Social Media

Late Night Conversation – Lecture at the 3 of Clubs Magic Convention

This past weekend I lectured at the 3 of Clubs Magic Convention in Coquitlam, BC Canada. In the talk I discussed my stage setup for shows, branding, marketing materials, advertising, newsletters, and evaluations. There were a few additional topics that I discussed live at the event that aren’t included in the below video. You’ll just have to attend in person if you want to hear everything!

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Automatic Amazing Show Photos

d5200I recently decided I wanted to get a new DSLR camera so that I can get more photo’s from my shows to use in my marketing materials. I wanted to spend about $1,000 and I started searching online for a camera that could take nice clean crisp photo’s in low-light conditions. Since most of my shows are indoors without any extra lighting I needed needed something that could take photo’s in that environment.

After some research I narrowed it down to three choices:

All of the camera’s have their own strengths and weaknesses, but ultimately I decided on the Nikon D5200 because of the price point and low-light performance.

Anyway, this post isn’t really to recommend a camera. What works for you will depend on how you want to use your camera and how much you’re willing to spend. The more you spend though the better the pictures will probably be.

Interval Timer

I didn’t know when I bought the camera but it has a feature called Interval Timer Shooting. As the name suggests, it means you can automatically take photo’s at regular intervals!

interval timer shooting   interval timer shooting2

On the first screen you can select between Start Now or a Start Time. In the next screen you set how often you want it to take a picture. You can set the interval by hours, seconds, or minutes.

Today at a birthday party show I setup the camera at the back of the room on a tripod. I set the camera to auto-focus then I set the clock to start taking photo’s 5 minutes before the show start time. Then I set it to take a photo every 2 minutes. After the show I had about 20 photo’s automatically taken for me during the show! Here’s a small sample of some of the pictures:

Timer Photo 1

Timer photo 2

Timer Photo 3

As you can see the results turned out pretty good! Next time I’m going to set the interval timer for a much shorter time like 30 seconds. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

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…

Making your testimonials more visible on Facebook

Previously I’ve written about getting amazing client testimonials, and my last post was about posting photo’s taken at the event on Facebook. In this post I’m going to talk about combining these two techniques together.

If you post a customer testimonial as a status update it will quickly become “stale”. That means that once the information has gone past people’s homepage that it won’t ever be seen again.


However, if you post a photo online it gets added to an album so whenever people go through that album they will see the picture and that content lasts a lot longer. Instead what you want to do is combine a photo from an event, along with the corresponding testimonial from that event as a DESCRIPTION on that photo. Now that testimonial will last a lot longer on your account so people will see it.



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Buying the perfect domain name

There are lots of things to consider when selecting a domain name. A good domain will be something that people can remember, that’s unique, and matches your site content.

Whenever I need to purchase a new domain name I always go through the same process:

  1. Brainstorm different ideas
  2. Create a shortlist of the good ideas and make sure the .com is available. You can see if a new domain is available by searching for it on
  3. Ask a few people what they think of possible names
  4. If I’m not 100% satisfied with the name, I’ll go back a few hours later or days later and see if I can come up with a better name
  5. Register the domain name

Here a photo of my brainstorming sheet when I was trying to come up with a domain name for this blog:

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Facebook Fan Pages for Performers

Facebook is an amazing tool to market and brand yourself, but I don’t have a fan page. Instead I use my personal profile to market and brand myself and I’ll explain why.

Here’s the typical scenario. You have your Facebook profile made up of friends, coworkers, clients, magicians, and other acquaintances. Then you read online that you’re supposed to have a fan page— all your competitors are doing it- so you decide to create one too!

Why fan pages aren’t very good for for most most performers

  1. So you invited all of your Facebook contacts such as friends, coworkers, clients, magicians, and everyone else on your account to try and get that number up as high as possible! Sound familiar? This is what 90% of people do, and already you’re off to a bad start… The only thing you’ve done is basically duplicate your friends list onto your fan page. Ideally you should ONLY be posting your work related updates to your fan page. But if you’re like me performing its part of your daily life. There is no separation for me. So you either post to your own profile or your fan page…. or even worse you post to both. Please don’t post to both because now that you’ve added all your friends and family and everyone now they will see your update twice in their news feed. You’re spamming all the people who decided to like your page in the first place. You shouldn’t spam your friends. So far you haven’t done anything at all, you’ve just shifted your audience from one place to another and you’ve created more work for yourself.
  2. Take a look at the people that are you on your fan page. Are they actually your target audience? Your buddies from school, that cute girl from that party, and that magician that lives on the other side of the world aren’t going to hire you. Instead you should sending your message out to past clients and prospective clients, people you’ve built a real relationship with that’s worth something. (Hint: Newsletters and email works way better for converting sales anyway)
  3. It’s harder to get people to like your fan page than it is to get somebody to accept a friend request. You’ll be working way harder to get people to like your page instead of friending them.
  4. People would rather be your friend than a fan anyway so give them what they want! (While you’re at it you can be my friend) Facebook is social NETWORKING. It should be a two way conversation where build a relationship with them. If they only ‘like’ your page you won’t see their updates and you have less opportunity to interact with the things that they post.
  5. Your updates don’t show up in people’s news feed as often. (Apparently there’s a new option where you can pay to get your story promoted now for pages.)
  6. You may eventually neglect your fan page because you have a larger audience on your personal profile. I’ve looked at a lot of magicians fan pages (here’s some) and you can look at their wall to see how often they’ve been updating. Most of the time they don’t update very often. What’s the point in having a fan page if you aren’t going to even update it? Just stick with your regular profile that you’re going to update more often anyway.
  7. How many clients do you work with in a year that will ‘like’ your facebook page? How many likes do you need to have on your profile for it to look good to prospective clients? If a client is looking at your profile and you only have 30 fans… it doesn’t exactly instill confidence. Does 100 look impressive? 200? 1,000? 5,000? For most of us you’ll have maybe a few hundred people who  are your target clients. If you do get into the 1,000’s then it’s worthwhile to have a fan page (see below).

Networking Events — Why you don’t go to them

Networking events are a great way to get new business. These events are filled with people who are fellow business owners, local government officials, local media, and other individuals who are highly networked. My guess is that you already know that you should be going to these events but you aren’t. If you want to get more bookings you need to be in front of the people who can hire you.

My guess is that one of the reasons you don’t go to these events is because you don’t “know anybody”Really that’s just an excuse to cover the fact that you don’t like to network. Yes, its uncomfortable and awkward, but I’m going to tell you exactly how to get over it. As a performer you have a natural skillset to navigate these types of social situations. Most businesses don’t get to immediately demonstrate their services– but we’re very lucky because networking events are exactly the type of environment that we’re hired to perform in!

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Improve your emails — gMail

There’s no doubt that gMail (Google Mail) is the best email service in the entire galaxy. So if you’re using hotmail, yahoo, or any of the other services I suggest you get with the times grandpa. The spam protection is amazing, the custom filters rock, the themes are decent (check out the cool cloud wallpaper I’m using right now in my account), and I can access it anywhere in the world on any web-enabled device.

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