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Wish I had a one-size-fits-all answer for you but this is difficult. You know the old conundrum “experience needed but how do I get experience if I can’t get a job?”

We can only speak from our past and share what we know.

You are your own best publicity machine. What does this mean? It means that you have many, many, social contacts and I’m not talking about social media. Do you go to church? Is your Uncle/Aunt a scout leader? Are your coworkers having a party? Maybe you are all out together and you have some pictures on your phone (and maybe a business card) Does your local town have a festival? We have one troupe member who has some health issues but is a job-getting MACHINE for us. She is so good that a number of people (not in the troupe) tried to take credit for some the jobs she managed to get for us. What does she do? She chats people up, tells them she is amazing and she does really interesting things. And she carries business cards.

Business Cards; Are you shy? Then business cards let you be a publicity ninja.  Every pizzeria, community board and person too slow to say “wait” has been *whoosh* hit with a business card. I am sure that some of these get thrown away but we try to get as many out as we can. We carry a box in the car so if at practice someone says “Hey, I am out of business cards.” it is easily fixed. Some recommendations: Two fonts-easily legible. I mean it, TWO FONT STYLES. Can you italicize? Yes. I even have several styles for the troupe featuring four-color pictures of what we do and everyone is empowered to say “Phoenix Swords is awesome and this is what I do with them!” (Note to leaders; you should have a set of guidelines for what is good and not-so-good to discuss but that’s another blog) 50% of what is on that card should be ways to find you. We use UPrinting  and MooCards

Publicity Packets-there are expensive and time-consuming. You would send this to high-end faires, town committees and large corporations. I would recommend About.com  as a great starting resource for how to do this.

I reiterate NEVER EVER WORK FOR FREE but you can busk for tips, get advertised in a flyer, be given coupons and love but this makes it clear you have a service and are not a volunteer. That said, charities, schools, scouts, and more have hired us for services and goods if not straight-up money.

Networking; this is what I did in my day job to get lists of resources when I was in tech support and it’s a good habit to do with your faire business.  It gets you, your name and what you do out there and you learn, meet new friends and business associates. This means joining forums, posting on them as well as a HOST of other media. Let me give this caution however, you need to treat this like a part time job so don’t sign up for more than you can read. And DO be encouraging to others, forums/communities are like pot luck, everyone contributes.  And network at faires, we keep a cooler and snacks in our tent and encourage other acts to stop by-you will notice merchants do this as well. A local version of this is the Stone Soup Ceilidh

Have a good work ethic and remember you are ALWAYS onstage. We do our best to be polite, respectful, helpful and prepared. We don’t always succeed at all of the above but do our best every day. Over-deliver on the goods and you will almost always be invited back to events. If you aren’t, chalk it up to a learning experience and tweak how you do things.

Finally, don’t limit yourself on venue. As I’ve said in a number of posts (and probably more to come) everything you read, see, experience, watch is an opportunity.  We have done a number of birthday parties, workshops and conventions.  We own light sabers and can swap in Star Wars for War of the Roses. And your members should be doing self-development as well. Over the winter, when outdoor festivals are limited, we do development activities or in my own case, write and work on routines. If an organizer asks “so what’s new?” it’s good to have an answer for them! And self-care, be sure not to burn yourself out-it can be frustrating to be out shaking your money-maker when it seems like others in your group are just sitting back and showing up. Getting gigs is everyone’s responsibility and yes, some will be better at it than others. And if you are in a larger group, one must take care that the level of expectation is the same. Our troupe had some tough times when some members requested that we do as many as possible and then reneged on their obligations. Communication is key! You CAN do too many gigs but most groups don’t have that issue. But if you do, share the love and pass the ones you turn down with a recommendation for someone else. Hopefully they will do the same for you.

And now with a final truth from RuPaul
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