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Side Gig Thursdays: Danny Diamond, Family Magician & Balloon-Twister
Posted By Jim On 11/15/2012 @ 7:15 am In Personal Finance | No Comments
This week’s Side Gig Thursdays  is about one of Bargaineering’s long time readers – Danny Diamond. I’ve known Danny for several years now and while we haven’t kept in touch as much lately, we corresponded quite a few times over the years (I remember his first website a few years ago, there was a lot of flashing and music on it!). I knew that he had a successful side gig as a magician and this series was, in part, inspired by that and all the other readers I knew who had interesting work on the side.
Today, we’ll learn about how a creative director stretches his creative muscles as a magician and professional balloon twister!
What is your day job?
Creative Director for a media and events company.
What is your side gig?
The Magic of Danny Diamond ! I’m a Children’s and Family Magician and Balloon-Twister.
How much does it make each month?
I will say that I am fortunate that my main job does pay pretty well. And my “side gig” this year will gross about 35-37% of what my main job grosses for me.
How did you start doing your side business?
It grew from a hobby. I was always interested in magic as a kid, and while my interest dimmed a little through my school years, it definitely was rekindled shortly after college. At that point I started to get more into it as a hobby and quickly realized that the material needed to really excel at this hobby – books, dvds, props, etc. – could get pretty expensive.
I initially thought I would just try to put together a show for kids, and earn enough money to support my hobby. As I started doing more and more shows, I began to realize that I had a gift for working with and performing for kids. My shows became more popular and the phone calls, emails and referrals became more and more frequent. It’s been nearly ten years now since doing my first paid show and every year has grown from the previous – this year being a personal best year-to-year increase in both profit and show volume.
How do you find clients?
Well, these days, a large percentage of my shows are from referrals or repeat shows for past clients. Others find me by searching online. I have a pretty good online presence, when it comes to my magic business. I also noticed early on, that most magicians have very BAD websites! So I tried to make mine clear, well-designed, and professional-looking.
I know some GREAT magicians that have TERRIBLE websites! If a client stumbles upon a very cheap-looking website, that’s the first impression they get of that magician – if the site looks amateur, they will assume HE too is amateur, and he likely won’t get their business or even a phone call. I also have an active and informative Facebook page for my magic business and I am always inviting past clients to “like” my page and to post feedback and photos.
I also do a select number of highly-publicized shows, such as “Kids Event” expos in the area. I will sometimes do those shows as donations or for trade, in exchange for the ability to pass out my cards after my show and for the advertising they do. I select these shows carefully, choosing the ones closest to my home, in order to promote myself to as local a crowd as possible. I am also not bashful about marketing myself and handing out information after my shows. And finally, I am friends with a few other performing magicians in my area – so occasionally, when they can’t take a particular gig, they will offer it to me.
Do you have a plan to try to turn it into your full time gig?
Yes. But I am cautious. I have a wife and two young kids to care for and that makes me a little cautious to take the big leap from part-time to full. Ideally, I would like to maintain my current full-time job, but decrease the time I am in the office, even if that means taking a slight pay-cut. I have the type of job that can be done remotely, and that’s the direction I want to take in the future, to allow me more time to take more gigs.
What resources did you rely on in starting the business?
I learned my trade (performing magic and entertaining in general) from books and DVDs as well as live conventions and lectures, and by speaking to established pros in my industry. As far as finance and business in general, I read a lot of books and magazines such as Think and Grow Rich, Rich Dad Poor Dad, and Success Magazine and their audio cds.
And of course, I read a lot of personal finance blogs and articles online. I also have a 45 minute commute to and from my day job, so I listened to a lot of books on CD about finance, self-motivation and business in general.
How much do you invest back into the business? Going to conferences, education, etc.
It fluctuates a bit. In years past, I would buy a LOT of dvds, books, props – more than I needed. As my show established itself, I already had the materials needed, so I would buy a bit less each year. My book and video library became more and more filled out over the years, and therefore, I would buy less of those items annually. Last year for example, I put back about 20% of what I grossed – that included dry-cleaning, videos, books, props, conventions, marketing materials, etc. But I also made a big investment last year and purchased some inventory from a magic shop that was closing it’s doors – so that made last year a bit of an anomaly, I suppose. This year I am likely investing only 8-10%.
Do you have any advice for people looking to start something on the side?
Figure out what you do better than most people – maybe even better than everyone! What skill do you have that most others do not? What service can you offer that others can’t?
I truly believe I am better at entertaining kids with magic than 99% of the population. That may sound arrogant, but to quote Liam Neeson in Taken, “what I do have are a very particular set of skills”. I know I can do something that most people can not. So I figured out how to get my abilities noticed and figured out how to properly go about the business-side of offering my abilities to the public. Also, I believe specializing has helped me a lot.
I am not a magician who does “magic for everyone and all occasions!” I see that on a lot of magicians websites and business cards. I feel like if you try to do everything, you can never really reach the top of your game in one particular area. I like to refer to myself as a “children’s and family entertainment specialist”. Knowing my strength and target audience, I can focus all of my energies more effectively, instead of trying to do everything and spreading myself too thin.
What is the funniest story you have being a magician? (or two stories!)
I don’t have any one big, great story that I can think of – but there are a lot of little things that have happened over the years. Halfway through an outdoor show, while doing a routine I call “Doggy Bag”, I turned around to see the family dog with his leg high in the air, peeing directly only my $300 suitcase-table I perform off. Not funny at the time, but kinda funny now, I suppose.
I have also had kids say and do a lot of funny things. After handing a kid a balloon-sword after one show, he proceeded to thrust his sword at my groin while loudly boasting “haha!! I stabbed the magician in the weenie!!”.
One other funny and cute story happened after a Holiday Magic Show at a library. A 7yo girl, who helped me with a trick, told me after the show that she got a Crayola Crayon Maker for Christmas. Well the next day, I get a phone call and they just say “Hi Danny”. I reply “Hi….how can I help you?”. The person says “It’s Grace”. Not placing the name, I ask “oh, um, where do I know you from Grace?”. She says “I was at your magic show…um, my Crayon Maker broke so you have to fix it with magic, ok?”. Haha! This 7yo girl, Grace, found my business card (that her dad took) and thought to call me, the magic-guy, to work my magic and fix her broken toy! I thought that was cute.
As always, we hope you enjoyed the interview and if you know someone who would like to talk about their side gig, let us know !
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