Understand your costs.
Depending on the type of magic act you are marketing, your overheads may include several costs that need to be estimated. You need to determine how many bookings you will need to cover them and bring you an acceptable income. Your costs may include:
- Travelling expenses to and from bookings
- Consumables, such as decks of playing cards
- Backing music
- Insurance – Public liability insurance is essential.
- Club or society membership
If you are already working in a full-time job, you need to calculate your costs, then work out how many bookings over a year, it will take to replace the income you currently receive.
Looking at that figure, do you think it is feasible for you to attract that number of magic bookings at the fee you charge, to replace your current income and allow growth over time?
What is your target customer?
What type of act do you provide? If you’re a children’s entertainer, your market is very different to that of a close up magician or a stage show illusionist. Each type of customer and venue has different needs, and a different budget for your services. When setting your fee, you need to look at the factors in your specific target market and set your fee within that market’s pricing level.
Your reputation and customer base will take time to grow, so you may find that you will need to accept some bookings for less that the going rate when you start out. As your reputation as a great magician spreads and your marketing efforts bear fruit, you will be able to increase your fees over time. We recommend that you do not work for free to begin with. It is very easy to get stuck in a regular booking that is not producing an income, because you started for free, and can’t justify to the client why they should now pay you. A reduced fee for a limited time as a ‘trial’ is fine, but be aware that your fee will often reflect your value to a client. There is much better way than competing on price when you start out.
Aim low on the customer, not the price.
Rather than targeting prestigious venues or premium clients with a low price, pick clients that have a lower budget, but would love to have magic at their venue. Premium venues will be wary of an entertainer who is cheaper than other entertainers locally, but a small business may be delighted to be able to afford your services.
Unlike a party or celebration event, the goal of a restaurant is to make a profit from their customers. They need to sell their food as well as to entertain them. It doesn’t matter how good a magician you are, the restaurant will know how many customers (or covers) it will turn in an evening, and that sets its budget for that night. Live entertainment is always sort after. In fact, during times of economic pressure, venues will seek out live entertainment to give them an edge in the market. A magician is a low cost option for a pub or restaurant, compared to live music or sporting events. Restaurant work is low paid, but a few regular evenings each week and support you during the early years, and be a good source of leads for work going forward.
Weddings have a larger budget than a restaurant, after all, the goal of a wedding is to entertain the guests, without making a profit from them. Because of this, you can charge a more realistic fee. The price you can charge for your services will depend very much on the area and wealth of the clients who book you. A simple and easy way to set your rate is to find out what comparable forms of entertainment charge in your area. Get some quotes for casino tables, live wedding singers and photo booths locally. A wedding magician can normally charge a small premium above these other options but will be price capped close to them.
If you provide a children’s magic show, it is quite easy to find out what other magicians in your area are charging. Don’t undercut the other magicians locally, as that simply creates a rush to the bottom of the market. If you would like to increase your fees in this market, look to advertise your services in wealthy areas. Try not to limit yourself just to parties near where you live. If you are prepared to travel, you can market yourself in a number of affluent towns and cities, increasing the fee for your services, rather than trying to increase the number of shows you perform.
Understanding your costs, income needs and the market for the product you are offering, is vital to your success as a professional magician. Once you have identified these factors, you can work on establishing your reputation and client base over time, and then increase your fees for performing magic tricks.