If you have the skills then you can earn a full time living from your mentalism and magic. Let me say from the outset that what I am talking about in this article are magic and mentalism tricks for entertainment. I am not talking about contacting people in the afterlife or casting spells for fun and profit.
What do I mean by mentalism and magic? Very simply, magic uses sleight of hand whereas mentalism uses sleight of mind. A mentalist may ask someone to think of a number then (pretend to) read their mind and tell them that number. A magician may make an object disappear and then magically reappear somewhere else. You can specialize in magic or mentalism and still earn a good living but you will maximize your earning potential if you can do both.
1. Working the tables at weddings and in restaurants
This is a common, and for some, most reliable way to make money in magic. Traditionally, mentalists do not do as well as magicians in this environment. The reason for this is that at weddings and in restaurants there is usually plenty of alcohol flowing and this impairs the audiences ability to follow complex magic tricks.
The earning potential is reasonable but the work hours can be long. You should have a five minute routine that begins with a quick and impressive opener that grabs attention. Be prepared for rejection and heckling. None of your audience have actually chosen to see a magician (or mentalist) but have been chosen by you approaching their table. Not everyone likes magic and some may see you as a threat, stealing attention away from them.
2. Working on cruise ships and in holiday resorts
Here you can find regular work albeit seasonal work. If you want to go down this route you must be prepared to find other avenues of income during the off-season. To work in this area you need to have a full stage act. You can choose either magic or mentalism. Audiences can be tough and you will be expected to please the crowd if you want to continue working.
3. Creating and publishing your own magic and mentalism books and DVDs
If working in front of a live audience is not for you, you can sell your ideas to other magicians. Typically this means creating books and DVDs that teach others how to perform the tricks and routines you have created. The earning potential varies from a few dollars per eBook to several hundred dollars. How much you earn will depend on how many copies of your product you manage to sell. There is a great deal of competition in this area and it can be difficult for a newcomer to break into the market.
4. Corporate magic and mentalism
Mentalists in particular can earn large incomes working in the corporate environment. For example, businesses exhibiting in large conventions spend thousands of dollars attempting to lure people over to their stands. Skilled mentalists are typically experts in presentation and audience control, a clever reworking of tricks can draw in the crowds. If you can work a message into your act there will always be businesses prepared to pay you for delivering that message.
5. Organizing your own stage show
This is the riskiest method of trying to earn an income from magic and mentalism but even if you do not make a big profit you can go on to earn one. Very simply, organizing a stage show involves booking a venue and selling tickets. If you can sell enough tickets to cover the cost of putting on the show and have money left over then you have made a profit. It is difficult to make large and regular profits this way. If things go wrong you may well end up losing money. Only the big names can make any real money. However, putting on a stage show is a good way of getting yourself known. If you can attract an agent or use the publicity to get a job somewhere else then it is worth the effort.