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

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Different Types of Giveaways To Use In Your Show

In my last article I discussed the benefits to using giveaways in your show. In this article I’ll discuss the various types of giveaways that I’ve used before. This isn’t just theory on things that I’ve seen or heard about. All of these items I’ve used in my performances. For each item I’ll discuss the context in which I used it, along with sources and examples.

Balloon Animals

A giveaway could be as simple as giving away a balloon dog. In the case of balloon animals there’s lots of ‘bits of business’ that you can include to make it entertaining. There’s the old gag of ‘accidentally’ snapping the balloon into your face while attempting to blow it up, or accidentally letting go of the balloon before tying the end off so that it flies away. These old gags have stood the test of time for a reason. On Gary Dunn’s DVD “Keep them Laughing” he does about 10 minutes worth of material just by making two balloons animals for a couple volunteers on stage. It’s a great way to get lots of entertainment out of a minimal amount of props. Watching Gary work is a masterclass in children’s entertainment. I highly recommend it!

IMG_1628For small shows you can make balloon animals for everyone at the party, and for larger shows just make balloons for volunteers on stage. Be aware though, that if you’re at a birthday party and you start making balloon animals – you’re probably going to get suckered into making one for each child. So, plan accordingly. 😉

There’s also the option of charging extra for making balloons animals for everyone at the party. Personally I’m better at magic than balloons so I stick to simple balloon sculptures like the dogs, swords, flowers, and hats. I find that by doing simple balloons I can make each one in under a minute. Making them quickly is important if you have another show to attend that same day.

Balloons are a great giveaway but they don’t carry any brand information and they don’t last very long. Let’s look at some other options…

Ball and Vase Trick

ball and vaseMy goal was to use the Ball and Vase as a general giveaway and then pitch them as an inexpensive back of room sales item for $2. They didn’t sell very well though. People were more interested in purchasing my Magic Wand and DVD so eventually I stopped selling the Ball and Vase.

I found that it was too difficult for kids to learn on their own from the instructions. I think that this trick is better suited to be part of a magic class or workshop.

Even though I don’t offer any magic classes I’ve still found a way to make use of the Ball and Vase trick. I’ll use it as a  special giveaway in a 1-on-1 situation for a child that’s interested in learning the secrets of magic. It’s a great trick for that 9-12 year old range where they can execute the basic handling and presentation. The magic of the ball and vase is quite deceptive, the secret is clever, and it can be taught in just a few minutes. I’ve found that using them in this way can create a very special moment that goes beyond just a normal giveaway and can be very rewarding on a personal level. For the right person in the right setting, it’s absolutely perfect!

The Ball and Vase sets are a bit more expensive than other giveaways plus they aren’t branded so I only use them in those 1-on-1 situations.

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Sending Emails to Unknown Contacts Without It Being Interpreted as Spam

On Facebook Craig asked this question:

“Does anyone have extensive knowledge of CASL (Canadian Anti-Spam Law)? I am looking at doing some email marketing, but have this weird aversion to law suits… I’m basically just googling Industry X in Location Y, going through the various websites to gather emails, and blasting from there. It’s not opt-in, but there is a caveat for obviously available addresses. Thoughts? The main reason for this method is that I am trying to reach a new market, and don’t have much of a current ‘in’ with it.”

delete spamThe CASL is the Canadian Anti-Spam law, which is basically the equivalent of the CAN-SPAM act in America.

Making sure your email isn’t marked as spam can be a tricky problem to solve. The best solution in my opinion is the most obvious but people don’t do it because it requires so much more work.

If you don’t want your email to be interpreted as spam then you’ll need to make sure that it is targeted. That means that you’re sending an email to someone that will find it helpful rather than thinking it’s a shameless sales letter.

You can do that by writing in the name of the person you’re sending it to at the start of the email (ex: Good morning John), the company, and other specific information that makes that particular email unique.

Here’s a little trick I’ve used in the past. Your first email can just be an email asking for information about the correct person to contact. Then once they reply you can send off your more sales information to the right person.

The downside to this technique is that you have to wait for them to reply. But if you write your email correctly and send it to the right person you should get a reply most of the time.

The upside to this technique though is that you know that your information is going to the correct person. Plus you’ll also begin to build a relationship with that person in a much more meaningful way than if you had just directly sent your promotional packet. Building a relationship this way makes it easier for you to contact them in the future with new information because you already have an existing relationship.

Unless you’re doing huge amounts of email you don’t really need to worry about CASL. Instead you’ll want to send small amounts of highly targeted emails. If you need to use some sort of mail-merge or bulk email sender, that should be a red flag that your emails aren’t targeted enough.

Just don’t spam people and you should be fine.


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