I’ve had this question asked of me many times by both amateur and semi-pro ventriloquists, “What does it take to go “pro” or full time in ventriloquism?”. In this installment I will look at what I found it takes plus give you some tips as to things that can help KEEP you being a pro.
Probably THE most important factor in becoming a pro is to have an act that is saleable, an act or show someone wants to pay money to see. Now I know that sounds subjective, but there is a difference between making a few dollars doing your act versus making your entire living doing shows. It’s not an easy road going on your own and solely depending upon performances to pay for your house, car, living expenses, and supplying your own health insurance. It takes lots of money consistently to go pro. So first, consider if your act would be in demand enough to handle all the monthly bills. It’s also important to know what niche market you will be best suited. Do you want to entertain adults only ?; kids only? ; or do you aim for families? Is your adults only material acceptable and not off color, or do you want to do this kind of stuff?
Next, do you have the stamina to be a full time pro? That means not only working with agents (who will demand much from you) but also having the ability to make mailings to potential customers on a consistent basis. You have to have mailing materials that are up to date and something new to offer if you want to make repeat performances. Also, do you have the discipline to write, produce, and practice/rehearse a new show with new material? Many do not and many fail because the do not have this inner discipline.
Are you a salesperson? That means do you have the sales ability to talk with prospective clients and answer questions and overcome objections that they may have. People often wait to be sold, to be convinced that their decision to book you is the right one.
My Dad was a great salesman and I’m lucky he taught me how to sell. He always told me that “anyone can sell something once!”, and how right he was! It’s the sales ability that allows you to get the repeat business and build up a client base.
My friend Ken Groves asked me what he needed to do to turn pro decades ago and I told him to save up six months worth of money so that you do not have to worry about paying the monthly bills for a while. This cushion can give you some relief so you can focus on building the business. There is much more but I will tackle that in another blog post. I would suggest getting a download of Ken Grove’s great book “Breaking Down the Brick Walls” (available here on the Maher Studios site) to get more insight into this important discussion.
To contact Mark Wade: firstname.lastname@example.org