It can be hard when starting out as a new Santa. You want to jump right in and start booking appearances immediately, but you don’t know where to start. Perhaps you’ve got your shiney new website up, but no one is beating down your door. It can be frustrating, but don’t fret if you’re off to a slow start. I had a chance to pick the brain of Santa Ames, a well established Santa in Ames, Iowa to get some insights into gaining new clients.
Advertising with print – the direct approach.
Taking flyers around to local daycares, hospitals, nursing homes and other small businesses in your area is a great way to get yourself out there. You also want to have a professional business card on hand at all times, you never know when you’ll be out for dinner and be approached by your next client.
Find a photographer.
Lots of families love to have annual Santa photos taken by a professional photographer. Call around to local photo studios, or better yet, go in person, to find a local photographer to partner with to set up Santa mini photo sessions.
If you’re willing to sit with animals, lots of people love to include their family dogs and even cats in their photos, as well. Ask your photographer if they are interested in doing a “Pets with Santa” mini photo session day.
Other Ways to get out there and help your community, too!
Help sponsor a local toy drive or other event in your area such as collecting coats for kids. Any sort of news coverage will help get you out there to your local community.
Get a professional website built.
Have a good website loaded with lots of information about your services and appearances, and keep it updated. Be sure to have a contact form on your site and check your email often.
Casting call! Be a Mall Santa.
Check your local newspaper for mall job postings. Mall Santas can make $20+/hour depending on your area. Being a mall Santa usually guarantees you a set schedule and is a great way to make your seasonal income, as well as making contacts for private parties and other appearances.
Gig Salad, Gig Masters – outsourcing your bookings.
Santa Ames recommends joining these services to get yourself out there. While you lose money on booking fees and have to pay a monthly fee for the service, it pays off in the end as you can now book these clients for future appearances without going through the third party site. In essence, pay to get yourself out there and you can then enjoy repeat clientele in the future.
Car advertising with a simple vinyl sticker is effective, but for more bang for your buck, Santa Ames suggests a full car wrap. “Having the van as a constant advertisement as been the best damn investment I’ve ever made. It is well worth the money!”
Santa Ames also recommends to only have your website on the your car advertisement, “I would suggest not having your phone number on there“, he said with a chuckle.
Hone your Santa Skills
Network with other Santas.
Santa Ames suggests reaching out to other Santas. “I want to stress that I am not the final word on everything Santa. While I have been in the business for quite a few years, there are many more guys out there with plenty more experience than I have. Which is why it’s so important for the new guys to try to hook up with an experienced Santa to mentor them and to help get them started. I personally will always answer any questions I get from another Santa, I am always happy to share my insights.”
Consider joining a Santa Group
Online Santa Groups
A lot can be picked up by joining any of the many Santa Facebook groups, Santas on FB, Santa and the business of being Santa are just a couple. Some are closed groups where you will have to ask to join or be added by someone in the group. Some groups are public, you can just join when you find them.
Professional Santa Associations / Organizations.
It’s very beneficial to find a local group to join. Many have regular get togethers where they talk and share ideas over a meal. There are many state, regional and even international groups to consider.
There are several schools that you can attend that are one or two day events, there are a couple that are a week long. At some, you can buy the books and manuals that have been developed for the school, but Santa Ames says that “attending one is much more beneficial for a Santa, no matter what their level of experience is“.
These are just a few ways to get your Santa business up up and away! If you’re a professional Santa and have any tips you’d like to share, please leave a comment below.