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  1. #1
    Registered User
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    Jun 2010

    How Do I Know If I'm Ready?

    Hey all, I recently had some conversations with other magicians, and we kept running into the question of "How do I know if I'm ready to start making money with magic?" Obviously, making money isn't the reason we do magic, but for some it's a big step and a major milestone for a performer. I wrote this to clarify, and would love to know what you all think.


    How Do I Know If I’m Ready?

    I’m 100% serious when I say that doing magic professionally changed my life. I cut my teeth as a restaurant magician, where I performed the same few routines for many different people - this quickly brought me up to speed as a performer. Getting paid to have fun is a game-changer, and I'm passionate about helping performers make money with their magic.

    But there’s a major obstacle to going out and getting that first magic gig. How do you know if you’re ready?

    Is it when you can perform a flawless classic pass? Do you have to know sponges, coins, money magic, and mentalism, in addition to cards? Should you just go for it, even if you don’t feel ready? No, no, and no.

    As far as I’m aware, there aren’t any “magician’s trials,” that decide who’s ready and who’s not. That’s a good thing - we don’t need trials, certification courses, or anybody’s permission to go and bring joy to the masses. If these aren’t the answer, though, what is? Luckily, I’ve got a solution for you.

    Let’s start with a question: what happens when you perform magic for people right now? In the past two weeks, think about all of the performances you’ve done. I’m serious, stop reading and think about them - doesn’t matter if it was for family, friends, teachers, coaches, teammates, or strangers. Every performance counts.

    What sort of reactions are you getting? Do people laugh, or seem like they’re having fun? Do you get people asking, “how’d you do that?” and trying to figure it out, or are they more astonished? At it’s most basic level, being good at magic is about being evocative - it’s about what you can bring out in the people around you through your magic.

    These questions aren’t enough to decide whether you’re ready to work with clients, however. In my opinion, they’re just the starting point.

    I truly believe in using actionable steps, methods, and systems that give you a clear answer. That’s why the same-old, tired advice just won’t cut it for me. When this question comes up in magic communities, here’s what we normally get:
    • “It’s important to have at least X solid effects, and make sure they’re different types of magic.”
    • “You have to be confident in your abilities before getting out there.”
    • “Just decide for yourself, nobody can make the call for you.”
    If you’re the kind of person that can work with any of the above, that’s great. Seriously, I applaud you. But for the rest of us, myself included, those probably don’t help us reach a decision about whether we’re ready. So I looked back on my own experience to find a better answer, hopefully one that anyone could use as a guideline.

    What I found surprised me. I had been doing magic for about 2 years before I landed my first gig. When I think back on those years, however, there was a pattern.
    • When I performed just one trick, more often than not I had a spectator asking me to do another.
    • When my classmates in school found out I did magic, they asked me to show them something. Strangers did this too - friends-of-friends and the like.
    • In larger group settings - either a party or just hanging out with some friends - someone would ask me if I brought any magic.
    I reached a point where people seemed genuinely interested in seeing magic, and I was getting good reactions from them. They would be laughing, enjoying themselves, occasionally asking how I did something - they were always having fun. In fact, sometimes they were having even more fun than I was!

    If you get good reactions, and spectators ask you to perform more, then you're good to go. It’s as simple as that. When you get good reactions and see interest from your spectators, that means they are bought in to your performance. You’ve enrolled them in the possibility of having a magical experience. Doing this is a mark that you’re a skilled performer. You’re ready to start making money with your magic when you’re a talented entertainer.

    One last thought: I think there’s a common thought process for people trying to make a change in their lives - whether it be weight loss, dating, getting a job, and especially magic - that everything has to be as close to perfect as possible before we get started, before we make that change. I’ve been in that mental state before too. But every time I operated on that principle, that things had to be perfect, I almost never got started. Is this happening to you?

    If so, there’s a better way. Instead of trying to start perfectly, think about being “good enough to get it done.” Trying to perfect anything before you actually get started is a guaranteed way to never start at all. It takes a long time to get anywhere near “perfect,” and it’s a separate argument entirely if that’s even possible. However, it is possible to be “good enough” to get it done, or at least good enough to get started. And from there, you’ll start improving as you go.


    I’d love to hear from you all - what sorts of reactions are the most typical for you when you’re performing? How often do people ask you to “do another,” and how do you handle that?
    Justin Grabowski : a free blog helping magicians earn more money

  2. #2
    ChristopherThisse's Avatar :: Moderator
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    Aug 2008
    Fawn Grove, PA, USA
    Nice thread.

    Kind of two topics in one, though. The idea of making money from magic as well as how a performer reacts to the reactions they get.

    When I perform I don't tend to aim for the kinds of reactions you see in magic demo videos or David Blaine specials. It's also different depending on the environment and what I'm performing.

    If I'm doing my bizarre magic, close up - I tend to aim for a sort of awed silence, which I often achieve. This material tends to be heavy on the emotional connection between myself and the volunteers and audience, so while people will clap they don't tend to run around and scream. I generally frame the performance so that once I am done the routine(s) I intended to perform, that is a definite end to the performance and folks don't ask to see more.

    If I'm doing a hypnosis demonstration I tend to aim for a mix of humor and amazement. In up close demos, this tends to lead to long conversations afterwards so I only do these when I'm prepared for that aspect of it.

    When doing sideshow stunts I do aim for the freakout reactions and comedy as well as amazement. I definitely go for the mind-over-matter stuff there. It's pretty rare that folks want to see more than one of these stunts as they get a bit extreme.

    In a stage situation, or parlor, I'm mixing all of these together and trying to give the show texture. There will be points of comedy, points of stunned silence, points of freak-out. I like to have multiple peaks, but I always end on a weird, serious note that makes people think about reality.

    Going to your other point - I think your guideline is pretty good as an indication for when one is ready to sell a show. It's important to have clear goals, though. If all you want to do is the occasional show for money, all you need is the ability to entertain. And let me be clear, there's nothing wrong with this - some of the most amazing innovations in magic come from part time performers.

    Moving beyond the part-time performer takes a whole different skill set though. You will have to learn about marketing - because it doesn't matter how entertaining your show is if you can't get anyone to hire you to do it.

    It's a frustrating fact, but it's true. If someone has a decent show, but knows how to market that show well, they will do better than someone who has an excellent show but no skill at marketing it.

    The HP Lovecraft of Bizarre Magic

  3. #3
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    california, USA
    That is some good information, Thanks for sharing!
    Jonah Egold

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