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Magicians ConventionI love Magic Conventions. A real chance to mix and mingle with your fellow pros and enthusiasts, see some great shows, learn from the experts and of course get hands on with the latest shiny new products. I can’t even guess how many I’ve attended around the world over the years. I do go to less now than I used to, my work schedule often clashes with the big ones, but I’m hoping to get back into the swing over the next few years and start presenting my lecture more. Here’s a few ideas on how to get the most out of them.


# Go with a plan

I always try and go to these events with a bit of a plan.

For an magic enthusiast attending a convention is a bit of a “no brainer.” But as a professional, the cost of attending plus the lost work opportunities over the period must be balanced out. You must get some good ROI. Something I’ve always tried to do is to focus on one particular “theme” and see what relates to it over the course of the event.

For instance, go in looking at “openings” or “transitions” or “applause cues.” Then in all the shows and lectures, see how people address this. This can also work for the dealer displays. You are not just fixated on the hot new products, it forces you to think if that particular effect, prop or technique might fit a particular need in your act.

Likewise, think about who you would like to meet, session with etc. Social Media has made it much easier to see who will be at an event and make contact before and during.

#  Make Notes

As a follow up to the first tactic, make notes as you go. I love going back over my old notebooks from each of my visits to USA Conventions. List of performers, notes on effects in the shows, lecture thoughts, ideas, websites and book titles people mention etc. If you buy a similar notebook for each event they quickly build into a fantastic resource that you can go back to over and over.

 # Book Early

If you want people to keep organising conventions, then show your support and book early. Some events like FISM & Magic Live reward people who book early with better seating. But importantly, it helps smaller events with their planning and cash flow. Events that fill up quickly are sometimes able to spend more on the event than they originally planned. Extra or better events, added guests, more catering etc.

# Help Out

Going to an event? Offer to help in any way you can. There is always a need for backstage helpers, ticket takers, runners, meet and greet for international guests. Spending extra time with the guest lecturers or being backstage at major convention shows is a highlight for many.

 # Don’t be “that” person

There’s always one at every convention or magic club lecture.

Asking inane questions to lecturers that could easily be asked elsewhere. Taking up precious lecture time by commenting on how “they” would do it etc.

Don’t be that person.

# Be Aware

Magic must be one of the few professions where people feel that just because they do “magic” too, at whatever level, that everyone is equal. It’s not the case.

# Be ready

I loved the approach that one big name card guy had when he attended conventions. If he was asked for advice or engaged in conversation he always asked them to show him a trick. He could then gauge the experience level of the person and respond at the appropriate level. Be ready.

# Go to FISM

While I’m NOT a fan of competitive magic, I urge every magician, especially professionals, to attend FISM at least once. In addition to the competitions there is a huge range of lectures and shows that will expose you to a world of magical performance that you may not experience at other events.

As you might have already figured from my previous comments, I love watching show structures, use of music, applause cues etc. Watch the South American artists, the Koreans and the Eastern Europeans and you’ll see a myriad of different, strong approaches to the elements of our acts.

# Be part of the solution

Amongst all the good times and bonhomie at most Magic Conventions there are also several disturbing dark threads.

Firstly, pilfering from  dealer stands and display tables is rife, as recently highlighted at the Blackpool event. If you see activity like this going on, do something about it.

Secondly, magic is still very much a “Boys Club.” Despite the wonderful  women that have made their mark on the industry, they are still very much in the minority. More can be done by everyone to support and change attitudes.

Thirdly, predatory behaviour towards young magicians is still unfortunately a curse on the industry. It happens at conventions as much as it does at magic clubs. Many people are aware but little is done. We can all do something about this.

# Synchronicity

Despite all my talk of making plans, keeping notes and not getting distracted, remember also to “Go with the Flow.”  Be open, be considerate, be an audience, have fun and be ready for adventure. I’ve made several lifelong friends at conventions, I hope to make several more.


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Is YOURBusinessBooming_I recently received a fairly despondent email from a younger magician. Well, younger than me but that’s not hard. He was somewhat disillusioned with how his career was going. Despite being a full timer for some time and with what he thought was a fairly commercial “act,” he felt he wasn’t getting any traction and was seeking some ideas. Though I’ve never met the guy, I’ve heard good things about him and his show. Here are some thoughts and ideas for the quiet times.

# It’s always going to be harder than you imagined

Being a full time professional, supporting yourself, let alone a partner and family, is very hard work. Hobbyists and even part timers who work at a professional level, don’t or more importantly can’t understand that.

Some years ago a magic writer who I quite enjoyed, wrote on a magic forum that he felt full time magicians should be the very best at their craft, because “they have all day to practice.” In that blinding flash of ignorance, I realised he had absolutely no idea what he was talking about and I’ve since taken everything else he wrote with a grain of salt.

# Don’t worry too much what others are doing

Especially on Social Media. The frequent posting of “my office tonight” photos on Facebook, reports of “standing ovations” and exciting airline journeys can be somewhat depressing if you measure your success against others.
While it can be a good tactic to model your business on that of others, these people tend to be seeking their own self validation. Play your own game.

#Be truthful in your advertising and promotional material

While a certain amount of hyperbole is accepted in magicians advertising, deception is not.

There are several magicians in my market area who have never recovered their reputations from the false advertising they conducted in the past. Excuses like “oh, everyone does it” don’t really cut it. If you want support, referrals and to associate with other professionals in your market, don’t try for an unfair advantage.

# Doing roving magic at a company picnic is not working corporate.

Get over that in your own mind and in your publicity material.

# Develop and Share an understanding of Ethics

With so much magic now being learnt and marketed OnLine, ethics in the field seem to be dropping away. Where we once learned through clubs, conventions and mentors, now it’s often on our own. No wonder those starting out sometimes have little idea about what is right and what is wrong. Perhaps we all need to make more of an effort to educate, rather than just shrug and say “it’s just the way it is now.”

# What you’ll be doing in 10 years time is probably not what you expect it to be right now

Having a 10 year plan is an excellent idea, but things change. Markets change, demand for shows and show styles change, you will change. Be flexible and regularly re-evaluate where your focus should be. This goes against the wisdom of 90% of those motivational quotes that get spread around, but sometimes the bravest thing to do is to give up on a long held dream that doesn’t make sense any more.

# Money spent on good stage wear is money well spent

Snappy suits and custom designed stage wear do make a difference. That instant first impression when you walk onstage or into a venue is a powerful thing. Develop a relationship with a good designer or tailor. Choose a celebrity and model their fashion sense but also work on developing your own trademark look or brand.

# Support other local magic shows

Get out there and support other magicians presenting shows for the public. Well attended shows are good for the industry and your marketplace in particular. As the saying goes, a rising tide lifts all boats.

# Use your downtime

If things are a bit slow, shift your attitude and treat this as a positive. Work on new material, work on your publicity machine. When things fall into place, and they will, you’ll suddenly look back on those days that you frittered away with envy.


Magic Site Traffic“Publish it and they will come.”

Many magicians seem to think that just by uploading a Promo Video onto YouTube, that it will instantly create a frenzy of views, increase the amount of traffic to their site and that the phone will start ringing. In truth, unless you happen to hit on a viral gimmick that really works, most magician’s videos struggle to get views. But all is not lost. There are a number of simple tactics that many people overlook. These will not create a frenzy of views, but can definitely increase your traffic. And a good thing is, many of these simple techniques can be done long after the video was first published.


What are people searching for when they look for your act? This is SEO 101, but is often overlooked in Video titles. The first few words of the Title are important. Use Analytics, a tool like Long Tail Pro or even the YouTube suggested search results to get ideas on how to title your video.

Description 1

This one really is underused by many people. You are able to put a huge amount of text in the description box, so why not. Pay important attention to the first sentence or two as these will appear in many snapshot views of the video and entice people to click. Keep it relevant but Google like lots of info.

Description 2

In the description box, also include Links to your website and any other websites that you feature on. Include links to your other videos. This also adds more weight to your page and will push you up the suggested video rankings.

Tags 1

Just as a webpage can be tagged, so can your Video. Add as many relevant tags as you can. Look at what other people are doing for ideas. The free VidIQ tool can help your research. Once again don’t spam the Tags.

Tags 2

If you have more than one video, add the same unique Tag to each of your videos. This could be your name. This helps link the videos and Google / YouTube will see this.


YouTube suggests 3 Thumbnail images to pick from to be used as your Video Thumbnail. Often they are quite good, but you can upload your own image. Spend some time looking at what works or stands out in an array of video thumbnails. Keep it simple & bold. http://www.Canva.com is a free and easy way to make a custom thumbnail image.

Message to Subscribers

If you are lucky enough to have subscribers already, don’t forget to use the message box when you publish a video. You can only use it when you first make a video Public but it is an easy way to contact subscribers.

Annotations & Cards

These also can be added to older videos to enhance the impact, correct changes and add a Call to Action. Changed your Website URL? New email address or Phone Number? Add a large Annotation box correcting the information. There are plenty of online tutorials on how to do these.

The Editor

The online Video Editor now allows plenty of changes to be made to an already published clip. You can shorten, split and enhance the video with many effects.

Shorter is Better than Longer

Google rewards videos that get watched all the way through by ranking them higher. But people tend not to watch videos all the way through, especially long ones. Taking this into account, if you are planning a new video or editing an older video, remember Shorter is probably better.

If you have any simple tips that have worked for you, or would like more info on any of these, please leave a comment below.