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Libraries, Schools, & Banquets... Oh my!

Discussion in 'The Business of Clowning' started by V, Jun 26, 2015.

  1. V

    V Well-Known Member

    Just starting conversation on venues outside of living rooms and backyards...

    Who markets themselves to venues like BSA Blue & Gold Banquets, Library Summer Reading Programs, School assemblies, etc?

    If I can help it, I don't do many private birthday parties and have steered towards venues such as those listed above - just wondering who else here is doing them?

    In my perfect world, I'd be doing 75(ish) Library shows with 6-12 Blue Golds and be done with the year. Unfortunately not there (yet) so have to toss in some private party work for the time being...
  2. Sir Toony Van Dukes

    Sir Toony Van Dukes Well-Known Member

    Correct me if I am wrong, but aren't most blue and gold events in February. If most of the scout groups are holding them at the same time, there is a limit to how many you can do. Summer reading programs are, well, in the summer. Not too likely to find one in November.

    I guess if you look at the calendar and determine the types of events common for each month could help you target the types of events you want to do and focus your advertising efforts. Some events, like a summer festival, is planned 6-8 months in advance and others, like a graduation party might just be planned 1-2 months in advance. The key is to get infront of people before they make their decision on who to hire.

    I think it is fine to have a target goal of what you want to do, but avoiding the requests for birthday parties and other events could limit your income. I realize there is an opportunity cost of taking a party that could prevent you from being available for another request.
  3. V

    V Well-Known Member

    Blue & Gold run February to May but pay well enough. Scout kick off events are around September. Library programs June to August for the most part. That basically gives October through January off for holiday work. That's 30k annual income if you stay busy. It won't make you rich by any means but still...
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  4. V

    V Well-Known Member

    I was away from home and only had my phone earlier but wanted to revisit this for a proper reply.

    Summer Reading Programs are indeed obviously, in the summer, but I know a few guys who only work libraries and make a living doing so. Granted they're pulling in over 100 shows per summer (at around $300/show) but it's probably doable under a 5 year plan if a person was dedicated. He travels a bit further than I'm willing to these days as well, but he stays busy by doing so.

    Blue & Gold Banquets - more difficult to do as your only job. The obvious hurdle is as you pointed out - the small window and pack overlaps limiting how many of these you can really do. A second hurdle - budget. They don't pay as well as say, libraries and will often try to talk you down to a minimal fee ( don't do it! ). The counter to this is the sheer volume of packs and dens. Even in my small town USA region, I have better than 60 packs (probably a lot more but I've not finished mapping outlying areas) within an hour drive. Work a third of them an you've had a good couple of months. It opens birthday party opportunities if you're looking for them because most of the attendees are parents of scouts. It isn't often that you get to do a live audition for bulk clients, but BSA banquets gives you that exact opportunity.

    You're probably correct in that a person will likely have to do a few private events (for a while at least) until he can consistently book a full summer to carry the burden.
  5. Sir Toony Van Dukes

    Sir Toony Van Dukes Well-Known Member

    Success doesn't come overnight. Actually, it takes effort to identify a potential market, create something they will want, and then sell it to them. I honestly don't know what type of a program the scouts would want. Are they looking for something like a 30 minute performance or a full evening of fun?

    The libraries might be somewhat easier. I have seen the events calendar for the local libraries and many of the performers visit each branch of the library. So, if they like you enough, instead of just one event, you are doing 20. And, the ones I have been working with have been fairly loyal on coming back again the next year.
  6. V

    V Well-Known Member

    Carolina has a performer's showcase where you basically go and audition (along with many other performers) in front of several librarians in the Carolinas and surrounding states. Most of the time you're working several libraries rather than a single show (which works out if you can do 3 or 4 libraries in the same area on the same day).

    Scout banquets are pretty busy so a 30-45 minute show fits perfectly in their schedule usually (they have a dinner, awards, skits, etc to get to so generally don't want a long show). I market an either/or 30/45 minute show. I basically do my normal set, but either swap out my Miser's Dream for a scout specific neckerchief routine or add the scout routine to my normal set depending on the time slot. I also do a cub scout production basically from a giant scout decorated square circle.

    - 5 card box (my regular opener. A great set for doing my intro patter)
    - Scout production then use that scout (currently my kid since he's a scout) for my miser's dream. If I'm skipping the MD, I'll just do the production and some scout related patter.
    - Neckerchief routine
    - Smart-Ass routine (animal centric with related patter since cubs are, bobcats, tigers, wolves, bears, etc)
    - Rope Magic (obviously perfect for scouting - knots and such)
    - Linking Rings (although I'm considering swapping the rings out for my man-eating plant routine)

    If I find myself running short on time, I move the ropes to right after the neckerchief routine and close with Smart-Ass.
  7. V

    V Well-Known Member

    Another benefit of Blue & Gold are BOR sales. It's not uncommon to add another $100+ to your night by sticking around another 30 minutes or so until the end of the event. This also gives you an opportunity to put your promotional materials and business cards into everyone's hand, so while there's no argument that Blue & Gold is a market with a small window of opportunity - it has profit and opens a lot of doors.

    And on that note... do any of you offer BOR sales? I know it isn't practical at a birthday party (but you can up-sell it as part of your package maybe), but for festivals, fairs, corporate events, etc...
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2015
  8. Donuts

    Donuts Active Member

    Not to sound stupid but what is BOR sales is it the pitch where you sell little packages of magic after the show?
  9. V

    V Well-Known Member

    Basically. I sell a magic kit that comes with an instructional book and the props & supplies to do the tricks inside plus some activities and promotional items. I offer a few variations depending on the program I'm doing and/or the age the of audience; one of which I'm about to make available as an "Instant author kit."

    This winter I'm hoping to finish up on an animated instructional DvD (it's time consuming so who knows if I'll get it done before 2016 - again, hoping..), I occasionally sell some light-up toys, juggling props, etc. We'll add some children's books my wife is authoring to our BOR table at the end of this year or early next depending again, on when they get completed.

    If you're not doing BOR, you really are missing out. I'd encourage everyone to try and add a sales clause in all of your public contracts (don't give them a % if you can help it) and to start up-selling it as part of your private party packages. I'll link my instant author kit here as soon as I get it finalized..
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  10. V

    V Well-Known Member


    This is a sample from my BOR magic kit...

    Front has contact information, web address, and so forth. On the back I have instructions for easy "magic tricks" (linking paper clips, jumping rubber band, etc.) that can have an illustration explanation that fits on the back of the bill. On others I have some jokes, and when I offer a science show - some have easy science experiments. Basically, if it's fun and can fit on the back of my promotional dollar bill then I put it on one. I cycle out the backs to keep them relatively fresh and to have as a cheesy collectable. Occasionally I'll print them as Jumbo Dollar bills but sometimes not - no real rhyme or reason to it. The bill obviously can be used as a prop for money magic (paper clips and such).

    The bill serves several functions:

    1.) Cheaper than business cards so I can give them out in bulk at large events in addition to a business card. I find it's more appropriate to give an item with magic instructions (that happens to have my contact info) to a kid rather than my business card. It's a "toy" they can show their parents who then have my info.

    2.) It's a segway to some of my BOR items that also teach magic:
    - Magic wand with a set of instruction for tricks you can do with the wand.
    - The Magic Kit with the wand, magic book, and props to do the tricks in the book (I have a series of these kits to encourage repeat clients). FYI, these magic kits make great birthday party present to the kid whose party you're working...

    3.) It's a great give away item to kids who want to learn magic but don't have the means to purchase my BOR stuff but want something at the event.

    More on BOR...

    Again. Not doing BOR = Missing out on profit.

    I suggest everyone put one together or, if you aren't comfortable creating your own, purchase an Instant Author License. I'll plug mine....

    For $50, you get the basic Instant Author Kit which includes the art for the dollar that you can customize with your own art, info, and messages. It comes with the files for the magic book with the cartoon illustration instructions (the cartoon is a B&W of my cartoon caricature in the bill photo minus the rat), and the art and instructions for the various inserts (wand tricks, etc). Essentially, all you need to do is sell 10 of these @ $5 (easy to do)and you've bought the Instant Author Kit. Everything going forward from there is 100% profit for you.

    For $175 you get everything listed above except the artwork is custom which basically means instead of my cartoon doing magic in your books, you can have a likeness of your clown, magician, puppet, whatever... as the illustration doing the instructions for the magic tricks and such. This is a nice customized feature that no other Instant Author Kit is doing. Everything else available on the web is basically inset your image on the cover and edit your name as the author which equates to you selling your small petite clown as the author of a magic book where some magician with big hands and harry arms is doing the tricks OR a set of stock images that every other Instant Author kit on the web is using and that is also on many magic instruction websites - basically, something that your clients may come across if they continue on the magic path you start them on. Even better? Those IA kits are the same price as my custom one or more expensive by a lot...
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  11. Simply Knute

    Simply Knute Well-Known Member

    I've been thinking more and more about doing a BOR table since reading this thread. It's always been something on the back of my mind, but I wasn't sure how it'd go over.

    It got me to thinking, instead of a book, what about making a DVD in character showing a few simple kids tricks. Maybe sell it for $7-10, something like that. Do you think it'd go over well?

    I also saw that Royal Magic sells customized magic kits. I don't know what the cost would be on that, because you have to have a wholesale account with them to see pricing, but I'm sure it wouldn't have as good of margins as the DVD

    The cheapest i've seen DVD's run are about $2.67 a piece with an order of 100. That's about the best price break I found without ordering like 1000. They came thermal printed, in a case with shrink wrap and everything. I'm thinking shooting the DVD would be fairly easy and wouldn't be hard to make it look fairly professional with the quality of video that the new iPhones produce, or using a DSLR camera, and then editing myself.

    Sorry for the ramble it's 2AM and I need to go to bed. :)
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  12. Sir Toony Van Dukes

    Sir Toony Van Dukes Well-Known Member

    What are the tax issues of doing a back of room sale? I would assume that in most states, you need to charge a sales tax (or at least report it and pay it to the government). I know that people who do things like Avon and carry inventory need to track purchases, sales, and remaining stock carried into the next year.
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  13. V

    V Well-Known Member

    I know a lot of guys who do DvD sales, either self-made or "instant author" varieties, that have had success. If you could do all of the production and editing yourself you'd obviously save money by doing so. I'd go about it the same way as a printed kit with bagging the DvD along with the necessary props to do the tricks. You can get cheap props at dhgate or oriental trading (sometimes madhattermagic, amazon, etc). Prop items don't need to be show room quality, but it helps kids feel that they're getting something (toy instead of just a dvd), and many parents will go for it. It doesn't raise your cost much so you could still make a profit in the $7-10 price range.

    On taxes - just report what you sell when you file. It doesn't really change much on you report at the end of the year. If you're bookkeeping your entertainment business then adding sales prop inventory is relatively simple. It's not like stocking for Amazon or a big box store so inventory is easy to track.
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  14. Sir Toony Van Dukes

    Sir Toony Van Dukes Well-Known Member

    Sales tax and income tax are two different things. When you sell items with a price, most states require paying a sales tax. The tracking of the inventory is something related to sales and is different from buying balloons to use as an entertainer where you are paid for your time.
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  15. V

    V Well-Known Member

    Right but zero people in the world charge sales tax for personal items. No yard sales or flea markets, and very few farmer's markets in the world charge a local sales tax. If you want to charge it - most card readers come with a sales tax feature and basic math can handle the cash transactions and you can report as necessary to the town/state that you're selling in.
  16. Simply Knute

    Simply Knute Well-Known Member

    Toony, you're way too detailed and worry way too much.. Keep track of your inventory, and pay the 7% (or whatever your state's is) out of what you sell if you're that worried about being audited. Just make sure that your margins are good enough, and you'll be fine. You're going to get mainly impulse buyers at a BOR sales table, Plus they're most likely not magicians and don't know what things cost were they to go to a real magic shop, so they're not going to be worried too much about paying $10 for an item that they might be able to get for $6 if they went and searched online.

    Some people are meant to be entrepreneurial, and some people aren't.

    Also, I believe if you're doing regional shows, and are outside of your state, I don't believe you have to charge sales tax on out of state sales. How many times have you been charged sales tax at a clown convention in the dealer's room? I'm thinking buying from Mooseburger at Moosecamp is about the only time I can think of, because we were in the state of their business.
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  17. Punkin

    Punkin Well-Known Member

    Working a library today! Get a bunch of these jobs, especially in the summer months. Today's theme is Super Heroes.......wish me luck..........
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  18. V

    V Well-Known Member

    I'm not sure themes for these things really matter much in that it's rare that writing a show specific for the theme is necessary. If you have something that fits, great. If not, generic lip service towards reading is all that's needed.

    CSLP themes, jut in case you're wondering:

    2015 - Heroes (every hero has a story/unmask/escape the ordinary)

    2016 - Sports/Health/Fitness On your mark, Get set, Read!/Get in the Game - Read/Excercise your mind - Read)

    2017 - Build a better world, construction, architecture


    2015 - Read to the Rhythm

    2016 - Summer Olympics
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  19. Punkin

    Punkin Well-Known Member

    Okay.......so the library was fully air conditioned.......EXCEPT for the room I was in.......OMG..........I was perspiring (ladies don't sweat).......aw like heck they don't.......I was sweating my big clown butt off..........was running in my eyes and making them smart.........that was the hardest hour I've done in a long time.........came home and took a shower and actually sat in front of the AC vent!!!!!!!!!!!
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  20. Donuts

    Donuts Active Member

    Punkin had that same thing 2 weeks ago at a library show was put in the only room that was not air conditioned and had horrible acoustics Show went great but I know what your Talking about it was the hottest most humid day. Glad everything went well. I keep my stock I love reading show maybe change 1 2 tricks to fit theme the rest is just changed patter. I've taken my tricks and made stories so they were tied to a book. I have been giving magic books to the host library i get them at 5 below and other book outlets take off cheap price and they thing they got a 20-30$ book as a bonus.
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