So you’re ready. Whether you’re following through with a new year’s resolution or a planned goal, you’re out to take your magic from practice to profitability. You’re ready to get paid for all your planning and work.
Time to make those cards pay for themselves.
It doesn’t matter what your plan for magic is, from building a list of clients in your town to making it big in Vegas. Before you can be the next Messado, Ollie Mealing or Adam Wilber, You have to start somewhere, and there is no substitute for the experience of actually performing for living, breathing people.
(David Stone’s Real Secrets of Magic Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 are time-tested classics, and Ellusionist’s hardest-working worker Adam Wilber has filled up “Creative Magic” and The Worker Part 1 and Part 2 with great material for business-minded magicians.)
Drumming up business isn’t easy, but you have to start somewhere. At the beginning of your career, you may have to content yourself with making a reputation, not money. Which is fine, because that’s an investment in your future. Instead of performing for cash, make a testimonial or the ability to pass business cards/put up flyers part of the deal.
You have two goals:
- ~ Get your name out there and let people know what you do. This is done through good old-fashioned networking (a fancy word for “meeting people”). Whether it’s a business card, flyer or an actual performance, you want to spread the word that you exist.
- ~ Show people that you deserved to be hired. This is done through excellent performance and interaction — AND by being a great team player at the place where you work your magic. Hopefully you perform for people who love your work and hire you in the future. And a testimonial from the right person can seal a deal down the road.
Here are four places that would be good for your business cards, flyers or actual skills. Out of respect to any working magicians in your area (and yourself as well), you don’t want to use these options repeatedly — use them as occasional tools in your toolbox:
This one requires a look at the calendar where you live. Even the smallest of small towns usually have one or two festivals, fairs or other celebrations, and that’s something you can be a part of. Maybe it’s a more regular event, such as an art walk or farmers market.
Find the planning group or coordinators and inquire about a trade of performance for a testimonial. Maybe — MAYBE — your performance character can be changed to match the theme of the festival, such as a Renaissance fair? If not, definitely note the style and vibe of the festival — you’d perform at an art walk differently than a holiday-based event, for instance. And be respectful: It may be easy to crash a big group and just perform. But the goal is NETWORKING — you want the organizers to know about your interest in performing.
RESTAURANTS OR MALLS WITH FOOD COURTS
Restaurants might be one of your main sources of business as a magician, so it’s good to learn the dynamics of performing there early. And not many consider food courts prime places for performances, but we disagree: There are a lot of people there from a wide variety of backgrounds. What a great opportunity for meeting people who might pay you in the future!
Ask the owner or management about interest in a magician, and be up front with them: You’re looking for experience, and are willing to work for one or two nights in order to get a name out and get a testimonial from that owner. And make that offer only once or twice: You don’t want to get in the habit of performing for free.
CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE OR BUSINESS GROUPS
Investigate membership carefully, because many of these groups require a membership fee. But they are filled with entrepreneurs and business owners who are looking to build the number of interesting people they know, and you can be a part of that group. And these are the groups usually organizing the big parties that you should be performing at.
Teens, you may have an advantage in this point: Some business groups have young entrepreneur groups you may be able to join, which gets you access to your city’s movers and shakers (and those are often people eager to reward those who are willing to work for themselves.) Keep up your schoolwork as priority No. 1, but a little work in student entrepreneur or young business groups can pay off big for your magic.
EXISTING SOCIAL GROUPS
Groups of people are everywhere around you. Whether it’s a job, a group of fellow sports fans, a church, reading club, family get-together, a support group, friend’s birthday party… ANY group of people is ripe for you getting your message out. Keep in mind that your message doesn’t have to be an actual performance. A simple business card is all it takes.
While you might hesitate to perform for that social circle — and we completely understand why — don’t hesitate to tell them what you do, and be confident about it. Sure, they may razz you, but they’ll love hearing about how you’ve picked up magic, and they’ll be thrilled that your new business isn’t a multi-level marketing opportunity.
BONUS POINT: MAGICIANS’ GROUPS
Talk about a group tailored to your interest. Your local chapter of IBM or SAM knows all about your town’s business scene. And it’s filled with magicians who can give you performance advice of all sorts. If your area has such a group, the price of membership can be SO worth it.
FOUR POINTS is a regular feature that celebrates magicians’ favorite number by highlighting four critical bits of importance, awesomeness or otherwise. Send your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.