When I cut & pasted this post many years ago, I didn't cut & paste the name of the magician who wrote this..nor did I get his sn. There are gold nuggets in his post. I just flat cannot remember who wrote this..maybe someone in the mid-west might know as he says he rode his bike thru the streets of Detroit as a kid. If someone knows who this is, can you post his name in the thread so he can get proper credit.
First: forget about getting any paying gigs. If you don't love the art, if you aren't willing to invest the time and practice into learning, you will never succeed. If you are trying to learn just to get a gig, you may indeed get a gig based on a few good effects, but that's all you will have. What if you get called back? Will you come here, asking everyone for 5 more easy but super-impressive tricks that will make you look like a fantastic performer? Lack of experience and practice will show very quickly. You will be left standing naked in front of a crowd who sees you as a fraud. You will ruin any future chances of performing because a bad reputation travels 5 times as fast as good one. Before you accept a penny to perform anywhere, make sure you are first worth anyone even watching you for free. An audience invests something far greater than money: their time and attention. Once you demand their attention, YOU OWE THEM. You better be good enough to deserve their time.
Second: Study. Lock yourself in a room, or in a library. Read read read. As a kid, I rode my bike through the streets of Detroit for 7 miles to get to the library with the best magic collection. Read. Study. Magic and Showmanship, Amateur Magician's Handbook, The Handbook of Mental Magic, 13 Steps, Anneman, Hugard, Tarbell, Bobo, etc etc etc. There is enough magic in any 2 good magic books to keep you busy your entire life. Read those books with a notebook and pen in your hand. Write down what's important. Learn the sleights. Heck, learn some card sleights that take 6 months to perfect, even if you never show them to anyone! Learn them because you love to learn. Learn them in order to learn discipline. ONLY by investing time will you learn what works for you and your personality.
Third: Practice. Practice, practice, practice. In front of a mirror. While you are reading. While you are watching TV. When I was learning the sleights in The Amateur Magician's Handbook, I would often fall asleep with cards or coins in my hand, and wake up the next morning to pick up where I left off. It doesn't matter if I used those sleights that often or not. It helped to make me a better performer. It instilled discipline, and paid off later in confidence and comfort with myself and my props. So practice, over and over and over until you can do the effect without thinking. Practice in front of your family and friends. Get feedback, and listen to it. If something doesn't work, figure out why. If it does work, figure out why.
Fourth: Learn about showmanship. Read Henning Nelms' Magic and Showmanship. Learn what a silent script is. Learn how to cast the audience. Learn how to cue the audience for applause. Learn the difference between an act and a few tricks. The difference is HUGE and if you don't know why, you will never have a successful act. You will only ever have a few tricks that may fool someone but will leave no lasting impression, and it will certainly not be anything that anyone would ever actually pay money for.
Fifth: ONLY when you have mastered all of this, and have enough for 15 or 20 minutes of SOLID material should you even begin to think about trying to get hired somewhere. Go do your 15 minutes for anyone who will have you, for free if necessary. Retirement homes, hospitals, organizations you are involved in, family parties... there are many places to perfect your act. Famous comedians do free shows at comedy clubs just to work out their material in front of an audience before they charge for it. Find an open-mike night at a local club where you can try your stuff.
Sixth: Offer your 15 or 20 minutes for banquets and parties. Get some experience in front of different audiences before you try to offer your services to headline at a lounge. Keep this in mind: a club owner wants to make money. He makes money by selling drinks. He brings in a performer who will draw a crowd who will buy drinks. Or who will keep people there longer than they would have stayed, and bought drinks. A bad performer will not only NOT draw a crowd, but will keep people away or make people leave early. Like Slim said above: you have to show the they will make more money with you than without you, or what's the point.
Seven: repeat the cycle. Start at number one again. Read. Read some more. Learn. Learn the routines from the books, but don't copy them. Make them your own.