Monthly Archives: February 2013

My Pet Peeve

magicalKidThis may come across as nitpicking but I think it’s important. If you’re going to be a professional children’s entertainer you should use and learn the proper terminology when talking about your audience.

When talking about children use the word children instead of “kids”. A “kid” is what a baby goat is called. (Look at that picture of a little goat with a top hat— Awwwww) When talking to clients in person and when corresponding by email I suggest that you use the word children.

However there is an exception. On your website you should use both “kids” and “children” throughout the site. The reason being is that “kids” is used a lot more frequently than “children” in web searches. To make sure that your website ranks well for both “kids” and “children” you’ll want to include both terms throughout the site. In the graph below you can see that “kids” is a more popular search term than “children”.

search for kids vs. children

If you look at my current birthday party site you’ll notice that I use both words throughout. However when emailing clients and talking in person I try my best to always use the term children.

Customizing Your Magic Props

Torch to Rose Kevlar WickWhen you buy a trick you’re buying the secret and permission to perform for the effect, but often the prop itself is made as cheaply as possible to appeal to the masses. Even if the prop is well made you’re probably going to have to modify it to fit your act.

If you’re going to be a professional magician you need to accept the fact that when you buy a new prop you’re going to have to make modifications or remake it entirely.  If you don’t want to look like every other magician then modify or create new props that match your personality, audience, and theme. 

You might need to modify the prop to last longer: If you buy a “Torch to Rose” the wick that’s included is just a bit of cotton wrapped in wire. It works for a little while but it won’t last forever. If you really want to add this effect into your act and you want it to last you’ll need to replace the wick with some kevlar rope instead.

You might also need to modify the prop to suit your technical needs: For my show I purchased a butterfly silk that turned out that it was too thin and transparent for my needs. So I took it to my seamstress where she was able to add a black layer of fabric onto the back of the silk so now it works perfectly for my needs.

Butterfly Silk

You might also need to modify the prop to suit your character: With the Wandering CD prop (A “Die Box” done with a CD instead) there’s a giant hole in the middle of the prop so that the children  can see the CD sliding back and fourth.

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Performing for 10-13 Year Old’s… Compared to Adults

In a previous article I talked about how We Teach Our Audiences. The idea is that during the course of our performance our behavior will dictate how our audiences will respond.

If you’ve ever performed for children you’ll know that different ages react very differently. 10-13 Year old children will be the most difficult to perform for because they have a good understanding of how the world works and feel like they should know how the magic tricks are accomplished. David Kaye talks about this in his book Seriously Silly. In the book he discusses the idea that you have to eliminate every possible solution before the magical effect happens. In the book though he doesn’t explain WHY that’s happening and I think that the psychology behind it is just as interesting.

It’s my theory that 10-13 year old’s act this way because they are able to dismiss the abstract situation that we as magicians are creating. For example if you say “If I tap my hand with this magic wand the handkerchief in my hand will disappear”. For this age group they understand that things can’t simply just disappear. This is great because it means that we can create a magical effect for them. It also means that they are immediately searching for method. At this age they’ll feel your artificial and abstract context is a lie and therefore they don’t buy into it. They don’t want to made foolish or get taken advantage of. That’s why they will say things like “Its in your other hand!” or “Its up your sleeve!”

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The Only Business Advice You Need

There’s lots of people who will tell you how you should run your business. But all of us are different. We have different strengths and different weaknesses. 

Tips and TricksIn my articles I describe what I do, or what’s worked for me. But I make no promises that it will work for you. You need to test out these ideas and find out what works for you.

Early on while reading about marketing I found a lot of advise that suggested techniques that involved a lot of writing. Writing articles, writing emails, writing direct mail campaigns, writing website copy, etc etc. I think the reason I came across that advice so often is because I was reading material written by people who enjoyed writing. But I never felt like writing was my a strong skill of mine so why should I spend all that time writing? It made no sense for me.

You can either try to build skills you aren’t good at at or you can ask for help. If you have no desire to learn website design, hire somebody to do it for you.  If you aren’t good at script writing, hire somebody to help you write your show. If you don’t know how to dress yourself, ask the most fashionable girl you know. Part of running a successful business is to know what your weaknesses are, just as much as knowing what your strengths are.

I’m not very good at writing so I decided to create a blog where I can practicing my writing skills. But that’s just what I decided would work well for me.

Personally, I don’t like talking on the phone to clients. I always feel like I’m leaving out important details or not asking everything I need to know about their event. It didn’t make sense for me to have a booking process that relied heavily on phone calls. Instead I created a system where I avoid the phone as much as possible.

With emails, I have a system of template responses that I go through each and every time so I know that I’m never missing any information. With a system of templates I don’t have to compose a new email at each step, instead its the same each and every time. Plus I really like having everything in writing so that I can reference it later on. I know that my system works for me but I know for a fact that it wouldn’t work for most people.

If you aren’t good at working with computers, its probably easier and more efficient for you to sell your services on the phone. My system works for me, but I know that it wouldn’t work for everyone.

That’s why reading what others are doing is so valuable because you see different ways to approach your business. So test different techniques and find out what works for you. It’s your business and you can run it however you want… Now get to work!

How to Produce a Touring Illusion Show – Interview with John Kaplan

When I was getting my start in magic John Kaplan’s “Magic School Bus” show was one of the first live magic shows I ever saw. I remember that it was a fundraiser for an elementary school in Penticton, BC. Almost 20 years later and John is still touring Canada with his show, commanding thousands of dollars per show for himself and earning thousands of dollars for his clients.

Since he’s obviously on to something I wanted ask him how he did it. It turns out he’s leaving this week to tour a month long tour in New Zealand and Australia, but he found enough time to do this interview with me. But first, Who is John Kaplan?

kaplanJohn Kaplan’s career began, as most magicians’ do, when he received a magic kit at age 9.

Inspired by the life of Houdini and determined to make magic his life’s work, after high school John became a sorcerer’s apprentice, finding as his mentor Micky Hades – author, publisher, illusion builder and inventor of magic tricks (such as the world-famous “Micky Hades Improved Finger Chopper“) – and it was from Micky that John learned the business side of the magic business.

Early contest wins and TV appearances gave John a running start as he pursued his childhood ambition.

Many interesting career high points followed, including promotional shows that saw John escaping from straitjackets, making cars and people disappear, headlining gala shows for major sporting events, performing on cruise ships, in comedy clubs and being Jay Leno’s opening act.

In 1989 John created, produced and starred in his own theatrical production “Johnny’s House”, leading to years of creating theme shows for amusement parks and shopping malls, where he developed his acclaimed “Santa-via-Satellite” program currently licensed in over 60 markets worldwide.

In addition to his performing career, John’ s business-building programs, effects and routines have been well received by the magic community.

However, it’s his unique approach to the fundraising market that’s given John his greatest success. During his 30+ year career he’s performed thousands of shows in over 500 Canadian towns and cities, and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for school and community groups with his Fundraising Magic program.  Read More…

Building your Brand New Magic Website Fast with WordPress

My last post was about how to tweak and improve your existing website. But what if you don’t have a website yet and you don’t know where to start?

In this article I’ll cover the basics on how to build a brand new website.

In order to have a website you need two things. You’ll need a domain name, that’s the www.example.com which is about $10/year. And you’ll also need webhosting. That’s a server on the internet that you pay for. They host your website files so that people can access your website. The fee for a webhost can change drastically depending on your needs, but it shouldn’t be more than $5-10/month for a basic account.

I recommend Bluehost as a great webhost service provider. You can also register and manage your domain name through them as well making the progress as simple and streamlined as possible. Simply create a new account at Bluehost and follow the steps in the video.

How to register a domain name with Bluehost and install to WordPress:

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