Artists toss around a lot of terms to describe work, especially on social media. While we all know what they mean in general, it may be unclear exactly what each one means in terms of the work that is done and the obligation everyone involved has to each other. Here are a just a few common work terms in the arts, and what each type entails.
Gig (May also be called a set, or if the person is a spoken word artist, a reading.)
When you hire a musician for a gig or set, a spoken word or a literary artist for a reading, this means they have agreed to share their work with your audience for pay. You pay them the agreed upon fee. If that fee is to be $0, that should be made abundantly clear from the beginning, before anyone signs up to share their work. If that fee is to be any amount of money, you owe that artist that amount upon the completion of the work they agreed to do.
The only time it is acceptable to withhold this fee is if the artist did not do the work you hired them to do, if they failed to show up, refused to perform, or arrived too drunk or high to produce their work. You still owe the artist the fee you agreed to pay them if members of your audience didn’t like the music or the poems, you don’t like the artist as a person, or you decided mid set that their art wasn’t suitable to your establishment.
An artist asking you to collaborate, often shortened to “collab” in contemporary speech, is asking you to partner with them. They do not pay you. You do not pay them. The two of you are going to work together on the project. Any money or other benefits gained will be split between you, according to whatever agreement you make before you start.
Get this agreement in writing. An actual contract or agreement signed by everyone involved is best. At the very least, work out the details via email, so that everyone has saved, printed records of what each person agreed to do.
A “pitch” is an independent artist asking you to give them work. You will most commonly hear this from writers. The person may reach out to you proposing that they write an article about a local band for your guitar magazine, or cover a music festival for your newspaper or community webpage. When someone sends you a pitch, they are asking you to hire them to complete the project they suggest, and pay them for it.
Once you agree to the person’s pitch, you are obligated to pay them for the work when they produce it according to the agreement. The article or other project is not free just because it was the artist’s idea to create it, and not yours. If you do not want to pay for whatever the artist is pitching, turn down the pitch.
Open mic or showcase
Artists participating in an open mic or showcase can be thought of as swapping their work for the guaranteed audience the venue provides. This is where the term “the wage is the stage” applies. No money or other goods change hands in most cases, but the venue owner or manager gets entertainment for their establishment, and the artist gets their work shown in front of anyone who attends the open mic or showcase event.
Although the artist is not typically asked to pay to participate in an open mic or showcase, they may be asked to pay at the door for anyone who is accompanying them but not performing, and expected to purchase food or drinks if the venue is a restaurant, cafe, or bar. Artists and their entourages need to pay and purchase without complaints or snark. Supporting the businesses that support the arts is an important way to keep the arts alive in your community.
Free content library
Video clips, articles, photos, and other pieces of work included in an online collection or library labeled “free” is just that, free. It means you may use the content on your own webpage or in your print publication without paying the artist. When using free content, remember to respect the artist’s stated rules for use, and respect their work. Using something offered to you for free is different than stealing it. Never alter the work to make it appear that you created it unless you have been given direct permission from the artist to do so.
In situations where none of these terms are being used, it is perfectly acceptable to bring them up yourself, and to ask questions until it is clear to everyone what type of work the artist or artists involved are offering. Asking “Are you asking me to collaborate with you on this article, or is this a pitch?” Or “Are you looking for strictly paying gigs, or are you open to playing at an open mic or a showcase?” is perfectly acceptable.
There are several good reasons to hire a tutor. You may want to catch up in a class or a subject where you have fallen behind, get help on a particularly difficult assignment, or advance in an area where you are especially skilled. There are also things tutors are not there to do, such as write your academic or professional reports for you, babysit your children, or serve as customers for your business.
And there are a few things tutors shouldn’t do. Here are some signs the tutor you are working with is dishonest, unqualified, or unsafe to be around.
They’re secretive about their degree, relevant training, or other qualifications
There is a lot of information about a person that is confidential. Their academic degrees and other qualifications for a job they’re asking you to pay them to do is not among that information. There may be a completely legitimate reason for why you cannot see the degree hanging up on the wall. Some people do not care to display them. Others lose them due to things like flooded basements or chaotic moves. But the tutor should not refuse to talk about why they are qualified to tutor you in the subject they claim expertise in, talk down to you when you ask, or give vague answers like, “I have some experience in math,” when you ask them if they’re the certified high school math teacher you mean to hire to tutor your child.
The person is “running up the clock” in an online tutoring platform that pays by the hour
Many online tutoring platforms pay tutors by the hour they spend tutoring, with the amount doled out by the minute or other partial measurement. If the pay rate is $16 per hour, this means the time clock starts when the tutor enters a paid lesson, and 27 cents is added on to the amount for each minute. If a student only needs help for half an hour, the tutor makes $8 for that session. If they have a quick question and only need 15 minutes, the tutor in that situation would earn $4.
Students and/or parents should have control over when the lesson begins and ends. If a student seems to not understand that they need to end the lesson, an honest tutor will end the lesson when they see that the student is finished with the session. It is also dishonest to insist the student sit and listen to an unwanted lecture, stay online and come up with additional questions for the tutor after they’ve indicated they were finished, or go get another assignment once the one they brought to the tutoring session is done.
Tutoring is presented as mental health therapy or counseling
The only people who should be offering any type of professional counseling or mental health therapy are those who are trained, licensed professionals in the mental health field, such as Licensed Professional Counselors, Marriage and Family Therapists, Psychologists, medical doctors, and Psychiatric nurses. And even they should only be presenting their advice as professional guidance in the proper professional setting. Nobody who has offered their services as a tutor should be behaving as though they are your or your child’s therapist or guidance counselor. Reputable tutors only offer guidance in the subject matter they are being paid to help you learn.
The tutor tries to sell you something other than additional tutoring sessions
Tutoring can be one component of a broader career. There is nothing wrong with someone whose field is History working full time at the local museum, writing a book about local history in the evening, and picking up tutoring sessions helping those who struggle with history and social studies classes on the side. There is nothing wrong with mentioning the other work they do, if helpful and relevant. But the tutor should not be there with the goal of promoting another business or selling an unrelated product to their students. It would be unethical for that same museum worker and history book writer to set up tutoring sessions that were thinly veiled pitches for museum memberships, or to use tutoring sessions to sell copies of their history book.
Excessive or irrelevant personal information is requested by the tutor.
Tutors may ask questions designed to help them understand exactly what they are working on with you. If you bring them a paper to look over, they will probably want to know what grade level and what subject the paper is for. This is legitimate, needed information. A third grader’s social studies homework is going to have very different standards than a sixth grader’s work in language arts. A high school history paper will have a different focus than a college sociology paper.
A tutor should not be asking for, or trying to learn, information that is not necessary for them to help the student. A tutor who meets you online or in a public place does not need to know where you live. If you are working in an online environment where you use your first name and last initial or a screen name, the tutor should not be demanding your full name. The only reason a tutor should try to draw information about relationships, feelings, problems, or political or religious opinions from a student is if that is the topic and goal of the work the student has brought to the tutoring session. And in those cases, the focus should still remain on completing the work, not on forming a personal relationship between the tutor and the student or parent.
Sometimes, relationships do form between consenting adults. People have become romantic partners or platonic friends with their tutors. But the tutor should not be behaving as though they are there to use the tutoring program as a friendship or dating site or event.
The tutor offers to complete homework for the student, revise or edit papers for them, or give test or quiz answers.
Legitimate tutors offer insight, guidance, ideas, and relevant information designed to help their students learn. Taking tests, rewriting papers, writing papers for the student, or doing anything else that the student is being graded on doing is not tutoring. That’s cheating. Any tutor who offers to cheat for you or your child, or who has a reputation of being the tutor you go to if what you really want is someone to cheat for you should be avoided at all costs.
Tutoring is a passion for some, a side hustle for others, and a mix of the two for still more people. It can be done by those in any field. But it is a service, and a tutor is a service provider. And just like service providers in any job, tutors can be safe, honest, and qualified, or the last people you would want to hire to provide the service you need.
Thinking about scams during the holiday season is difficult. It is the time to focus on the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who taught us to love, serve, and care for one another in both word and deed. We should be focused on caring for the sick, meeting the needs of those who lack basic resources, showing our partners, families, and friends how much we love them, and reminding the world that despite all worldly evidence to the contrary, Hope did indeed arrive.
Sadly, in today’s world, loving and serving others often includes protecting each other from scams. Here are just a few of the more common scams making the rounds as we look toward the 2022 Thanksgiving and Christmas season.
Missed deliveries texts
We all tend to buy a bit more during this time of year. Even those of us who are careful to avoid the excessive consumerism and flat out greed that can taint the holiday season are probably going to buy a few Christmas presents. And with all the sales and specials, the holiday season is a completely reasonable time to add a little treat for ourselves in there too.
With so many more packages showing up at the door than normal, it is entirely possible to miss a delivery. Drivers have a lot more work to do, they get tired, and your package winds up in some weird spot around the back of your building where you never go, or slides under your porch. Or maybe they were supposed to get your signature, and you were not home, so they had to take the package back until you contacted them.
But whether you are looking around for your lost order, or a delivery driver has an order they need to pass on to you, the communication will never be initiated or carried out through a vague text. If your package does not show up, you of course call or email the company you ordered the items from. They will always respond to you by calling back the number you gave them, replying to the email you sent, or contacting you via the information you provided in their online form. Details of your original message will be included in all correspondence or communication. A delivery you still need to sign for will still be communicated to you the old-fashioned way, with a notice in place of the package.
Vague text messages from Amazon or any other company you may buy from referencing a “delivery” are scams. Clicking on them may open your device up to malware that allows the scammer access to information on your computer. They may also be waiting to ask you to pay a “delivery fee” to get the package. The best defense against this scam is to instantly delete all such text messages. If you are legitimately missing a package, contact the company you purchased the item from directly.
Gift exchanges with strangers online
On the surface, this sounds like a wonderful way to serve others, make new friends, and collect some fun items for yourself, to give as gifts, or to resell as a little holiday side hustle. You are offered a spot in a “Secret Santa,” “Secret Sister” or even “Secret Dog” exchange. Participation is easy. All you have to do is add your name, mailing address, and other contact information to a list. Then, just buy a small, reasonable gift for the person you are assigned to buy for. It may be a bottle of wine, a dog toy, a Christmas tree ornament, or a small gift card. Finally, sit back and wait. Several people will have gotten your name, and you will receive a collection of wine, dog toys, ornaments, or small gift cards from new friends around the country or even the world.
Except this does not happen. These “Secret” Santa/Sister/Dog/Whatever online gift exchanges are nothing more than the tech savvy version of the classic illegal pyramid scheme. The vast majority of the people who participate get nothing, and meet nobody.
Rather than falling prey to these schemes, host a gift exchange for a group of family and friends that you already know. If you would like to anonymously bless a stranger, participate in one of the many “Angel tree” programs in your community. You can choose to buy Christmas gifts for a family, child, or lonely individual who lives in a nursing home by selecting a tag from a tree sponsored by a local business. These trees are run by legitimate charities, and you can trust that your gift will truly be used to bless someone.
Pet adoption scams
Giving a pet as a Christmas gift should be done with extreme caution, even in the best situations.. Before you even offer to get somebody a pet, you need to make sure that person has a safe environment for the pet to live in, and is prepared to pay for food, vet bills, and supplies the pet will need. Your friend might be a wonderful person who loves cats, but if his house is cluttered with items that might fall on a small animal and cause injury, he does not need a kitten. Or they might love German Shepherds and wish they could have a puppy, but live in a tiny apartment and work day and night, meaning the dog would be left alone in a cramped space most of the time. Perhaps your friend is already an amazing pet parent, but simply cannot afford another pet.
Even if you are one hundred percent certain the recipient and the pet would be blessings to each other, or if this holiday season is the right time to add a new pet to your own family, there is still the risk of the pet adoption scam. Scammers love this one because it’s too easy. All they have to do is steal a few cute pictures and/or videos of a pet, pretend it’s an animal they are looking to rehome, and wait for somebody to offer them the “fee” for the pet that they do not even own.
Never give anyone money for any pet until the animal is physically with you and/or its new owner. And Zoom does not count as being “together” in this situation. A scammer could easily use his or her own pet in the scam, promising that the dog or cat they are holding up to the camera is your new pet, while having no intention of giving it to you.
Scams may be unpleasant to think about during the holidays. But they are even more hurtful to experience at this time of year. Look out for each other.
Direct sales has been a popular “side hustle” or “side gig” before we even began using those terms. Companies such as Avon and Tupperware have been around for as long as most of us can remember. New companies seem to join them every year. Opinions about these businesses vary as widely as the products and services offered, with some insisting they’re all one small step away from pyramid schemes, and some insisting they’re a sure path to wealth, friendship, and a life free of stress. Of course,the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Many of these direct selling companies are known for manipulation, hounding, and other shady practices. Some direct sales companies have a remarkably low tolerance for this type of behavior. Regardless of the reputation of the company, the person you see signing up to sell for them is probably your friend, coworker, relative, or loved one. Here is how to support that person….without buying everything in their catalog and signing up half your neighborhood to sell on their team.
Warn them privately if you see they have signed up with a company with a truly horrendous reputation.
Most of us know which ones these are by now. They’re the ones that charge exorbitant sign-up fees, require representatives to sell high volumes in order to earn their commission, offer subpar products for the price point, and shut people down for not selling constantly. Their representatives are encouraged to humiliate, manipulate, even bully people into signing up, hound people to buy from them, and lie about how much money they make.
But even if your friend has signed up for one of these companies, commenting and posting right on the friend’s social media pages or professional webpages, or giving them a tutorial on the brand right in front of everyone at the local hangout does nothing but embarrass your friend. Take them aside offline, or send a private message or email to share your concerns.
Avoid promoting rival products in their social media posts.
Friends and family members who are not interested in or able to purchase the product or service their loved one has signed up to sell can still help by commenting something encouraging and/or interesting about the products or company. “We used to have family picnics every year, and everyone always brought food in Tupperware,” is a helpful comment for your cousin who has started selling Tupperware, even if your kitchen cabinets couldn’t hold another storage container. Or “I can still remember a special cup or bowl from childhood that came from Tupperware.”
If they’re selling cosmetics, comment on the colors of the items, or note the kind of look you think the products they’re promoting might be good for. Don’t mention another company’s products. “That mascara looks like it’s right on trend for those false lashes looks everybody is doing,” is a helpful comment. “I only use Brand X mascara,” doesn’t do anything but advertise another company’s brand on your friend’s sales post.
Comments that make it sound like you’re helping the person out or doing them a favor by buying from them hinder, rather than help, their sales.
Those who can and want to purchase products from their direct selling friend should make their purchases as they would from any other source. Everyone who buys from anywhere “helps out” everyone who benefits from those sales. Every time you shop at Walmart or Target or your local grocery store, your dollars are part of the reason everyone from the CEO to the high school kid who gathers the shopping carts are employed. If everyone in the world decided they would no longer purchase products from any Walmart store, all of those people would be out of a job. (The benefits tilt much heavier toward those CEOs than the shopping cart attendant, and the loss is much more harmful for the lower end employee.. but that’s another issue.)
Avoid commenting on your direct sales’ representative’s posts or page with “I hope this helps you out!” or “I only bought $50 worth of stuff. I’m so sorry. I wish I could do more.” This sends the message to others who read the post that the products aren’t really worth buying and anyone who shops with the person is just doing it out of pity. This is not the impression anyone doing any type of sales work is trying to make.
Even if you did just buy from them as a favor, keep that information to yourself. Informing them, even privately, that you’ll “place one more order then you’re done,” or that you thought you’d “do this for them,” is embarrassing and discouraging.
Don’t flood or “spam” other people with the direct seller’s links or do anything else that could cause trouble in an attempt to help.
Wanting to support your friend who has just signed up for direct sales is admirable. And spreading the word for them will help. But just share their posts to your page, or let your friends and family members who might be interested in shopping with your direct selling friend know they are now a representative for the company. Filling everybody’s email inbox, messenger message inbox, or facebook wall with constant links from the direct sales company will only get everyone to ignore you.
Quietly mentioning that your friend sells for the company when the topic comes up in conversation, mentioning their sales when someone notices a perfume or household item you purchased from them, or even just announcing their new venture on your webpage or to your group of friends once or twice is much more helpful than sending all 200 of your facebook friends a link to 50 different products in their catalog every day. You don’t want people you know avoiding someone they haven’t even met yet.
Make sure you’re allowed to distribute sales materials anywhere you decide to leave a brochure or catalog for your friend. Remember, their name and contact information is on it, so it’s going to look like they put the materials out there.
Don’t take advantage of the person to get free items or services.
There are some companies whose representatives sell their products by holding sales parties. These parties are often excuses for groups of friends to get together and hang out, even if everyone knows they’re mainly there to hear a sales pitch. And while it’s fine to allow a sales party from a home goods company to provide some of the beverages and snacks for your get together, or schedule a day of beauty with the cosmetics company representative you know, make sure at least half the people you invite are genuine potential customers. Scheduling a party with a representative only to take advantage of the free services and/or samples is not “giving them practice” for future parties. It’s wasting their time, energy, and supplies.
Supporting a friend in direct sales does not require filling your home with the products they sell, turning yourself into their assistant, or signing up to work under them. It only requires a bit of thoughtfulness and respect.
Spending a relaxing hour watching YouTube videos while sipping your morning coffee was meant to generate some ideas for making money without going back to that job you had three years ago and trying to squeeze a shift in between your current full-time job, your music, and taking care of your kids. Three videos in, and you’re starting to feel like an out-of -touch loser instead. According to the perky, smiling channel hosts you’ve found this morning, all you need to do is sign up with a company that provides a needed service today, and the money will start rolling in.
Each person you see urging you to join the gig economy or start that side hustle probably is indeed making money from the work they are doing. As long as you sign up with a legitimate company and follow the rules you agree to follow when you sign your contract, you will be paid for the service you provide. But the cash does not flow as fast as many of these “How YOU can make a fortune online..” videos would have you believe. There is always something they tend to leave out.
Content creators who promote their $300/day delivery jobs are giving you their gross, not their net, income. You have to invest additional money into your car to work one of these jobs.
Driving for a rideshare company, or delivering takeout, groceries, or other online purchases to customers might be the solution for you if you need some side work you can do on your own schedule, and you do not mind turning your personal vehicle into your workplace. The work itself is time consuming, tiring, and requires you to use excellent customer service skills. You never know who you might have to deal with during the course of your day. But driving from place to place, shopping, and picking up takeout are everyday things you already do, and this type of work will leave you plenty of time and mental energy to focus on your other work.
The main drawback, and the detail that is often left out of articles, videos, and other content promoting this type of work, is that your net income is often much lower than what the company pays you. If you devote an entire day or an entire weekend to delivering or giving rides, the pay you receive from the company you work for may be several hundred dollars. It just won’t all go into your bank account or wallet.
In order to determine how much money you are actually earning from rideshare, takeout delivery, or shopping and delivery work, you will first want to determine how much money you are paying out in order to get to do the work. These expenses include increased insurance payments on your car, additional money set aside for maintenance, extra tanks of gas, and anything you use to promote your business to customers. Keep track of that amount. Add up what you spend in a month, and subtract it from the money amounts the company deposits in your account in that same time period. What you have left is your net pay, or the amount you actually made from your work.
Online tutors who tell you how much their company pays per hour are telling the truth, they’re just not mentioning that many students do not want full hour sessions.
Any legitimate online tutoring company will make it clear that you are paid for the time you spend in a paid tutoring session, and not the amount of time you spend logged into their website. People who promote doing this type of work on social media are often a bit unclear on this detail.
Imagine you have just been hired on at a website called “Tutory Tutors.” They are paying you $15 per hour. You understand that this is actually going to amount to around $12 per hour once you deduct your 20% from each paycheck for taxes, but you still think you can bring in some money. You tend bar in the evenings as your day job, and your art just doesn’t happen until the afternoon, so your mornings are open. You can work from seven a.m. until one p.m, giving you plenty of time to bring home about $360 more each week.
That is an excellent goal, and if you are in a similar situation, there is nothing wrong with striving for it. Just remember that it may not happen. You may log in to Tutory Tutors bright and early on Tuesday morning, only to be greeted with a blank screen. None of the students have arrived yet. You sit there for an hour before somebody books a session with you. It’s a college student. Your student is polite, honest, and serious about his studies and a pleasure to work with. But he only needed you to look over his paper and make some suggestions as to where he might add detail. It only took you half an hour. It is another half an hour before another student logs in. You will certainly feel like you were at work at Tutory Tutors for two whole hours, and you were. But you will only be paid for that thirty minutes you spent helping your student add detail to his paper.
Vloggers, bloggers, Tik Tok video creators, and everyone else who claims you can “just create a course, offer it online, and make up to six figures” is glossing over the amount of time and work it takes to create a course.
Creating a course is certainly making plenty of money for those who create courses as their business, or who create and market courses as a part of a wider professional focus. It is just far from the “easy, low cost side hustle that quickly turns into passive income” so many content creators present it to be.
As a steady, salaried job, I teach writing courses to adults online as a university faculty member. The courses are already written when they are assigned to us. I do not have to create the syllabus, design the assignments, write the main instructions, or set up the grading system. My job is to create lessons that teach each assignment, write supplemental teaching materials, and do the actual grading. I do about half of the work it would take to create and design a course from the ground up. And I still work on those lessons several days a week, every week, throughout the year. My current set of teaching materials took me about six months to create, and require a review every ten weeks, often a revision or even a complete overhaul.
You may still want to create a course. It would be a wonderful way to add to your career and pass your skills and knowledge on to others. But creating a course is going to take the same amount of time and energy as it takes you to make an album, create a series of paintings, write a novel, or complete your latest book of poems. It is far from something you will be able to throw together for some quick side cash.
Unlike many “make money online” pitches, signing up to offer deliveries or rides, tutoring online, and creating a course are legitimate opportunities. It is just important to gather all of the details about them before jumping in on the advice you stumbled upon online.
Getting a second job is often necessary for working artists. Sometimes, the second job is another passion, another calling, of yours. In other situations, you just need something to help pay the bills for a while. Either way, the search can be discouraging. Here are just a few frustrating patterns, trends, and other details that make job hunting especially difficult today….and what to do about them.
“Education” job postings from places that are really looking for childcare or other personal care workers.
Scanning job ads for keywords used to be a productive way to narrow down job ads. If it said “school,” or “educator” or had the word “teacher” or “teacher’s” (teacher’s assistant) in it, the job was in education. You were applying for a teaching job, or you were applying for a job helping a teacher by doing their grading, offering input on lesson plans, providing in-class tutoring during homework or free work time, or giving lessons to students when the teacher was busy with others in the classroom.
Today, a job ad with “school” or “education” or “educator” in the title may simply mean that the job takes place inside a school. They’re telling you that you’re going to need a background check with fingerprinting, a drug test, and a TB test, not that you’re going to be working in the field of education.
One recent job ad sought applicants for such an “educator” position. The company promised they had a “curriculum,” and said they were running a program inside local schools. On the surface, this appeared to be a job teaching supplemental lessons to students inside area schools. Once candidates went through the interview process and read through the onboarding paperwork, however, it became clear that the program was actually a drop-in childcare program. The “curriculum” involved some learning, but was mostly a more organized version of the type of activity a child would be offered in daycare. Every employee was called an “educator,” regardless of their background, and the primary focus was on providing the parents with an alternative to hiring a babysitter after school.
This can make job hunting confusing both for those in education, who think they’re applying to teach or tutor, when they’re really applying to provide the in-school version of daycare or home health care, and for those whose fields are childcare or nursing, who may hesitate to apply because they are not teachers.
Careful reading of the ad before you apply, and reaching out and asking specific questions, often multiple times, is the only way to work around this issue. Ask the interviewer or recruiter, “What type of work will I be doing in this position?” or “What is a typical day like for someone in this job?” before accepting any offers. And ask these same questions of multiple people within the company, or read reviews online. Sometimes, the company is hiring anyone who passes the background check, and the first person you talk to is a recruiter. They may be telling you what they think you want to hear, because their company is in dire need of employees.
Interviewers who behave as though you have the job, only to reject you later.
Most job searchers have either had this experience, or have talked to a fellow job searcher who has. You schedule an in-person interview. It goes well. It goes so well, in fact, you’re sure you have the job. The person who interviewed you walked you around the building, discussing what you would be doing throughout the day. They showed you the desk that would be yours. You met the receptionist for your building. They took you around to the breakroom, and told you to bring a mug from home, but make sure to store it in the upper right cupboard.
As soon as you get home, you pick out that mug. You gather some office supplies for your new desk. You even make a note to get yourself a little desk fan, as your new desk is in the warmest, stuffiest part of the building.
A few days later, the printed letter or email you were waiting for arrives. You open it happily, eager to learn your start date. It’s a rejection letter.
There is no one reason why an interviewer might do this. The behavior might be part of the test. They could be gauging how you react to the idea of doing each task, or meeting coworkers, or hanging out in the breakroom to see if you fit into the company or work site. Maybe they’re used to dealing with people who go ballistic anytime somebody dares question, challenge, or even just fail to fawn over them on social media, and they don’t want the offline version of that going on in their building. The interviewer may just be an especially kind person, going out of their way to be warm and friendly to everyone they interview. Or perhaps they’re just a manipulative jerk who gets a kick out of getting peoples’ hopes up and then dashing them.
There is absolutely nothing you can do about this one, other than remembering that you do not have the job until you get a formal offer. It does not matter how many bathrooms, breakrooms, coat hooks, and coffee pots they show you. The job is not yours until you have been given a start date and time. Keep applying for other jobs until you receive an offer.
Jobs you are not sure you should apply for, because the job requirements are outlandish.
Employers complain that nobody wants to work anymore. Then they post a job ad looking for someone with four years experience in the restaurant industry, preferably as a chef or cook. Three references are required. They would also like to see a strong background in customer service, with at least a year in the hospitality industry. The job is minimum wage, no tips, and the position entails keeping the self-service hotel breakfast bar clean and well stocked with pre-packaged foods. The closest this person is going to get to cooking is brewing coffee and making sure hot water is available for people who want tea or hot chocolate. And while they are going to be working in the hospitality industry, anybody who can greet people politely can handle that aspect of the job.
Look over the descriptions of jobs like this. If it is truly something you want to do, or that you think might fit into your schedule or plan well, first note whether something is listed as “preferred” or “required.” If it is “preferred,” apply anyway. Those lists are often descriptions of dream candidates that the hiring manager knows they are not likely to actually find.
If the off-putting detail is “required,” note the detail that is required. The company or organization may be willing to waive a requirement that is listed but not essential for the work to recruit an otherwise desirable candidate.
One example of this is the “valid New York State driver’s license required” that seems to be on every job listing, even if nothing in the job description has anything to do with travel or providing transportation. The ad may have just been written by someone who is really looking for government issued identification and just assumes everybody drives. Reach out to the recruiter, or the company’s human resources department before applying.
Job hunting is difficult during the best of times. It can be especially daunting today. Keep going. Your dream job…or at least your temporary job that you took just to finance the next album, exhibit, or writing retreat but can tolerate for a while…is out there.
We would all prefer to think scammers live far away. They operate in organized rings in far off countries, and their scams are nothing personal. Numbers are stolen, copied, and spoofed at random, and the only reason the scammer is trying to trick you into giving them money is because you happened to pick up the phone or reply to the email. And in most cases, this is true. But there are dishonest people everywhere, including in our own country, state, and community.
Most of these scams are copied from the more large-scale, impersonal scams. American romance scammers are online to trick people into thinking they’re in a relationship with, engaged to, or even married to someone who either does not exist or is living a life that does not exist. Someone you encounter in a national facebook group pretending to be disabled in order to gain attention and sympathy (Munchaussen by Internet) is going to behave pretty much the same way as someone doing the same thing in a local group. The red flags are going to be the same or very similar.
Scammers who run heartstrings scams on those they either know or are willing to meet offline will also display some of the same signs of deceit, but there are some more unique red flags.
The person resists local resources that would help them solve the problem.
While there are legitimate reasons someone might not be able to easily reach out to a local agency or organization designed to meet their need, constant rejection of available resources may be a sign that the person is looking to do something other than fill a need.
The person joins a “helping hands” group and announces that they are in need of food. People respond with information designed to help the person apply for EBT, sign up for meal programs, even obtain food from the local food pantries available that day. The original poster then insists they do not have transportation or proper identification. Someone explains what they need to do to get transportation and identification. They come back insisting they also need child care. When someone explains how to solve that problem in their area, they suddenly can’t be away from the house for that length of time for some other reason. Only someone’s money or gift will save the day.
Only cash, cash gift cards, or items with a high resale value are acceptable.
Sometimes, people are happy to help others, but are not comfortable giving out cash or those gift cards that are basically cash on a card for whatever reason. They may be happy to help someone put gas in their car, but would prefer to give the person a gift card to the store where they purchase their gas than cash or a Visa gift card. Or they may be willing to bring someone else some food or a gift card to a grocery store, but not want to just hand them money for groceries.
Someone in genuine need of gas or groceries would be likely to accept the help in whatever form their new friend offered that help, as long as it met their need. If they really need food, a gift card to Hannaford or Instacart or Aldi would help. A person inventing situations that do not exist in order to get free money may refuse the direct help and insist they must be given cash or a cash card.
Before the baby formula shortage, baby formula was a common tool in this scam. The scammer would post to a group local to them and ask for formula for a hungry baby that did not exist. They would insist they could only accept cash or cans of formula. Even a gift card to the grocery store would be rejected with the excuse that the person did not have time to register it, or they couldn’t be sure there was actually money on it. Pleas would increase until someone gave the person the formula directly. The formula would then be listed for sale in another group.
The problem never gets solved, no matter how many people step in to help.
Each year around the holidays, a woman was in the habit of posting in multiple “helping hands” groups looking for help. She always said she did not have anything to make a Christmas for her kids. The town where she lived was not like Utica; people were not likely to be generous to someone else unless that person had the “right” connections, or being generous would result in publicity for the giver. But this woman found some people willing to help her. One other woman gave her an entire set of Christmas decorations. Somebody else responded that they would be happy to bring her everything she needed to make cookies with her kids as both a holiday activity and a treat. These same two people also made sure the one in need knew how to sign up for the “angel trees” sponsored by larger corporations with local branches.
But the original poster just kept rejecting everything, while posting repeatedly that she had nothing to make a Christmas for her kids. When the people who did reach out to help her finally got frustrated and asked, “What happened to all those Christmas decorations I gave you last year?” she disappeared. It had been a cash scam all along.
One need after another is posted from the same account.
First, the person needed clothes for work. Someone gave them the right clothes for their new job. The next day, they needed money for gas for their car. They were helped. Two days later, the same account posted in the same group seeking kitchen items.
This alone is not a red flag for a scam. If this is the only pattern the person is showing, they are much more likely to be someone in need who sees nowhere else to turn than a person running a resale scam. But if you see this paired with another red flag, such as the person resisting all local resources and constantly claiming one need after another, this may be a red flag.
The best defense against these types of scams is simply thinking things through before you decide to make a donation outside of your church, workplace, or other verified organization. There isn’t much that can be done if you willingly handed over materials or money, even if the person was lying to you. Should you notice a pattern of these red flags, reach out to the owner of the group.
Anyone who uses social media to promote their arts career, or do pretty much anything else, has seen articles about a practice called “quiet quitting.” Right underneath them, you may have also seen articles proclaiming “quiet quitting” to be fake. And following that, more articles declaring quiet quitting to be not only real, but so prevalent, everybody you work with is doing it.
“Quiet quitting” is indeed fake in that it is not a unique or new phenomenon. At the same time, it is real, because it is nothing more than a new term for something people have been doing for as long as workplaces have existed. As for “everybody,” that is nearly impossible to measure, but it does seem as though people are becoming more prone to the behavior the term describes.
The term “quiet quitting” is new shorthand for “getting tired of being asked to do more and more work for the same or less pay, and simply refusing to do so.” People who engage in behavior that is now called “quiet quitting” are not leaving their jobs, and they are not necessarily quiet about it. They are just doing the bare minimum amount of work that they have to do in order to keep their jobs, and nothing else.
In years past, the only acceptable attitude among American workers was a willingness to do anything and everything you could to please your supervisors and/or customers or to promote the business you worked for. If your job duties as a receptionist were to watch the front desk, answer the phone and take messages, direct visitors to the correct offices, and respond to emails sent to the general information address, you did all of those things, and you cleaned the front lobby and helped the guy in the first office with his paperwork if he needed help. You even came in early and stayed late to finish those tasks if asked.
Being late for family dinner, missing the occasional child or grandchild’s game or performance, and having little time to relax and unwind in the evening were just things you had to put up with as a worker. Work was supposed to be hard. It was not supposed to be enjoyable. Praise from your bosses, promotions, and your income were your rewards.
Those who gave into this wholeheartedly were praised for being “hard workers” and “dedicated employees.”
Then came the concept of “work-life balance,” a politically correct, corporate-speak term for not allowing your job to take over your life to the point that it becomes your whole life. Workers declared themselves to be seeking “work-life balance.” Corporations lured employees in with promises of “work-life balance.” The term even grew to a ratings category on some job websites.
But like most trendy terms, “work-life balance” began to lose its meaning. It devolved into an empty buzzword. Workers promised “work-life balance” still found themselves doing more work than they agreed to do when they took the job, with little to nothing in it for them. And despite all the stock photos of people lounging next to palm trees accompanying “work-life balance” articles, most workers were unclear as to what that actually meant for them. The point at which a job consumed too much of a person’s time, thoughts, and energy was a fuzzy dot for too many people, and one that often bounced around.
People termed “quiet quitters” are those who caught their dot, brought it into focus, and have refused to move past it. They are the ones who, when scheduled to work from nine in the morning until five in the afternoon, begin their work at nine and end it promptly at five. If their job description as a dish washer and bus person requires them to wash the dishes, clear and wipe down the tables, and roll the silverware at a restaurant, they complete those tasks. But they do not finish them as quickly as possible so they can pitch in and help the wait staff serve customers.
Whether “quiet quitting” is something advisable to do or not depends on the specific circumstances and behavior involved.
Sometimes, all that extra work you do, all that time and attention you take away from other parts of your life to devote to a job, don’t accomplish much beyond lining the CEO’s pockets. You’re doing extra work so they don’t have to take on the expense of hiring additional people to divide up the labor fairly. You are also sending the message that taking advantage of people is something the employees of your workplace will tolerate, encouraging the higher-ups to do it even more. “Quiet quitting” would be the right thing to do in these situations.
In other cases, refusing to do anything you do not absolutely have to do in order to keep your job may mean failing to help someone in genuine need. Refusing to pitch in to help a struggling coworker, brushing off another staff member’s concerns, or refusing to participate in projects that could improve working conditions for everyone because “that’s not your job” or “you spend enough time worrying about this place,” are not new trends in workplace behavior. They’re examples of not so good, old-fashioned selfishness.
Awareness months are often silly, overused, and more annoying than helpful. There is an awareness month for everything, and people often fall into the trap of displaying colored ribbons but doing little else. But if we bypass all the ribbons and the memes and the merchandise with glib sayings, awareness months can be useful for their original intention, bringing awareness to an issue that needs to be addressed throughout the year. They can also help raise funds to cope with the issue.
In October, awareness is raised for an issue that impacts the lives of many artists, depression. We all know the stereotype of an artist as someone who is constantly brooding, irritable, and prone to locking themselves away to write, paint, practice their instrument, or sculpt in isolation. In some cases, the person experiences periods of mania, in which their creativity flourishes, but they can do little else.
There is some grain of truth to this stereotype. In 2017, the journal “Perspective on Psychological Science” published a study called “Creativity and Mood Disorder: A Systemic Review and Meta-Analysis.” This study, and others, have found a strong correlation between creativity and mood disorders like major depression and bipolar disorder. But correlation does not imply causation. While mood disorders like depression appear to be more common among artists, your mood disorder did not give you your creative ability, and your creative ability did not cause your mood disorder.
Artists are more prone to depression and related disorders because working in the arts is so often low paying, competitive, and costly to maintain. You have to deal with constant criticism, steady rejection, and a never-ending search for paying work much more often than those in other fields. And that’s on top of the issues you see in the world and feel called to address in your work.
The signs and symptoms of depression are going to be everywhere this month. But there are a few things about it we may know, but tend to disregard or forget.
Telling someone to “snap out of” or “get over” depression does not have the hoped-for effect, and is more likely to worsen their outlook.
You may think you’re going to shock the person into approaching everything with a skip in their step and a smile on their face when you tell them to just get over or snap out of things. And they just might start skipping and smiling…but it will only be around you, to avoid having to listen to you make them feel worse again. Their condition will not improve.
When you tell someone to “snap out of it” or “get over it” or “just quit worrying about it,” what you’re really telling them is that whatever is going on with them makes things more difficult for you, and you don’t think you should have to deal with it. You just became one more voice telling a person who is already suffering that people do not in fact care about them.
And be honest. That is exactly what you meant. If you really thought commanding someone’s mood disorder away would fix everything, you’d be hiring yourself out as a 100% guaranteed instant cure for all mood disorders. And you’d get a lot of clients. Depression is far from enjoyable. If all you can say to a depressed person is “Just stop being so depressed,” it’s better to say nothing at all.
Your depression or related mood disorder is not a license to mistreat others
Irritability is a common symptom of depression, as is fatigue, and a loss of hope. This may be why you want to make plans with a friend, simply fail to show up, and then tell them off when they become upset with you. But a reason why you want to do something is not the same thing as a license to do it. You are just as responsible for managing your own mental health issues as you are for managing your own physical health issues.
If you’re diabetic, it’s your responsibility to read the label on the bread and make sure it has no more than three or five grams of sugar per serving, not the department manager’s responsibility to throw all the bread with six or more grams of sugar away. As someone with poor depth perception, it’s my responsibility to find transportation other than my own driving, not other drivers’ responsibility to swerve out of my way when I move into their lane because my eyes can’t follow the lines on the road. Similarly, if your depression leaves you irritable and fatigued, it is your responsibility to manage those symptoms, which may include getting professional help.
Having a mood disorder, or being treated for one, is not an excuse to avoid practicing your art.
Given the prevalence of depression and bipolar disorder among artists, and the increasing acceptance of medication to treat these disorders, there are undoubtedly a lot of artists out there with mood disorders, and many of them must be getting treated for them. If having a mood disorder in any way prevented the practice of the arts, there would be a lot less art in the world.
Just as with your other behavior, it is your responsibility to manage your symptoms and your work. If you feel like you can’t make that gig you spent months promoting because you’re feeling fatigued, it means you need to find a healthy way to manage fatigue. If you feel like ideas come to you more slowly on your new medication, find some ways to generate ideas.
Your art is not a good reason to avoid treating your depression or related disorder
In the study referenced above, the researchers’ findings were clear that art does not stem from depression or other mood disorders. An artist can certainly use their depression, bipolar disorder, or any other health issue they may grapple with, in their art. But the disorder itself is not the reason you are an artist.
Perhaps you wouldn’t have become an artist if you hadn’t had to face depression. That still doesn’t mean having depression is the source of your artistic ability. People are led to the arts during therapy for physical illnesses and injuries too, and breaking your arm or being diagnosed with cancer certainly doesn’t cause artistic ability to appear.
Anyone who notices symptoms of depression or a related mood disorder, like anxiety or bipolar disorder, in themselves is urged to reach out to a licensed professional for help. These are the people who can help you both manage the symptoms and work around any side effects that may impact your work, in and out of the arts.
It is important to take depression symptoms as seriously as you would take the symptoms of any other illness, in yourself and others
Just in case someone hasn’t come across a review of the most common symptoms of depression recently, they are: prolonged feelings of sadness, lasting two weeks or more, experiencing guilt, often out of proportion to the situation, a lack of hope, fatigue, marked increase or decrease in sleeping, similar noticeable increase or decrease in eating, body aches, irritability, difficulty concentrating, and low motivation. Movement may feel difficult, as though the person’s limbs were being weighed down. Depression may cause feelings of worthlessness and a general low opinion of oneself. These may extend to feelings that one would be better off dead, even thoughts of suicide.
Those who have bipolar disorder will experience periods of these symptoms, alternating with periods of unusually elevated mood, excessive energy, intense irritability or even anger, difficulty with impulse control, and oddly fast speech or movement. They may feel invincible, or have unusually favorable opinions of themselves.
Anyone who experiences any of these symptoms, or any other symptoms of depression or a related mood disorder is urged to reach out to a licensed mental health practitioner in their area as soon as possible. If you see these symptoms in a loved one, encourage them to get help. Seek immediate emergency care if you or someone in your life has or expresses the urge to harm themselves or anyone else.
Author’s note: This article, and all articles about mental health and mental illness on Artist Cafe Utica, are written by one of your fellow artists. I work in creative writing, content writing for artists, and adult education. Before I began this career, I was a reporter. My research comes from my years as a reporter, from research I have done for my art, or from research I do for the purpose of writing the articles you read. I am not a licensed mental health practitioner or any other type of healthcare professional, and these articles are not healthcare or professional health advice. If you have or believe you may have a health problem, including mental health, please contact a local licensed mental health counselor or speak to a doctor.
People who work in direct sales are often accused of scamming others. In some cases, these accusations have some merit. There are direct sales companies known for overcharging for sign up kits, placing unreasonable demands on their salesforce, and forcing people to pay to attend meetings and conferences only to line the pockets of the corporation. And you will find some people perfectly willing to go along with this in the hope of lining their own pockets. But most people who sign up to sell products for a corporation are just trying to make some money, improve their confidence through gaining sales experience, earn some free products, or widen their social circle. These people are often the target of scams.
“Invitations” to join groups that require you to pay to play games or participate in a program that will result in exponential sales growth for your products.
Joining any online group for direct sales representatives will generate a little crowd of people who seem to like everything you say. They like you so much, in fact, they think you would be “perfect” for their game group. It’s great fun. You pay to play a game, and if you win, somebody is going to place a huge order through your company webpage.
Other versions of this scam are presented as business courses. They tell you how perfect you would be for their program. All you have to do is sign up, and they will teach you all the secrets to selling your products, or building your downline.
These do not result in increased sales. The “games” exist only to collect entry fees from people. You aren’t going to win an order. The business programs are completely unnecessary. The company you signed up to work for will have their own training materials, included with the fees you already paid or have agreed to pay when you signed up. Never pay out any money to anyone outside your company to sell their products.
Texts asking you to email a potential customer to discuss an order
I am a mostly personal use Avon representative. While I do not actively sell the products, I do post my digital brochures online, mention Avon in passing, and make the occasional post or reference to it in the hope that a few people will place orders. Avon is one of about three cosmetics brands that I can use without having an allergic reaction, and my goal is to earn the eyeliners, mascara, lipsticks and glosses, and fragrance I wear for free.
Because I am not passing out brochures, setting up booths at craft or community fairs, or approaching people and striking up conversations designed to sell Avon, I make my phone number and professional email public in case someone wants to ask me if we have purple eyeliner or which moisturizer I like best before they place their order. Sometimes, I get these expected questions. Then there are the texts that give me what looks like a potential customer’s email address. The sender tells me they are planning to make a major purchase from me, for an important event, and they need me to email them to discuss the order.
These may look like real customers, but they are in fact scams. The person you are talking to has no intention of buying anything from you. No matter how important the event, someone buying Avon…or the products from any other direct sales company....would be perfectly able to ask the sales representative any questions they might have in that first text itself.
Responding to these messages with your email address will only give the scammer the opportunity to send malware designed to gain access to your computer's contents. This can include your login information for your bank and credit card accounts. On your screen, the email you get back from this person will still look like a message from a legitimate customer. It may have questions about products, or a note thanking you for being willing to fill such a large order. But you will never hear from them again after that, and no order will be made. You won't even know the email contained malware until you see the evidence that someone has hacked into your computer.
Customers who use your complimentary services and samples as a form of dishonest couponing
Representatives/consultants who host offline sales parties are especially vulnerable to this one. Direct sales have been around long enough for it to be common knowledge that booking a demonstration/party of a company’s products can provide low cost, or even free entertainment. They can gather a group of friends at their house, invite a representative from a company that sells cosmetics over to do a sales presentation, and everyone gets a free makeover or facial. Someone selling household goods might provide free snacks. Salespeople from companies that sell clothing, lingerie, or other products customers might be embarrassed to purchase in stores might find their sales demonstration doubling as anything from a fashion show to a bachelorette party. While there is nothing wrong with this, it is dishonest for someone who knows that they and their guests will not be making a purchase to pretend that they might in order to get the free event.
Another version of this scam occurs when a person simply pretends they're planning to buy from you, gets as many samples as you will give them, and then never makes a purchase.
There will be nothing you can do about this scam the first time it happens. After all, you cannot force the attendants of the party to make a purchase, and you will have no way of knowing the person who asked you for a bunch of samples has no intention of buying from you the first time they ask. But you can refuse to book a second party or demonstration with the client, or to give them any more samples.
Scams can happen to anyone, in any industry. These are just a few of the scams you may encounter if you decide to work in direct sales. Look out for those in your upline and downline, your friends and family, and yourself.