This actress earns $9,100 a month organizing other people’s closets
At the end of 2017, Vanessa Garcia was living in San Diego, working three jobs and struggling to pay her bills.
As an actress, she auditioned daily for TV shows and commercials. She worked six overtime hours a day as a personal assistant. And while she hoped to take on extra work building furniture and organizing people’s closets through a freelance platform TaskRabbit, her limited availability meant that hardly anyone hired her.
On the verge of being kicked out, Garcia went into “survival mode,” she told CNBC Make It.
His urgent need for cash forced Garcia to invest more time in TaskRabbit, and lucrative results followed. She increased his hours and prices, helping him find and take on organizing jobs paying up to $1,200 each.
Today, those jobs are Garcia’s main source of employment, accounting for $65,200 of his 2021 income, according to documents reviewed by CNBC Make It. Those funds allowed her to quit her job as an assistant and move to Los Angeles in 2019 to pursue other acting roles, earning her an additional $10,000 to $20,000 a year, she says.
“Now not only can I change and control my schedule, but I can also control how much I want to earn,” says Garcia, 29. “Instead of having to work six hours [per day]now I only have to work three to reach my personal income quota.”
But it depends on the job and the day. Some months are better than others, due to the freelance nature of her job: July of this year saw her best month yet, earning $9,165.
Here’s how she built her closet organization business and how she manages finances that fluctuate each month:
Garcia left Mexico at age 19 to study biology at San Diego Mesa Community College. She also took a few classes at San Diego State University, but dropped out in 2015. To earn money, she started a small homeschooling business.
She quit teaching to take up a position as a personal assistant which she hoped would help her focus more on her acting career, which she had dreamed of pursuing from a young age. Finances were still tight, so Garcia started running errands for friends, picking up groceries, organizing their closets, and driving them around to earn extra cash.
That summer, a friend suggested Garcia join TaskRabbit, so she could do similar jobs for strangers. Business slowly grew until she quit her job as a personal assistant in 2019, freeing up more hours for TaskRabbit gigs.
She earned nearly $45,000 on the platform that year, compared to just $19,000 in 2018.
Part of her secret is offering a variety of different services, says Garcia: She offers 26 different skills on the platform, ranging from party planning to building furniture and assembling lightweight objects.
Her favorite is organizing, and one of her most popular services is organizing closets. She sees it as both an element of interior design and a pillar of mental health.
“I’ve walked into clients where I could tell they were in a bad place by the way their space looked,” she says. “They see stress in it, but when I see a messy room, all I see are possibilities. [Organizing] it’s like creating your own model.”
Next on the roll call
Through October, Garcia has earned $65,000 in 2022. She says she works an average of about 100 hours a month, spread across 25 jobs.
But his daily schedule varies depending on his acting gigs. She also still receives organizing assignments from former clients who no longer use TaskRabbit to book her services. Garcia estimates she has five hours of TaskRabbit jobs a day. But between acting, helping old clients and new jobs on the platform, she says she sometimes works 10 hours a day.
About 80% of those jobs are small: She’ll make $200 for spending three or four hours building furniture or organizing someone’s closet, bathroom, or pantry.
Sometimes returning clients ask for larger projects. In September, Garcia earned $1,200 from working 21 hours. In two days, she organized an entire house, from the kitchen to the bedrooms in closets and bathrooms.
Relying on self-employment as a primary source of income presents challenges. Garcia is not paid for sick days and vacations. Earning different amounts of money each month makes budgeting difficult, and it can be difficult to plan for the rest of her life when the number of hours she works varies from month to month.
LA’s traffic isn’t ideal either, she adds: 10-minute rides can sometimes take almost two hours.
Still, she says the ability to have a flexible schedule makes it worth it — especially since she can book gigs around her audition times, hopefully helping her land dabbing jobs. lucrative actor in the future. Garcia also used some of her accumulated savings to travel to Europe and China.
Recently, Garcia said she was cast as the lead in an upcoming project, which she hopes will be her big break. Even so, she says she doesn’t see herself leaving TaskRabbit until her acting income “exceeds what I earn” through the platform and other clients.
Until then, she says she will continue to work to increase her reputation and awards on the independent platform.
To be successful on TaskRabbit, “you have to have confidence in your work,” says Garcia. “You have to have the self-discipline to show up and treat it like any other job.”
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