How to Increase Your Fees and Get Paid Better

In the early days, I handled inquiries with a basic fee. Over time, I learned techniques to boost my value as a magician. From packaging services and effective negotiation to leveraging free performances, discover how to increase your fees and get paid what you deserve.

How to Increase Your Fees and Get Paid Better
Delivering unforgettable moments – learn how to increase your fees and get paid what you're worth.

In the early days of performing, I used to handle inquiries with a basic approach. I didn’t have packages or additional services; I simply had a fee. No matter what, when somebody asked me to perform, it was always the same fee. It worked because it was affordable.

Over the years, I learned a variety of techniques to increase my value and ensure an easier life as a performing magician. Here, we are going to explore some techniques to increase your value.

The Power of Packaging:

Let’s take a look at packaging your services. This strategy has been used by performers for years, including magicians such as Michael Ammar, Jay Rollins, and others. This pricing technique works particularly well when negotiating a fee with a client on the phone or face-to-face, as it allows you to react to their responses.

Imagine your client asks, "How much will it cost to have you at my event next year?" You know your lowest price is $500, so you state, "It's $600."

Now, you are in a position to watch your potential client's reaction. They will either respond that it is too high or they will respond positively. Let’s imagine your client responds with, "That's much more than I was hoping." The only way is down. A regular response from a prospective client after giving a figure that is out of their price range is often, "Will you do it for [stated fee]?" You are free to either agree or negotiate until you hit your base price. There’s nothing wrong with stating that you can’t perform for any less and politely refusing to negotiate further.

But now let’s look at the alternative situation: you receive a positive response, such as "That is a fair price" or "You are well worth that." Either way, you have found a boundary and it’s your safety net. You are now free to start increasing the fee by responding with something like: "Thank you, that’s my basic fee for the first hour. If you want me to perform for longer, I charge an additional amount per hour."

You can continue to gauge the client's reaction and add additional fees for extra services, such as shows, skills, or other offerings.

My experience of packaging my prices was usually face-to-face. I personally didn’t explain ‘these are my packaged prices.’ Instead, I’d tailor my prices for the client I was negotiating with.

Performing for Free:

You will likely have been asked, "We have a charity event, will you perform for us for free?" or something similar. Firstly, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with someone asking another person to perform for free for their charity. Many magicians argue that performing for free doesn’t pay the bills, and of course, that is true. However, there’s another perspective: What will you gain from this?

  • Experience if needed
  • Promotion
  • Publicity images
  • Testimonials
  • Opportunity to try new material

If you are clever with stipulations, the client can help promote your services. After all, it is difficult to promote your own services without appearing boastful. So, if this line of work suits you, be sure to negotiate with the client about exactly what you want from the arrangement.

Over the years, I have performed at charity events both as a paid performer and voluntarily, to support the event.

If you want to support the charity but your overheads are too high, why not ask for a fee to cover your costs? It might sound silly, but consider Jeff McBride. Years ago, he worked behind the counter in a magic shop, demonstrating tricks. In the early days of his career, he regularly performed for $40, barely covering his expenses. Other magicians told Jeff he shouldn’t work for such low fees. However, just a few years later, Jeff McBride became one of the world’s most sought-after magicians, touring extensively and appearing on television regularly. To this day, Jeff attributes his success to the experience gained from working for little or nothing.

Phone Tip:

When negotiating your fees with a client over the phone, establish a connection before discussing prices. Find common ground and ensure your client likes you.

One friend of mine always says, "Sorry, that’s my baby, I’m just looking after him." It establishes a human connection and reassures the client in many ways.

Personally, I connect by finding something the client mentions. For example, if the client says, "We’re throwing a party for my Grandma," I respond positively with, "That sounds amazing! I bet she will really enjoy that. What a great idea. I would love to be a part of this." You get the idea!

Connect, be yourself, and be nice.

An AMAZING Website:

In the early days of performing, it was easier to have an amazing website because there weren’t many magicians performing, and an amazing website certainly would bring in income.

Assuming your SEO and visibility are working for you and you are receiving plenty of inquiries, use this inquiry power to leverage higher fees. Don’t be afraid to experiment with larger fees to improve your living.

Encourage satisfied clients to leave positive reviews and testimonials. This social proof can justify higher fees.

Be the Best You Can Be, Keep Developing:

Nothing proves your worth more than the experience you provide. The best version of yourself comes from self-study, practice, live experience, and being in a variety of situations.

Consider investing in yourself to improve your skills and attend workshops. One place we can keep learning is within magic clubs and communities. Stay up to date with the latest trends and news in magic.

How Much Do You Need?

It’s important to know how much you need. It doesn’t matter how much you think you are worth; you may well be undercharging.

For many years, I would bring in a significant annual turnover.

However, I would be traveling the country, booking rooms, burning fuel, paying for food and props, and at the end of the year, when it came to submitting my taxes, I rarely made much money. Why? Because I was without a doubt the worst businessman you could ever meet. And life was so much easier once everything was on track.

So understand your business, your needs and make sure you don't live a life of stress.