Surprising Side Hustles: Make Money as a Clown or Princess!
Stop clowning around, they tell you. But in children’s entertainment, a bit of clowning is profitable. Okay, you won't make a lot – but you can earn a few extra bucks on the side!
Do you love kids, have a great sense of humor, and don’t mind making a fool out of yourself? Then you may want to become a professional clown, party princess, or superhero.
Opening Act: How to Become a Professional Clown or Party Princess
Party princesses and superheroes have largely replaced clowns these days. If you want to become a party princess or superhero, you can set up your own business as a party princess or work for a company that provides entertainment to kids in your area. During an audition for a company, you’ll likely have to sing, dance, do an interview, and provide a headshot and resume. New performers are usually trained by veteran performers before being sent out on their own, according to Angelica Landa, director of Party Like a Princess in Chicago.
Kim Jones from Colby, Kansas is one such performer who used to make extra money to support herself by working as a clown.
“I got started as a high school student. I would entertain kids at my mom’s daycare and at church functions. Then I decided I would try to do it for other events as well, like craft fairs and kids’ night at some local restaurants,” Jones said.
Both Jones and Landa said that an ability to relate to children is critical to the success of becoming a professional clown or princess.
“While many people can be good singers, or look beautiful in a costume, having the ability to relate to a child and make them feel special, valued, and loved is worth so much more than just a pretty girl in a fancy dress,” Landa said.
Jones agreed. “Even if you don’t know how to sing well, you can always play it off as a joke as part of your clown act,” she said.
How Much Can You Earn?
According to Landa, how much party princesses and other performers can earn per hour varies greatly depending on locations around the country. But in her experience, most performers earn between $35 and $60 per hour, plus tips.
Jones’ experience in the late 1980s was far more about enjoyment than earning a lot of money. “I could earn around $100 from a day at a craft fair or other event,” she said. “At a kids’ night, I might earn $20 for two hours, plus some free food to take home afterward. As a single person, that part was great.”
While Jones said that she spent very little for her clown business, Landa said that the costs of being a party princess can get quite extensive. “This is where working for a company is beneficial, as opposed to creating your own business – the costs!” she said.
Landa estimates that each character costs around $2,500 for the costume, wig, accessories, shoes, makeup, etc.
“Yes, you could purchase a cheap costume from Party City and use that, but the quality would be poor, and it would not last you very long, which would require you to continue spending money, anyways,” she said.
And there are other costs to consider, too, she said – like advertising, liability insurance, transportation, and party supplies. Then there’s the time involved in getting in character and cleaning up after a party.
Jones, on the other hand, spent very little on her clown business. “I didn’t make a lot of money, but I did get some free food and it didn’t cost much besides my time,” she said.
Jones made her own costume and purchased a wig from Oriental Trading. Her makeup was made from white cream, baby powder, and the face paints used on the kids. “I kept it simple. I did as much as I could myself,” she said. “It’s cheap to be a clown. You could always be a hobo clown by wearing some old overalls instead of getting a clown costume.”
Who Can Do It Best?
Jones continued her clowning until her mid-twenties, when life changes pushed her to find a new side hustle instead.
“I’ve pretty much always had a job on the side,” Jones said. “Once I had kids of my own, I had to find something that would be better as my life changed… I didn’t earn a lot of money, but it helped during that time of my life when finances were tight.”
“Like anything, you get out of it what you put into it.”
Landa said that not many people work full-time in children’s entertainment, but that it’s a good side hustle for those looking to make some money during college or in addition to working at their day job.
“In my experience, most performers are currently full-time students, or have a regular nine-to-five job outside of performing,” said Landa. “This works out nicely, since most birthday parties and events will take place on Saturdays and Sundays.”
So, if you’ve got good people skills and live in a city where party princesses are in high demand, this could be a good side hustle for you, too!