One of the biggest things I’m asked is “How do I get a job in magic?”.
Whether it’s part of the Ellusionist.com team or one of their competitors, it seems like a popular target to be working in magic right now.
Magic is a business, in the same way that all passions are. You pay to go to a concert right? But some artists claim they’re all about the music.
A job in magic is a job. A real life rabbit-hole that can take you around the world, just because you fell in love with this art.
Let’s not get pretentious though, by now you know me, and you know I love practicality, certainty and results.
I’m going to help you land that dream job like a sexier (questionably) Captain Sully in the Hudson River of Magic.
Nobody died, it’s a great comparison. ^
In 2000 and ???, the date’s not important… I had a meeting for my university course application. I walked out of that meeting with an unconditional acceptance onto the course after I’d taught myself InDesign & Dreamweaver.
The University lecturers were impressed.
I compiled that book in my Mum’s Dining room on a 2009 Macbook, the pearl white one with the 13 inch screen. I loved that macbook like a pet.
My Mum saved £1,000 to buy it and drove on a 2 hour round trip to the Swansea Apple Store to buy it. To this day, it was the single-best present I ever received, because it started my career and it was an incredibly selfless act by my Mother, especially as we’re from a proper working-class background. £1,000 is a lot of money, both then and now.
So where am I going with this? I’ve just wandered into the dark abyss of memory lane.
My point is that being good at magic isn’t good enough. You need transferable skills, skills an actual business can use.
- Product Development
- Graphic Design
- Web Development
- … Etc
Those are all specialisms you could use to work in your chosen field.
Almost every popular person working in magic is doing something in that list above to help build value to the brand he/she represents.
Even a palace needs a cleaner, and there’s more than one way to skin a cat.
DISCLAIMER: That’s a famous phrase, no cats were skinned during the making of this blog post.
Find a way where your skills can help your art and you’ve got your in. I’ll see you on the inside.
‘A’ TO ‘B’ IS RARELY A STRAIGHT LINE
So how did I get into magic? The path looks like this:
- Sold clothes in Burton Menswear.
- Did magic gigs on the side.
- Become a Manager in Burton Menswear.
- Got sacked for giving my own family 10% discount (I was 17)
- Took a job in a call centre.
- Still did magic gigs in Revolution Vodka Bar.
- Got sacked for being under-age when a competing magician exposed me and took my gigs. Touché Sir.
- Got promoted at the call centre onto fixing people’s computers on remote access.
- Applied for Uni.
- Worked as a Nightclub Bouncer on the side.
- Organised the Merchandising for Max Factor make-up in Boots/Superdrug.
- Hired my housemate as my assistant.
- Moved to Oxford and built websites while living above a pub.
- Worked in Bristol as an affiliate marketing coach after I graduated.
- Worked as a digital marketing exec for a confectionary/candy company.
- Did Freelance Fiverr.com gigs on the side.
- <<Still practicing magic and doing gigs at Weddings>>
- Did a keynote speech in Finland on Marketing to some big companies.
- Worked for a charity on their new site launch.
- Published magic on Theory11 & Penguin that I’d filmed on weekends with my mate Rory.
- Got offered a job with Ellusionist to create magic, perform in trailers & do all their marketing.
- Started this Blog, now you’re reading it. How meta is that?
As you can see that wasn’t a straight line. I edged closer to my target like a Lion in the bush. Can we say bush? Is bush appropriate? Let’s go with bush.
Along the way, I was networking like crazy, attending conventions to meet great minds in magic and constantly sharing and developing my ideas.
My goal wasn’t defined. It was fluid.
I knew I wanted to pursue magic in some way, but all the while I was working to gain experience in performing and creating. Whilst holding down a day job.
I still don’t know what I’ll be doing when I’m 40. This landscape is changing and for those looking for a job in magic, you’ve got to be willing to kiss a few frogs before you get your Prince.
Jobs I’ve truly hated funded my expensive obsession with buying new playing cards & learning new magic.
Be okay with the fact that you might need to work somewhere for a few years before you’re noticed.
It will happen if your spare time is focussed on development in that niche.
SO WHAT DO YOU DO NOW?
I promised you 5 steps to working in magic earlier and I wasn’t lying.
- Decide whether you’re a creator, performer or support staff.
- Network like crazy (in person and online).
- Study your dream job and their competition, like Sun Tzu said “Know your enemy”.
- Be flexible. Make yourself available for extra work on weekends and evenings to help further your career goals.
Above are 5 steps to keep in mind when it comes to your career in magic.
But how do you put this into practice? Practically speaking I know one friend who posted about why his youtube isn’t growing as fast as he wants. He’s frustrated.
He’s completed action step 1. He knows he wants to be a performer. This is how I’d approach that task.
Now he needs to:
- Network like crazy: cross-promote with other youtube channels to build subscribers. I’d identify big traffic blogs that would want to feature his videos. Lad Bible is only 1 of many.
- Volunteer with brands and charities that align with his character. Use their reach to build his subscriber base and gain press.
- Study the competition: Who else does what he does? What do they do? How can they be emulated? Do they always post on Wednesday at 5pm? Maybe there’s a reason for that. Maybe there’s a reason for everything.
- Work hard and be flexible to editing at night, on weekends and paying friends to film at gigs for extra content.
Time is the only other factor. Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Good things don’t come to those who wait, good things come to those who work… and those action points above can be tailored to your specific goals too.
Say goodbye to Bank Holidays and Sunday’s watching youtube videos from Bed.
Say hello to the postman thinking you’re unemployed because you’d rather work than put on trousers.
This is your dream job.