Many of our customers ask how to make money as a performing magician. The "Three P's" is a good place to start: Practice, Performance, Persistence. But beyond that, there's not much info out there on what is going to take you to the next level.
Let's say you've developed an act, practiced the dickens out of it and want to start getting known locally as a professional magician. Where do you start? Here are ten easy things you can do to get your name out there and start booking yourself as a performer.
#10: Free Shows
Free shows can be tricky. Often when you mention to someone that you are looking for gigs, they offer to let you perform for free at a party or business just to "Get your name out there." The problem with this is that you can get a reputation as someone who performs for free or does charity work (you’ll look like a nice guy but this blog is about getting paid so let's figure out how to get around that.)
I don't do many free shows,
but when Miranda Sings asks you to get up in front
of a bunch of people and wow them, you do it.
If you just need for people to see you perform so that you get the word-of-mouth going, I suggest you talk to the organizer of the party or event and let them know your regular rates. Tell them that if someone asks how much they paid you for them to answer with your current rates. They don't need to lie, the conversation just needs to go like this, "How much did you pay to get this awesome magician" "He told me that he charges $50 for a party like this one." Or however much you would want to get paid for that type of party.
A nice poster can help promote yourself in the area. They don't have to be super-fancy. Try to keep the design very simple, the more info you try to cram onto a poster, the worse it looks. A simple black and white poster printed on colored paper will do the same job that a glossy four-color poster will do.
A simple poster can be a great way to promote yourself.
Be strategic with where you place these posters. Ask to post them in places that sell party supplies or where families frequent.
#8: Event Coordinators/Party Planners
Contacting local event and party planners is another great idea. Whether you leave a stack of business cards with them or put your name on their list of performers, event planners can get you performing right away.
Finding a party planner and making them your
biggest fan can give you a huge advantage.
A word of caution with event planners, they do take a cut of your profits and I have worked with a few that try to overcharge the customer and under-pay the performer. Be on the lookout for this and if you see it, just politely stop accepting gigs from them.
#7: Youtube Commercial
Thanks to youtube, you can now cheaply put together a promotional video and post it somewhere that people can see it. There are two very nice aspects to posting a promotional video on youtube. The first is that potential clients can easily see bits of your show and performance style. And secondly, youtube videos are searchable. By inputting the correct tag-words into your video description (like the name of your town, the area-code, the zip-code and the type of show you do) your video will show up in basic google searches. How cool is that?
A youtube commercial can be a great resource.
Creating a fan page or "Like Page" on Facebook, you can post events that you will be performing at as well as have past customers write nice things about your show on your timeline. Like youtube, Facebook is searchable and area specific, so that when someone that lives in your area searches "Party Magician" your page might show up in the listing.
Facebook is a great way to let people know where you are performing next.
#5: Mommy Websites
If you are planning on performing at birthday parties or local fundraisers, it's the moms that your really need to impress. I didn't realize until I had kids how organized these awesome ladies are. In most towns there are multiple websites devoted to supporting a network of moms. Some quick searches online will show you a few. Often it costs money to advertise on these sites, but they are usually run by a local mom and trading a free magic show for some free advertising is not a bad way to go.
Moms often organize parties and school functions. Get on their good side.
#4 Local Events
Whether it's a fundraiser or a local celebration of the 4th of July, the organizers of these events want to provide entertainment in the easiest and most-inexpensive way possible. As a rule of thumb, I always ask for my regular rate first and then barter down if I think that the exposure is going to be worth donating or discounting my time.
I've been performing at my local Elk's Lodge
4th of July family fair since I was 12 years old.
A great way to help out an event planner and ensure that a lot of people come to your part of the event is to notify local news sources. Let the newspapers and websites in the area know that there is going to be a big event and there is going to be a great magician there.
#3 Restaurant Gig
These are hard to get. You have to find a restaurant that fits your personality and caters to your type of audience. A weekly restaurant gig typically does not pay that well, so don't expect to get your full rate right away. It can also be hard to get a restaurant manager to give you a chance.
A weekly restaurant engagement can help you get paid, get gigs and get fed.
That being said, I think that I have gotten more gigs and opportunities by doing restaurant work than any other performance scenario. By performing at a place where people are out to have a good time, but not expecting something like a magician gives you a huge advantage and when they plan their next party, they'll remember the fun they had while you showed them magic and want to offer the same experience to their guests.
#2: Street Performances
If you read this blog a lot, you already know that I am a huge proponent of street performances. I think that it builds the tough skin that a magician needs as well as offers a free performance space for a magician to work on new material.
Click the picture above to learn more about street magic.
In the right setting with the right foot-traffic, you can advertise yourself, get performance experience and make money in tips without a restaurant manager or party planner breathing down your neck the whole time.
#1: Business Cards
This is the number one place where I see problems with young performing magicians. By printing poorly designed business cards on bad-quality paper and cutting them out with hand scissors, you are severely degrading the physical manifestation of the magical memories you've created.
Get yourself a stack of professionally printed business cards.
It might cost a little bit more money to order nice business cards, but think of it as an investment in your magic career. If it looks like trash and feels like trash, chances are that it will end up in the trash. And you didn’t spend all that time printing and cutting out each one just for it to end up there.
If you perform good magic and hand them something sturdy that feels like it should go into a wallet or a purse, that’s where it’s going to end up.
There are a ton of websites out there with easy-to-use templates and inexpensive promotional offers that will print you a box of business cards for next to nothing.
I know it may sound like I'm fixating on something trivial that you could save some money on, but consider this. In every single scenario listed above (aside from Facebook and Youtube) a business card is needed to transfer your contact information. Without this little tool, there is no way that they are going to remember how to contact you. Even a poster benefits from a stack of business cards sitting next to it attached in some sort of dispenser.
I hope this list serves you well and if anybody has anything they'd like to add, please do so in the comments below. We'd love to hear from you.