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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » New to magic? » » ? for those making $--Share your story! (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

docmagik
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San Bernardino, CA
118 Posts

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I have a question for those who are managing to make a living at this. I recently decided that's where I want to be, but aside from $20 for a birthday party once, I haven't made anything off my magic so far. Like a lot of people here at the Café, though, I've done a fair bit of public performing, and feel I want to try to make the leap.

Could you share your story? How did you get from where folks like me are at to where you are now?
BrianMillerMagic
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CT
2050 Posts

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Perform at birthday parties, block parties, school events, and anywhere else that you can. Word of mouth is the best way to get started. Once you have people that actually start asking you to come perform at their event, then you need to invest in yourself. Get a website. Your first one doesn't have to be spectatular, but it does have to be professional. Get business cards. Do NOT make your own on the computer at home. There are a bunch of threads on business cards here on the Magic Café (do a search to find them). Begin by charging small amounts. Make sure you're compensated for your services, but do not overcharge and especially do not charge more than you know you're worth. Hand out your business cards at every event you perform at. It will cost money and it will take time to make this leap, but for those of us who do it we can tell you that it is well worth it.

Oh I did forget to mention one thing: your magic AND your presentations have to be excellent. Make sure you understand that you need the presentation just as much as the skill to perform magic.

This is just some very basic, starting out advice for you. Hope it helps Smile
MattWayne
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Manhattan, NY | Studio City, CA
624 Posts

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Docmagik,

I'll tell a little bit about my story and provide you some insight.

Brian hit on some very good things. Business cards, word of mouth, websites. All are things that can benefit you.

He also mentioned- 'your magic.' Which is probably one of the biggest things you'll need. You need to have a show that can make you money. Essentially live off of. A show that you could play in any venue. I grew up learning that big isn't always best. One of my main mentors, Denny Haney really pushed this on me. Overall I learned that you could entertain with a sucker egg routine- and be a hit, and play that effect to a grand large scale audience. You didn't need the big illusions to become known. I also realized at one point that my magic was secondary. Entertainment was primary. I had to become a friend with the audience first- then introduce my magic. Many magicians fail in this category. Sure, they have great sleight of hand- but no soul and entertainment value. Rapore with the audience is paramount.

My show includes some of the smallest props in the world of magic, but I can play them to hundreds in a theatre. How? I entertain first and foremost. My 'baby' of all pieces in my stage show is the Max Malini egg bag. Oh, an egg bag. Whoppie. Available in any established magic shop. What's so great about the egg bag some might say? It's a solid eight minute routine that I've honed, polished, and have presented for years! Laughter, and fun spring up from this routine. I love it. It gets the audience involved, they have fun, are ENTERTAINED by my presentation of the effect. What did this prop cost me? 'Eh I think no more than 50 bucks from the shop, plus ten dollars for the blown eggs.

Then there comes the multiplying bottles. By far the best routine ever. Magical in nature and the presentation I have literally has been rehearsed hundreds of times. It's a great simplistic effect. Pure entertainment. Two tubes, a bottle, and a glass. Under the cover of the tubes- the glass switches with the bottle. And likewise; the bottle switches with the glass. Somewhere in the seven minute routine- the bottles multiple (to my utter amazement and confusion.)

Point blank- my advice to you is build a show from the ground up. Don't go trigger happy and buy the collasol illusions. Purchases of Steinmeyer's, Windshear can wait. Use what you have. If your naturally a funny guy- put together a comedy act. If you're serious in presentation; try to get some simple illusions made. Might I suggest you look into, Andrew Maynes work. He is a great guy and I (as always) recommend his stuff. Read theatre presentation books. Showmanship for Magicians is an excellent one! Get it, buy it today. Here's even a link for you,
http://www.dennymagic.com/cgi-bin/hazel.......m=001076

Business cards are really a necessity. They're a must. Go to a graphic designer or a print shop in your area and have them make you up some. Usually will come in a quantities of 500 or 1000. A box of 500 shouldn't cost you more than 60 dollars. There might be some design fees, but you really should consider getting them done. I personally have business cards and postcards. I do agree with Brian; don't do them on your home computer!! That's a big no no. Quality is always a good thing; get them professionally done.

Then there's the topic of price and charging for your shows. As Brian mentioned:

"Make sure you're compensated for your services, but do not overcharge and especially do not charge more than you know you're worth."

My thoughts on this. I do think every performer should be compensated!! BIG TIME! Don't and please resist the urge to do work for free. Don't accept that offer to work for food either. Please. I'm really a big advocate of performers getting compensated. Primarily getting compensated well. It's very tempting to accept jobs on the fly when you're starting out. When I was 12 I did walk around restaurant magic at the Harrisburg Hilton Hotel in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. This was my first real steady working gig. BUT, I wasn't getting paid. I sure got a nice meal though. I was allowd tips, and to give out business cards. This did suffice me for a while. But, in the end- I ended up having to deliver my salary to the manager. I conducted myself well and establish- and got contracted for pay.

You're an entertainer- get the pay you deserve. Magic can be very profitable. Corporate work is amazingly amazing. Colleges can be good. Touring is great work for me. But please- get something for your talent. No harm in asking for a hundred bucks- for walk around magic in an established restaurant. Hourly. You can get that. Even more if you find the right place. Don't underestimate it. If this is what you want to do as a livelihood- you're going to have to ask for some mula.

As far as making the ammount that you're worth. 'Eh- it's all on how you present yourself. I was doing walk around card tricks for people in the hotel chains and making some bills that had Ben Franklin on them. I was dressed to impress and 12 years old at the time. I learned how the system worked and worked at that hotel for two years before leaving there when I was 16 to persue corporate work and private events. Show/business. I learned business and how to sell to clients.

As far as birthdays and such- I never really got into that. I can't really give you any advice there. But I do know people who can make them pay well. Very few, but if you can establish yourself in that area- go for it! I'd recommend school events though. Talent shows, coffee houses, etc. Anywhere that you can perform for your peers. That's the best way you'll learn what works in your act. Might be discouraging at times, but you'll get better. As Brian said, it will take time! It will also take some money to get started. Buying props, etc. Once that's over- you'll be able to sell the show, and get that money back. Hopefully in the end making a profit off of the show!

Well- I think I ranted enough for now. Hope this helps you out...

all the best,
Matt Tomasko
Matt Wayne
The Celebrity Magician™
www.CelebrityMagician.com / youtube.com/celebritymagician / twitter.com/RealMattWayne /
Facebook.com/CelebrityMagician

Creator of, 'Got a Light?' and others.
Spokesperson behind, TouchTricks
JackScratch
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Event Planners are an excelent way to get work as a magician. The hardest part about using event planners is getting your foot in the door. They will want to hire people with a track record, which thus far, you realy don't have. Some will audition you, but be very prepared or that will not help. The real question is "How good are you?" I say this, because that will be the question on the minds of everyone you will have business relations with.In time your skills will develope, as will your business savy. For all I know, you are as good as any pro ever was, but it's still a good question to ask. As skill goes, your ability to perform slights and effects is far less important than your ability to reach and connect with the audience. I wish you the best of luck, and I recomend finding another job that offers flexable hours, for making the rent money.
calamari
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The San Francisco Bay Area
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Performing magic for a living is the same as any other business, the advice above is very sound and good. I will only add that you should go into this like a business.
1. have a product worth selling
2. create a business plan
3. deliver the goods
"I came, I saw, SHE conquered." (The original Latin seems to have been garbled.)
Andy the cardician
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A street named after my dad
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I second that, you need to be worth your money with a good act to go.
Cards never lie
docmagik
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San Bernardino, CA
118 Posts

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Thanks, everybody for your advice! It's really great.

And thanks, TomaskoMagic, for sharing some of your personal story. Anyone else like to talk about how they got where they are today?
todsky
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I do over 200 shows a year, mostly kids magic. It took me several years to get to this point. In my opinion, if you rush it and try to take short-cuts to success, you will rise fast and flame out fast as well. If you want to be in it for the long run, you have to build yourself from the ground up, proper foundation and all. Take your time and do it right: read the important magic books, come up with a magician persona that suits you, make your routines unique, and you will stand out. Don't try to act like some other magician that you admire; develop your own character. Be personable and kind to your audience, maintain a sense of humour and don't take yourself too seriously, Remember that bad shows will happen, and there is much to be learned from them. The main thing is to make your show as good as you possiby can: if you do this, you will get a good reputation, people will pass on your name to others and your good work will spread like wildfire and your rent and groceries will be automatically taken care of.

Good luck to you, Doc.
Todd
Todsky's Magic Shop: over 15,000 tricks, books, DVD s and Card decks. www.magicstore.ca
Dynamike
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Eternal Order
FullTimer
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What help started me off was the Yellow Pages. It is very helpful.
JamesTong
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Eternal Order
Malaysia
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All the above advice are very valuable and have been tested. Take note on all of them.

I would like to add one more to the list.

Started creating value on yourself - your name and identity as yourself. This is because YOU are the product that people are buying. Therefore a professional image - on stage and off stage is very important. Be consistent in that image.

The moment you are with people - start selling yourself (soft selling) through your image, personality and charisma. Once you win people over to you, then it is much easier to close a deal or contract.

Hope this helps.
docmagik
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San Bernardino, CA
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Thanks, you three, for the additional insights!
airship
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In my day, I have driven
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Watch the Yellow Pages advice. While it helps (depending on the market), make sure you're not talked into a bigger ad than you need. Also remember that you have to pay for a Yellow Pages ad EVERY MONTH. Even if you decide to quit performing, you're locked in for a year. Read your contract carefully - they could even have the right to cut off your home phone if you don't pay!
'The central secret of conjuring is a manipulation of interest.' - Henry Hay
TheGiz
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The question I would ask is how good are you? Is what you do worth me paying money for? How much money??? $20.00? $50.00 $100.00 What exactly do you do?
Most aren't going to pay $100.00 to see card tricks unless you are Bill Malone or Doc Eason. Do you do close-up or stage? How big is your show? Do you have business cards? Website? Brochures? Are you funny, mysterious? Do you talk or do a pantomime act to music. What is your character? Answer these questions and you might have an idea of your show and your value. Good luck & be an original!!!
http://blackbeltmagician.com

"And it's a good thing I only use my power for good!!!"
MattWayne
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Manhattan, NY | Studio City, CA
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I would agree with TheGiz and then disagree. It's kind of a 50/50. Granted skill is very important, but then also the main question you should ask yourself when determining how good you are is this, How confident are you?

Relating back to personal experiences- people will judge you on how you present yourself and how professional you are. It's the business side of you that will get you the cash.

As I've stated in other posts; I started working professionally when I was 12 and in all of the places to perform I got started in hotel restaurants at the Hilton. Strolling classy work, and I learned the business part right away. Here's how it happened. I had an interview, the manager wanted to know if I wanted coffee, and he wished to see some magic. A 12 year old drinking coffee, and performing tricks for a manager dressed in a fancy suit. I still remember that day. It was one of the memories I won't soon forget- because I got the job. Worked there for two years. The main kicker to the story was; they thought all along that I was 18.

As far as being Bill Malone or Doc Eason and making $100; I know Bill makes a bit more than that. Doc, well I don't know:^) Straight magic shows that just include card work can be very very entertaining. All depends on the approach. As far as 'most people not paying you that ammount'- they will. All depends on what venue you wish to play in. Keep your status of professionalism and business skills up and you may be surprised.

Not arguing this point here, but the main thing to me is confidence. If a magician has the kazoos to ask a high up fee- then good for him. He can join the club and not be one of the ones that undercut other performers.

Relating to personal experience once again,

As far as size of your show- once again 50/50 agreement. I have a 'pack flat play big' show and it's gotten me around the world. You'd be shocked at how much a Malini Egg bag plays to a packed hangar bay of 2000 United States Marines in one of my USO shows. It works for me.

Confidence.

Well anyway I feel as though I've ranted enough. Probably will get bashed for this post, but oh well. I stated my two cents. Hopefully someone can get some good out of my experience,

as always, best regards,
Matt Tomasko
Matt Wayne
The Celebrity Magician™
www.CelebrityMagician.com / youtube.com/celebritymagician / twitter.com/RealMattWayne /
Facebook.com/CelebrityMagician

Creator of, 'Got a Light?' and others.
Spokesperson behind, TouchTricks
JackScratch
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I looked at my reply, which I had thought to be my "story" in the form of helpful advise, but I'll go ahead and slap the old "Personal touch" on it. Long long ago, I was a 21 year old kid. A friend of mine who had worked at the Texas Rennaisance Festival for many many years wanted me to come join the group he was in at the Festival, and so I did. At that time the Entertainment was extremely informal. The very next year a hotshot Entertainment Director by the name of David Cassey was hired, more or less to turn the place on its ear. That he did, and me on my ear as well. I spent the next decade learning how to perform for an audience through the system David set up there. During that time, I didn't realy perform magic for or at the Festival. I did, however, make friends who were neck deep in the entertainment industry in very nearby Houston. I had been a magic hobbiest since long before performing at the festival and at some point my connections at the festival began introducing me to the big event planners in Houston. Not an audition, rather, me just being me, doing what I do, the event planners began to hire me. The rest is fairly obvious.
docmagik
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San Bernardino, CA
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Hey, somehow I missed these more recent posts. Thanks a bunch for sharing.

Sounds like it's just like what they say--that being "lucky" is really a matter of being able to be ready for the opportunities that eventually arise if you're persistent, confident, and determined.
sBosma
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BC Canada
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Get a website and business cards. Hand your cards out to whoever is interested in you. You'll get a call one day saying, "Could you perform for us Saturday?". When you have nothing to do and your not booked, just go out and do some street magic.
'Pick a card, any card'
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