I don't "do" photography for a living. At least not yet but the fact that I still hold a full-time job doing something completely different not only guarantees a steady income but it also enables me to be as picky as I want when it comes to gigs.
Some do come with very good compensation but they're not worth the mental stress and the project could potentially not yield work I could consider incorporating into my portfolio, so I decline. There's nothing worst than attempting to convince yourself you're all in on a project when you weren't excited about it to begin with because all that gravitated you towards it was the money.
I question everything I commit to while still keeping the window open for experimentation and opportunities. I agree you can't live off just "gigs" but these are phases you must go through at first to develop that relationship you ultimately seek for with clients.