Magic Blogging for Fun and Profit

The window to support Season 4 closed last week. If your payment was processed by paypal, then you’re in. There is no other confirmation coming from me.

I want to again thank everyone who supports this site. We’re at the beginning of the fourth year of this site being fully reader-supported. I realize this is a unique business model in the world of magic, but it seems to be working well. And I’m comfortable saying that because:

  1. The people who don’t like this site, don’t need to read it.

  2. The people who like it but can’t afford to support it still get regular content.

  3. The people who do like it and want to support it seem to be pretty happy with their choice to do so as almost everyone who signed up for Season 3 signed up again for Season 4. I have a higher retention rate than Costco or Netflix, which are considered the gold standard for that sort of thing.

So everyone’s happy! Yes, there are still some people who get their dick all twisted that anyone would deign to pay to support this site. But they don’t mean it. When they say, “I can’t believe people pay to support a magic blog.” What they’re really saying is, “Why won’t anyone pay attention to what I have to say about magic?”

The answer is this: Ya dull.

You couldn’t write a compelling sentence if your (undoubtedly estranged) daughter’s life depended on it. And your ideas aren’t interesting.

“That’s not true! I’m a good writer! Really, really good. So goodly I write you wouldn’t believe it! And I have good and interesting things to say too. Oh boy, I do.”

Alright then, I encourage you to follow my path. I laid out the blueprint for you. Write everyday for six months. Then, if people want you to keep going, give them the opportunity to support the site in order to do so. Continue writing 100s of posts a year. Write a regular newsletter. And write a book with new material every year. Simple.

“I don’t have time for all that!”

No shit, dummy, neither do I. I only have the time because of the people who support the site. Now you see how it works?

I don’t know if what I’m doing is replicable, but when I occasionally get an email from someone who wants to do something similar, I give them this simple two-step process.

  1. Come up with a focus/POV that other people don’t have. If your focus is “amateur magic” or your focus is “testing magic” then people are just going to compare you to this site.

  2. Come up with 150 posts you want to write. The subject can’t just be, like, “Magician’s Choice.” You need to have something unique you bring to the subject. I mean, it doesn’t have to be brilliant. It can be stupid. But it has to be uniquely stupid. You can’t just have three things you want to write about and you’ll wing it after that.

Finally, keep your expectations in check. Magic blogging is probably not going to be your “career.” A good bellwether to know if being paid to write is in your future is if it was in your past. I was being paid to write before this site, it’s my only other source of income now, and I’m sure it’s what I’ll go back go full-time when this site is over.

Again, you only need those steps if you want to follow a path similar to mine. If you just want to write a post occasionally for fun, then it matters much less if you have a unique viewpoint or if you’re a good writer or whatever.

Now that the support window has closed, I can give you my regular lecture about supporting the things that make you happy without it seeming self-serving.

If there is some commercial enterprise that you take pleasure from—especially if it’s a small commercial enterprise—then I think you’ll find you’ll get measurably more happiness from that thing if you actively (financially) support it.

If there is a podcaster, youtube creator, blogger, musician, artist, or whatever, that brings you joy, it’s good for you to back their projects. What you’re saying is, “My happiness is important, so I’m going to reward the people who make me happy.”

You might say, “Ah, but wouldn’t I be happier if I didn’t pay $5/month for this podcast and instead downloaded a bootleg copy? Then I get both. I get to hear the podcast and I get my 5 bucks.” No. I’ve found that’s not how it works. If someone gives you the opportunity to support something you love at a fair price, you’re always better off doing that than trying to skirt your way around it. I don’t think this is just my own personal psychology. I think it’s true for most people. If you don’t believe me, consider supporting one of the content creators whose work you currently follow. I can almost guarantee you that you will find yourself taking more pleasure from that person’s work going forward.

People will write me and say, “This has to be the best gig in the world. You just write and talk shit about people. You perform a bunch of magic. It sounds like you’re having a blast. I want to do this.”

Well, yes, it’s pretty sweet. I may not be a great judge of these things because I’ve enjoyed every job I ever had. But I will give you my honest assessment of this sort of work. I’ll be speaking specifically to my situation, but much of this will hold true for anyone self-employed in a creative field.

First the negatives…

  • Just because you like to do something for five hours a week, that doesn’t mean you’d love to do that thing for 50 hours a week. So if you look at someone and think, “Aw, that guy gets paid to have fun!” It’s probably not that simple

  • In most jobs, you have that period of time where you’re not really working at all; you’re screwing around. Then you have that period of time where you’re working but you’re just kind of sleepwalking through the work. Then you have the time where you’re actively engaged in your work. If you’re self-employed in a creative field, you only have that last category. You’re either actively focused on the work or you’re just not being productive. I sometimes wish I could slack off and still get work done.

  • Screenwriter, Lawrence Kasdan said, “Being a writer is like having homework every night for the rest of your life.” Having that looming feeling isn’t a ton of fun. When I had a normal job (before moving to 100% freelance work) I would leave the office at the end of the day and not a single neuron would fire the rest of the evening in regards to thinking about work. Now, because of the type of work I do here and in my other endeavors, I never feel like I’m “off the clock.”

Those are the negatives, and as I said, they’re probably true for most self-employed people.

The positives are perhaps more specific to me and this situation.

The initial positive would be this… while I’m not enamored with the act of writing itself, the subject I get to write about is about as much fun as one could hope for. I’m not writing instructions for putting together an end table.

And everything I do for this site outside of the writing part is super enjoyable. Trying to come up with tricks, testing them out, and attempting to create special moments for people so that I can report back to others who want to do something similar is a hell of a nice “job” to have.

Writing this site has also put me in touch with a lot of people I’ve long admired in magic, and people I’ve never heard of but who are on a similar wavelength to me. So that’s another huge positive.

And the flip side of always feeling like I’m “on the clock,” is the fact that I almost never truly am. I have some self-imposed deadlines to meet, but beyond that I have the freedom to make the choice of what I want to do each day. Do I want to write a couple posts? Do I want to do some brainstorming? Do I want to to go cafe hopping and find a dozen people to try something out on? Or do I not want to do anything magic-related at all? Maybe I want to go hiking or snowboarding or sit on my ass and watch tv all day.

That freedom is the part of all this I appreciate the most. Sometimes I wake up in the morning and think “What should I do today?” And a quote from Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday comes to mind…

And I pretty much do. It’s a good life.