I was 9 years old when I watched David Copperfield make a train disappear.
That was the moment I decided to become a magician.
While a performing magic is enjoyable in and of itself; leveraging a hobby you’re good at to make easy money is an awesome added benefit if you can make it happen. Getting extra income to pay bills from something you enjoy doing is a great feeling.
It took several years to achieve, but the following principles can be applied to any hobbyist entertainer looking to make easy money as extra income on the side.
Learning the Show
You have to master your craft.
Mastering your craft involves endless hours of practice on two levels.
First, you need to practice to the point where the technical side is second nature.
I would practice magic until my knuckles bled and my hands would go through the motions while I slept. Without this level of muscle memory, everything either falls apart or your growth as a performer stagnates.
Second, you need to perform for people.
Performing for people is where you learn presentation and showmanship. Even the most technically skilled performer can bomb if they don’t learn how to deal with the irregularities of performing: different audiences, technical difficulties, unusual stage setups, etc. Get out there and perform for as many people as possible.
I cut my teeth at parties, family functions, open mic nights, charity events and just about any place willing to host a free magic show. This is when the real learning happens and I still do open-mic nights at bars when I’m testing new material.
To make the jump into turning those performances into paying gigs is a matter of learning the business side of entertainment.
Learning the Business
Learn from those who have done it already.
While there is no shortcut for mastering your craft, you can speed up the business part by learning from established people in your field.
The city I’m living in has a great network of magicians, some of whom made magic their full-time business. I was fortunate to make friends with a magician/hypnotist who taught me the basics of booking a show and getting paid.
Your greatest asset to booking shows is referral business and it’s quite possible to make a sustained income on a strictly referral basis. Here’s how to get started:
Contact everyone you know and let them know about your services. I got my first few gigs this way and I continue to get bookings by telling everyone I meet about my magic.
Deliver an amazing show as a way to market yourself to audiences. After your performance, thank your client and ask if they enjoyed your show. If they say yes, ask them to pass along your name to others who may want to book you. My record to date is getting 9 bookings as a direct result for one show I performed at a daycare.
Those were the only tools I used for the first few years and it gave some great side income as a student.
When I was ready to take it to the next level, I was put in contact with Elliott Smith, a full-time magician who wrote the book on how to make a living as an entertainer. He has a lot of wisdom to impart and I’m still making efforts to apply his lessons.
His message is simple: if you want the results, you need to put in the work because the world is not going to find you in your basement. Also, long-term success rarely happens overnight so be patient and keep working at it.
It’s Going to Take Effort
The road to achieving consistent side-income from a hobby you love is difficult and long, but rewarding.
You will have many doubts and be tempted to quit along the way. However, once you break through those barriers, you won’t be able to imagine life any other way.
Now go master your craft and book your first show.
Featured photo credit: Magic pulling various international banknotes from hat via gettyimages