MB 001: How Much Should You Charge with Andrew Smith


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Ep 001Andrew Smith How much do you charge

MB 01: Andrew Smith Tells How He Earns Over $1000 Per Birthday Show!


Find out how he does it and how you can earn top dollar without changing your show.

Episode 1 on Magician Business Podcast centres on a subject very near and dear to every performers heart: raising your performing fees.

Raising your prices is a scary prospect. Ken and I know, we have talked about it, shared our trepidation and done it with varying degrees of success. Our experience has been that raising our price has never reduced our volume of work. Sure, we are earning more but we are not working any less. Doing fewer shows and freeing up more of our time is where we want to be. This is why we were very keen to get our first podcast guest.

Our first guest is Balloon Entertainer Andrew Smith from Hong Kong.  Andrew shares with you his journey to asking for and getting higher fees. Yes, he did experience some reservations about increasing his fees except rather than just think about it, he did it, and by no small measure.

He took his family/private kids party fee of $350 and matched it to his corporate fees in the $1000 to $2000 bracket. Did all of a sudden the phones stop ringing?  Find out here. Listen to this episode and discover the 3 things clients said to him when he charged $350 and the 3 things they said when he charged $1000.

What a great discussion to have as out first episode as the information within is potentially career changing for many of us.

In this episode we talk about:

  • the myths surrounding booking $1000 parties .. and that these myths are generally convenient excuses that stop us from asking for higher fees
  • the idea that ‘price’ is elastic
  • putting up your fees is not enough, you need to SET your fees.
  • are you worth more than wedding flowers?
  • the brainstorming process you use to set your fees?
  • Do you need a good show or a great show to get higher fees?
  • Do you offer different packages to clients?
  • the psychology of believing YOU are worth it?

Links and Resources mentioned:

Once you have taken all these new ideas in, you can further find out if this is something for you by checking out Andrew’s book called Secrets of the $1000 Birthday Party.

Visit Andrews site Brilliant Balloons

or contact him at andrew@monsterballoon.com



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Please help by leaving a review on iTunes, they are really helpful and we appreciate you taking the time.

Reviews help our podcast get noticed by entertainers, magicians and performing artists all over the world which grows our community.

A larger community means more experience to share with each other so please feel free to share your comments below.

Thanks again,

Ken and Julian

Meet the Author

Ken Kelly

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • I can see why Andrew is able to charge $1,000.00 for a birthday party. I visited his website at http://www.brilliantballoons.com and his video was amazing. He reminds me of a balloon artist and comedy magician John “BalloonFREAK” Cassidy located here in the USA. In the podcast Andrew mentioned there is nothing special about his show, but I beg to differ… he is brilliant!

    I have raised my prices this year and I understand marketing plays a large part in being able to charge more. I plan to tweek my website and offer free downloadable invitations to make it easier for the mom hiring me. I also like Andrew’s 100% satisfaction guarantee, it makes great marketing sense. I need to listen to parts of the podcast again to absorb all the information.

    Thank you Julian, Ken, and Andrew

    • Julian Mather

      There WILL be those who raise their prices. If not you and I, then it WILL be someone so it sort of begs the question, why not me?

      • Julian Mather

        …and sorry Mike, thanks for starting the discussion .. bit brain zonked after getting this site out on time

  • Richard Milne

    I always found it frustrating and absurd when it came to people’s expectations regarding payment for entertainment.

    I recall an evenings entertainment where I featured as the MC and Quiz master. I provided all the sound gear and ran the 500+ people function for $300. The coordinator paid an Elvis impersonator $300 for four songs at the break and concluded the evening with a stand up comedian for $300. Both entertainers used my equipment and barely said thanks. I went home feeling used and vowed then and there to look people in the eye and doubled my fee over night. It still is cheap considering it is usually 3 hours of preparation and 5 hours of performance.

    • Julian Mather

      I’m really interested to hear from people in 6 months or a year and see what happens. Myself included. Can we actually do this? Not that it has to be $1000 for a party. Can we raise our fees by 50% or 100%. I have doubled my fees many times and it was accepted. I have never though, sat down and approached this properly. maybe now is the time.

      • Andrew

        I have just been sent an email enquiry for a saxophonist for a wedding in London. The clients budget is less than $200 USD all INCLUSIVE!!!!!

        A professional performer with years of training and practice……paid to create memories and an atmosphere for a very important day in the life of a couple……really that’s not the way to go forward for any of us.

  • Randy

    This was great information I think that I’m going to start a whole new business name with a new name for my business I will charge a higher price my price now is $135 for my balloons and $200 for my magician I think for the new the price will be $350 for balloon artist and $550 for a magic show I will faze out the old and bring in the new thanks

    • Julian Mather

      That would be awesome to see. Get back to us with your experience. What works and what doesn’t?

    • Andrew

      Go for it. Well done. I love that you feel you can do this. Keep us posted on the progress. I will help in any way I can.

  • Bill Hegbli

    Really good discussion on this Podcast discussion on individuals “mind set” concerning pricing for their entertainment services. I guess this is part of the “Power of Positive Thinking”, but to overcome so many personal barriers of self-worth, and ingrained value for services can be a difficult challenge for many people. The next comment about charging a higher fee for services to those willing to pay the higher cost, I believe has more to do with reaching those higher income prospects and target marketing them. Andrew Smith only suggest the entertainer just “gets out” of your neighborhood to widen your reality of the other social classes in your area. So then what? I know of many “well off” areas of my city, so I know they exist, but how do you prospect them. Waiting for them to find my website seems none productive.

    • Julian Mather

      Andrew touched on this, finding the prospects. You have to frequent the places they frequent, the schools, the clubs, the organizations, the communities and start promoting your self through those channels. I agree, it can seem daunting. This is worth mentioning here. I used to think that there was some sort of club, with a special nod and a wink, and if you somehow got into ‘that circle’, you were ‘in’. I have since come to realise that there are no gatekeepers to any of this. The prize is just ‘there’ for those who can go the distance.

      • Andrew

        I have just been sent an email enquiry for a saxophonist for a wedding in London. The clients budget is less than $200 USD all INCLUSIVE!!!!!

        A professional performer with years of training and practice……paid to create memories and an atmosphere for a very important day in the life of a couple……really that’s not the way to go forward for any of us.

    • Andrew

      Be seen where they hang out. restaurants, private schools, members clubs, find and work with partners locally that have these clients. How can you help that business to make it easier for them to speak to their clients…….they will pay you back ten fold.

  • Ron

    Sometimes things happen for a reason, this was just so inspiring thank you Julian for putting this out there.
    you are putting one step at a time.
    i was once told “An ant can eat an elephant but not all in one go”.
    thanks again.

    • Julian Mather

      Hey thanks Ron. I agree, it was inspiring. I love these sort of my podcasts myself because I just immerse myself in them. Action does not always flow of course but it seems to slowly reset a lot of my personal compasses so when the planets do align I’m in the right ‘space’ to launch into action.

  • Don

    Hi Julian & Ken,

    Just wanted to say thanks for your podcast – it’s full of great ideas!
    And I’m very impressed with your credo of wanting to help people live happier lives – your beliefs and enthusiasm and commitment shows through your podcast and shines in your presentations on youtube. Well done!


    • Ken Kelly

      Thanks Don, so glad you are here to be part of this.

  • I’m so excited about what I’ve learned from Andrew! I took a pause In the middle of his interview to remove my advertisement from Craigslist! His comments made me realize one of many things… the potential clients that can afford $1000 bookings are NOT looking for entertainers on Craigslist! The second thing I did is head over to my website & make price changes. Thank you Julian for putting this out there for us!

    • Ken Kelly

      Thats fantastic to hear Christine. Anything that prompts immediate action is worthwhile. Glad you changed your price, one podcast in and already you are making more money.

    • Andrew

      Great start Christine. You are worth it. NOW tell the client how you will change their lives. Go for it. Keep us posted on the progress.

  • Hi Julian et al

    How do we (me?) overcome the classic “Times are tough” and we can’t afford to pay any more?” or the idea that a region eg Tasmania is the worst performing state in Australia so people have the mind set that pricing has to be lower. Therefore if I raise my fees will potential clients gravitate to to lower cost option – not always the best option … but an option? Even a person who books me through her ‘agency’ ( I need to be careful what I say here) pays me less than what I’d get if get the booking had been made direct through myself. It seems to the the attitude that ‘well this is Tassie we can’t expect any more’ And yet paradoxically many corporates who only pay peanuts for local talent will pay much much more for an interstate artist and pay airfares; accommodation; meals et cetera. Am I looking at this issue of increasing fees the wrong way, or is it an issue for the ‘poorer’ locations?

    • Julian Mather

      Going on what Andrew says, if there are people sending kids to good schools, driving fancy cars, eating in upscale restaurants in the your area, then people have money. I hear what you are saying Roy. maybe there is a possibility of creating 2 performing identities for yourself and market yourself independently to the upper and lower end. Two websites etc …

      • Thank you for your speedy response Julian – I really value your comment; ideas and values. I must listen to the podcast … haven’t had chance yet. Then I’ll re consider ‘my attitude’. Keep up the great work, Julian, you are a credit to the Australian Magic Scene.

    • Andrew

      I agree with Julian and I have also had those words whispered in my ear from that little fellow on my shoulder.

      The truth is time to move forward……move away from your current clients and seek the better quality events. I know there is a number of potential clients on Tasmania…..I have had a great conversation with people from there at an exhibition here in Hong Kong.

      You can do this ….one step at a time.

  • Hi Ken and Julian
    Great interview with Andrew Smith. I am going to work on retargeting my market, because most people usually call and ask for price straight away , but I have baan to a lot of shows lately with triple storey houses and bently’s and ferrarri’s in their garage . I am going to do this for sure. I know my show is good and I feel that I can go much higher and forget about the Mrs mom mentality.

    • Ken Kelly

      Thanks for the comment Ken. I have seen your show and you can put your prices up with confidence.

    • Raise your fees…..do it now…..make sure you sell the benefits to the client and change the copy from about you to about them.

      Well done for looking at this in the positive way. Not everybody will do so. You have taken the first step my friend.

  • I meant been not baan 🙂 spell checker not working ?

  • Luke Hillis

    Hey guys, thanks for this great podcast channel. I’ve created a morning ritual for myself to listen to your podcast for 15 minutes every morning before I go to school. I am a college student.

    My question is: Would you make an episode, or point me to a resource, designed to help amateur magicians become professional? Andrew talks about raising prices from $250 to $1000… I need help getting prices more than $0. The issue is that I don’t perform because I’m not confident about my show (I don’t really have a show) — how do I go about creating a show?

    I’m hoping there’s a venue of listeners who are skilled close-up magicians but don’t know anything about creating an actual show and don’t have any business experience with magic.

    • Ken Kelly

      Hi Luke, I am so glad to have you as part of this community. Everything we cover on the site is about professionalism so keep on listening and implement what you find shred here. I am delighted that you have an interest in the business side of getting shows whilst still at school, you remind me of me. I was doing shows for schools, churches, friends, clubs etc whilst in school. this is a great time to make your mark, get out and do as many shows as you can and get some experience in front of an audience. Please keep me updated as to how you get on, I would love to hear your progress Luke.

    • Hey Luke, I came back here to comment that there is still so much talk about this very first episode and I saw this comment of yours. I cannot let it pass without pointing you to my course at http://www.buildyourmagicshow.com I am so sure it would help you. Just watch the 4 free videos at the start and they alone will get you started in the right direction. Let us know how you are doing and what questions you want answered??

  • Jim Keplinger

    This was the first, and to date one of my very favorite, episodes. If you want to see a bunch of otherwise fun-loving, community-centric, and sharing individuals become hostile quickly, ask a fellow magician what he charges. It doesn’t seem to matter if they do birthdays or trade shows, it’s not something they want to share. Because of this, there are a LOT (most?) of our ilk UNDERCHARGING their own value and worth. Andrew’s advice, experience and generosity in this episode proves that MagicianBusiness is NOT your typical magic podcast!

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  • N Jay Jaybo Holtz

    I noticed one thing that no one touches on and I have been asked many times and have thrown the question out to the magic community a few times, So I thought I would throw it out to you as well. The question simply put is How does one with a good show get their first gig? Daycares? Preschools? Fares and carnivals? Well you get the picture. How does a children’s entertainer get started. Most state that they did this or did that, but don’t share as to how that first gig was achieved. I have my own answers but would like to hear from both of you.

    • Big question. Short answer is be prepared to take a few knocks and be prepared to embrace criticism as a way to learn and adjust what you are doing.

      There is no secret. It is just a case of being passionate enough to draw a line in the sand and say by this date I will have completed my first show. Then tomorrows one and only task is to start getting that show. Ring, turn up in person at a daycare and take a flyer with some lovely balloon sculptures and hats for the staff to wear and brighten up their day. Once you have done that, look at the map and drive to the next one and do the same etc etc. Offer an introductory price with a definite cutoff time to book. Don’t go in to SELL. Go in to help them. Ask if they have any end of year parties that need a lively boost? etc. Tell them you can recommend other entertainers. Tell them to call you anytime. This is building a relationship. It might take a year or two for them to actually need someone but guess what, when they do you will be front and center of their mind.

      You can do an almost free show. The cost is a written or video testimonial from them … these are invaluable for your marketing

      and on it goes … you can’t do your second show until your first is out the way. Focus solely on each show and what it takes to make it happen. After you have a dozen or so and you have gained some pics and testimonials (even just a few words) then start looking at marketing yourself seriously. It will take 10-20 shows for you to start getting a feel for what works and what you are going to drop from your act. the big fluffy dog puppet you thought might work might turn out to be an anchor that just slows you down and you might need to drop it. Take your time BUT don’t sit still ..EVER. Hope this helps.

      • N Jay Jaybo Holtz

        Julian I have taken everything you suggested into consideration, have spoon fed it to my brain and it was nourishing, high in energy. Thank you for your helpful ideas.

  • N Jay Jaybo Holtz

    I know I left one message about this episode but needed to add another, $1000 a show sounds wonderful, and I don’t think I would have trouble asking for it, but I also believe you would need to live in an locale the can afford that or you just might be pricing yourself out of the game. Should you have 2 or 3 price structures? I live close to Disney World and If I charge that amount the reply would be for that kind of money I can take the kids to Disney, now try to compete with them. Put me on the right road of thought so I am not going down the wrong folk.

    • Great question. The thing about Andrew Smith is yes he lives in HK where there is some wealth floating around. As he points out, there are wealthy people pretty much everywhere and they generally congregate together in places that are pretty easy to identify eg. exclusive private schools.

      So if you can identify them and market something exclusive to them you are probably in with a chance of getting money from them. Then it follows that the product you offer them needs to look and feel exclusive. It cannot be your website that you offer to people who price shop.

      So it follows, start another website, another brand. It doesn’t have to be any different to what you are doing now. Add on a few exclusive sounding extras ..oh say ‘gourmet party bags’?? and the rarely seen trick that fooled Houdini??. Do your same show but re name it, maybe make a second costume in different colours, make a new name. Even if the market for higher paying shows is smaller, if you could get 10 x $1000 shows each year from it, that is $50,000 over 5 years. It’s not going to cost more than $1000-$2000 to do a really good re-branding of yourself. Sounds like a no brainer. If it doesn’t work, then regroup and try a new angle. there are no guarantees in any of this.

      Will people be upset if they find out it is the same as your lower priced show? If any one ever did query this, you have all the cards. The tricks and props I am using are far superior, the crowd management techniques I use are completely different, the structure of my show is completely changed to accomodate generally savvier children etc etc. No one can argue with this.

      You are not competing with going to Disneyland. You are bringing an experience into their home that is intimate and memory creating etc. Does any of this help?