Often when people contact me, their first question is “how much do you charge?”
I typically respond to this question with half a dozen questions of my own, because the fact is, the price depends on a number of factors. These factors can include travel time, the number of guests attending (and in turn how long I would be needed), what I’ll be doing, and even the day of the week, or the month of the year. As with many industries and markets, there are times where demand for my services is much higher, and in turn, this may influence the price.
Some people may be surprised at what it costs to hire me! I understand that I am not always going to fall within the entertainment budget for every event. And that’s ok.
While I do not believe that I should have to justify my fees, I thought it might be prudent to offer some insights into why hiring a professional entertainer costs what it does.
I haven’t always been a magician. For many years, I worked full time in the Government. During those torturous years, magic was at first just a hobby. I would perform for fun and for free at the occasional party I attended. After a number of years of performing for free and building my confidence, I started getting paid bookings on the side of my day-job, until the point where I had bookings almost every weekend. After three and a half years of part-time paid performing, I left my secure Government job to pursue a career in magic. With some savings under my belt, I walked away from a well paying job, which included perks such as paid annual leave, sick leave, and superannuation.
Running a one-man business such as this can be a scary thing at times. There is no way of knowing how many bookings I’ll have three months from now. If I book a holiday I have to accept that I won’t be paid while away, and that I’ll also be turning down bookings – kind of a double hit! I don’t get mandatory superannuation. I have to manage my own marketing, admin, taxes, and every single facet of the business.
There are also far more expenses than people realise. In 2014-15, I spent several thousand dollars alone on give-aways – most notably bottles of wine and roses that are produced in many of my shows. I also spent thousands on consumables – things that get used and destroyed with every booking, including a couple of hundred packs of cards! There is insurance, a PO box, dry cleaning, constant R&D, domain names and server expenses. Oh, and of course 10% GST, in addition to the usual income taxes everyone must face, though I have the privilege of having to report on my earnings four times a year (sarcasm intended).
People may also be surprised by what I charge for an hour. Admittedly, it’s not cheap. But the reality is clients are paying for a lot more than just an hour or so of my time at their party. They are paying for over a decade of experience, they are paying for reliability and professionalism, and they are paying for skills refined over countless hours, which very few people have. They are paying for the travel time, the preparation before the event, and for confidence that I will black out the time for them, and not leave them hanging if a better paying opportunity comes along.
I pride myself on what I do, and I am proud of the fact that I’ve been able to make a good living from it, which allows me to pursue something I enjoy, while also allowing me the freedom to be my own boss. I’m proud that I’ve never missed a booking, and on the rare occasion that I’ve been too unwell to work, I’ve instead been able to send someone else who I know and trust.
I unashamedly admit to being one of the more expensive magicians in this city, but I also believe that I am one of the busiest, and that my fees are fair. The many referrals and repeat bookings I receive, along with the many testimonials, I hope serve to demonstrate that my fees are justified, and that my clients are happy.