some existential depression and a headache instead of sleeping.

  • Pitcrew

    I have had a lot of jobs.

    In no particular order...

    • Carpenter / Woodworker / Jeweler assistant;
    • Club Bouncer;
    • Theater Techie (Sound, Lights);
    • Theater Stage Manager (won the San Francisco Fringe Festival in the early 00s with A Beautiful Man);
    • Cocktail Waiter;
    • Call Center;
    • Kiosk Attendant (basically like a gas station clerk, but without the gas);
    • Tech Support (hospital);
    • Sanitary Work License Clerk (hospital);
    • English as a Foreign Language Teacher (several private and public schools, as well as private turtoring, and classes for businesses, including the local branch of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China);
    • Academic Translator (Spanish to English) (book solicited by the University of Columbia);
    • Theater Stage Tech (moving stuff, basically, between scenes, and designing/building some scenery);
    • Administrative Paper Pusher for the National Council of Science and Technology (CONICET).

    I'm sure I'm missing something. Does Professional MU Asshole count?

  • Admin

    One of the things I'm still trying to figure out if they are cultural differences or perception biases on my behalf is how more relaxed people are in NA about changing careers than they were in Greece.

    At least where I spent half my life there is (or seems to be?) some stigma about starting on a career path then switching to something quite difference, it's perceived as having wasting your time or failed to pan out your resume properly. So for example if you begin in IT, go to school, get a job until your late 20s then realize it's not for you and start training to become a paramedic or something? Fail! Because, or so the assumption goes, how are you gonna compare at the same age with someone who's been already doing the job for 8 more years?

    It's the whole argument I think... looking at making a living as competition, trying to out-asset the other guys.

    No wonder jobs are stressful, right? Not for just this reason, but you're basically a 17 year old trying to decide which school to attend and you're told it's going to make or break your whole life. What the hell do you know at 17?

    In Canada at least it seems somewhat more relaxed. Maybe it's all the safety nets if something goes wrong.

  • @Arkandel For some it might be a competition, for most it is hoping to get somewhere. Whatever a career offers, be that money, status, power, satisfaction, good works, it may feel like you are behind. And to a degree you face less potential career years as a downside in employers eyes. Should they invest in you when there is someone about as good who may have a decade or two of youth on you?

    Retail - gaming store, comic store, hat store, educational store
    Movie Theater - Yay Landmark Cinemas
    Club bouncer
    Mail clerk, bookstore clerk
    Web page design, web marketing
    Software Quality - game consoles, educational sites, printer-scanners, financial governance, PC game portal

  • @Arkandel I personally feel less relaxed about my career changes, and more like it's been wild flailing around trying to make something stick before I end up living out of my car or just deciding to drive it into a concrete wall. I've had no financial stability through my adult life. The closest I've come was working as a web developer. It was the most I've ever made, and I still didn't break out of the low income bracket.

    Why can't we just have a Childhood's End type society! You know, before that stops working out so well.

  • Pitcrew

    Retail - toys, clothing.
    Service - cocktail waitress, banquet server
    Call Center Sales Rep
    Call Center Customer Service Rep
    Call Center Retention Agent
    Renaissance Fair performer
    Unfortunate soul who must pass out flyers in the street
    Lots and lots and lots of administrative jobs

    Hey, @PuppyBreath? It's okay. We live in a society where there's this expectation that we have a GOAL and a PASSION for a thing that we do, but the truth is, not everyone is built like that. I'm in my 40's and have never had a "career goal" or any clear idea of any practical occupation that I could connect to as a passion.

  • Pitcrew

    @Cupcake I forgot cocktail waiter. added it. >.>

  • Pitcrew

    14 years old worked for a car tint manufacturer illegally over the summer to pay for my first 'real' full stack bass amp with two 15" speakers. Yeah it was all low end but cool to have a stack.
    15 years old mowing lawns on the weekend to buy more band stuff and roleplaying game books.
    16 years old I worked about a month at McDonald's a figured out I didn't have the personality for fast food.
    17-21 was the age of advancement at the Target boutique. Went from pushing carts all day on the parking lot, promotion to hardlines, promotion to level II electronics. Figured out I was not going to be promoted anymore and had a temper tantrum over a day off they refused to give me to go see Youth Brigade's reunion tour and quit in a huff.
    21-Six months at the dock for Sears unloading freight.
    21-26 Offered a job to be a baker making more money. Made donuts for a grocery store, then cut deli meat, then worked produce as it was a small raise with each job change. Went to college during this time as well.
    Footnote- Played in the worst punk band in Texas and also the worst country western band in Texas but technically we got paid occasionally and I used that money to buy miniatures for wargaming and whatnot.
    26- Applied for the phone company and have worn more hats than I can remember these days. I will say that it's unfortunate that I'm skilled in technology that is disappearing slowly but surely.

    Wow, that's a boring assed resume.

  • I got my uni degree in journalism and spent the first five years of my working life as a newspaper reporter. It was around 2004 when I graduated.


    I laugh because I weep at the dying industry, and such.

    I didn't get furloughed or anything, but when I was looking for The Next Job I realized that, with five years experience, I'd still be making shit money and living in another shit town if I wanted to keep doing this, and I was coming off a job that had made me pretty miserable. So I started looking for alterna-jobs, and kind of fell into fraud review for a financial outfit. This was 2009, right after the crash, so there was a scramble to hire anyone with any kind of investigative experience, even if it wasn't financial industry specific. I'm doing pre-funding reviews (basically, liar loans) for a bank right now. I like the puzzle aspect of it a lot and it's great experience for this kind of thing.

    I'd like to stick my head back into freelance non-fiction writing now that I'm settled enough to have some flex time. And I miss journalism, but the current media landscape freaks me the fuck out and I'd never want to go back full-time.

    ETA: My first job and one I had on and off through college was as a barista, and it's still The Dream to open a random coffee shop with my retirement money. It'll be next to my hermit cabin.

  • There's metrics on how many times a person changes careers in their lifetime. I think it's something like 5?

    My jobs, to the best of my memory... Lessee... It began at 14, at a boarding kennel.

    • Filing at a legal office
    • Retail (book store)
    • Retail (party store)
    • Jr. Network Admin
    • Data entry
    • Other temp gigs
    • Tech support
    • Jr. Sys Admin
    • Tech support
    • Maintenance agent
    • Tech support
    • Freelance writing
    • Bowling alley

    ...and whatever you call what I do now. I guess not terrible for covering 16/17 years. My current company has been almost 6 years of that, however (I hit 6 years in May).

    I started out wanting to do web design and did a few freelance before I realized I did not have the patience for it ("So, tell me what you're looking for..." - "Oh, just do whatever. You're the artist." -- later -- "That's not what I wanted at all!").

    I'm currently in school for a Creative Writing degree, because I've realized it's the only thing I truly enjoy in a career environment. Unfortunately, I'm also highly aware that my likelihood of finding a job using it is pretty much nil.

  • My (paid) job history starting at about age 12 in rough chronological order to the best of my recall:

    • babysitter;
    • school bus monitor;
    • mechanic's assistant at the local airbase (I cleaned gunked-up carburetors; ask your parents what a carburetor is…);
    • armed forces officer trainee;
    • bottling machine operator/warehouse stocker;
    • convenience store clerk;
    • security guard -- OH SO MANY security positions (scattered between or concurrent with other jobs afterwards on this list);
    • civil servant checking and paying native medical claims;
    • embedded software developer;
    • college computer lab monitor/technician;
    • air traffic control systems software tester;
    • (at this point the security positions stop);
    • operating system standards conformance tester;
    • device driver/embedded software developer;
    • software consultant (covers three major contracts and a smattering of minor ones);
    • IVR software developer;
    • PKI software developer;
    • EFL teacher;
    • embedded software developer.

    I'm probably missing one or two in there somewhere.

  • Pitcrew

    Paid job history starting at 12:

    In High School (all but the field worker and bagger were under the table/cash only):

    Tobacco field worker (seasonal) in
    Commissary bagger
    Summertime full time daycare worker (either for a family or at a center)
    Pet sitter


    Corrections officer at a juvenile facility
    Night shift intake at an emergency homeless shelter
    Paid actor for a summer outdoor theater production
    Term paper editing and thesis typing for fellow students
    Flea market/swap meet vendor (from all the stuff I dumpster dived for with friends on move out day of the dorms each year. The highest paying gig of all!)

    Early to mid 20s/post college:

    Manager of a group home for developmentally disabled adults
    Outreach worker for homeless youth involved in prostitution
    Nanny (highest paid gig here, it was during the 90s when if you were white, young, college educated english speaking female you could demand whatever you wanted pay wise--because the economy was booming and there was a shortage of those people working jobs like child care--I got a part time job paying 30k plus benefits!)
    Corrections officer - Night shift
    Therapeutic foster care parent
    Grocery store clerk
    Preschool teacher

    Mid 20s to late 30s - Stay at home mom. But probably got more business training and more traditionally "professional" experience via volunteering and running non-profits that most of my jobs/college up until that point.

    Late 30s- Went back to school, got a massage license, started and had my own successful massage practice for 3 years
    Worked very part time at an indoor playspace where I could bring my kiddo once he hit toddlerdom.

    Now - Hell if I know. I have some health issues that make returning to professional massage unlikely, which I'm still grieving. Considering going back back to school for a MSW. I really miss corrections and street work, but that's been vetoed. But! I'd really love to get involved in either a resettlement or a homeless youth caseworker capacity, and these days you do really need a MSW. I have my toe in the door due to volunteer work at several places though.

  • @mietze said in How do you make money?:

    Flea market/swap meet vendor (from all the stuff I dumpster dived for with friends on move out day of the dorms each year. The highest paying gig of all!)

    I did this for about 6 months while between jobs. It really can pay well once you find the right niche.

  • Pitcrew

    When spoiled kids are tossing tons of electronics/clothing/ect because they get tired of packing it, you don't even need a niche. Especially when the surrounding areas are pretty low income. Yay everyone wins.

  • I always come back to making jewelry. I don't know if it's a blessing or a curse, but even in my current 'the world is ending and totally devoid of meaning, why am I even wasting everybody's perfectly good oxygen' state of mind, I am still surprisingly good at it. (Which sort of weirds me out. There's some part of me that feels very much like a whore on this front, in the literal way of 'I am prostituting a part of myself in a mutually exploitative way that is really not OK'.)

    I kept saying for ages that I started with that when I was about 12, but recently was reminded I have been doing that since I was 8. (...and I had previously apparently sold little hand-woven coasters made on a table loom when I was four. Four. 4. I don't even remember this, and probably just wondered at the time where all those dollhouse carpets I wove for my Barbies went. And my family wonders why I keep defending this hobby as the one creative thing in my life that I steadfastly refuse to even consider trying to find a way to even try to monetize... )

    I've come and gone with it since then. I am now 43. I tend to be so hyper-productive with it that even if I quit for two years or so, there was plenty left to sell in the interim.

    I collect odd skills. This is relevant. I learned to weave on a four-harness loom by the time I was four, ffs. (This is simply non-normal, people. :/ ) Pretty much every skill I have demonstrated even the most pathetic proficiency with, my family has pressured me to monetize. I have, as a result, had some pretty weird jobs.

    I have:

    • made jewelry•
    • dyed yarn
    • made little woven coasters
    • made skins and other textures for Poser• (no really, one of my skins is on the box for Poser Pro 2010)
    • made designer doll clothes for a living•
    • made theater costumes
    • worked as a performer at the ren faire
    • designed and made formalwear
    • embroidered•
    • designed web sites
    • designed graphics

    I went to college for fashion design, theater costume design, and illustration at various schools over time. I do not have a degree. I shamelessly squandered what money my parents were willing to spend on an education not to get a piece of paper that said I knew my shit, but to go to a new place, learn all the things I wanted to learn that they were willing to teach, and fuck off to the next place to repeat the process, which is really not smart? But in the fields I thrive in, it isn't the paper that proves a damned thing, it's a portfolio. (This is why I've somehow managed to end up forced to take Art History no less than four times. If I see another photo of the Hagia Sophia or the Venus of Willendorf, I take no responsibility for the murder spree that will ensue.)

    Things marked with an • are things I've won awards for and in some cases had the work published, sometimes within the first year -- and in the case of the embroidery, the first actual time -- I'd done the thing. (Which you'd really think would give a girl even a jot of self-esteem, but no. :/ )

    Though there's a story worth telling here, in spite of the general downer streak I'm on, and it's a good one, I promise. It is the best advice I ever got, and while I didn't follow it forever, I did listen, and I did take it genuinely to heart in spirit, if not specifics, and I have found, over time, that it makes a difference in a way that I cannot quantify, but that has made a substantial difference in the real quality of my life.

    When I was a kid, I made clothes for my dolls. It's the main reason, other than a phobia re: moray eels, I didn't just go off and become a marine biologist like I wanted to when I was tiny. It's more or less why I went into design. Whenever I was sick, feeling like crap, or otherwise useless re: actual productivity (which as noted has been demanded since I was 8, ffs) I would make doll clothes.

    At the last college I bothered with -- a new school, local, first year it was open, studying commercial illustration -- we had a fantastic teacher. No, really, this man is one of my idols. He is, in a word, an amazing human being and I admire not just his work, but him. (And no, not just because he had the prettiest green eyes any of us college-age girls had ever seen, ahem. Didn't hurt, though?) Because it had been drilled into me since forever, and probably because I was about 5-6 years older than most of the other students who were fresh out of high school, my standards for my own work were much, much higher. I am not trying to talk myself up here; this was actually something pretty painful to me, because I am someone who really wants people to embrace their creativity, do the best they can, and express themselves and feel good doing so. I'd put something up on the crit wall, and see people take their pieces down rather than be compared (and frankly my shit for that class was not super good since we had so little time from week to week to complete a thing) -- and instead of being an ego boost, it was crushing. It hurt. It made me sad, and feel horribly guilty. Needless to say, much as I loved that teacher -- and why will be clear in a moment -- I hated that he used me as a yardstick to point out to others that just grinding something out was not how someone made art, even commercial illustration. I don't particularly give a shit that that's true, I just hated being the example. :/ Talk about awkward and uncomfortable!

    I got a concussion during our '3D illustration' project period. I was out for three weeks. I could come up with nothing that was worth doing, nothing I had done, when it came time for end of year portfolio review to take up that slot. All I had was this crappy doll dress I'd made while sick, because I was simply incapable of anything else.

    I was so embarrassed when I took this silly doll in a simple little 1930s dress out of the portfolio. I was expecting my teacher to laugh. I was expecting the 'are you fucking kidding me?' look.

    It wasn't what I got.

    He looked at me calmly, and when I handed him this silly doll, he smiled. (Did I mention the eyes? Yeah, the smile was even better.)

    He tells me, "You're my best illustration student this year. Including Pratt. (Which we were not.) But you should be doing this."

    And he handed me back the doll.

    I just squinted a little, and shook my head, and I couldn't help but ask: "...why?"

    He said the one thing that is probably the most educational and human thing I ever learned in college:

    "This is the only thing you have ever handed me, smiling."

    ...and he's right. It matters.

  • @surreality said in How do you make money?:

    He said the one thing that is probably the most educational and human thing I ever learned in college:

    "This is the only thing you have ever handed me, smiling."

    ...and he's right. It matters.

    This is why I finally began working on the degree for writing. It'll be hard to find work in it, but I enjoy it. Even the non-creative stuff.

    I get people who ask me about it. 'I love writing for RP and fanfic! How can I get a job like that?'

    One of the freelance gigs I had, I was writing copy for 'blogs.' What this guy really did was buy up dozens of sites along the lines of <city> and then it'd redirect to his commercialized deal (aka he gets paid if people book a plumber through it). So I was writing SEO-optimized copy for these scummy ass blogs trying to take advantage of people.

    ...a lot of the writing out there is like that. And I was lucky he paid well. There's people who think offering $5/article is "good pay."

    But I enjoy it. I enjoyed even that soul-sucking garbage above because it was writing. It's the only thing I've ever done that doesn't rapidly make me hate waking up to work every day. It's why I can work 40 hour weeks at my paying job and then put in 20-40 hours a week on school.

  • High School:
    Summer Camp Counselor - I and everyone that I was friends with should have never been hired as we were legitimately fucking terrible at our jobs. We would literally leave our kids unattended in the middle of the night once a week to smoke a shit ton of weed in the hay barn near the horse stalls. No one ever caught on because they kept rehiring us.

    School Year: Bartending & Work Study Desk Jobs on Campus
    Summers: Industrial Equipment Auction Service - transcribing records of all the random shit they bought for resale like combines and industrial bakery ovens

    1L/First Year of Law School:
    Cocktail waitress/bartender at a strip club

    Not Law School Graduate School:
    Research Assistant
    Payroll Department

    Data Scientist/Python DB Dev

  • Has had a few sources of income in no particular order:

    • Selling artwork
    • Making book illustrations
    • Some web dev stuff
    • Theoretical astrophysicist (aka astronomer)
    • Commissioned public lecturing
    • Computer support
    • Teaching in technical/natural sciences
    • Senior Python developer in industry

    Has a patreon up for Evennia and for art videos/tutorials too. I get a few cents (literally) from my youtube videos too I guess. ;)

  • Pitcrew

    build an established carpentry monopoly in an impoverished third world country and kill everyone's loved ones so they have to buy your caskets

  • Pitcrew

    Mostly sales for me. Everything from newspapers to(my favorite) liquidating casinos. These days? I'm shocking friends and family alike by starting a career as a diesel mechanic for a school.

    Working with my hands and not having to fake a smile anymore. Kind of like it.

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