When I made the decision to start performing I thought the hardest part would be dealing with rejection, but I found that the most difficult part for me was finding gigs to apply for in the first place!
Living in the Chicago area, it seemed that there were already plenty of event performers around me. From what I found, most places that would typically hire hoopers already had extremely talented hoop professionals staffed or on call for various performances. This led me to believe that if I wanted to get hired or even considered for a gig I would need to go an alternative route, and so the route I chose was Facebook.
There are a few things you should be aware of before starting utilizing Facebook to apply and book gigs. Fist, many venues and organizations will require you to have performers insurance before you will be considered for hiring, so don’t forget to do some research on what is standard in your area! Also, be sure that you are aware of your presence on your social media pages. If you are attempting to use Facebook to gain employment of any kind make sure all of your photos/status/tagged posts are something you want associated with your personal brand. The type of gigs you are looking to attract will depend on if any Facebook cleaning up needs to be done. Facebook is a great method of networking, so be aware of how the world will perceive you.
Facebook is filled with hoop groups! There are groups such as “Infinite Circles” that has thousands of hoopers from all around the world, and there are also smaller groups based in each state, and even groups for small towns that just so happen to have a hoop scene. Joining your local hoop groups, or even state hoop groups such as “Utah Hoopers” can help you to network in order to allow for local opportunities to be presented. In fact, the first performance I ever booked was by responding to an ad in the “Chicago Hooping Network” that read “Hey Hoop Performers! (Beg-Adv). Would you like to showcase a new routine at Glenwood Art Fair this Saturday, August 15 12:30-12:55 pm? Send me a message for more details. Best wishes”. I sent a message and before I knew it I was scheduled to get on a stage with my hoops! Local hoop groups are also important to monitor because if a professional is unable to attend a previously booked gig due to unforeseen circumstances they will post in a local hoop group to see if someone may be able to fill in for them, you could be that someone!
Although it is controversial in the hoop community to perform on a volunteer basis, because it was my first opportunity I felt it was important to build my professional portfolio and was willing to commit the time in order to move forward with my brand. Looking back, this was the best decision I ever made. The organization I ended up working with was a non-profit that helps bring hoops to children in India, and not only was I able to do a small part in helping out with their cause, I was able to gain a solid connection in the world of hoop work. I have worked with the organization a few times since the original contact and have been able to network farther in order to book other gigs. This also added a professional reference to my resume, and the importance of having a professional reference on a performer’s resume is invaluable.
A different way to use Facebook to book gigs is by searching events in your area. If you go to your news feed, look under “Events” click “See All” and scroll down to “Popular Events Near By”, click “See More” and you will have in front of you a whole list of things you had no idea were going on around you. While this list may have been created to help you plan out your next weekend, it is actually a great way for you to decide what events may benefit from having a hoop artist. I typically skip over anything that is happening within two weeks, as event planners typically will have all entertainment booked by this point. I then go through the rest of the list and decide if it is an event at which I would like to perform. If it is something I am interested in, I will either search out the event’s website for a contact e-mail or, if the Facebook page seems more active, I send a direct Facebook message. I usually follow a template for such messages:
“Hello! My name is Jill and I was just wondering if you were still accepting applications for entertainment for your ***Event name here***?
Your event looks incredibly interesting and I think my visual performance art would add just another level of fun for your attendees!
I am a local hooper and have a variety of costumes, my own performers insurance, a unique light up hoop with over 400 patterns, and can hoop for long periods of time. If you are interested in seeing samples of my work, please check out facebook.com/hoopomatic
Thank You for your time!”
While most of the responses include “What a unique talent, thank you for your interest but we are not currently booking performers, but we will keep you in mind for future events” you would be surprised by how many events follow up asking for more information about your pricing and the type of acts you are able to accommodate. I have booked everything from Pit Bull charity events, Halloween parties, local fairs and more through personally Facebook messaging events.
As hoopers it is sometimes hard to remember that many people of the general population are not aware of our art form. Event staff may not post that they are looking for hoopers if they have not been exposed to hooping, so sending out that first message may be what intrigues an organization to the visual element of our art and decides that it is entertainment that they want to have for their guests!
Many hoopers are so social media savvy that it simply makes sense to use our skills on the internet to create real life opportunities. Facebook is a great method of obtaining gigs and should not be underestimated. Do some research, send some messages, and start getting booked!