It takes more than a good shtick to make money as a street performer.
Step 1: Learn a talent Develop a talent – music, juggling, dancing, magic, whatever. The more impressive and original, the better.
Step 2: Add a gimmick If your talent is even remotely similar to anyone else’s in your area, add in some sort of gimmick. If you play an instrument, pick an uncommon style of music. If you juggle, juggle while yodeling.
Step 3: Location, location Scope out a good place to perform—ideally, an area with a lot of foot traffic where cops won’t bother you.
TIP: Tourist areas are great spots, because you’ll find unhurried people in good moods with vacation money.
Step 4: Perform Once you’ve found a good spot, get everyone’s attention. Have them gather around, then start performing, no matter how small—or large—the crowd.
TIP: If street performing is frowned upon in your area, have a friend be on the lookout for cops.
Step 5: Stop performing Right when you get to the best part of your act, refuse to continue until a certain amount is donated by the people watching you.
TIP: Scan the crowd for people who look like they have money. Expensive shoes, designer handbags, and well-coiffed hair are good tip-offs.
Step 6: Pass the hat Walk around the circle of onlookers with a hat (or whatever you’re using to collect donations), jangling it particularly loudly in front of viewers who look prosperous. Announce how close you are to getting enough to end the piece.
Step 7: Finish the act Once you have enough cash, finish the act with a flourish.
Step 8: Hide the dough When the crowd disperses, put away the money you’ve made but leave a dollar or two to show how much the previous audience had enjoyed your act.
Step 9: Live frugally Live frugally. Many people can support themselves performing on the street, but it requires the discipline to live within a budget.
FACT: Folk singer Jewel began her music career as a street performer in Mexico.