"Get a job!"
Here's how I pulled myself up by my bootstraps.
My original plan was to be a professional entertainer of some sort. I loved performing, so aged 13 I chose to study performing arts at school (GCSE level). Then aged 15 I decided to study performing arts full time at college for two years.
Of course, during this entire time I had support from my parents. My father is disabled, and hasn't had a proper job in about 28 years, so my entire family had support from social programs of one type or another.
At college I lived with my parents, of course, and during the course of college I had free meals and free bus transport and grants to help me out. I bought my first PC using a grant.
After college I wasn't sure if I wanted to do music or theater at university. I took a year out and worked for 9 months in a school kitchen, washing dishes and cleaning tables.
I decided to study music production, a degree called Creative Music Technology. At university I had some grant support, but most expenses were covered by student loans. I supplemented this by working night shifts at a supermarket, stacking shelves. When I left university I moved back in with my parents for a few months, and got a job working at a day care center for mentally and physically disabled people.
During this time I'd taken a lot of time to juggle, and it was a really fun hobby. I didn't consider it to be a serious career option though.
My brother-in-law worked for a TV station, and mentioned a job opening. I applied, without the company or the interviewers knowing I was related to a manager. I didn't get the job, as I could edit audio but wasn't skilled in video edited on their equipment. A week later three people were fired from the company, and they suddenly had vacancies. They asked if I'd take a job.
I moved to a new city, and stayed at a friends house until I could find a home of my own. I ended up living my friend for the next 18 months.
After two years working for the TV station, doing sound mixing, editing, camera work and other production duties, I quit. I loved the job, just not the people I had to work for. All four people in my department quit within four weeks of each other, so it wasn't just me who had problems!
I had another job lined up, but a two month gap with nothing to do. I'd planned to go traveling, but due to weird life events, I ended up studying acrobatics. Again I stayed with friends, and when I decided not to take up the other job offer, I stayed with my parents between travels, and even getting a grant to return to study acrobatics for another two months.
Due to not wanting to work in offices and studios, or sitting in an editing suite for eight hours a day, I decided to try to make it as a juggler. I made some money from paid gigs, but for a while my largest income was from making juggling beanbags and doing street shows. I met a girl, and finally moved out of my parents place to Berlin.
I worked as juggler, and also a tour guide, in Berlin. Later Pola and I got a good recommendation from other jugglers to work on cruise ships, and they also recommended us to their agent. That now accounts for about 90% of my income per year.
Now I do well for myself. I could earn more money than I do, but I like to have a healthy work/home balance.
My bootstrap pulling skills:
* I didn't originally plan to be a professional juggler, it wasn't more than a hobby.
* The career I aimed for only lasted two years.
* Once I settled on the idea, I worked VERY hard to be a juggler and entertainer.
Help I had along the way:
* Parents constantly giving support and a place to live between travel and jobs and even careers.
* Government grants for college, university, and even acrobatics school.
* Student loans.
* Free at point of service healthcare (with national health insurance payments only when an employee, not when self employed).
* Friends helping me out with housing, and even loans.
* Family connections.
* The juggling scene providing unmeasurable teaching, help, advice, encouragement, etc.
* Volunteers organizing juggling conventions and festivals where I could practice juggling and entertaining on stage.
* Other jugglers providing connections and information about gigs and agents.
* Almost everything I rationally decided to do, career-wise, didn't fit me and my life.
* Almost everything that happened to me accidentally led to BETTER opportunities than anything I consciously planned to do when setting out.
* Without help from other people and government social programs, I'd be totally screwed.
* It takes a LOT of hard work to be a professional entertainer.
* I'm very happy to do crazy hard work to give other jugglers the opportunities that I had myself (Eg. running workshops, organizing shows and open stages, helping run conventions, creating the British Young Juggler of the Year show and competition, etc etc etc).
* I'm happy to pay taxes.
* I'm happy to support other artists financially if these need and/or ask for help.