Make $1 Million With A Magic Product The secret "tricky ten" formula to spot best selling tricks Magic is a teenie tiny niche — but it’s still possible to generate over a million dollars with one product. I’m not going to tell you how to create a million-dollar magic trick, but I will teach you how to spot them. There’s a formula I’ve been putting to work for the last six years, and it tells you if a trick will become a best seller with surprising accuracy. It’s the same formula I used to decide to invest over a hundred thousand dollars into a magic product. The amazing thing about niche industries is that good products will find their way. You don’t need to be a big magic company with lots of money and experience and a massive Mailchimp making list. A small creator can release a great product and find great success if, indeed, the product is great. Plus, soon afterwards, the big companies will be swooping in for a slice of the pie. I still get emails from companies wanting to license product rights. I’m pretty sure Alan Rorrison released Smoke before theory11 swooped it up, and Bizzaro definitely released the Oreo trick by himself first, too. My advice is that if you believe in your product, release it by yourself, and then be in a better position to negotiate when the big boys come knocking. Ignore Murphy’s when they say they’ll order far less if it doesn’t release with them first because they’re lying — if it’s a good trick, and people want to buy it, Murphy’s will beg you to order as many as they possibly can. OK, here is my formula. It’s ten yes/no questions you need to ask of your product. Tally up one point for every yes, and if the total is more than 7/10, you have a hit on your hands. It’s that simple. Don’t share this, please; I spent ages on it. 1. Do magicians already own this object? It’s an easier purchase if you can imagine yourself using/holding the object. It’s an even easier sell if you already own said object and carry it around with you. Doublecross is a trick with a sharpie. Most magicians own sharpies; most magicians know what it’s like to hold and keep a sharpie with them. The Turner Watch is a trick with a watch, and most magicians already own and carry a watch. This can be a little more abstract. I don’t already own small loops of invisible thread, but I already own a wallet where they can be stored next to my credit cards. I don’t already own magic apps, but I do already own a phone. 2. Does the trick pass the partner test? We’re gonna feel guilty about spending money on a magic trick if we’d be embarrassed to tell our partner, friend or family about it. When I was a teen, there were only certain tricks I felt comfortable asking for at Christmas. The value of the item needs to be relatable and understandable to laypeople. If your partner thinks the product is worth the money, you’re more likely to buy it. If your partner really thinks it’s worth the money, they’ll be more likely to buy it for you. A surprisingly large number of magicians who buy magic are hobbyists, and a surprisingly large number of the tricks they own were bought for them by a parent or partner. The Turner Watch massively passed the partner test. 30% of our sales were gifts. Pyro passed this test, and the majority of their sales were gifts. Coin gimmicks do not pass the partner test — my family still mock me every Christmas after one year, as a teen, I asked Santa for a £2 coin that cost him £40. 3. Is it expensive, or does it expire? There are about 300,000 people who buy more than three tricks every year. That’s not many opportunities to sell your product. There are only two ways to generate a million dollars with a magic product. • Make an expensive product. • Make a product that expires. The first option is self-explanatory, and it’s the option a company like ProMystic has gone all-in on. The second option is more complicated. Loops expire because we break or we misplace them. If Yigal actually made Loops that never broke, he himself would go broke. Playing cards and trick decks expire with overuse. Doublecross expires when it runs out of ink, and magicians can’t be arsed to replace the ink themselves. Doublecross also expires when magicians misplace the pen. Some magic apps expire when their subscription runs out. Your affordable product must expire, and magicians must decide it is worth replacing and repeat-purchasing instead of fixing when it does. Your expensive product must be expensive. 4. Can I say the trick’s name in a sentence? Your magic product needs to become a part of the magic language. 95% of magicians mess this one up when they call their trick something like Mysterious or Etherion or C- Link or Get Money or Joker Choice or Multiverse (Yes, I did copy and paste the newest six tricks from Penguin Magic). My advice is simple: Name the object, not the trick. Do you have any Loops on you? Is that an AmazeBox? I really want a Turner Watch. Every magician needs an Invisible Deck. Of course, if your trick is good enough, it will force it’s way into the magic language. It doesn’t really make sense to say “I forgot to bring my doublecross to a gig.” It makes much more sense to say that about your SuperSharpie, also by MagicSmith. But the trick is good enough that we now call the object itself a doublecross. Similarly, I genuinely believe the 52 to 1 Deck would not have done as well if it was called 52 to 1. We want to buy things, not concepts. We know we’re getting a thing if you're naming the object, and we want that deck. I want an AmazeBox; I want it in my bag and at my gigs. Ask yourself, which one of these do you want to own right now, add to your collection, play with and hold in your hands? A Mystery Solved or a Clarity Box? It's much easier to imagine something arriving through the mailbox if you know what it will be. And it’s a lot easier to place an order if you can imagine it arriving through the mailbox. And on that point… 5. Is it cheap to ship? Magic, as I’ve said a few times now, is a niche industry. Your buyers are dotted all over the world. My last product was shipped out to 73 countries. We increased sales by 20% when we made the packaging letterbox sized and reduced shipping costs. We increased sales by another 30% when we added EU fulfilment so buyers could further save shipping costs and avoided customs fees. Penguin boosted sales exponentially over a decade ago when they added international flat-pack shipping — a service in which they would remove the disc and cover from a DVD box and mail it out to you in an envelope instead. Teenage Rory actually thanked Acar when they first met for setting up the flat rate option. And is it any wonder why Vanishing Inc. and Alakazam now ship from the states and the U.K.? Make life easy for magic shops and your loyal customers — design your packaging to ship flat; it’s really not that difficult. Downloads are free to ship, but people prefer physical items — so, make sure it’s an impulse purchase. Something people buy for the instant gratification of learning the method. Be sure to teach the entire method in the first minute, then explain in detail. Give them that head rush and feed the positive feedback loop. Download purchase = immediate reward. 6. Is it a toy? 98% of people who buy magic tricks are hobbyists. They don't give a flying fuck if it’s an instant reset or works well with their suit jacket pocket management. They love magic for the same reason we all did as a kid. Me love toy. Toy is good. Toy is fun. Toy does magic. Yay, me want more magic toys. There’s a reason Melt, fucking Melt, is still on the home page of Penguin Magic after seven long years. They can pretend it’s Melt “2.0” all they like, but they’re not fooling me, those silly Penguin People. They can Sod 2.0 off. Quantum is a toy. A Self-bending paper clip is a toy. Rising Deck is a toy. Melt 2.0, as much as I hate to admit it… is a toy. Even Doublecross is a toy because it’s almost James Bond gadget like in nature with its secret tool hidden inside a pen. Oh, and when are the 98% of magic buyers who are hobbyists gonna be performing their purchases… never, which brings me onto… 7. Can you perform it to yourself? Most magic that anyone buys is rarely performed for people. So you better make sure this is a trick you can perform to yourself. Level One is a toy, and you can perform it to yourself. Quantum is a toy, and you can perform it to yourself. If 98% of the people buying a trick will maybe perform it a handful of times before they genuinely run out of friends and family to buy, you better make sure that it’s either fun to practice or fun to play with by yourself. It helps if the trick visually fools the performer, like a WOW gimmick or a Rising Deck. I guarantee you if your trick does not fool and delight you when you practice it alone, it will not make a million dollars. It’s really that simple. 8. Does it always work? This question used to be “is it easy?” but then I changed it because easy just wasn’t easy enough. When I was a teen, I messed up the Invisible Deck and didn’t pick it up again for three years. Yes, I messed up the Invisible Deck — a relatively easy trick — setting off a chain reaction that lead to me becoming a writer instead of a performer. Nothing will put off a magician from recommending or repeat buying a magic trick more than failure. People don’t like failing. Especially magicians, whose whole vibe is being able to do things others cannot. Don’t panic. We’re only on question number eight. If your trick is difficult or can very rarely fail then, you’re missing out on a point here, but you can still recover with the final two questions. 9. Can I build these in small runs? The magic market is a niche — did I mention this? When it comes to gaining the support of the wholesalers and magic shops, it helps massively if your product is cheap to build, fast to turnaround and able to produce in small runs. You will need magic shops and wholesalers on your side, and asking them to commit to huge orders or long manufacture times is not the way to go about it. Negotiate price, not quantity; believe in your product. I know you’re thinking to yourself that getting Murphy’s to commit to a huge number of units will motivate them to sell them. But that’s not the case at all. The truth is they’re going to dread the idea of selling out and needing to place another large minimum order with another long wait time with even less likelihood of selling out. The best magic publishers sell tricks that cost them less than a dollar to produce, which they can turn around in a week in small batches. Be like those smart magic publishers. 10. Is it difficult to copy? Your greatest threat as a publisher of magic is… wait for it… other magic publishers. Make sure your product is difficult to copy or “improve” upon (which apparently we all decided is now enough to justify a new release). Tread lightly, else before you know it, David Penn is releasing his variation of your clear prediction box he definitely already invented before yours became a best seller. Your product can be difficult to copy for a few reasons. Perhaps you own a patent or a trademark. Perhaps the product is difficult to copy because the entry point is so high (like the cost of building an app-connected watch). Or maybe your product is just difficult to copy because it’s perfect and really well known. If someone released a copy of Level One, it’s at the point now that most magicians would be upset, and most shops would not stock it because the Level One brand is so strong. Unsurprisingly, magic shops and wholesalers will happily sell variations and copies of your products. Every time I see a drama about a ripp-off magic product, I wonder how it even got as far as being stocked in magic shops. The whole world is against you, and you need to make sure your product is difficult to copy.