As wages remain low and prices go up, many are left to depend on tipping even more than before. While tipping is always optional and up to the audience member, customer or client, here is what to reasonably expect…and what to give when you are receiving a service in the course of your work.
You and your band are being paid to perform at an event.
The standard tip is $25 to $50 per band member. This tip is typically offered by the event’s host or coordinator. If you’re playing a wedding, for example, a member of the wedding party or the wedding coordinator will be most likely to offer you a tip.
There is an open mic at a local business, and you are a performer.
Don’t count on the money from the tip jar. Unless otherwise announced, the tip jar money is for the event’s host, not the performers. Tips for people who take the stage to read their novel or poem or play or sing a song are placed in a jar, basket, or case onstage. If you play an instrument, tips are customarily tossed into your instrument’s case. If someone chooses to tip, they will probably contribute between $5 and $10. Anyone who requests a song will probably add a few more dollars.
You’re performing online. Your audience is watching you via livestream.
The standard tip for an online performance is $10 minimum from each audience member. Fans who have been following your career, audience members who request a song via the chat function, and anyone else who simply wants to offer extra support may offer $20 or more.
The event is live and offstage. You are the D.J. or music program host.
Tipping the DJ at the rate of 10-15% of the total charge for the performance is customary. The person who hired you will offer the tip. Audience members may offer anywhere from $1 to $5, but that is typically done only when someone requests a song.
You arrive early for the open mic or gig, or hang around after your performance. You are seated in the dining area and a waiter serves you food or drink.
As with any other situation in which you sit down at a restaurant staffed by waiters, tip at least 20%. If the person went out of their way to provide excellent service, quickly bringing drinks for late- arriving band members, carrying trays around your guitar case, or doing anything else extra to accommodate you, increase the tip to 25% or more.
The rehearsal or writing session has taken up more time and energy than expected and you need to order food and/or drinks. You use a delivery app like Uber Eats, GrubHub, or DoorDash.
If the driver does nothing more than show up at the door with the correct order packaged neatly, you need to add a tip of 10% to 15% to your total bill. Delivery drivers who go out of their way for you, waiting at the door until the band finishes a song, bringing extra plates and utensils so orders can be shared, or walking up an especially steep hill to get to your rehearsal space should be tipped 20%-25%.
You are unable to drive yourself to the performance or rehearsal. Nobody is available to give you a ride. You depend on Uber or Lyft to get you there.
Rideshare drivers should be able to count on a tip of 15% to 20%. This is for the average safe, clean, pleasant ride. You may want to offer a slightly higher tip to the driver who helped load your instrument or other equipment into the car.
The band is taking a break and everyone is hungry. You run out and pick up the takeout order. When you get to the counter, there is a tip jar next to the cash register or order pickup window.
In the past, tipping was not expected at self-service windows. Today, a tip of 10% of the total bill is customary. While you are picking it up yourself, the tip is for the staff who carefully prepared and packed your order.
Writing this song (or poem, or novel) has absorbed so much of your focus this afternoon, you completely forgot you were supposed to run to the store and pick up some items you forgot the last time you went grocery shopping. And you have to do it fast because you need to be at a venue to perform this evening. At the store, a floor associate goes out of their way to help you gather the items quickly, and the cashier bags everything according to the room it belongs in to save you time.
Retail employees at “big box” stores are one of the few categories of service people you should not tip. They will certainly deserve it, especially if they have gone out of their way for you. But tipping them will likely get them reprimanded, if not fired. And don’t try to sneak them some cash when the manager isn’t looking. Large corporate retail stores have cameras all over the place. If the manager doesn’t see them, somebody else on staff certainly will.
Some appearance maintenance is in order before your next performance. You head to a salon for a cut, color, professional skincare service, or manicure or pedicure.
Tip professionals who help you look your best at least 25% of the total cost of the services. As with all other tipped work, if you asked for something that was especially difficult or time consuming, tip a bit more. This applies to time spent in consultation too. If your goal was to adopt an obscure retro style, and the stylist took extra time to scroll through multiple web searches on your phone with you, or if you weren’t sure what you wanted when you walked in, and they spent time helping you make a decision, show your appreciation with a higher tip.
When you are in a position to receive a tip, of course you will respond with grace and gratitude, regardless of the amount offered. When you are in the position to offer a tip, always err on the side of generosity. You are supporting your fellow artists and community members.
by Jess Szabo'
Originally published on Artist Cafe Utica
Add a piece of Utica art and history to your business with a painting from the Paul Parker Utica Trust
Artists’ workspaces are always pictured as colorful and inspirational. While we do not all fit that expectation, most of us do all we can to make the place where we create and practice our art as comfortable and productive as we can.
When we’re working our second jobs and day jobs, workplaces today can be rather stark and even a bit cold. Decorating trends favor a lot of white, gray, and black. There is little color, and when it is seen, it is usually in the form of traditional “lobby furniture” and “office furniture.” This type of furniture and decor is of course easy to find, more affordable than filling the space with more comfortable furniture intended for a home, and much more durable. Still, it does little to help customers, clients, potential employees, or collaborators feel welcome or remember the business.
Many public places add works of art to their lobbies, offices, or meeting rooms to generate pleasant feelings in their customers, and make their businesses stand out among the many similarly furnished and decorated places around town. This has been shown to be an effective tactic. Looking at art can cause similar reactions in the brain to falling in love, or looking at someone you love. Reduced stress, improved memory, and greater feelings of empathy have also been noted in studies that examine the impact of viewing works of art.
One way local business owners and managers can use the visual arts to make their workspaces inviting and memorable is to lease one or more paintings from the Paul Parker Utica Trust.
Paul Parker was a painter, Hamilton College professor, and chair of the Hamilton College Art department for twenty-two years, from 1948 until his retirement in 1970. He was born in LaGrange, Illinois in 1905. Parker held degrees from the University of Illinois, and the University of Chicago. Before moving to Utica, he served as the Head of the Art Department for the University of South Dakota (1937-1939), Director of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center (1940-1945) and the Director of the Des Moines Art Center (1945-1948).
During the 1950s and 1960s, Parker sketched and painted scenes of pre-Urban renewal Utica. When he retired, Parker set twenty-two of his paintings aside to form this permanent collection.
Each painting in the trust is an original, framed oil painting featuring scenes that will feel familiar to many who grew up in Utica, during these decades, and welcoming to those who moved here after the time reflected in the work. When shown prints from the collection, long-time residents immediately begin sharing memories of Utica’s past, while newer arrivals are typically moved to ask questions about their new hometown.
Parking Lot, painted in 1956 features a row of five distinctive 1950’s cars sure to bring back memories of first driver’s licenses and first vehicles. Barber Shop, created in 1952, instantly brings to mind the days when men of all ages gathered in these places for both grooming and socializing. Encounter, from 1952, is a street scene in which a group of people meets up on the sidewalk. Seat Cover Installed, a painting done in 1955, contrasts a crisp, clear ad for seat covers painted on the side of a building with the collection’s signature soft, muted tones. Other paintings are named after the specific Utica location portrayed in them, such as North Genessee Street (1952), Park Avenue (1956), Encounter on Bleecker Street (1956), and Terminal Hotel (1953).
The color palette for most of the works tends toward warm shades of rust, reds, greens, and teals, with soft blue-gray skies.
Business owners and managers can lease the works for $250 per month, per painting. They must agree to lease them for at least three months. Businesses of all sizes and types are welcome to display the paintings, but rentals are limited to public places. The paintings may not be hung in private homes. Workplaces that choose three or more paintings for extended periods of time will be asked to pay for insurance on the paintings. But there are no other costs. Representatives from the Paul Parker Utica Trust will transport the paintings of your choice to your place of business and hang them for you.
Whether your business is in the arts or not, choosing a painting from the Paul Parker Utica Trust supports your fellow Utica artists. All funds raised through the leasing of these paintings are used to support Utica artists.
“The Trust was a sponsor of the play ‘The Wizard of Was,’ Trustee Cassandra Harris-Lockwood noted, referring to a play she wrote, directed and produced locally. “The Trust also sponsored Utica artist Clint Shenendoah for his entire career.”
The Paul Parker Utica Trust is based out of the local nonprofit organization “For the Good, Inc.” Detailed information about leasing the paintings is available by calling the organization directly at 315-797-2417. Those who prefer to communicate in writing may email For the Good at Forthegoodinc@gmail.com
Don’t miss out on this special, unique to Utica opportunity to beautify your workspace, boost your business’s reputation, and support your fellow local artists.
by Jess Szabo'
originally published on Artist Cafe Utica
Websites and apps offering the opportunity to earn free gift cards are not additional income streams. No matter how much time you spend logged on, or how many activities you participate in, there is no way you can make enough money to consider these sites a second job, side gig, side hustle, or source of passive income. But they can serve as fun, easy ways to give yourself a little free gift or bonus once in a while, or to fund some small purchase or goal. You could earn enough gift cards to pay for a special dinner, purchase a jacket or bag that’s just a little out of your budget,or get a free book or album or two.
Shopkick promises to provide such opportunities. All you have to do is download the free app on to your phone, sign up, and participate in some of the simple activities to earn points, which they call “kicks.” Once you earn a certain number of “kicks,” you can redeem them for free gift cards, or small amounts of cash added on to your PayPal account.
Shopkick receives nearly all positive reviews online, and has been around since 2010, becoming more popular over the past year due to brand deals with a few YouTube video creators.
My Shopkick app was downloaded after I watched a February9, 2022 video from the YouTube channel “couponwithStar.” There were no issues downloading the app, and I was able to enter the code from the channel, redeemable for a $10.00 bonus, soon after signing up.
Points,or “kicks,” can be earned for walking into local stores, scanning barcodes for specific items in those same stores, purchasing selected items while there, or for shopping online. You can also earn the odd one to three points for watching videos.
I earned my first few points for watching videos, just to test out the app. They posted as promised.
On offer for February 10, 2022 was 10 points for walking into my local Target. Malls are among my least favorite places to spend time, but our local mall is where I go to walk for exercise, and I had been sitting around far too much lately. I was also in need of clothes hangers, so I spent the $12 on an Uber ride, and decided to try to earn back the money I spent on the ride.
Shortly after entering Target, I pressed the button to notify the app that I had walked into the store. My points posted, and the combination of the videos and the walk-in points were enough to generate my $10 bonus from the YouTube video.
Walking around the mall, stopping for a quick lunch at China Express in the food court, and looking around to see if anything new was coming in gave everything the chance to post to my account. It all looked legitimate.
I selected the Paypal $10 cash deposit option for a reward, only to learn that I was in fact 25 points short. But that was not a problem. There was also the chance to earn points for scanning the bar code on any Tidy Cats cat litter, and a new eco friendly line of home cleaning products. I would only need to walk back across the mall, go back into Target, and scan two items, and I would get all but $2 from my Uber ride back.
Standing there in the aisles scanning products felt embarrassing at first, but honestly, nobody even gave me an odd glance. There are so many of these gift card apps, coupon apps, and price checking apps out there today, scanning something with your phone is no more disruptive to anyone else’s shopping than pausing to compare the prices of two items the old-fashioned way or pull a paper coupon out of your pocket or bag. And I had my points for the $10 to be sent to my Paypal account.
My money never made it. Every time I tried to redeem my points, all I got was a notification that my payment could not be sent. Assuming there was a glitch with Paypal, I decided to choose another reward. I tried to redeem my points for ten dollar gift cards to Amazon and Barnes and Noble, only to get error messages in return.
Reaching out to customer service got me a message, three days later, reading, “Thanks for reaching out! Please go ahead and try redeeming your reward again-it should work now, we think :) “ (Smiley faces and exclamation points theirs.)
I tried it again, only to receive an error message stating that I was trying to sign in on an unrecognized device and they could not email me. Notifying the company about that error got me a link to register my device.
This finally worked. The free $10 to Paypal was deposited.
Shopkick is not quite as quick and easy as it seems in the beginning, but getting back $10 of the $12 I spent on my Uber ride was a nice bonus. I will continue to use the app as a resource to earn the odd free gift card or cash to spend on an Uber ride. But like any app or website offering the chance to earn free things, the payoff is never going to be big enough to justify daily logins or extra hours added to every chore.
We all know about Nigerian and Eastern European love scams. Only sheltered, gullible people who barely know how to use the internet would ever be duped by anybody talking about coming “home” to them from Nigeria or moving from an Eastern European country to marry them. And American scammers….that’s just teenagers and people barely into their twenties, as shown on MTV’s Catfish.
But are we sure we’re right about that?
While it would be comforting to think we’re immune from being targeted by these scammers, the truth is, there are Americans who run love scams, and they are not all under twenty-five and just seeking some attention. Scammers can cause serious damage to our mental health, our finances, and even be dangerous, and they can be from anywhere in our home country, or even our home state or our own hometown.
Whether you’re single and treating yourself to an online dating site membership for Valentine’s Day, single and chatting with attractive people on social media throughout the year, or happily partnered with your one and only and seeking strictly platonic friends online, watch out for the following red flags.
The person declares the relationship to be serious or important much too quickly.
You’re single. You’ve been chatting with an attractive person of the appropriate for you gender for a week or so. The two of you have never met, online or offline, before. In your mind, you have an online crush. But suddenly, online crush is telling you that for them, it’s more than a crush. They want to start dating exclusively, as they are already falling in love with you. Or you’re happily married, and have made a new platonic buddy you enjoy chatting with every day. Only this person keeps referring to you as “the brother he never had,” or “like a sister to her” already.
Relationships can move rather quickly online, but nobody is in love with you, nor are they close enough to be your adopted sibling, two weeks after you first encounter each other on the internet. People who push for close relationships within the first days or even weeks of meeting you may be setting you up to persuade you to send them money, buy them expensive items, or do some other favor one would only do for the love of their life or someone who is family to them.
Money, their bills, how poor they are, and other financial problems are their favorite topics.
Your new friend from the crafter’s group expressing disappointment that Dollar Tree items are now $1.25 each, or the man you’re dating online and about to meet for your first date joking that you’re taking him out for a steak dinner does not need to send you running for the hills. Some talk about money is normal among dating partners and friends.
It becomes a red flag when the person appears to be trying to make you feel sorry for them over their financial issues, dropping hints that they could use some money or would like some expensive gifts, or asks you to send money for things like plane tickets to come and meet you.
Important details from their life do not match up.
Nobody fits into any one “type” perfectly. The person who describes themselves as the “geeky” type can still dislike video games and love to watch baseball or hockey. Someone can be “outdoorsy” and love hunting, but have a problem with bow hunting. Most people can name at least one issue they differ with “their” political party over. None of these constitute warning signs the person is scamming you.
Look for differences that go beyond a few traits, tastes, or opinions. You and your new potential partner first started chatting because you’re both single parents of third graders, but they can’t seem to relate to stories about buying school supplies or communicating with teachers. The new friend you made online likes to talk about you visiting them in Las Vegas, but it takes them a minute to get your reference to “the strip.” They tell you they’re in the mental health field, but cannot explain a simple concept from a Psychology 101 class better than you, who only has a passing interest in the field. Never brush these inconsistencies off, or accept excuses about them being “tired” or “misreading” your message. Nobody is so tired they forget where they live, the existence of their own children, or their own career field.
They seem to be trying to isolate you.
Asking someone you are dating seriously and exclusively to stop seeing past romantic partners they do not share children with is reasonable. But nobody should be asking you to stop seeing platonic friends of any gender or orientation, family members, or people you associate with on a professional level, or see in the course of carrying out activities such as church attendance or club memberships.
Scammers may also demand that you stay up all night every night to talk to them, push you to miss work in order to stay connected to them in chat, or behave as though you are obligated to reply to their texts within seconds. Some scammers give their targets “projects,” such as demanding they learn a new language or spend all their free time researching places they may want to live someday. They’re not fascinated by you, excited about your future, or pushing you to be your best self. They’re trying to keep you focused on them and occupied so that their voice is the only one you hear. This makes you easier to manipulate.
Excessive secrecy is demanded.
Some people like to keep new romantic relationships private in the beginning. And it is entirely reasonable for anyone, whether your boyfriend or girlfriend or platonic close friend, to expect you to keep things they told you in confidence to yourself. And it should go without saying that you do not post or share anything that might put your loved one in danger, such as their home address or the names of their children.
This is different from demanding you keep the fact that you’re dating online a secret from your adult children, or insisting that you don’t tell your husband that the two of you have become friends. Online contacts who demand much more secrecy than the situation would reasonably warrant are not “private people,” or “afraid of being hurt again.” They’re afraid you’ll talk about them to someone who will see the red flags in the situation.
Pressure for private, intimate, or sensitive information is placed on you, without reciprocity from them.
Some people are just nosey, or prone to getting carried away with questions and such. But if your new partner seems to be collecting the most intimate details of your life without sharing theirs, or your new friend has your address, the name of your workplace, and the names and ages of your children, but you’re not even entirely sure if they have a family at all or what field they work in, something is wrong.
People who seem to be collecting sensitive, private, or intimate materials on you may be setting you up for a blackmail scam. The scammer carries on the phony relationship up to a certain point, then asks you flat out for money or gifts. When you respond with shock, and explain that you cannot help them in this way, they then end the “relationship” or “friendship,” and threaten to reveal your personal details publicly.
Plans to meet offline are constantly made and then broken.
In the original romance scam, the Nigerian scam, plans to meet are made in order to get more money. The scammer claims they need money to travel to the victim, then claims something occurred that necessitates more money before they get “home” to the one they “love.”
American scammers are typically aware that this tactic is old and well-known, but they may still make plans to meet in order to appear to be genuine, and then back out at the last minute to avoid revealing their real self or real situation.
Emergencies do happen, but if your partner or friend only seems to encounter tragedy when it’s time to meet up with you, there is something they do not want you to know.
The warning signs of a romance or friendship scam may seem like “old news” by now, but that is precisely what makes them so easy to forget. The internet is a great place to meet people, but like any large public space, it has its share of dangers. Be prepared to protect yourself and look out for each other.
by Jess Szabo'
originally published on Artist Cafe Utica
Work done to supplement your main income or raise funds for specific goals, known as “gig work,” or “side gigs” today, can lead a worker to discover new skills and callings, meet new business contacts, or at the very least, meet a financial goal or put some money aside.
But like any work environment, working in the gig economy can bring its own dangers. Whether you flip items, drive for Uber or Lyft, deliver for GrubHub or DoorDash, tutor offline or online, give in-person lessons in something you do as a hobby, or offer your services as a virtual assistant, there are some safety reminders it is often much too easy to forget or dismiss.
The risk of walking into strangers’ homes outweighs any increased tip or rating you may earn.
Delivery drivers, rideshare drivers, and those who flip items often see carrying the groceries or meal into someone’s kitchen, bringing the flipped item into the home and placing it for the customer, or carrying heavy shopping bags into the house for the rider after dropping them off as extra service provided. And it is. Your decent, safe customers will likely appreciate the extra effort and reward you with a big tip and/or a five star rating.
But that tip or rating is not worth the risk that your next client isn’t someone safe to be alone with in a private home. Those same decent and safe people will understand why you want to hand them their groceries through the doorway or leave them on the porch, meet them in public to sell a flipped item, or allow them to carry their own bags into the house. They may even be uncomfortable having you walk into their house, as they have only just met you too.
Some of the things you do to make the work more pleasant can be safety hazards if taken too far.
Riders using Uber or Lyft often appreciate listening to music on the way to their destination, and most enjoy a pleasant, casual conversation with the driver. Of course, blaring music, private phone conversations, and excessive personal questions or chatter are typically not appreciated. You will likely earn a low rating, possibly even a customer complaint. But these things can also cause safety issues. While you are in constant contact with the rideshare company through your app, never forget that you are in a car with someone you just met a second ago. Keep aware of the person and what they are saying and doing at all times.
Moving quickly to get on to the next order often makes for a better day for anyone who does deliveries, but don’t be in such a hurry that you are not aware of your surroundings as you walk up to the drop off place and back to your vehicle.
Anyone who does online tutoring or virtual assistant work via webcam probably likes having family pictures, mugs, and other comfort items around. Check over anything left in your workspace that may be picked up by the camera, and anything visible on the wall behind you when you’re on camera, to make sure you are not inadvertently showing your last name, the name of your child’s school, or your address to strangers.
Opening up to clients may feel like making a connection or helping them understand something, but you could be sharing with the wrong person.
It may be tempting to tell the visibly upset rider the story of your last horrible day, tell the delivery client all about your problems as an excuse for being late or arriving with an incorrect or badly packed order, or share your story of depression or anxiety with a tutoring student who is struggling to write their psychology paper. And it may work out the way you hope.
But oversharing in any situation can open you up to manipulation by psychopaths and narcissists, and gig work is no exception. Assuring yourself that you’re smarter than that, or brushing it off by thinking it doesn’t matter because you’ll never see this person again is naive. Manipulative people do not play on your intellect, they play on your emotions, and if you gave them too much information, you just taught them which ones can be most easily worked to their advantage. As for never seeing them again…you might not. Or you might have them as a client again, run into them in town, or even get a friend request from them on social media. Facebook’s “people you may know” feature often suggests people simply because you both had your phones open and were in the same place at the same time.
That bad rating, or even a complaint, is worth it if you ended a situation that seemed unsafe.
Gig work is great, but be sure to keep it in perspective. You’re flipping items, driving, delivering, tutoring, or doing whatever it is you do on the side to earn some extra money. You’re providing a service to others. Both of these things are important, but neither money nor being known for providing good service or even being liked in general, are more important than your safety.
Stop the car and end the ride if a passenger becomes belligerent or threatening in any way. Drop a delivery and run back to your car if you arrive to find people fighting, or see or hear anything else disturbing. Even if you are online, you have every right to immediately close your camera and end the tutoring lesson or office work session if a student or client of your virtual assistant gig work says or does something inappropriate. There will be other work opportunities.
Side gig work is growing in popularity. It can supplement, or even replace traditional income for some people. But it can also expose people to new dangers. Keep safe out there.
Welcome to Callie’s Corner, a space for artists and our pets. Callie is the official mascot/supervisor here at Artist Cafe Utica and your hostess for Callie’s Corner, a continuing series about artists and our pets.
Callie’s Corner: Artists and their pets: Give your character a dog
Fiction writers often pore over each detail of our works. We write draft after draft until we get everything just right, and that often includes characters’ pets. And just as real people are suited for some dog breeds and not others, your characters may be best prepared to own some breeds and not others. Use the information below to choose the right dog for your character…or to choose one completely unsuited to your character and create conflict.
If your character is a hunter or other type of outdoorsman, consider giving them a German Shorthaired Pointer.
Typically referred to as a “German Shorthair,” this breed ranges from 21-25 inches tall and 55 to 70 pounds. They can be black, liver, liver and white, or a reddish shade known as “roan.” German Shorthairs are known to be smart, excellent hunters, and very affectionate with their families. They quickly learn to point, flush, and fetch birds for their hunters, and will often bring their loved ones random things as a sign of affection.
Characters who want…or need…a challenge may be best suited for a Dalmatian.
Anytime a new movie, tv series, or book series featuring a dog becomes popular, people rush to buy one for themselves or their children. This is especially common with Dalmatians, due to, of course, the Disney “101 Dalmatians” films. More often than not, this turns into a problem, as Dalmatians are notoriously difficult to train. Children too young to have developed patience, and teens and adults too busy to devote extra time to their dog are not able to cope. Artist Cafe Utica does not recommend buying or adopting a real dog, or any other animal, to teach a child or anyone else a desirable skill or trait the person lacks. We strongly suggest you avoid giving your child a Dalmatian, or any other living thing, to teach him or her responsibility or patience. This typically results in neglect to the animal, and no animal deserves neglect. But in a work of fiction, a proud, stubborn Dalmatian could absolutely come into the life of an impatient, irresponsible character and help them turn their life around.
Laid-back, friendly characters might pair well with Pugs.
According to the American Kennel Club website’s article “10 Things You Didn’t Know About the Pug,” Pugs were once a symbol of the Freemasons. In 1740, a group of Catholics founded “The Order of the Pug” after being forbidden to join the official Freemasons because of their religion. The Pug was reportedly chosen due to its loyalty and trustworthiness.
While the Order of the Pug lasted only eight years, people remain fans of this adorable dog centuries later. Known to be carefree and affectionate, Pugs are great for people…real or fictional..who want a loyal lap dog.
Creating a character who must stand out in every way? Write a Xoloizcuintili (pronounced show-low- eats-QUEENT-lee) into your story.
In addition to their striking breed name, the Xolo comes in three sizes, hairless and furred varieties, and a range of colors. All varieties are rare, and rather odd looking, with a rather narrow snout and brow that appears to furrow when they’re deep in thought. If you are going for a realistic plotline, your character’s Xolo should not be too easy to obtain. A search for puppies online produced half a dozen breeders, none with puppies available.
A character who needs the tiniest dog, or the dog with the longest lifespan needs a Chihuahua.
Chihuahuas can live to be twenty years old or more, giving them the longest lifespans of any breed. They are also the smallest dog, with a weight range of only 3-6 pounds. Chihuahuas come in a variety of colors, and can be short haired or long haired. Their distinguishing features include large, round eyes rimmed in black, and large ears.
These five dog breeds are just a few of the 197 dog breeds currently recognized by the American Kennel Club, beginning with the Pointer in 1878, and ending with the Biewer Terrier, a tiny 3-8 pound tri color lap dog with long hair, in 2021. To learn more about dog breeds to give your fictional characters, visit the American Kennel Club website, then do a search for breeders of the dogs you’ve narrowed your options down to in order to learn more. Make sure to use the website itself rather than contacting breeders when you have no intention of purchasing a puppy.
Should writing about a dog inspire a calling to bring a real one into your life, Callie’s Corner suggests visiting your local animal shelter first, and looking for a dog you can adopt. If that is not an option for you, look for a local breeder and visit the home to make sure the person is selling the puppies of their beloved pets, rather than running a puppy mill. Avoid purchasing a puppy from a puppy mill or other large scale breeder who does not care for their dogs, but only sees them as a product to sell.
Callie’s Corner is sponsored by Larry Szabo, who is requesting donations for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Donate at www.stjude.org
Gig work, also called your “side gig” or “side hustle” can be a great way to supplement your income. Some people even build their side gig into a full-time business. And like all forms of conducting business, there are practices that may be legal, but are not honest or a decent way to treat other people. Here are just a few practices to avoid.
Re-selling free items from “helping hands” or other need focused groups
Flipping a free item you found on a general “buy, sell, or trade” group is perfectly acceptable. If someone has posted a general classified ad that reads, “Free couch, just need to clear space so we can bring in our new one,” and you take that couch, use a three dollar stain remover to get rid of a slight coffee stain, add two six dollar throw pillows, and sell it for a hundred dollars, you made a nice…and perfectly ethical…profit.
The ethical issue arises when someone is posting in a group intended to help those in need get the items they lack. If you join “Helping Hands Here,” find someone who is offering a couch to a household that cannot afford to pay for basic furniture, take the couch, and sell it as your side hustle, that is dishonest. You misrepresented yourself and lied about your situation in order to get that couch.
The same applies to items received from a food pantry or soup kitchen or other organization that has given you something to meet a need. If you receive food you can’t eat or a toy your child won’t play with or some clothing that does not fit, give it to someone who can use it, free…just as it was given to you.
Asking people to give you a five star rating
The constant rating on those gig work platforms is obnoxious for both the worker and the customer. I’m a regular customer with Instacart, and a regular, if infrequent user of Uber and Uber Eats. On Tutorme, I’m a gig worker. As a customer, I give everyone a five star rating unless they did something dangerous or practically threw something at me. There just isn’t an average, below average, great, or absolutely dazzling way for somebody to drive me to the store to pick up office supplies or drop off the chicken riggies I ordered for dinner or the milk, cereal, and drinks I needed for the week. And as much as it would make me feel good about myself to think otherwise, I doubt me spending twenty minutes going over some college student’s essay and suggesting they revise paragraph two but leave the rest in the final draft is truly a five star learning experience for this person.
Still, as silly as they can be, asking for a five star rating can make the customer a bit uncomfortable. It’s just awkward. Your best practice is to provide the best service you can provide, and let the customer choose their own way to handle the rating system.
Trying to make your customers into something other than customers
Relationships have formed during gig work. People have met future romantic partners, good friends, and people who would later be important professional contacts outside the gig work through their gig work. But the platform you use to do your gig work is not designed for you to create these relationships.
If you’re single, your Uber or Lyft driver account is not a dating app. A customer you find attractive may be unavailable, not interested in dating for another reason, or just not interested in being hit on at that moment, and might report you for asking them out on a date or flirting. If you’re happily coupled, the people who get in your car for a ride or chat with you while you bring their takeout or groceries into their building are not there to provide you with a pool of potential babysitters so you and your man or woman can go out this weekend. The person on your tutoring app asking for help writing a paper for their class on interior design did not log on so you could turn on your webcam, swing your computer around, and ask them which chair would go best with the couch you just bought. Friendly, polite chat to help the person feel at ease is fine, but keep the focus on the service you are providing for them.
Taking the “side” in “side hustle” or “side gig” a bit TOO far
Your side gig/side hustle should absolutely come last in your work priorities. Your career, the work you are called to do is going to be your first professional priority. Steady employment that pays your bills is either also first or second, depending on what that work may be. Side hustles come last. They’re supplemental income.
This means you can schedule your side gig work after all other work has been done. It means you can refuse to give up anything, and only work your side hustle when you have absolutely nothing else to do if you want to. It doesn’t mean it’s okay to do the work in a way that wastes other peoples’ time, energy, or money or puts them in an unsafe situation.
Talking on the phone when you have customers in your ride share car, tutoring online while watching television, or showing up late to meet someone coming to buy something from you are not okay just because it’s “your side hustle.”
Letting people take unfair advantage of you or make you uneasy
Behaviors that are unethical or bad form for you as a side gig worker are equally unacceptable when you are on the receiving end. You are not obligated to keep dealing with someone who lies about an emergency to get you to give them something free or at a reduced cost. Customers should not threaten you with a lower rating, or make you feel uneasy with overly personal requests. You don’t have to put up with people who make you wait an overly long time, or refuse to pay attention and allow you to do your job.
This is not to suggest that you start fighting anyone. If anything out of line happens, terminate the transaction as fast as you can, report the situation if you need to, and avoid working with the person again, if at all possible.
Like any work, managing a side gig takes some practice. Nobody is going to do a perfect job all the time. But there are some behaviors that, while they may not get you fired or reprimanded, are not ethical. They’re not the way anyone, including your customers…or you… deserve to be treated.
by Jess Szabo'
originally published on Artist Cafe Utica
We have all heard those stories “everyone” swears are true. Occasionally, they do turn out to be true. Most of the time, they turn out to be the result of poor research, or intentionally invented or exaggerated. A few of these tales and claims revolve around making or saving money.
Urban Legend: You can start with a penny or a paperclip and trade up to things like cars and houses.
Reality: This has been done. Beginning in 2005, Canadian blogger Kyle MacDonald set out to trade a red paperclip he found on his desk for a house by gradually trading up. He swapped the paperclip for a pen, and kept trading and making deals until he had his house. YouTuber Ryan Trahan has successfully duplicated this experiment this past year, starting with a penny, and trading up until he owned a tiny home.
The process just isn’t as easy or as fast as it appears to be. The original challenge took an entire year to complete. Trahan often does his trade ups in the span of a week, but he uses his status as a content creator with a strong following to help with his trades. People participate because they recognize him from YouTube and want to be included in the video. This is fine, and actually makes the videos fun to watch. But the experience is likely to be a bit more of a struggle for those without a large established following.
Urban Legend: Dollar General puts items on sale for as little as a penny.
Reality: While penny items have been found at Dollar General stores, this is the result of a mistake, not a sale. Items that ring up for a penny have already been discounted as much as the store allows, and were supposed to be cleared from the sales floor.
Employees do not know which items may have been missed and are ringing up for a penny. They are not allowed to help customers search for penny items, or allow them to go back and grab another pile of merchandise should they find something that rings up for a penny. The best way to stumble upon penny items is to learn the season and discount codes from the tags, and select the oldest, most out of date pieces in the store. But there is no guarantee any of these will ring up for a penny, and if something should, the staff will be required to remove all other items from the floor.
Consider yourself blessed if something in your Dollar General haul rings up for a penny. But don’t show up at Dollar General stores and make a mess digging through sale items, make the cashier ring up items and then say you don’t want them when they don’t ring up for a penny, or demand the staff sell you something for a penny because you heard about someone else getting that item for a single cent.
Urban Legend: You can get anything you want for a fraction of the price by charging it on a credit card, then sending in a small payment with “paid in full” written on the check.
Reality: This will absolutely never work. The urban legend seems to have originated because it is possible, in some situations, to settle debt for less than what you owe. But this only happens if both parties agree to it. Both the credit card company and the customer would have to agree to discharge the debt for only a few dollars, and put it in writing, for this to happen.
Credit card companies are corporations. They exist to turn a profit. Nobody working for any credit card company in America would have a job the next hour, never mind the next day, if they allowed a customer to charge up a credit card, and then wrote off the entire balance upon receiving a check for a fraction of that amount with “paid in full” written on it. Charging $1,000 on your credit card, sending the company $10, and writing “paid in full” on the memo line will get you a $990 credit card balance…plus interest if you don’t send in the rest of that $990 before the next billing cycle.
Urban Legend: If you follow the example of many millionaires and set up seven income streams, you too will become a millionaire.
Reality: The “millionaires have seven income streams, so seven income streams is the path to being a millionaire” legend emerged from a misunderstanding of the term “income stream.” Millionaires have too much money for it to just sit around in a bank. They have professionals invest their money for them, in stocks, real estate, bonds, and CDs. These three forms of large scale investment alone count as three streams. Capital gains from selling off assets counts as a fourth. Any royalties the millionaire may be entitled to counts as stream number five. Profits from businesses they own is number six. Their paycheck is stream number seven.
If you already have the funds to make these major investments and earn income from capital gains, the rights to something that pays you more than a few dollars here and there in royalties, and a business that is turning a profit, maintaining all of these income streams may indeed be your key to becoming a millionaire. And there is certainly nothing wrong with getting started on all of these on a smaller scale. But making money from seven different places will not automatically result in great wealth.
Working two part-time minimum wage jobs to equal forty hours per week, going back and forth between driving for Uber or Lyft on Saturday, using two of those “points for internet searches” programs to earn the occasional ten dollar gift card, and selling makeup to your sister and cousin through direct sales adds up to seven income streams, and for a lot of people that would barely cover the bills plus earn them a few free items, never mind generate millions.
Urban Legend: You can save money by making all of your own cosmetics.
Reality: Creating items like eyeliner, mascara, lipstick, and eyeshadow is a complicated process. By the time you purchase the equipment and the ingredients needed to make a single item, you will have spent more than if you just bought the same thing from a high end brand. Getting around this by using one or two non-cosmetic items in place of makeup, such as spices for eye shadow, does not always work, and may cause irritation or infection, depending on what is placed too near the eyes or lips.
To truly save money on cosmetics, narrow your routine down to only those items you truly feel you need or want to use. Choose drugstore items, or watch a few videos and read some beauty blogs to learn which less expensive brands offer duplicate shades of your favorite high end products. Wait for sales and use coupons. Some items can be made at home to save money, but makeup, hair color, and many skincare products are better purchased premade from a store or salon.
Did you believe any of these money making or saving urban legends? What others are floating around out there?
As earning a living has become more of a challenge for many, jobs in the “gig economy” are increasingly common. In addition to being a freelance, or independent, artist, we can now hire ourselves out as independent contractor delivery drivers, transportation providers, or personal shoppers. If driving, spending long periods of time out of the house, or approaching strangers’ homes presents an obstacle for you, or if you’re not already a driver or retail worker and you want to do something within your field, tutoring online may also be an option. Here are some tips on getting started.
Look for U.S. based, multi-subject tutoring websites that are currently accepting new tutors.
Due to a hastily enacted law in China, opportunities to teach English as a Second Language to Chinese children online are pretty much gone. The law, in part, forbids foreign workers from conducting business inside China. And while you were of course never truly in China when you taught online, the government counts visiting the country virtually, via webcam, as conducting business inside China. Many of the well known companies may still exist, and may even appear to be hiring tutors, but the most you would be able to do is sell pre-recorded lessons. The income potential simply isn’t there anymore. U.S. based sites pay a bit less, but once accepted to one, you will have access to their platform and be able to accept tutoring sessions and/or clients.
Schedule a couple of “just looking around” days at first.
As with the shopping, driving, and delivery gig work, gig work in tutoring is pretty straightforward. You use their platform to connect with students and to conduct the lessons. Some may require a student to select you and schedule each lesson. Others will allow you to log in and claim lessons students post. Depending on the site, you may have the option of scheduling lessons with specific students or claiming lessons as they come into the website.
Spend a few days learning the format your tutoring platform offers. Make sure you’re reasonably comfortable there, and that the site is easy for you to navigate. Give your first few lessons without setting any goals for the money, and get a picture of how much you might earn during an average lesson. Take note of common issues that come up.
Make safety for you and your family and friends your first priority.
Before tutoring for the first time, check to make sure the company records all lessons for everyone’s comfort and safety.
The only information students need is your knowledge and insight about the subjects you choose to tutor in. There is absolutely no reason why some guy stuck on his Creative Writing class homework needs to ask the poet who’s tutoring him where she lives, where she hangs out offline, or where he can find her online outside of the tutoring website. Nobody needs to know your last name, any of your financial information, or details about your personal life. If anyone requests video or voice tutoring and says or does something unsettling or disgusting, or types something upsetting or threatening in the chat pod, end the lesson and report the person to the company immediately.
Log out of sessions that violate the company’s rules immediately.
Tutoring companies, at least the honest ones, have strict policies about helping students cheat on tests, doing homework for the student, or in any other way helping them plagiarize writing or any other material. If you are tutoring and realize the student is taking a quiz, trying to manipulate or bully you into doing their editing or writing for them, or is adding a few details to a purchased paper, let the student know that this is not what tutoring is intended to do, and log out.
Don’t worry about being rude or hurting the person’s feelings. Chances are, they know what they’re doing, are well aware that a lot of people are going to “hang up” on them, and are just shopping around for that one dishonest tutor willing to pretend they don’t see what’s going on. Even if you aren’t bothered by the idea of helping students cheat academically, remember that the tutoring center can terminate your association with them if they catch you.
Watch out for scammers.
Most tutoring platforms have some type of free communication area. Some have “waiting rooms,” where the student can chat with you free of charge for a few minutes to see if you can help them, and nearly all have some type of messaging system designed to allow the student to arrange lessons. Some students will attempt to ask you specific questions about their work in these areas, in an attempt to get the homework help they need without scheduling a paid lesson. Prompt them to pay for a lesson once. If they ignore you and continue to try to get you to tutor them through a free area, send one last message telling them that you will be online should they decide to schedule a lesson, and log out of the area.
Be prepared to deal with a wide variety of people.
Students may log in from all across the country. Depending on the platform, you may get all grade levels and all skill levels. You will internet meet the most gracious, studious college students, and the ones who clearly got one too many “self-esteem” workshops and just want to sit there while you tell them everything they’re doing is amazing and their teacher is a fool if they don’t give them a hundred for anything they hand in. Some of them will have trouble paying attention, while others are intensely focused on every detail of their work. You’ll deal with people who take an extra minute to thank you, and those who rudely hang up on you when they realize you’re not going to do the work for them.
While leaving any situation that feels dangerous or is truly distressing is something you should absolutely do, a successful tutor is going to be one who can tolerate and/or shrug off typical, expected variations in student attitude and behavior.
Don’t let tutoring take over your life.
One of the drawbacks of the gig economy overall is that because you can work at any time, you feel like you should be working all the time. You develop a tendency to scold yourself with “I could be making money,” anytime you start a little later than usual or take a day off from the gig.
Make a rule that there are certain things you absolutely will not give up to spend the time tutoring. You may decide that…okay…you’ll give up a few evenings of watching TV to tutor, but you will absolutely not reschedule rehearsals with your band or your music practice time for it. Or maybe you need to make a rule that the time you spend with your kids is not to be interrupted with tutoring, but you’ll give up going out with the guys one weekend a month to tutor. Even if you eventually turn your tutoring practice into a full-time business, everyone needs time off.
Don’t count on the money from one tutoring platform, even if it seems to be going well during your “looking around” period.
People who build gig work into a full-time, or steady part-time business either do it the old-fashioned way, by creating and marketing a service in their community, or they take on a variety of “gig” jobs, and treat each service like just one tool in their overall business plan. They drive for both Uber and Lyft or deliver meals for DoorDash and GrubHub. Gig job platforms are just too overcrowded with workers to offer consistently reliable work.
Tutoring online is no different. Sticking to one platform, I started tutoring online on November 17, 2021. By November 26, I had earned $117.00 My first month’s total was $318.00. My most recent paycheck as of the time of this writing was $10.40 for the entire week.
Unless you’re planning to use online tutoring gig work to supplement a larger tutoring business, it can really only be counted on for extra cash, or for small, short term goals, such as earning the money to make a special purchase, pay a single unexpected bill, or pay for your family vacation or Christmas shopping later this year.
Joining the gig economy as a tutor has its challenges and drawbacks, but it can be a flexible and reasonably fast way to earn some extra cash while doing something that serves others. As with all gig work, it requires a lot of hard work and is far from a get rich quick scheme. Time, effort, realistic expectations, and reasonable limits are the keys to success.
Resolutions almost always fail. Most of them are made more to go along with tradition than to make real, necessary changes. And they are rarely backed up by plans. Instead of making resolutions, why not try setting goals for 2022? By now, most of us have heard of the SMART method for setting goals. Created by consultant George T. Doran in 1981, this goal checklist began as a way to formulate goals in a corporate environment. Today, we can use his method to set goals for our art practice, second job, side hustle, or personal interests.
Specific goals are more likely to be reached.
One of the problems with resolutions is that they are often vague. “I want to improve my finances” doesn’t really offer anything to work toward. You could be talking about a complete overhaul of your budget, getting an entirely new job, and completely changing your lifestyle and spending habits. Or you could be talking about spending five minutes looking for dropped change and plastic bottles to redeem for dimes.
“My goal is to have an extra hundred dollars after paying all the bills each month,” or “This January, my goal is to rewrite the family budget to allow us to put $200 aside for our summer vacation in July,” are specific financial goals.
Measurable goals encourage you to keep going.
One of the easiest ways to give up on a goal is to lose sight of your progress. Making sure your progress can be measured is one way to keep yourself from losing track of where you are and how much further you need to go. Some goals are measured in an obvious way. If it’s my goal to save $500 in the first six months of the year, I’m going to measure my progress by how much money I have stashed. Other goals aren’t as easy to measure. If my goal is to sing onstage again by the end of July, how do I measure my progress? Will it be measured in the number of people I sing in front of offstage? Will it be measured in the number of songs I learn and rehearse enough to be comfortable performing them onstage? Am I going to set a number of hours to practice each week?
When a goal is achievable, we are less likely to give up out of frustration.
Making our goals achievable isn’t “politically correct” these days. We’re supposed to tell ourselves and each other that we can do anything as long as we put our minds to it, adopt the right attitude, and never give up. But this simply is not true. Everyone has their strengths, weaknesses, things they’re called to do for a living, things that they can do, but will only ever be hobbies, and things they’re terrible at. This includes people you admire, people who seem like they can do “everything,” me, the person next to you, and you.
We also have to take our family, finances, professional obligations, health, and other goals into consideration when setting goals.
This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t dream, or set far reaching goals, just that they should be something we have the ability to do. Someone who has been playing guitar and singing professionally for twenty years, has been in bands, written songs, and played for live audiences could absolutely set a goal of making an album every other year. Their friend who just picked out their instrument yesterday is probably not going to be ready to be a professional musician in six weeks..
Keeping goals relevant helps us keep going by making the goal part of something already important to us.
Setting meaningless goals just because that’s what everybody else is talking about doing is a surefire way to fail completely. If the goal isn’t meaningful to us in some way, we are likely to honestly not care enough to put in the necessary work to achieve it.
Money saved toward splurging on a designer bag or coat is likely to be spent before it reaches the necessary amount if the saver does not truly enjoy wearing designer labels. Setting a goal to learn a language simply because your family insists it will help your job prospects is more likely to end in a pile of discarded books and software than language proficiency.
Time-specific goals, also called deadlines, prevent excuse making.
Vowing to learn to play the piano, make a new budget, get your house cleaned and painted, or finally get a professional wardrobe put together “someday” leaves an overly easy way out when you don’t do anything. Setting a deadline holds you accountable. If you set a goal to have the living room professionally cleaned and painted by the middle of June, you know you will feel a sense of failure if it’s August seventeenth and you’re still looking at the coffee stains on the carpet and the twenty year old paint on the walls. This wish to avoid that feeling will keep you motivated to keep saving money, clearing out clutter, getting estimates, moving furniture, or any other steps you need to take to achieve that goal.
Forget making new year’s resolutions. Have you set your 2022 goals yet?
by Jess Szabo
Originally published on Artist Cafe Utica