In 2011, I booked my first paid Santa jobs. I was 57 years old and looking for a change. At the time, I was a professional speaker, and I owned a small marketing agency that I had had for about 15 years. For many years the business went great, but as I became older, the business began to struggle, and I did too.
After several years of throwing good money after bad trying to save my business, I was physically exhausted, emotionally depleted, and in debt.
I became more active in my church. I read and listened to dozens of self-help books. I meditated daily, and I was still lost.
At 57, the one recurring thought that played over & over in my head was, “I want to do something that I truly love doing, something I can do well into my senior years, and something I could earn a decent income doing.” The only thing that I had ever done that fit into even 2 of the 3 categories was portraying Santa Claus.
MY FIRST SANTA APPEARANCE. In December 2003, I received a call from my best friend. He was down with a cold and asked me to fill in as Santa Claus for a little fundraiser he had volunteered to appear at. I had no idea what to do, but after some coaxing, I agreed to take on the role… and I LOVED IT! (See the picture above.)
It felt great to see the faces of children, parents, and grandparents light-up at the sight of Santa Claus.
So since 2003, I had volunteered to appear as Santa at many local events, such as parades, tree lighting ceremonies, and free photos with Santa community events. I also visited schools and a women’s shelter, senior centers, and children and adults with special needs.
I even made a Santa visit for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which had me in tears, but I felt incredibly blessed to be able to serve a family in this way.
I FELL IN LOVE WITH PORTRAYING SANTA CLAUS…
But I didn’t see how I could earn a reasonable income ‘being’ Santa.
In the Spring of 2011, a Google search lead me to Santa Tim. He was an experienced professional Santa Claus who also booked Santas into paid jobs. With my 7 years of experience as a volunteer Santa, some headshot photos, and a few letters of recommendation, he was able to get me some paid bookings.
In early November, I appeared at some photo studios near my home in Southern Oregon. From November 23rd through Christmas Eve, I took a job working for Microsoft at the Century City mall near Beverly Hills, CA.
My first day at the mall was the national launch of Microsoft’s free photos with Santa campaign. As part of the launch, Microsoft brought in television personality Brooke Burke for photos with Santa… and they selected ME to be their Santa.
That day I began to see business possibilities for me as a professional Santa that I had never, ever imagined. As the season progressed, I learned about getting cast as Santa in commercials, TV shows & movies. By the end of the 2011 season, I began to see how I could serve many different companies and industries.
I also saw that by serving these companies and industries, I could potentially earn a nice income and spread the Christmas spirit to even more people.
Early in 2012, a new business was born, SantaEd.com.
As a longtime small business owner, the first thing I did was start developing short business & marketing plans.
What They Covered:
- Create an extraordinary LOOK as Santa. (Wardrobe, beard, body language.)
- Develop extraordinary PORTARYAL skills. (What to do & say & how to do & say it.)
- Establish a variety of OPPORTUNITES. (Multiple streams of income.)
- Implement effective low or no cost MARKETING. (I needed to be found where my dream customers were looking and convert lookers into customers.)
This was the PRIMARY FRAMEWORK of my Santa Claus Portrayal & Business Mastery System.
I built out the SECONDARY FRAMEWORK for each of the 4 Categories.
For example, under LOOKS, I added Santa Wardrobe, Grooming, Beard Shape, Size & Color, Accessories, etc., etc., etc.
Under PORTRAYAL, I added “What to Say,” “How to Get Great Photos,” “How to Be Santa For Those with Special Needs,” etc., etc., etc.
Under OPPORTUNITIES, I added “Retail Jobs,” “Home Visits,” “Company Parties,” etc. etc. etc.
Under MARKETING, I added “Be Found where People Are Looking,” “SEO,” “Social Media,” “Booking Websites,” and “Booking Agents,” etc., etc., etc.
Next, I added the specific “HOW TO’S” for each topic…
I applied all of these things to my fledgling Santa business, and my business began to grow quickly.
I was booking many different types of Santa appearances, like home and company parties & events, video chats, and community events. I also had companies showing interest in brand deals, commercial photography, and more.
In April 2012, I was signed by one of the top talent agents in Hollywood, and before long, he was sending me out on auditions for TV commercials and shows.
As 2012 unfolded, I booked more and more paid appearances; and when I made the appearances, I received glowing reviews, and many re-booked me for the following year.
My marketing system worked, and the portrayal skills I developed were working too.
My Santa business was becoming a reality.
In 2013, I had a company hire me to be their brand spokesperson, and I booked my first appearance on a national TV show and a commercial.
In 2014, my Santa income hit six figures… My Santa business had become a reality! I was having a ton of fun and still making make appearances for not-for-profits and hospitals and doing many other incredibly heartwarming things as Santa.
In a few short years, I had accomplished something that seemed impossible. I created a business doing what I loved and that I could continue doing into my more senior years, and I was earning a terrific income… I HAD A SANTA BUSINESS!
At that time, I also created what is now the Worldwide Santa Claus Network, the first online Santa Claus School in the world. I started teaching the Santa Claus Portrayal & Business Mastery System that I used to build my Santa business.
The first year, many of our Santa School attendees reported booking their dream appearances, and many reported that their incomes had doubled and, in several cases, tripled. These Santas were having the times of their lives.
Now, all these years later, hundreds of our Santa School attendees have reported having amazing experiences, multiplying their income, and doing more volunteer & community service work. And so I have I!
In addition to making appearances in malls & retail stores, I’ve made hundreds of personal appearances at home & company parties; I’ve appeared at schools, senior centers, Beverly Hills & Malibu mansions, The Projects of East Los Angeles, I’ve appeared at hospitals, and for the Make-A-Wish foundation.
I’ve also appeared on 28 TV shows, 7 national commercials, 5 local, regional & international commercials, 11 social media commercials, 4 movies & movie trailers, 3 music videos, 7 commercial photography deals, and 12 brand ambassador & influencer deals.
Through the Worldwide Santa Claus Network, I have provided training to thousands of Santa Claus Portrayal Artists across the United States and around the world.
In 2020 we provided hundreds of Santas with many hours of FREE training on how to provide authentic ‘Virtual Visits.’
The training on virtual visits that WSCN provided Santa Claus Portrayal Artisits worldwide was instrumental in helping hundreds of Santas connect with tens of thousands of families all around the world during the pandemic, and it has also helped many Santas develop an additional way to serve families and added an additional income stream to their Santa businesses.
The Santa Claus Portrayal & Business Mastery system now provides educational sessions on every important topic, sample agreements, and examples of marketing materials, and it’s all available 24/7. It’s an incredible time & money saver for all Santa & Mrs. Claus portrayal artists worldwide.
For me portraying Santa and running the Worldwide Santa Claus Network are dreams come true. I’m doing work I absolutely love, and I earn a nice income while providing extraordinary experiences and outcomes for everyone I interact with. What could be better?
Most importantly, both my work and family lives are aligned with my highest values, and that makes me a better husband, dad, and grandpa. As well as a better friend, neighbor, and community member.
I like the person Santa Claus has helped me become… and when I think of the legacy I’m creating, I’m very content with that as well.
Join me at https://worldwide-santa-claus-network.com