It doesn’t matter if it’s been your dream since you were a kid, or you just got interested when Criss Angel was all over TV.
Whatever piqued your interest in magic led you here, to the one-stop spot to find out how to become a magician from the beginning right on through mastery.
You have to know the methodology behind the magic, where to source your props from, and put in the hours to learn tips, tricks and information that can save you in an instant.
On top of that, you have to actually physically practice all of these tricks over and over again until it looks flawless.
Learning magic isn’t easy, but with this guide, you’ll know what this journey is going to require from you if you really want to reach a level where you can impress people, and leave them speechless.
Do you want to know how to become a magician?
Let’s dive into it.
Start With an Understanding: Tricks Aren’t Enough
This is not to burst your bubble, but magicians have to do a lot more to actually impress a crowd than they used to. Tricks aren’t enough.
You are an entertainer, first and foremost. If you aren’t putting on a show, then you are losing your audience.
Magic acts are designed to capture attention and hold onto it with an ironclad grip, so how are you going to do that?
You need to be animated! Your facial expressions need to change with your tricks, no matter how much you’re focusing behind the scenes.
Nobody can know how much effort is going into your tricks, otherwise it loses—for lack of a more original term—the magic of the whole thing.
Many magicians get into this thinking that if they can perform their tricks, then that will be enough. I’m sorry to say that it isn’t.
Showmanship, leading a crowd, and setting the atmosphere (which is one of the most important tidbits) are all going to play a major, vital role in your success as a magician.
Now that this has been established, and you know what crowds are going to expect from you, let’s get into the actionable methods that you can partake in right now.
Start With Free Education
We’re in the age of free education splattered all over the internet, and you’d be foolish not to take as much of that as possible, and get to work right away.
The first name that comes to mind when you think of free education is YouTube, and that’s for good reason: they have so many guides available, demonstrations, and just videos of magicians performing their tricks for crowds.
Education doesn’t mean you have to hit the books and stare at black-and-white pages all day long. There are actually four different types of learning styles that everyone can be categorized in.
- Visual Learners – You learn through observation. Monkey see, monkey do.
- Auditory Learners – Audiobooks and listening to others can help you more than anything.
- Reading/Writing Learners – Reading books and writing your thoughts help you learn.
- Kinesthetic Learners – You learn by doing, by being hands-on.
So some of these methods of free education are going to touch on those separate learning styles to give you a better sense of how you can learn magic.
The amount of free information on YouTube is truly astounding. However, YouTube was definitely better for learning before the ten-minute algorithm switch.
A lot of YouTubers drag out their intros, content, and make montages that don’t add value because they need to hit ten minutes of total video length for the YouTube algorithm to favor them.
I recommend skimming videos that you find interesting. The best results usually perform well for a reason, so if you’re on a PC, tap the right arrow key on your keyboard to jolt ahead five seconds at a time.
On mobile, you can tap the ten second speedup button on the right side of the video.
YouTube videos are going to benefit visual and auditory learners the most. If you’re smart enough, you can even find some free paid-for content on here.
While it’s always good to pay for content to allow creators to get what’s fair, audiobooks and courses will end up on here from time to time before copyright holders strike the videos for infringement.
I would say that the best thing you can do here is simply watching magicians performing street tricks.
Watch their form, try to decode what they’re doing (once you have a bit of knowledge as to how card tricks work, of course), and you’ll find yourself picking apart acts in a positive way.
Like dissecting something to see how it works.
What this does is show you their facial expressions while performing tricks, how their bodies move (or how they don’t move), and where they’re trying to aim the attention so that they can pull off their tricks.
The more you watch without getting wrapped-up in what they’re doing, the more you’re going to notice.
These are basically goldmines for visual learners. Infographics are super long PDF files or site-hosted images that are super long and give a bit of visual stimulation while giving you concise bits of information.
You get the SparkNotes version of a lot of things, such as how to hold your posture in easy steps, where to direct focus and things like that.
For some people, this helps them learn more than a lengthy guide like this ever would, and that’s okay. However, if you’re already this deep in, we can assume you’re at least partially a reading/writing learner.
I recommend finding and saving infographics locally on your phone. Pull them up while you’re in transit for work, on your way to school, or while you’re waiting in line for them to make your macchiato.
You can review these and memorize the points fairly quickly. We’ve all got a screen in our pockets nowadays, so put it to work for your dream skill.
Blog posts are usually short, bite-sized bits of information that are best-suited for reader/writer learning styles.
The difference with a blog is that it’s a bit more personal, like a one-on-one conversation.
You can digest information like this in five to ten minutes, and as I stated before, you can find time each day to read a few blog posts in between obligations.
Upgrade to Inexpensive Paid Education
Paid education operates on a few basic principles.
While there’s plenty of free education out there, and it might be enough to teach you how to be a magician, you can get more concise, actionable info from paid education.
We’ve seen a huge spike in online learning that is not college-funded, based, or hosted. Individual experts are creating tons of content in bite-sized videos as part of entire courses.
Paid-for education and content is there because, to quote Heath Ledger’s Joker, “If you’re good at something, never do it for free.”
When you become an expert in something, your time that you spent learning that skill is more valuable than a newcomer.
After all, that’s why someone will hopefully pay admission to see one of your magic shows in the future—they want concentrated entertainment from an expert that knows what they’re doing.
Apply that same logic to courses and paid-for education.
Books, Audiobooks, and eBooks
This is the most obvious, but it’s still effective.
Reading/writing learners are going to benefit from eBooks and paperback/hardcover books, while auditory learners will get the most out of audiobooks.
Either way, you’re getting concise information that’s easily digestible.
The process of writing a book is egregious. I don’t know if you’ve ever attempted or completed it, but it takes forever to get your thoughts itemized, organized, and the editing process is brutal.
It’s a reason why traditionally published books aren’t going anywhere anytime soon—there are standards in place.
I would gladly pay a small amount of money for something that someone took months or years to write, and that editors shredded apart and reworked so that it would be easy to read and get the points across.
If you value your time, investing it in books is likely to yield more compact experience and info than many free methods, even if they are also viable.
Online courses have been booming since about 2015, and it’s for good reason—it’s the cheapest education you’re going to find anywhere in the United States.
Hell, even elementary school supplies can cost you more than a lot of online courses.
These paid-for education methods can combine visual learning through videos—which is the most common, but then you also get auditory learning at the same time—with written content, templates, eBooks included in the course price; the list goes on and on.
You could spend 10% of a full-time minimum wage paycheck to get access to dozens of hours of information, especially when it comes to magic. It’s something to consider.
Courses basically add the personal experience of the instructor with bits and pieces of information gathered from all over.
You pay for sourced info that’s all in one place, so you don’t have to waste tens of hours scouring the internet to find it for yourself.
Not only that, but courses always offer a unique perspective into whatever you’re learning about.
Similar to courses, except in-person, at a brick and mortar location.
I’ve seen magic classes hosted at hotel function rooms, clothing stores, magic shops, and even some hosted at weekend street fairs.
However, while this provides a hands-on learning experience where you get to watch someone perform the tricks you’re going to learn, these are usually only found in large metropolitan areas.
I’m sorry to say that you’re not going to see magic classes coming in at your local small town, or if you are, they’re probably startups.
The benefit of a class is that you have an expert in front of you, who you can ask questions to, and get direct results.
Since you’ve likely prepaid for the class, you’re not going to get hit with additional fees because you asked more than a couple of questions. Don’t just go to one of these to learn; go there to ask questions.
Where to Find Magic Supplies
Well, if you’re going to be a magician, you need props—they’re not as hard to source as they once were. I’ve listed some of the most well-known ways to acquire magic props and supplies below.
Saying “You can just get them online” is a bit broad, so let me elaborate. About twenty-or-so years ago, magic shops were seeing a huge decline in their business.
That’s because we started hitting this vast technological age, and it was exciting. Nobody was doing magic anymore.
However, the effect of the screen-obsessed culture we live in has lessened (even though it’s never going to go away).
It’s allowed people to stop and look around at other things they can get interested in, and magic has seen a resurgence. The one major benefit we’ve seen as a result of this new age is the online magic stores that have cropped up.
You can get a lot of props off of Amazon nowadays, which is where I get a lot of props from. You can’t avoid Amazon, but you also can’t be blind-sided by them.
There are tons of independent online stores that offer old-school props as well as new-age props that you might not have seen plastered all over YouTube yet.
The main benefit of getting your props online is competition. When you walk into a brick and mortar store, nine times out of ten you’re dealing with someone who has no control over the prices.
Online, you can shop the same thing from different suppliers, apply coupon codes, and check out bundle deals to get a ton of supplies delivered all at the same time. There are certainly advantages.
Brick and Mortar Magic Shops
I don’t like to see small businesses go under, but there’s a reason that most people get their supplies online now.
It’s not as practical to open a magic shop or even go there to buy your supplies unless you’re in the heart of Boston or Houston. You need a high number of potential customers.
When you go into a magic shop to source your gear, everything is fixed. Like I said in the previous section, there’s not really any room to haggle or mess around.
You can’t go in and say, “I’m getting a full magic show’s worth of gear,” and then expect them to throw you a bone. Discounts don’t happen often.
That being said, they’re still great places to scout out because you might be able to find some items there that you can’t find online.
It helps keep your options open, and it’s also fun to go shopping here with friends so they can get a taste of your hobby (if they haven’t already been to your shows).
Essential Magic Gear
You can’t really become a magician if you don’t have the right gear.
Props, clothing, equipment to make a business out of it; the whole nine yards. Let’s go over everything that you’re going to need.
You can perform magic in a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, but why would you? What is that going to add to the performance?
All eyes are going to be on you, so you need to look the part.
Now, I’m not saying you have to go and get a tuxedo with a long tail and a traditional pair of white gloves, but you do have to personify a magician.
You can throw your own gear together, but in my personal experience, it’s best to ensure the rest of your gear for the illusion effect.
If your shirt matches the colors on the back of your playing card deck, it makes it easier to use sleight of hand to your advantage. You’re playing with other people’s perceptions.
Tricks and Props
You can’t get by without the essentials. These are what you need to succeed and carry out a variety of tricks.
The aim is to have as few props as possible with the highest variable number of potential tricks with each.
- Playing Cards: The most essential piece of gear in any magician’s arsenal, for sure. Technically, since people are inventing new card tricks, it’s impossible to tell how many there really are. It’s not just about the numbers on the cards, otherwise we could mathematically deduce that number. You could invent new tricks, or simply go through the index of all the available and known tricks online to build up your act. Playing cards can be used in conjunction with other props if you’re trying to misdirect while setting up, or simply to have some fun and boggle some minds.
- Trick Coins: You can use trick coins, or regular coins to do a fair amount of different magic moves. It’s up to your imagination. Among the most common coins tricks, you have the vanishing coin, and having a coin “appear out of thin air,” both of which can be achieved even if you’re just a beginner.
- Sponge Balls: Colored sponge balls can be used in a bunch of tricks, but they’re most commonly used for misdirection and attention directing. If you can learn a big of light juggling and some quick sleight of hand movements, then you’re going to have plenty of tricks at your disposal.
- Cups and Balls: Another art of misdirection. Cups and balls can be used to pull tricks whether you’re a child or an adult; there’s always another way to make them work for you. If you plan on entertaining at parties and events, these are always a crowd pleaser.
With those, you can get by with a ton of tricks. It’s the best way to get started, considering there are thousands of different possibilities at your disposal for less than twenty dollars.
We’re going to talk about your first magic gig in a minute, and how to get it. Spoiler alert: a lot of what you do is going to be online.
You’re going to need a website, a Facebook page, as well as some business cards to leave behind at venues you go to, hand out to audience members, and leave at businesses that have frequent foot traffic that allow it.
Depending on how well you do, word of mouth is also going to be extremely powerful.
Perform well at a private event or gig, and you’re going to find out that you wish you had some branded material to hand out.
You could even slap a magnet on your car with your personal brand on it and be a billboard on wheels on your way to work each morning while your business picks up.
How to Find Your First Magic Gig
This isn’t going to be easy, but it’s going to work after a while. You might even get lucky and nail your first gig after a short amount of time. I truly hope that you will be able to do it.
The way to find your first magic gig all starts with you. Many local venues may want to interview you beforehand, meaning you have to show up and perform for a business owner.
Do you know how terrifying that can be?
Someone sits down in front of you who likely doesn’t enjoy the magic at all, watches you perform with a critical eye, and then tells you if you’re “worth it” or not.
That’s a tough time for any entertainer. You have to have the confidence to pull this off right from the start, or you won’t actually get that gig.
Don’t worry about getting it right on the first try/interview; it can take some time to ease off the nerves, so take everything as an experience, and that way you never lose.
Make a list of local venues. When I say the venue, I mean research venues, not just places of business.
These are places that regularly have entertainers, so the crowd already knows what to expect. It’s a good shot at finding a group of people who are already invested in a performance before ever walking in the door.
This could be a dive bar late at night, a cocktail hour at a restaurant, or an actual concert hall, depending on the size.
Alternatively, you can also find a way to book your first gig online if it’s an event, like a birthday party, carnival, or charity event (nonprofits still pay people).
This is going to take some branding as we talked about earlier.
Any good magician is going to have a way to spread their presence far beyond their tricks, so a website, logo, business card and social media sites are going to go a long way.
Facebook has become one of the best places to plan events in recent years. Think about how many birthdays invites you got on Facebook that you had no plans on attending.
Everybody is planning stuff on Facebook now, which means a fan page with good photographs and a logo can get people to come to you.
Finding your first gig isn’t easy. It’s equal parts making your presence known, while also actively seeking out other opportunities.
Consider registering yourself as a one-person LLC to get business listings online, and pay a small amount of money to maintain a website so that other people can find you.
Should You Become a Magician, or an All-in-One Entertainer?
Personally, I became a magician over being an all-in-one entertainer.
I wanted to focus on magic, but I also wanted to maintain my day job and keep an income that way. It worked out for a while until I could take time to just focus on magic. It kept food on the table.
Many magicians become an all-in-one entertainer to account for the times throughout the year where a magician won’t be required, but an entertainer would be.
You should follow your dreams either way, but if you want to take a business approach to your talents, you should become a multifaceted entertainer.
Diversifying With General Entertainment or Clown Work
It’s impractical to go into a career of magic without expecting to divide your work (yes, I am running a magic site and used the word impractical).
The top-earning magicians in the United States—which is 10% of the total number—make about $49,000 per year or more. Do you know why?
They’re not just making money as magicians. They’re personalities that entertain, meaning they might perform non-magic tricks or entertainment as well as clown work.
You’d be surprised to find out how many magicians also do stand-up comedy on the side, which can eventually make you some good money.
You do not, under any circumstances, have to give up on the dream of being a magician.
You just have to understand that if you want to make it a career, that in the beginning, you’re going to have to diversify your talents or become extremely frugal in your personal life to afford some of the lower payouts that magicians take.
Take it to the Internet
We just published a guide on some of the most famous YouTuber magicians of all time, and there’s a bit of insight as to how much they can earn based on their views.
While it’s all subjective and could change, some of those numbers are impressive.
We’ve already talked about having an online presence, but now it’s time to put yourself out there.
YouTube isn’t slowing down—one-sixth of the global population, which includes those who don’t have access to the internet—are consistent YouTube viewers.
It’s the best place possible to get some of your magic out there.
You control the setup. You control the way the trick goes. You can mess up a hundred times on camera; it doesn’t matter.
I’m not going to discuss the economics of YouTube here, because it can change at the drop of a hat, but suffice to say that it can lead to gigs if you’re in a major area.
If someone is watching your videos, and they need someone will skills to entertain a party, then why not choose you?
That gives you the ability to earn some ad revenue, and put your talents to work at the same time. YouTube is the smartest way to market yourself as a magician.
The goal is to start small, showcase your tricks, and keep expanding your routine until it’s enough to fit a whole show.
Talk to the camera about your favorite magicians, discuss your inspiration, and review your favorite magic gear—there’s a hungry audience out there, you’re just not in front of them.
Make sure that if you’re going to use this method, you make the most out of it.
Link to your site, where people can book you, your Facebook page/group; make it work for you, because once those videos are up, they’re constant draws to your talent.
Be smart about it, and you can make a business off of magic and ditch that nine to five.
It’s Your Career—Jump At It
You could devise a career from this, or at the very least, a hobby that you can bring out of nowhere when people aren’t expecting it.
If it’s something that you’ve always wanted to do, then it’s time to get started.
Check out our guide on beginner magic sets, as well as some really great books on magic that can get you started.
Begin by using your off-time to read up and practice, such as those six minutes while you wait for the morning train to show up. Fill those small time blocks with something you love, and before you know it, you’ll be a master.