You have a finely honed skill, you like people, and you’re willing to give up your weekends. Now what?
Well, now it’s time to get started.
You have to do two very important things: Introduce yourself to the world, and lay down the foundation for your new business.
Introducing yourself to the world
Even though your skills may be excellent, taking on the role of a paid performer in a party setting will be a new experience for you. So cut your teeth in low risk situations that allow you to perform in front of the public.
o Fairs work well for newbie performers. Depending on how you deliver your performance, you may be able to charge willing attendees individually. An example is a Tarot reader who charges for a reading.
o Non-profit organizations are always looking for fun and innovative ways to raise money. Many hold fundraising events. Your invitation to donate your time or sell it at a deep discount to a struggling non-profit will be very welcome.
Be sure to ask the organizers to list you in their program and prominently display your name and contact information.
Although you may earn little or no money at these events, you will test your mettle, polish your delivery, build your confidence, and guests will see you perform. Since some will be looking to hire party entertainment for their own events, you will begin to pick up paying gigs.
In fact, being approached for paying gigs by people seeing you perform is an indication that you are ready for prime-time. You are now acquiring a reputation as a performer.
Hint: Bring lots of business cards.
Laying down the foundation of your new business.
Yes, like it or not, once you make the decision to accept money for your services, you are in business.
By conducting yourself as a businessperson, you will increase your chances for success, increase your respect among potential clients and peers and eliminate a lot of headaches down the road.
So how do you do that?
Register your business with the State and, if necessary, local governments.
Set up a system to track your income and expenses. It can be a notebook or your copy of Quicken. Print up some business cards, and put together a flyer to describe what you offer. Don’t forget to include all of your contact information.
Set up a system to track your bookings. You must, must, must have a failsafe way to record and remember your bookings. The worst thing you can do is fail to show up at a party when you are the hired entertainment
Find out the market rate range for talent in your area and set your own rate within it.
Some newbies are tempted to charge too little when they start out. Don’t. You worked long and hard to build your expertise. And you will work hard to perform. Don’t shortchange yourself. If you feel your services are not worthy of the market rate, reread the previous section,”Introducing yourself to the World.”
Now, you’re ready to go forward. Contact local event planners and entertainment agents, put up a website, advertise in the classified section of local magazines or newspapers (Hint: look at where other entertainers advertise).
As you perform, you’ll start meeting other local performers. Welcome the opportunity.
You’ll find that local party entertainers in the same specialty tend to know one another. Even though we are competitors. Most times we work with each other and help each other.
That’s because, individually, we benefit more by cooperating than undermining each other.
Entertainers often refer qualified peers for open jobs when their own schedules are filled. We substitute for each other when sudden emergency prevents one of us from fulfilling a commitment.
As you establish yourself as a competent professional, handling yourself with integrity, you’ll be accepted by this network.