Probably the worst piece of advice I received when I started performing professionally was, “Do a good show and word of mouth will keep the bookings coming.” I had a good show (and still have a stack of testimonials as proof) but within a few years I burned out and gave up — I was barely making an existence, much less an actual living.
This was back in the day before the internet, so no way to look up info on marketing yourself, and I lived in Alaska, where there were not exactly a plethora of performers who I could learn from, so it was almost all trial-and-error.
I couldn’t seem to get over that hump where there were enough shows coming in to be able to raise my prices, be choosy about which gigs I would take, and just get to that next level.
I had the show part down — but didn’t have a clue about the business part. I wish someone had impressed upon me the importance of the second part of the phrase show business. Don’t do one without the other.