The Trap of “Look How Much Money I Just Made”

Performing magic professionally means that you’re also a small business owner. That means that any of the money you make performing is actually money that goes into your business. 

It’s easy to think that after doing a magic show it FEELS like easy money. You can leave the house for a few hours, have some fun, perform a few tricks, and come back home $1,000 richer. Compare that to everyone else you know who needs to go to work for an entire week to earn what you make in a single afternoon.

This type of thinking is very deceptive though because what you make from performing is NOT what YOU personally earn. It is NOT your salary. Your performance fee is what the BUSINESS makes. The money is what you’ll need to operate on to sustain your entire business.

For example, let’s say you perform at a show that pay’s you $1,000. Let’s see how that would breakout into your business bank accounts and personal accounts.

Performance Fee: $1,000
Sales tax / Income tax (25%): $250
Business account (25%): $250
Personal savings (15%): $150
Rent (20%): $200
Your wage (15%): $150

It’s very easy to look at that $1,000 cheque and think you’re rich especially when it feels like you only had to work for a few hours to get it. Keep in mind though all the hours throughout the week you spent replying to emails, working on promotional material, and practicing new routines. Once you calculate it all out, you’ll probably find your hourly wage isn’t as good as you might initially think.

Looking at the breakdown above you’ll see that ‘your wage’ is only $150 for that $1,000 show. Obviously the numbers I’ve chosen here are totally arbitrary and yours will be different. I’m just using these numbers to illustrate a point that your take home fee is much less than what it actually appears initially.

From that $1,000 you’ll need to budget for your costume, dry cleaning, vehicle upkeep, website hosting fee’s, marketing expenses, new magic props, conventions, business taxes and all the other expenses it takes for you to deliver an exceptional product to your customers. And then consider that on top of all that you still need to pay for rent, food, and contribute to your personal savings. Plus on top of all of that you also need to save a little extra for a rainy day. Bookings are always going to be inconsistent from month to month and year to year. You need to have enough saved up to sustain yourself through slow periods if magic is your sole source of income.

So next time you make a bunch of money performing on the weekend just put the cheque into the bank and pretend you’re broke instead. Future you will thank you.