Our job as clowns is to make others smile and laugh but as we all know there is work involved to perfect our art. This is also true when it comes to the business end of the clown gig, but it doesn’t have to stress you out. That’s why we would like to share a few tips on things we have learned along the way, hopefully these will benefit you as well.
One of the big questions we get from those who wish to get into the clowning and family entertainment business is what to charge for services. Fist things first in this area, you must have some time performing in front of crowds before you consider charging. If you do a show for free and make a mistake or two or your face painting takes a little long, there is more forgiveness from the client than if they are paying you. Once you have honed your skills and can offer a good product, you are ready to ask for pay knowing you will give the client their monies worth. Ask friends and family who have hired a clown, magician or face painter to see what they paid to help set your fee. If you belong to a clown or magic group, ask others what they charge for a similar show that you are putting together or even call local entertainers as if you are inquiring for a party for yourself to get those prices. The fee for family entertainers can be very much determined by the social climate in which you live and where you will be working.
Contracts/ Service agreements:
Having a simple contract or service agreement signed by both parties is a very good idea; this helps prevent miss understandings when it comes to the actual performance date. Now some entertainers do have very legal contracts covering, staging, lighting, sound requirements, what color of M & M’s to have in the dressing room and so on, but if you are working in small venues many of those things will not be a concern. If you are doing a stage show, purchasing a small sound system of your own is helpful. What concerns the family entertainer more is the time of the show, how long will you be working, what services will be rendered for the agreed on fee, terms of payment. Also clarify directions, contact information and if working an out door venue if there is shelter to keep you and your equipment from the elements and power available if you require. Don’t forget to ask for information on a guest of honor such as the person having a birthday or whoever is the party is for. Bottom line, the more details you cover prior to the show leaves the guesswork out when you arrive giving both you and the client a firm idea as to how the event should flow. Having the number of guests will help determine how you in a couple of ways. When doing an act if there are a large number of people you may want that sound system or find out if there is one available at the event. For face painters and balloon twisters the head count helps you decide the amount of supplies needed which may increase your fee.
Before you take all your friends out to lunch instructing them to discuss clown stuff so you can write it off as a business expense, speak to a professional in the tax preparation filed. A CPA or other tax specialist can give you all the ins and outs of claiming income and how to go about getting deductions for supplies if you indeed qualify. This can save you a great deal of headaches in the future.
Another couple of thoughts to consider is how to promote your business. Buying ads can be costly so searching out affordable or free advertisement is great especially when stating out. Many stores still have an add board inside the front door where local small business folk can place business cards or flyers. Local schools will sell ads in their yearbook or if they have a play or concert, ad space is often available in the program. Also offer your services at a public event such as a local festival in exchange for a spot in their advertisement. This is a win win as they get free entertainment and you get your name out to tons of people in just one day and potential clients see you live and may book you for another event based on that experience. Social media is also an excellent way to show off your work and announce to people when you may be performing an event where they can come out and support you.
We have covered some major ground here and we hope you are finding some information that will be useful in your business plan. A final thing to consider is entertainment insurance. The best way I found information on this type of insurance is Internet search. Most companies that deal with auto and home do not carry this type of policy. Having insurance is a good idea, especially for face painters as you are putting product directly on a client. If someone were to have an allergic reaction to a product, entertainers insurance can help save you unwanted money woes. If you don’t deal with fire or live animals in your act, a basic policy is not too expensive. I have not had to use mine thankfully but a close friend had a bit of a spill on a homeowners new, white carpet and his insurance took care of the cleaning bill. So for him he definitely felt it was worth having as this was evidently a special carpet that not just any carpet care company could handle so it was quite costly for the cleaning.
These are some of the biggies when it comes to setting up shop, we hope our insight was a helping hand. All the best to you good folks as you set out on your endeavors.