How to make money from magic: Advice from Leeds magician Kristian Treen
The celebrated pop-artist Andy Warhol once famously said that 'making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art'. Warhol was interested in financial wealth so much that he made money a major focus of his work - take a look at his Dollar Signs paintings. He painted pictures of money and then sold them for the real thing, now that, my friends, is good business!
Listen, I'm not saying we have to become obsessed with money. But, if we are taking the time to perfect our craft and gone our skills, then surely it makes sense to monetize it. There is no shame in profiting from your passion. I feel like, especially amongst artists, there is an ugliness attached to money. It's as if money is some dirty commodity that should never be discussed.
Whether you are just starting out in magic or have been in the game for some time, knowing how to monetize your magic can be difficult. I know when I was first starting out in my mission to make money from magic that the advice was sparse to say the least. Whenever I approached other magicians and asked for advice on how to make money, there always seemed some weird reservations. It was as if they wanted to keep all the knowledge (and the cash) to themselves.
I am now in a position where I make a healthy income from performing magic. It should be noted, however, that I'm still learning myself. I don't know it all and there are plenty of people out there who make more than me and who know more than me. Regardless, I have learnt a lot about monetizing magic, especially over the last year when I have been taking it more seriously, and the things I have discovered will be of massive value to anyone who is looking to make money from performing magic. Let's dive right into to it.
PERFORM FOR FREE
For free?!?!?!? You must be kidding, I hear you say. Hold your chastisements for now my good friends and hear me out. Whenever I browse magic forums there always seems to be opposition to performing for free. The general consensus amongst our peers appears to be that, by performing for free, you are devaluing yourself and others.
For me, it all depends on how you frame your offer. If you just advertise yourself as someone who performs for free then yes, this isn't a good idea. But let's look at an alternative option. Say there is a charity event coming up in your home town. Sending a message to the organisers and saying something like 'hello, just found out that you are hosting a charity event next Saturday. I am a local magician and I would love to offer my services for such a great cause. Usually I would charge a performance fee but I am more than happy to perform free of charge for such a great cause. All I ask is that I can hand out business cards and promote myself whilst there.'
Charity events are the ideal places to perform for free. By framing it in such a way that shows that yes, you usually do charge but are prepared to make an exception for this great cause in no way decreases anyone's value. You are gaining experience and helping an excellent cause at the same time, a win win. Here's the thing, once you are actually at the event, you will be exposed to a wide-variety of people. All of these people are potential clients. People will be able to see you in action and, if they like what they see, don't be surprised when you get a phone call asking how much you charge for an hour.
Yes, you are not making any financial gain (yet) by performing at this event but the exposure it grants is worth its weight in gold. Awareness is everything. The more people that know who you are, the more likely it is that you are going to get booked by paying clients. You need to be in it for the long game. Plant the seeds, my friends, and, eventually, a forest will grow.
Tip - get business cards printed and make sure your business card includes all the necessary contact info: phone number, email address, social media handles.
LEARN HOW TO SELL YOURSELF
There is far more to making money from magic then being a good magician. You have to be an equally good salesperson, if not better. Don't let stereotypes distract you. When we think of a salesperson, we usually think of pushy people in suits who are trying to flog an underwhelming product for an overpriced sum. Selling is all about creating desire. You need to inspire, within potential clients, an overwhelming need to book you.
Why do we do anything? Think about that for a moment. Why do we actually do anything? I'm not talking about necessary actions that we do to keep ourselves alive such as eating and drinking, although I suppose they fit within this criteria also. For me, the reason we do anything in life is for the feeling it gives us. We buy a new pair of shoes because we want the feeling of owning and wearing these new shoes. We go to the gym and exercise because we enjoy the feeling of exercising. Feelings are what motivates us. Feelings dictate actions. Selling yourself is not about deception or ripping people off. It's about adding value and inspiring desire within people to the point where they simply have to hire you.
There is only one way to make anyone do anything and that is by making them want to do it. You have to give people reasons to want to hire you. What problems does magic solve? Why is hiring you specifically a great idea? These are questions you need to have the answers to before you engage in any negotiation.
Selling yourself is not about conning people to make a quick buck. You need to approach all interactions with good and honest intentions. If you are just talking to people because you want to make money then you will fail, simple as that. It's not about what you can get but what you can give. Yes, you want to make money from your magic but money should not be your primary focus. Adding value and making people's lives better should be your main motivators. Do this and the money will follow.
Tip - Practice promoting yourself with the same dedication as your practice your sleights and routines. When you meet someone new, casually bring it into conversation that you do magic and tell them the problems it solves. This will get you use to selling yourself to strangers.
GET A GOOD WESBITE
'Do you have a website?' This question is asked to me almost as much as 'how did you do that?' If you don't have a website then you will heavily struggle to make money from magic. A website gives you credibility. It shows potential clients that you have got your shit together and that you should be taken seriously. A website dresses your brand with the professionalism it needs and gives people a point of reference where they can find more information about who you are and what you do.
Notice how I say that you should have a good website. I've seen some terrible websites in my time - I used to have one! Your website is your shop front. People will get an immediate impression of you by the look of your website. If your website looks dated and tatty and is difficult to navigate then this will immediately turn people away.
Your website should be an extension of yourself. It should reflect your personality and provide people with all the necessary information regarding the services you provide. Photos and videos of you performing are also great as they add to your credibility and if you can throw in some testimonials to the mix then you are on to a winner.
If you can't afford a website yet then get yourself on Facebook and make a Facebook business page. Having something is better than having nothing.
Tip - when creating your website, make sure it looks as beautiful on mobile as it does on desktop as most people will look at your website on their phone.
So there you have it. These are just a few ways that I have been able to make money from performing magic. For me, the main reason that magicians don't monetize their magic is because they are scared. They are scared of getting out and performing. They are scared of negotiating with scary clients who may reject them.
Look, I had these fears myself once upon a time. I was the typical bedroom magician who performed magic for myself. I was a shy, insecure guy who never thought people would actually pay me to perform at their wedding or private event. If you feel this kinda way then take a look at this article I published a short while ago which gives advice to magicians no matter their level of experience. Also, if you struggle with performing and find it difficult to get out and share your magic with real people then definitely take a look at my 7 powerful techniques to overcome performance anxiety.
I really hope you have found this article useful. Feel free to share it with your friends and be sure to leave your feedback in the comments section below.
Now get out there and make your mark on the world.