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The 8 Step Fool Proof System To Becoming A Professional Freelance Aerialist

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Are you looking to turn your aerial hobby into a career?

It is possible with the right tools, a lot of training and a little luck to become a successful, professional freelance aerialist.

Read on to find out how…

1.     Train HARD and Get Your Act Together!

Before you are ready to work as a professional aerialist you must put a LOT of time and effort into your aerial training. Take regular aerial classes (daily if possible), not just on the silks but on as many different apparatus’ as possible. The more experience you have on different apparatus’ the more diverse and employable you will be to future clients.

In order to prepare yourself for the challenges of the professional world it is also imperative that you gain performance experience. It is extremely exciting to perform in front of large amounts of people in a professional setting but it can also cause you to experience unfamiliar anxiety and pressure. The bright lights, noisy audience, different colored walls (seriously!) found in a new venue can cause you to experience dangerous levels of  distraction. This is why it is extremely important to gain as much experience as possible performing in a supportive and safe environment such as studio showcases and recitals before branching out into the professional world.

As well as diversifying your training and performance experience, an integral part of your professional aerial training is the creation of your ACT. Whether you work with a coach or choreograph it yourself, your act is your calling card so make it special! Create your first aerial act on your primary apparatus; drill it, perfect it, know it inside and out and then branch out and create other acts on your secondary apparatus.’ An aerialist with a number of strong, bookable acts will have a competitive edge over her competition and will appear favorably to clients who are looking to get the most bang for their buck.

2.     Create an Irresistible Website

In order to get hired as an aerialist by new clients who don’t know you or your work, it really does help to have a fabulous website that you can direct them too. Your website should be full of gorgeous images of you on different apparatus’, in different costumes at different locations so that the client can get a ‘feel’ for how you will add value to her event. It is absolutely worth investing in a professional photo shoot (or 10!) to ensure that the images on your website are truly spectacular. Be sure to include testimonials, videos of your work (professionally shot if possible) and clients you have worked with in the past (paid or unpaid). If you don’t have a client list yet, that’s OK! Just be sure to update it as soon as you do.

3.     Be Social!

For the budding professional aerialist, social media is the most powerful tool to get seen and more importantly get BOOKED that currently exists. Most clients on the lookout for entertainers for a one off event don’t want to have to deal with agents and online headhunters, they want to log on to Facebook and ask their friends for recommendations. Be sure to have a professional page on facebook (not just a personal page with pics of your cat!) and update it regularly with beautiful pictures and aerial related content, this way potential clients can find you immediately and will receive a strong first impression before asking to see your website.

The same applies to Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and whatever other platform has just been created while you are reading this! Make sure you have a professional handle everywhere humanly possible (no cats!) to ensure that clients have easy access to communicating with you and seeing your fabulous work.

Once you have established your brand on social media, start networking! Reach out to clients, venues and companies you would like to work with. Take an interest in THEM not just in promoting yourself, start a conversation that will hopefully lead to an opportunity to show them your work. Follow up and check in with them frequently, you never know when they may be looking for entertainment and seeing your gorgeous aerial-related profile pic may just be the inspiration they need to hire you!

4.   Purchase Your Own Equipment

Invest in your OWN aerial equipment. This includes hardware such as swivels, carabiner’s, figure 8’s and slings/spansets. Learn how to safely rig your apparatus to your hardware and test it regularly to ensure that it is secure.  It is important to have your own equipment both for safety reasons and for last minute bookings that may require you to get to the venue within 90 minutes (it totally happens!)

5.    Get Insurance

An important rite-of-passage for any advanced-level aerial student interested in become a professional aerialist is obtaining performers insurance. Many clients will insist on seeing a copy of your insurance before hiring you as well as request that you add them and/or the venue as ‘additional insured’. Find our more about performers insurance (not as pricy as you might think) and if you are located in the the US, you can purchase it instantly at www.specialtyinsuranceagency.com

6.    Have a Professional Rigger on Speed Dial

As a freelance aerialist, you need to be prepared for a multitude of performance inquiries. “Can you perform Aerial Silks from a tree in my backyard for my sons 3rd birthday party?” Refer to our ‘Interview with a professional rigger’ newsletter to find out more information on this but generally the answer should be “No, let’s look at other options.”

Another example: “Can you hang from this beam in my living room and perform at my ugly sweater Christmas party next week?” Of course you want to say yes, (if you are available and the rate is right of course) but what if the beam is not rated and, worse case scenario –  it breaks, causing you to be seriously injured? For this reason and many others we highly recommend that you have a professional rigger join you for ‘site visits’ to venues that have not had aerial performance before (private homes etc.). The rigger can assess the environment and determine the best rigging solution. Perhaps the exposed beam IS an option, if it isn’t however, you can work together to determine a possible outdoor space to rig a freestanding aerial rig or find another safe alternative.

7.     Invest in Fabulous and Appropriate Costumes

When you actually BOOK the gig (and we believe you will if you follow this system) you want to be sure to WOW the client with your fabulous costumes! Remember, you are representing them, so be appropriate! If you are performing at a 12 year olds Bar Mitzva, you don’t want to wear the same thing you would to perform at a nightclub downtown. Invest in an array of costumes from colorful Cirque style unitards for those conservative corporate events to sexy and fun lingerie-inspired costumes with glitter and lace for those Hollywood-style parties!

8.    Know Your Worth

When negotiating your rate with your potential client, it is a good idea to start a little higher than what you would like to get paid in order to leave room for the client’s counter-offer. Aerial performance rates can differ dramatically depending on the aerialists experience and situation but it’s always a good idea to ask this question first before beginning the negotiating process; “Will this be a regular gig?” If the client is interested in having you perform at her venue on a regular basis, you may want to consider requesting a slightly lower rate than what you would if it was a one-off event. The regularity of the income will be worth the slightly lower ‘hourly’ rate.
When you are just starting out, it can be difficult to ask for the rate you want. You may feel unworthy of receiving more than a few hundred dollars, that you don’t have enough professional experience to request more. For the first year or so, as you ‘break-into’ the market, you may need to perform for a lower rate and even for free sometimes in order to build your client list and experience level. Just remember as you progress in your freelance career, a client will very rarely if EVER offer you MORE than what you initially requested. In her mind you are forever a $200 aerialist and she is THRILLED that she was able to save so much money by hiring you. By asking for what you want, you may get some rejection, but the quality of your clients will be higher. Those who book you will continue to book you (‘cause you will do an awesome job, be professional and look amazing!) and you will make your living as a professional freelance aerialist.

Have a fantastic rest of your week!

All our best,
            Brett and Rachel

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