The No B.S. Guide to Landing Your First Paid Magic Gig

The No B.S. Guide to Landing Your First Paid Magic Gig

How do you get your first paid magic gig? I’ll tell you….

  • You don't need to be great (yet). 
  • You don't need Facebook ads. 
  • You don't need business cards. 
  • You don't even need a website. 

Today I'll be giving you a few no nonsense ideas & tactics to help you land your first paid gig in 2024. 



The first thing I want to share with you is about confidence. If you’ve never done a paid gig before, you probably have some doubts about what people will think.

If that’s you, I’d love to know in the comments below. If I get enough comments I’ll do a full dedicated post on building confidence. Because there is so much to cover that isn't relevant to just magic. 

But let’s assume you have confidence for now… What should you do?

#1. Find your market

In your local area, where do people hang out?

Is there a local bar that hosts theme nights? What about a posh hotel that holds events? 

Get on Tripadvisor and search the best places in your local area. 

  • "Top 10 bars in [insert your local area]"
  • "Best restaurants in [insert your local area]"
  • "Top rated hotels in [insert your local area]"

Whatever comes up... That's your new target list. Google their telephone numbers and get dialling. 

Emails are easy to ignore. Calls aren't. So it's always better to call. 

My first residency was as at circus-themed night at a cocktail bar. Every Sunday. 

I knew people went there BEFORE the club, so I offered entertainment for 2 hours to keep them engaged and spending money at the bar - instead of patrons going elsewhere. 

Think about where people congregate & if those spots could benefit from magic. 

Remember, there needs to be an upside to the venue. They aren't just going to give you a job out of the goodness of their heart. You need to spell out the upside for them. 

BONUS TIP: If you can get the name of the events co-ordinator from google or linkedin, make sure you use it when you call. 

"Hey I'm just looking to speak to Sarah, is she there today?" 

That will help whatever member of staff answering the phone, direct your call efficiently. 

#2. Potential Upsides 

So they answer the phone, "what now?" 

  • Who 
  • What 
  • Why 
  • When
  • How

Make sure you have that written out, before you call. 

"Hey, I'm Geraint Clarke [the who] and I'm a close-up magician [the what]. I'm calling today to discuss performing some close up magic at your venue [the why]. I saw that you have a really quiet Sunday [the when] and I think I can increase how long people stay in the venue, by having a performer there. Keeping them engaged and buying drinks for longer with 2 hours of strolling magic [the how]. Would you be opposed to something like that?" 

Obviously insert your own details tailored to each prospective client, but that's a very basic example of what you can do. 

One of my first paying clients was Welsh Poker Tournament. I performed magic at their events to spectators and anyone who was knocked out of the tournament. 

Instead of going home, they stuck around to see magic. I also used the Poker Tournament's custom cards that people could buy. So I was a walking advert for their deck. 

That's a great example of 'upsides' for the client having me there. Each client will have different potential upsides, so using your TripAdvisor list of target venues, you can create 1 or 2 upsides for each venue. 

Don't just assume they want you because you can do magic. Think about ways in which you can provide THEM value too. 

That's how you land new gigs. It should be seen as ADDING to their bottom line and not an additional COST that they never asked for. 

#3. The Facebook Group hack

Here's a little creative marketing for you.

Years ago I ran a contest in a local Facebook group for my area.

They exist all over the world and are filled with local residents, in their thousands or tens of thousands. 

I posted…

“Win a Magician at your wedding/party/event - FREE”

I asked everyone to comment the dates of their events & the type of event.

I only picked one winner - but the post had created tons of local leads. I then DM’d all the people that didn’t win and offered them half price on my services as a consolation prize.

I got many paid gigs from that tactic - and I've shared it with some magicians before, who have used the exact same method to get paid gigs. 

Better still, it didn't cost us any money to post it. It's essentially free advertising. 


#4. Who do you know now?

Cold-calling venues may seem like a daunting task. So there is an easier place to start.

  • Does your mom’s cousin own a bar?
  • What about your friend's wife's restaurant?

There is always someone in your phone book who has some loose connection to a venue that you could test your skills at.

The Welsh Poker Tournament I mentioned earlier was owned by the father of a girl I went to school with. So think about who you know now. 

And it may not always be a 'venue' that can pay you for a gig. 

I once landed a gig at a call center doing magic for the entire building in groups of 25 each time. It was corporate team bonding & they took them off the phones in groups to see magic. 

That gig was landed through a friend who was a team leader at this insurance call center. I was asking him about his work's Christmas party and he saw that other opportunity to hire me. 

Make a list of who you know in positions of authority or ownership and send them a message. That could be a way to land an easy, first-time paid gig. 

#5. Charity Events

Another way to land your first paid gig is via a charity event. Their event calendars are public and you can always call their local offices. 

Cost expectations are low, but if they think people will be in a good mood - and more likely to give, they'll book you. 

Again, it's about upsides. Maybe you can offer them a buy one get one for performances (price accordingly). 

Note: the most hecklers I’ve ever had was at a charity event for a cancer charity. The free booze was too much for some to handle.

So always ask if it's 'free/open bar' and if it is, make sure you book yourself for the first hour only. Trust me. 


#6. Weddings

If I’m a guest at a wedding, I always end up performing casually. Why not?

Every single time, without fail, someone asks me if I can do their Dad's 60th birthday party, or their upcoming wedding too. 

Being open to perform for free at your friend's wedding, can always open up opportunities for you to land a paid gig. 

#7. Undercharging vs Undercutting

This is controversial to performers, but it needs to be said. 

When it comes to pricing I feel like it’s okay to charge a small amount, especially if it's your first paid gig. 

My first paid gig, at age 16, was for £60 (about $75).

However, there is a difference between undercharging & undercutting. 

If you’re creating an opportunity. Doing a gig that’s never been done before then charge as little as you're comfortable with. 

But if that gig already exists, you shouldn’t undercut the existing magician. As it creates a race to the bottom in price.

Strategically undercharge? Yes. Strategically undercut? Never!

As you do more gigs, you can increase your prices along the way. 


#8. The Power of FREE 

Of course this entire post is about your first PAID magic gig. So stick with me. 

Often giving a new client a 'trial' for free can increase your opportunity of landing a paid gig. 

Take away all risk for them. It makes it a much easier proposition. And if it's your first paid gig, it's no skin off your nose to do 1 for free. 

I asked Duane Williams about his first gig.

He called a local cocktail bar and asked to speak to the Manager.

He offered to do free magic around the tables to show the upside. He said...

"You hire a band to entertain people. It's like that, but a lot more personal. I'll go around small groups & tables for a few hours and make sure everyone has a great time - and it won't cost you a penny." 

It worked and people had such a good time, that the venue actually PAID him for a his first gig. Even though he offered it for free. The manger insisted on it! 

That 'free' gig instantly became Duane's paid residency. He was booked every week.


#9. Exceed Expectations 

When it comes to your first paid gig, you need to set realistic expectations - and exceed them. 

Don't book a stage show for 500 people at a corporate awards ceremony as your first ever paid gig. 

Choose a list of tricks you're comfortable performing. Charge an amount that reflects your skill level and experience. 

If you charge $1,000 and do an hour of clunky, experimental magic - the client will not be happy. 

If you charge $100 and do an hour of strolling magic at the bar, but the reactions are strong and patrons are bouncing - the client will be happy. 

For your first gig, it's all about underpromising and overdelivering. 

You first gig won't make you rich. It's just to get you on the ladder and allow you the opportunity to polish your skills in front of real audiences. 

The real money will come. Be patient. You need to earn your stripes first. 


Was this helpful? Want more ideas to land paid gigs? Let us know in the comments below  

Reading next

Anatomy of a Best-Selling Magic Trick
How to be More Confident


John Matyas

John Matyas

Love to see a full post on gaining confidence!!

Youri van Tol

Youri van Tol

Hi there, thank you so much for this post. I myself aren’t as confident as I would’ve hoped I’d be. I’m sometimes even afraid performing for my own family or gf. But I really want to show my magic skills to other people and so gigs. Thank you for this article as it had helped me to take things step by step. As for your offer to supposedly make a separate post about confidence, I’m really really hoping you will as it’ll help me immensely. Thanks!!



Great article, thank you !

Scott Van Eerden

Scott Van Eerden

Good stuff. And I would welcome any tips on confidence you care to offer.



Thanks G. Great advice and a great read.

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.