How to become a Balloon Entertainer
“By that, I mean, get a gig at a library or a walk-a-round entertainer. What do you do/say to get started?” signed Silver Sister.
Many entertainers start by working with other established entertainers, somebody who is willing to take you under their wing to get you started. My first entertaining gig came about from hanging around the local juggling club. A friend of mine was opening up a trick shop and I would hang out at the shop and helped with his clown class. As time went on and more people knew of what I was doing, people started recommending me. I had some business cards made and would distribute them to people I met. The first job was for a baseball picture day and I was mobbed with 50 kids. My back was against the home plate fence and I was blowing up balloons and twisting balloon animals as fast as I could twist. It was a nightmare job, but it was my first.
I would suggest for any beginner, is to find other entertainers, magicians, jugglers, clowns, balloonists or character artists. Entertainers are friendly people and even though you may not be in the same market, your association with them can only help establish you as an entertainer.
Business cards are necessary and are inexpensive. Have 500 produced to get you started. Nothing fancy, after all these are your first cards and trust me you will have many more made over your entertainment career. When you meet other entertainers, swap cards. Entertainers pass on work to each other and are always looking for somebody new or available. Usually it’s the latter.
After joining other entertainment clubs and having made some friends, ask if they know of any agents they can recommend you too. A Rookie mistake is meeting professional entertainers and expecting them give all their knowledge. After all, on some level, you are a competitor to them and their years of success and errors in marketing are not freely give away. It may take years before you are considered one of the good old boys or gals and information is freely shared. Therefore, Rookies, watch, listen and learn and with time, knowledge, and experience you will learn what works for you.
Once you established your entertainment style and feel confident in your performance you then start to market yourself to different venues. Many newbie’s want to do everything the seasonal professional is doing, but do not have enough experience or marketing material to complete against a seasoned professional and have little to no success. After all this is a business and prices and markets are not plucked out of the sky, shows are not tossed together, and corporations do not pay big dollars just because you have a pretty business card. The best entertainers have been doing this for years and they make it look easy. With every advancement, moves you up the entertainment ladder, more promotional material to develop, bigger props, expensive equipment and a staff just to keep things going gets you the job you are desperately seeking. There is no jumping to the head of the learning curve.
Keep an open mind when it comes to reading, there are many good books on marketing and personal organization. Your starting a business and all business take time and commitment. With every person you meet is a potential job. It just takes that first gig to get you started. After that it is just persistence and willingness to keep learning and working, it eventually it will pay off.