Going Professional

At some point many magicians want to turn their passion in magic into a profession or to perform on a voluntary basis.

But, it is important to realize that the repertoire of a working professional magician (whether paid or unpaid) will be somewhat different than someone who does magic as a hobby for the friends. That statement is not meant to demean the hobbyist or non professional who in reality may or may not be more proficient than the professional. As a professional magician you will be working under certain constraints that are not necessarily an issue for the hobbyist who has more control over the environment he performs in and the duration of his magical performance. Below are some of the important issues that a professional magician should take into account.

The Majority Of Your Effects Should Be “Instant Reset”.

First of all you should be looking at your repertoire of effects. Because you will be employed to entertain people at social gatherings such as parties and weddings (hopefully not funerals!) you will be moving from group to group doing repeat performances of effects. Because of this you would be well adivsed to eliminate many effects in your repertoire that are not instant reset. That is effects that cannot be performed without setting them up away from your audience. You cannot escape to the restroom between groups to reset your effects when you are being paid to entertain. You will be expected to remain among the clientele. So when you are next reading a book or purchasing an effect check that it has an instant reset or quick reset. You will thank yourself later.


Related to Instant Reset is the term F.A.S.D.I.U. This is an acronym for Free And Shuffled Deck In Use. In simple terms if a card trick can be performed with a FASDIU then it can be performed with a regular deck of cards that (if they choose) can be shuffled by the spectator before being handed to the magician to perform the trick. For instance if a card trick requires the four Aces secretly positioned at the top or bottom of the deck then the trick would not meet FASDIU criteria. Good solid FASDIU card effects would include: Ambitious Card Routine, Card To Pocket, Against All Odds (a great simple Mentalism effect with cards by Jay Sankey) and Cards Across. Another widely recognised resource is the FASDIU and FASDIU II lecture notes of Paul Cummins. They are available from his web site http://fasdiu.com

The beauty of FASDIU effects is that you are immediately ready to go into your next trick and there is less room for error. So aim to make the majority of your card tricks possible with a FASDIU. Harry Lorayne’s classic book Close Up Card Magic is also worth checking out (as is anything by Harry Lorayne!).

Another prolific creator of FASDIU card effects is professional magician John Carey.

John Carey’s material is certainly worth checking out. Not only is it typically very strong but he does tend to streamline the handling of his card effects which makes them a lot easier to perform. Fortunately for you John Carey has released a number of videos and books where he teaches his effects in a clear straight forward manner. I would go so far as saying John Carey should be one of the first magicians whose material you should check out if you are looking for card magic to be performed with a Free And Shuffled Deck In Use. Don’t over complicate your card magic. Be like John Carey! Check out The Essential John Carey.

Pocket Management

Professional magicians working at a gig obviously need to carry their effects on their person. This requires good pocket management. Knowing where your pen is and where your packet trick is located is essential unless you want part of your performance to involve patting yourself down searching for a prop! Adopt a structured approach and make sure your pocket management matches your performance sets. Can you go smoothly from one effect to the next knowing where everything is?

Pocket Management – Pocket Dividers

The good news is there are a couple of products that are designed to make pocket management a little easier. Some you can purchase but we will start of with a simple thing you can make yourself. Its called a “pocket divider”. Take a thin but firm piece of cardboard or plastic and simply cut it to the shape of your pocket. When placed inside it will effectively give you two compartments in one pocket (one either side of the divider). This way you could store 2 packet tricks (one each side of the divider) and know instantly where each packet trick is. No fumbling!

Pocket Management – Pro Carrier Deluxe by Joshua Jay

The chances are your most of your pockets will contain effects. So where does your regular deck of cards go. Well, some magician’s get a tailor to put in extra pockets but one alternative is to get yourself a deck carrier or deck holder. There are a few of these on the market but probably one of the best recommendations for the soon to be professional magician is The Pro Carrier Deluxe which is the creation of professional magician Joshua Jay.

Made of leather the Pro Carrier Deluxe is like wearing an additional pocket on your belt. Its metal clip allows you to easily clip it on and off your belt. In it you can carry 2 decks of cards as shown in the picture. It also has a separate compartment for your coins (less fumbling!) and also has a space for gimmicked cards or packet tricks. The covering flap is magnetic and on the outside of the Pro Carrier Deluxe is a place for your business card so you will always have one on hand to give out to prospective clients. This is not just a magician’s gimmick, it is a very well thought out bit of kit. What more could you ask for? You can get one by clicking here.

Multi-Use Props and Regular Items

No matter how much pocket space you do or do not have try to develop a repertoire where you can perform a multitude of different effects with a small number of props. If you can only do 1 trick per prop that you carry you may want to consider ditching it or learning a number of different effects with it. Entertaining a group of people for an hour with a regular deck of cards should not be a problem if you are a card guy, but how many coin effects do you know? Do you need to expand your repertoire and also the depth and variety in the types of effect that you can perform with a single prop? Virtually every magician knows sleight of hand effects with coins but what about a mentalism effect with a few coins?

So if you want to become a professional magician picture the following scenario. You arrive at a venue ready to entertain and you have forgotten your magic bag with all your props for the evening.  What do you do? You look in your car and find a few coins, a Sharpie marker and some Post It Notes. How long could you entertain people with these items?

Promote Yourself – Business Cards

When it comes to business cards the acronym K.I.S.S (Keep It Simple Sweetheart) is the recommended route to take. Often times magicians like any other profession make the mistake of having too much information on their business cards. We would advise 1) Your Name 2) The type of performer you are 3) Contact Details such as phone number and website/email address. Nothing else is needed on your business card. Professional magician Eugene Burger knew that simple was better.

Combining a magical effect utilizing your business card is a great way of getting future business.

Because of this some magicians opt to have a prediction built on their business card. This could be the value of a card that the spectator might “select”.

Then there is the back of the business card. Do you keep it blank or put further information on? One thing that may influence your decision on this is the Out To Lunch (OTL) Principal. For more information on the OTL we recommend the excellent book Lunch is Served by Paul Romhany and TC Tahoe.

You may choose to go to a local business card printer who will design your business card for you or you may opt for an online service such as Vistaprint where you can choose from a variety of online templates or design your own online.

Pimp Your Sharpie!

Sometimes it is the little touches that show an extra effort. Virtually all professional magicians carry a sharpie marker pen. The Sharpie markers are great for when a spectator signs a card. But lets face it they don’t look elegant. Well a company called Sherpa have fixed this by making sleek outer casings that will fit right over your regular Sharpie (see diagram below).

Various designs are available so you will be sure to find one that suits your style. Certainly far from an essential bit of kit but if you want to add a bit of class get your hands on one. You can get one by clicking here.

Promote Yourself – Web Site and Social Media

If you haven’t got a web presence then you are not in the game. There are a number of top hosting companies that will allow you to design and host your site at a reasonable cost. Some of the top hosting companies are 1&1, InMotion Hosting, GoDaddy, BlueHost, HostGator and Wix. Most web hosting companies will have an online web site builder with a variety of different templates so you should easily find something that suits your tastes. If you are more technically minded you could use a web authoring program such as WordPress which is completely free as it is Open Source software (you will still need to purchase a domain and pay for hosting of your site though). When choosing your name try not to have anything that could be mis-typed or something that is too long. Your name followed by .com is perfectly acceptable. Avoid extensions like .net or .org. Keep it simple!

Outsource Tasks

There is a fascinating book called The 4 Hour Work Week by Entrepreneur Timothy Ferris. This book is an inspiring wealth of information and could just possibly change your life. One of the major pretexts of the book is outsourcing tasks to a virtual assistant. For instance if you have just created a web site and want a professional logo designed for it then you could outsource this by assigning the task to a Virtual Assistant. Fiverr.com is such a site and allows you to outsource such tasks as: graphics and design, building a web site, producing video/music/animation, writing website content and even legal advice. It is well worth a look and signing up.

Sign up to Fiverr by clicking the image below – it is well worth it.

Which Wallet Should You Buy?

If you have been doing magic for a reasonable length of time then you will surely have purchased a magician’s wallet at some point. Now you are considering turning professional you may be looking to purchase a new one. Check out the wallets on this site and compare how your wallet stacks up against the rest of them. A very good recommendation is The Worker’s Dream Wallet by Harry Robson. This is not a wallet that will fit into the pocket on your Levi jeans but should sit well inside most inside pockets on a suit jacket. The Worker’s Dream Wallet has a Card to Wallet, 2 Peeks, Card in Envelope & Out To Lunch. Check out the video below to see Harry give a brief overview of the wallet.

Its a brilliant wallet and you can get one on Amazon by clicking here.

Finally – The Book of Books On Becoming A Professional Magician

The above are just some of the things that you should consider if you want to become a professional magician and earn money with your magic. There are a lot more things to consider which would take up a whole book. Fortunately professional magician Jamie D Grant has written what is probably THE best book with 100% practical advice on becoming a professional magician. It is called “The Approach”.

If you take one thing from reading this page. One thing at all it is to BUY JAMIE’S BOOK! At 280 pages this little book outlines almost everything you need to consider if you want to turn professional. Whilst the books chapters are short the advice is golden. Here is a list of it’s contents:

1|How many tricks you should know.Article
2|Who are you?Study
3|Developing your sets~ Part ILesson
4|How to practice.Essay
5|Your Magic Fridays.Anecdote
6|Business cards.Advice
8|How Do You Look?Study
9|What are you wearing?Advice
10|Funny or serious?Anecdote
11|Are you any good yet?Lesson
12|Starting Conversations.Advice
13|Touching people.Trick
14|How Much To Charge?Article
15|The Cocktail PartyEssay
16|Getting started.Advice
17|Volunteer gigs and charities.Advice
18|What to say in emails.Tip
19|The telephone call.Trick
20|Getting There.Lesson
21|Developing Sets- Part 2Article
23|What does my contract looks like?Anecdote
25|Conquering nerves.Article
26|How to get gigs.Essay
27|Getting ready for your first one.Essay
28|Fingernail care.Trick
29|How much time to prepare.Tip
30|Pocket management.Article
31|Your list.Study
33|Your closeup bag/case.Advice
34|Things to never forget.Tip
35|Hat or No hat?Essay
36|The handshake.Tip
37|What to put in the lobby.Trick
38|Who to approach first?Article
39|My first effect.Advice
40|What rubberbands to use.Tip
41|Moving through a room.Article
42|The first words you (I) say.Essay
43|Highs and lows.Article
44|Getting applause.Essay
45|More transitionsStudy
46|Saying goodbye to your group.Essay
47|Tables versus standingAdvice
48|Dealing with the Alpha male.Article
49|Staying in one spot.Advice
51|Getting compliments.Tip
52|Letting spectators shuffle.Article
53|Reset. Reset.Study
54|Venue Staff.Tip
55|Kids at an event.Advice
56|Burning through material.Lesson
57|How many hours?Lesson
58|Remembering names.Article
59|When to show the event planner.Tip
60|The card force I always use.Anecdote
61|Accepting tips.Article
63|Handing out business cards.Tip
64|What to never borrow.Anecdote
65|Someone wants to show a trick.Article
66|Regular decks.Study
68|Large tables.Anecdote
69|Do you join them for dinner?Anecdote
70|Vest or jacket?Tip
71|The second Big Secret.Trick
72|Do it again.Article
73|Another magician shows up.Anecdote
74|Gigs outside.Advice
75|When only ten people show up.Anecdote
76|Do you need a stage show?Study
77|Dance floors.Advice
78|Checking back in.Tip
79|Dropping cards.Tip
80|Sponge balls.Trick
81|Dealing with disappointment.Advice
83|Open versus closed body language.Lesson
84|One handed spectators.Anecdote
85|Stick lines.Essay
86|Lone stragglers.Tip
88|Leaving them with something.Essay
89|Custom decks.Article
90|False memories.Article
92|How to get testimonials.Article
93|Getting all the money.Article
94|Increasing rates.Tip
96|Repeat gigs.Study
98|Social media.Advice
99|Going full time.
102|Go get it.Advice
100|The beginning.Thanks

The Approach by Jamie D. Grant

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