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End of year checklist

December 22 2009 at 8:18 PM
Tony Borders 
from IP address

____ Have fun!
____ Write down the end of the year mileage on your car.
____ Organize your tax receipts into tax deductible and Not tax deductible. If you claim a home office include the utilities. The percentage for the office is tax deductible.
____ Plan your summer library theme. Print a brochure for the libraries in your area. They do teen and children's shows so if it is for teens let them know. If you're bilingual that can be a plus.
____ Pay estimated taxes before January 15th. If you've never paid them before or only have W-2 salary this isn't necessary. You can download a 1040-es form from
____ Make an inventory list.

mid-January: ____ Do a mailout to libraries.
____ Do a mailout to schools. Address it to either PTA or Principal. If they have money left they may choose to have an assembly. With your regular topics include a "reward assembly" for a job well done by students. If you have a website be sure to mention it.
____ Try to contact local cub scout troops in your area for February's Blue and Gold banquets. They often hire entertainment.
____ If you have a birthday show you could do it at libraries in early March for "Dr. Seuss's Birthday Party".
____ Daycares often need entertainment over Spring Break. If you are available let them know. Also check the afterschool childcare on local elementary campuses as they have kids all day that week.
____ If you do church shows let them know about your availability.
____ Look for upcoming conventions in your town and see if you should consider a booth (ex. State PTA convention) or if they need entertainment.
____ Consider sending out a thank you card with extra business cards to clients from the past two years. Let them know your new (or your other) topic(s) and include a line that says that your business grows by word of mouth.

February: ____ Send videos to local talent agents. Let them know which venues you prefer.
____ Get a website!
____ By late February you should have all of your 1099's.
____ Organize tax papers. Choose a tax person if you don't do your own.

March: ___ Do your taxes.

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Chris Wintter

Thanks Tony

December 23 2009, 3:40 AM 

I just want to say thanks Tony for all of the help you give everyone on this forum. Even though I have been doing magic for 26 years it has only been in the last 2 years after I've retired that I have been really doing magic. With a 60% increase in business last year over the year before, even in a recession,
I'm starting to go into unchartered waters. For you to take the time to give us checklists, ideas, suggestions, and advice on all subjects is greatly appreciated.

The help you gave me about 9 months ago on the techniques of ventriloquism has helped me go from a scared amateur to someone ready to go to performing even at casino, if asked.

2 years ago, when I really got into my hobby by advertising, I had no idea where my hobby was heading. Even to this day in this business, I'm not sure if I will even have another show scheduled in the future and then all of a sudden someone calls, and then another, and another. I then buy additional items to improve my act. After my shows I get so many positive comments and feedback that lead to even more and better jobs. As my venues improve I feel even more successful. This again brings me to areas I have no experience with. Areas where you are, and know, and are willing to give help on.

Thanks Again!

Tony Borders

Thanks and advertising

December 23 2009, 8:30 AM 

Thank you, Chris, for the kind words. I'm glad you had an increase in shows last year. You mentioned that you started advertising. Where did you advertise? It sounds like a good return on your advertising dollar. I talk to local friends and we each have our own methods, but they seem to work.

Here are some I've heard about:

Yellow page ad under magician, family entertainer, or even birthday. The majority of calls for this will be for children's birthdays.
Internet yellow pages. (often comes with the above.)
Parent monthly periodicals. For parents of YOUNG kids.
Your city probably has an online webpage. Consider putting your events in their calendar of events (public events only) and check into advertising with them.
Agencies. Never sign an exclusive with an agent.
Mailouts. (Expect less than 1% return. Save this for your most expensive shows.)
Conference booths.
Ads in magazines geared for your clients. (This is generally if you go national. An ad will run $500 and up.)

Put your public events on local event calendars.
If you do library shows, send them a poster to put up about the show. Put at the bottom "for more info visit" Or you can put YOUR own website on there. Send it about a month in advance.
Make sure your website is on your stage somewhere.
Have handouts available, such as a black and white coloring page of you and an Axtell puppet, with your info.
If you have a suitcase table get a sign made that velcros to it and tells the different venues you do. I have a friend who picks up a LOT of birthday parties from such a sign. Many people who see you don't know that you do other themes or other types of shows. At churches I might announce, "Thank you for letting me come. If you'd like to see more pictures of the puppets I use at churches, schools, or birthdays please visit my website at"

Chris Wintter


December 23 2009, 11:03 AM 

I have yellow page ads under several different headings like; magicians,
party services/planning, and I think 1 or even 2 more headings. Plus with that the yellow page internet ads, which has also hooked me up some kind of way to
the most popular search engines, like yahoo, and google.

I find that since 99% of my work is on the weekend, there can be such a thing as wasteful advertising, because I can not be 2 places at one time. Sure, sometimes I can fit in 2 jobs in one day, but that does not happen often.

I tried advertising in shopper type monthly magazines but I did not have any luck with that.

I'm pretty happy with my advertising now, which will cost me $168 monthly starting in May.

That, along with word of mouth seems to be best for me.

Now that I'm finally over my cough after 10 weeks, I plan on making my video of Taco reading a large 20"X30" book that I made, and presenting copies of that video to libraries, in the hope of getting into them.


Steve Petra

one more for the checklist...

December 23 2009, 7:28 PM 

___ Be sure to make those last minute tax deductible purchases by Dec 31: magic tricks, sound equipment, puppets, intructional DVDs.

***Remind your spouse that they are tax deductions to avoid spending New Years Eve sleeping in the tool shed.
Last year it took three weeks for the ball-peen hammer shaped bruise on my back to heal.

Tony Borders

Contact old clients

January 15 2010, 9:06 AM 

I spent 2 1/2 hours yesterday emailing clients from 2007 and 2008. I typed a general paragraph and closing, highlighted it and copied it. (right click for copying) and then with each one I would paste it after the Dear Ms. or Mr. _____________.

Here's an example:

Dear Mr. Axtell:

(hit paste and the following comes up)
I enjoyed being with you for a ventriloquism and magic show in 2007. I am excited about this year's choice of themes, as well as some new creative puppet characters. If I can be of service I'd love to come back. Or if you know of someone else who could use one of the new themes, please tell them about

Thank you! Have a great New Year!

-Tony Borders

I had about 7 emails back the first day and hope for some today as well. Some just said they would pass it on, others said, "You are definitely on our call back list". Today I plan to do 2009 and 2006. (The further you go back the more likely you are to find that they have changed their email.)

Tony Borders

Check on checks

January 15 2010, 2:16 PM 

Here is another end of the year check list item. Be sure to go through all of your shows and make sure you actually got paid. Each year I seem to have one or two lost invoices, or unsigned purchase orders that delay a check into the next calendar year. The fact that it is Sacramento city or city school district that it happens in each time is probably irrelevant....

Remember, they won't remember that you never got paid. So be sure to have a system for putting down payments. Some require deposits. Make sure you write those down as well. I don't do deposits myself, but would if I were busier.

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