How to Become a Professional Mermaid
People will respond in various ways when you first tell them that you are a professional mermaid or aspire to be one. They might think it sounds funny, they might be astonished, they might even be confused. Then there are those who are mystified or interested. Mermaids bring out the wide-eyed inner child of many people. They’ll want to know what you do and how you got started. It’s an unusual job and people are often fascinated by it.
What exactly does a professional mermaid do?
1. Children’s parties- Mermaids are a mythical creature beloved by children and they are often requested as party entertainment. These gigs involve swimming with kids, playing games with them, answering their questions, taking photos with them, singing to them, or maybe reading a book to them. There are many things mermaids can do at a kid’s party.
2. Beach/pool party/luxury event- Mermaids are great for captivating party guests. They add a little magic to an ordinary event. Sometimes they are there for the visual appeal and ambiance they provide. Professional mermaids will do parties where they swim with guests, hang out and chat with them, and take photos with them. For a dry event, the mermaid will not be swimming.
3. Festivals- The party can last days when it comes to festivals! Mermaids will be paraded, will perform in a tank, put on a show, or just do meet and greets. Since mermaids are colorful, exciting, and often sparkly, they make a great addition to any festival.
4. Teaching mermaid swimming lessons- Teaching lessons or doing workshops on how to swim like a mermaid and wear a tail with a monofin are other ways you can make money as a mermaid. You get to swim in your tail to demonstrate, but you also can network this way. Someone may inquire about hiring a mermaid and then you can promote yourself and your other services. Mermaid lessons are a great activity for bachelorette parties and birthday parties. Providing tails and doing a workshop to teach about mermaid swimming creates a fun and memorable experience, with plenty of photo ops.
5. Acting/modeling- Mermaids are used in all kinds of media, from shows to ads and commercials, and for photography and art. If you have acting skills or are comfortable posing for long periods of time, then this may be the kind of mermaid work for you. For good swimmers being a stunt double for aquatic scene in a movie is a way to make great money!
6. Aquarium performer- Some aquariums have mermaids swim in their tanks. This involves being surrounded by real ocean life, sometimes even sharks. Aquarium mermaids entertain guests by swimming around, doing tricks, waving, and blowing bubble kisses to guests. Sometimes aquariums will do mermaid meet and greet where you can take pictures and talk to a mermaid.
7. Brand ambassador/influencer- You can use your online mermaid platform to make money just by being a representative of a brand or company. Influencers are enthusiastic individuals that use their expertise of a subject to affect purchasing decisions that people make. This involves regular posting to social media and keeping followers engaged on a specific subject, whether it’s mermaids, environmental activism, a product, or clothing brand. Brand ambassadors can make a commission when people invest in what they advertise.
8. Mermaid Boss- Running your own mermaid business is a great way to diversify your income on top of being a mermaid at events, you can sell mermaid products like mermaid tails, join affiliate programs and make commissions (check out Aquamermaid affiliate program). Build a team of mermaids and book a lot of events and mermaid swimming lessons. Renting your mermaid tail can be a good source of income.
9. Athlete/competitive mermaid- Show of your swimming skills and breath-hold at local, national, and international competitions. Perform choreography in a giant aquarium with technical moves. Check out the World Mermaid Championship. Also, there are other contests like Miss Mermaid International, a pageant competition including underwater posing, breath-holding/distance swimming, catwalk, and talent show. Those competitions offer you the opportunity to travel. Win titles and notoriety to later get sponsorship and a product endorsement contract. This helps you to build your personal brand to get more mermaid contracts.
What is the professional mermaid training?
Being a mermaid for a living might sound like a dream come true, but it takes more than a magic spell to make it happen. Being a mermaid is no walk in the park, or shall I say swim in the sea. Like anything, it requires hard work, dedication, and motivation. The first step in becoming a professional mermaid is obviously to become a mermaid at all.
To become a mermaid:
- Be a good swimmer
- Get a tail and monofin, get comfortable in it, practice swimming in it
- Work on underwater tricks
- Practice breath-hold
- Practice posing on land and in water
- Make or buy mermaid accessories for your costume
After you have experience swimming in a mermaid tail you can work on turning it into your career. No matter where you work, you’ll want to have relevant experience. Outside of being able to swim and act like a mermaid, there are other experiences and certifications that are beneficial in getting mermaid jobs.
- Scuba or freediver certification
- Life-guard certification
- CPR/first aid/AED certification
- Athletic swimming
- Teaching swimming
- Working with kids
- Working events/parties
- Acting / Singing / Stand-up comedy
- Synchronized swimming / Ballet
- Marine biology
How to make a mermaid portfolio
When you are ready to put yourself out there, you’ll need to make a portfolio. A portfolio shows how you stand out in a sea of other candidates. Portfolios are collections of one’s work and experience. In this case, it would be all your best mermaid pictures. You want to show that you are adjusted to being underwater, can pose gracefully, and can control facial expressions underwater. You also want them to see your tail and your whole mermaid outfit.
1. Tips for making a photography portfolio:
Current photos- The photos used should be recent. You should look the same in the photos as you do when you submit your portfolio to someone. Your look in the photos should be the same/similar look you’d use for an event.
Best quality pictures- Make sure to use only the best photos. It is worth the money to hire a professional photographer. You need the right lighting and angles. NO SELFIES, or “shelfies” as we call them in the mermaid world.
Demonstrate comfort underwater- Use photos that demonstrate that you are adjusted to being underwater: You can control your facial expressions and hold poses underwater. You need to be able to show that you can hold your breath underwater without holding all the air in your cheeks. You also want to show that you can open your eyes underwater.
Variety- You don’t want all your pictures to be from one photoshoot. You’ll need variety in your photos. Include underwater pictures, pictures on land, pictures on the beach, pictures in a pool with kids, and pictures from events you’ve done. If you have multiple tails and mermaid costumes, then show them off too. Only include photos of looks you can currently offer. Do not include photos in your portfolio of you in a friend’s tail, then the customer might expect you to wear it at their event.
Smile- It’s okay if you look more serious or artsy in some photos, but you definitely should include plenty of photos in which you look happy and are smiling. People want to hire friendly mermaids who can be bubbly.
Use relevant pictures- If your main interest is to be a mermaid for kid’s parties then show yourself interacting with kids. If you want to be a mermaid in an aquarium tank, then show pictures of you posing underwater. If you have worked in a tank before then you should include those pictures.
Show whole body- Show your whole tail and take pictures from different angles. Include full-body photos and photos on your side. Sitting on your hip with your tail outstretched is the most flattering pose. Check out our guide to mermaid posing.
Pictures were taken during the day- You don’t want to use photos taken at night because they are darker and details will be harder to make out.
If you are brand new and you don’t have any photos, I suggest offering your services for free to a charity event in exchange for being allowed to take photos to build your portfolio. This is a great way to gain experience and build a great portfolio.
2. Tips for making a Demo Reel
Along with a portfolio, it is helpful to make a demo reel. A demo reel is a video that showcases your skill, and it should be kept under two minutes.
If there are any other people to be in the video, you want to make sure it doesn’t start out showing them. You should make the first appearance, so they know it is about you.
The demo reel should show that you have control underwater, can hold your breath, do a proper dolphin kick, can do tricks, and express emotions without letting your cheeks fill with air.
Include videos where you demonstrate tricks like spins, flips, and bubble rings. You can also demonstrate how you’d interact with guests if you were in an aquarium tank. You can wave and blow bubble kisses and smile at the camera.
A demo reel gives you a good chance to show off your costume. You should let your entire tail be seen. The video should be clear enough that other details, such as makeup and accessories, can be seen too.
At the bottom of the screen, you should include your name, your specialty, and the position you are applying for. You can use text in other areas of the video to include any certifications you have or additional information.
How to stand out from all the other mermaids
Finding your mersona
Whether you’re working for yourself or a company, you want to master the art of acting like a mermaid. This is where you get to be creative and theatrical. Essentially, mermaid performers are improv actors. You play a character when you are a mermaid.
Mersona is simply a play on persona. It just means your mermaid character. You can either be yourself or create an interesting mermaid identity separate from your human identity. Who are you in your tail? Are you a silly mermaid who doesn’t understand the human world? Are you a magical being that likes to speak about mythology? Are you a siren that likes to sing beautiful songs? Are you an explorer who tells tales of your travels across the seven seas? Are you a nature-loving mermaid who wants to make a difference and help save animals and raise awareness of pollution?
What’s in a name?
You’ll first need to come up with your mermaid name. It can be as simple as your name with ‘mermaid’ before it, or use your location as part of your name, such as ‘The New Mexico Mermaid.’ Another way to name yourself is to use whatever your niche is. For example, if opera singing is part of your act, your title could be ‘The Opera Mermaid.’
If you want something more interesting and unique you can come up with your own mermaid name. It could be something meaningful to you, or just something you think sounds pretty. You can get quite creative when it comes to names.
Many mermaid names are based on ocean elements. This means it could be a variation of an ocean-related word, for example, Oceana or Marina. You can also look at different languages to find inspiration for your name.
You don’t want to steal someone else’s name. Always check that a name isn’t already being used by a well-known mermaid. Try to avoid clichés as well.
Getting into character
If you choose to create a distinct mermaid character rather than acting as your human self, then you need to create a story and personality for yourself. It should be unique. Include an origin, some details about your mermaid life, and an explanation of how you got where you are. Try to avoid a gloomy backstory.
You’ll also need to come up with some traits for your mermaid character. What are your interests and dislikes as a mermaid? What adjectives describe your personality? You could be a bubbly mermaid, a goofy mermaid, an inquisitive mermaid, or maybe a wise mermaid. When you come up with your mersona you need to stick to it throughout an event.
How to interact with kids
Kids will ask you all sorts of questions, they are very curious. You need to be prepared to give believable answers. Your answers need to be imaginative. They’ll want to know what you eat, where you’re from, how you get around, what your favorite color is, and so much more!
They may ask you about ocean life, so it helps to have some knowledge on marine biology. It makes for a fun experience if you can tell kids about your fishy friends and give them fun facts about the ocean and about sea creatures. Since mermaids generally come from the sea (you could also say you live in a lake or river) it makes sense to know about it.
Avoid talking about politics, religion, sexuality, tragedies, and controversial subjects. You don’t want to say something that could confuse or upset kids, or that parents might have an issue with. Try to keep things positive and lighthearted, sticking to agreeable topics that everyone can discuss.
You want to be engaging with the kids. If they are a little shy, invite them to touch your tail or to take a “shelfie” with you. Ask them questions, like if they are having a “fin-tastic” day, or if they’ve ever met a mermaid before. Nautical puns are common mermaid slang.
Making comments about their clothes can be a good way to interact. If they have a mermaid or unicorn on their shirt you can comment that you love it. You could also say “I’ve seen a unicorn, have you?” or tell them the ocean has narwhals, which are like unicorns of the sea. If they have an ocean creature, such as a seahorse, on their shirt or necklace you could tell them it looks just like your pet seahorse. That opens up fun conversations and provides an opportunity for them to tell you about their pets.
Just have fun with it and get creative!
Work for yourself or work for someone else?
Once you’ve got the needed experience and have put your portfolio together, you are ready to look for mermaid jobs. When it comes to being a professional mermaid you can either work for yourself or work for someone else.
1. Working for yourself
There are many pros to being your own boss. You get to set your own schedule, choose how much you earn, and make all the decisions yourself. It’s YOUR business and you can make it be what you want. The downside is that it’s way more responsibility, but the hard work will pay off if this is your passion.
First things first, you’ll need a business plan. This is a document that outlines your business goals, strategy, finances, and structure.
Here are some things that need to be considered when starting your mermaid business:
- Services you’ll offer
There are many necessary expenses in starting your own business. You need to invest in a website domain, advertisement, business cards, liability insurance, a mermaid tail, equipment, props, and costume.
For a website, you must include your name and contact information, the services you offer along with their prices, and photos, and videos to demonstrate your skills and experience. Be sure to include the city you are located in. Even if you’re willing to travel anywhere, most people prefer to hire locally.
It is important to stay active on social media. You should have an Instagram, Facebook page, and making Youtube videos is a great way to promote yourself.
A good option is to start your own mermaid business through a license/franchise that already made its proof. That way you will learn from experienced mermaids how to maximize your revenue, avoid beginner mistakes, and benefit from the notoriety of a well-known brand to grow your business locally. Check out Aquamermaid License program. We already have a dozen locations across North America. Having an experienced coach that you can call to ask your question at any time makes all the difference for entrepreneurs. Another option if you cannot attend an in-person training is an online training to open your mermaid business in your city.
Think about working for yourself, but not by yourself; you should build a team and network of other mermaids and advisers.
2. Working for someone else
Working for someone else can be easier since you don’t have to worry about management. You just have to focus on doing fin-tastic mermaid gigs.
There are many event entertainment companies to work for. Many of them do little kid parties with princesses, mermaids, or superheroes. Search for party entertainment jobs near you.
You can work for Aquamermaid! Join the mermaid map and become a member of the Aquamermaid Performer Pod. We are always looking for new mermaids. Contact Marielle at Marielle@aquamermaid.com.
There are also companies that do higher scale events for adults. At these events, they may have a mermaid there for ambiance. Contact your local event companies, send them your portfolio, and a short description of what you offer, and they will have you in
mind for the next aquatic-themed party. (You can get booked for fundraisers, celebrity weddings, and product launches that way)
Aquarium jobs are a great option for those who enjoy swimming in their tail more than interacting with people, though aquarium mermaids do have a meet and greet sometime. Most aquarium jobs will require you to be SCUBA certified because they often utilize air hoses with regulators so mermaids can stay underwater while being able to get air.
Weeki Wachee is one of the most mentioned mermaid attractions. Weeki Wachee Springs State Park is a park with water activities, dining, and most important – mermaids! They do underwater mermaid shows with music and choreography. You can also check Circus Siren Pod, Ripley’s Aquarium, Aqua Performance Group, Wreck Bar at the B Ocean Resort, and Las Vegas Silverton Aquarium.
Many companies will hold tryouts where you can demonstrate your underwater skills. They want to see that you are capable of performing in water, can keep a straight face while holding your breath, can show different emotions, and can interact with the audience through body language.
What is a professional mermaid salary? How much should you charge?
An important rule of pricing is to know exactly why you are charging a certain amount. You should be able to justify your prices to a customer. Mermaids can make around 70K per year, depending on how they run their business.
The keystone markup is a calculation to estimate how much you should charge per event. You want to cover personal costs while making a profit. You should calculate how much you have to spend per event, then multiply that by three.
Factors that contribute to price:
- How many hours the event is- You should charge per the hour, on top of miscellaneous fees.
- Props- You can include additional charges for extra optional features, such as a giant inflatable clamshell, a tank, a pool, a bubble machine, or any other prop you use.
- Preparation- If you have equipment or decorations to set up, that should be incorporated into the price, along with getting into costume.
- Assistance- Having someone help out by carrying you in your tail or taking photos is another expense to include.
- Your tail- If the tail you use was very costly then you can charge more. The tail can be included in the total price. To calculate how much to charge using this equation: Price of tail/how many years you will use it/# events per month/12 months. The final number should be the price to charge for the tail. If you paid $2500 for your tail, you do 2 events per month, you will use that tail for 5 years. 3000/12 months/2events/5 years= $25 per gig to pay off your tail investment. This is called amortization.
- Travel- You should charge if you have to travel for over half an hour. It could be something like 50¢ per extra mile. If you are parking on location, make sure to ask ahead if the person responsible can provide a free parking spot.
All of those charges should be listed on the invoice. Making an invoice can be done easily using a template from Microsoft Office Excel, Word, or Paypal.
Remember, if you use a device for credit card payments, like the Square, then there is usually a 2-4% processing fee. We like to use Zelle, a direct bank deposit service in the USA because there are no transaction fees.
Mermaid performing is demanding. Swimming in a tail can be tiring after a while since mermaid swimming is good exercise. Legs can get sore and monofins can get uncomfortable on the feet. Chlorine in the eyes is painful, and water is sometimes cold. You’re still a human under that tail and you have basic needs. For a longer event, you’ll need to take a break. A rule of thumb is to take a 15-minute break every 1.5 hours, especially if you’re performing in the water.
Don’t forget you have to pay taxes for your mermaid earnings!!! It’s not a bad idea to hire an accountant to help manage finances and teach you how to save money.
Another thing you’ll need to invest in is performer liability insurance, which could be $200 a year. A swimming school liability insurance varies between $800-1500/year.
Price reference: Current pricing for a professional mermaid looks like this. If you book yourself directly with the customer, it’s around $250/hour. If you are hired by an event company as a mermaid, it’ll be $50-150/hour. If you work on a regular basis as a mermaid performer in an aquarium, you’ll earn $15-50/hour. Your experience, certification, and costume can influence how much you get paid, but don’t be too greedy and remember there are many more mermaids than jobs available. You need to offer reasonable prices and highlight what makes you unique compared to all the other mermaids out there.
A good way to get more bookings is to offer different packages like bronze, silver, and gold at different price points, that way more customers can afford your services according to their budget. You can offer more hours, more mermaids, video/photo service, and mermaid tail gifts for participants...
I would highly recommend volunteering, in the beginning, to get some experience and gradually increasing your fee every few months while you are building your notoriety, portfolio, and demand for your services. Mermaid Marielle’s initial rate was $75/hour and now after 5 years of experience, she charges $250 per hour.
How to find professional mermaid jobs
- Join the mermaid map- At Aquamermaid we get many requests for mermaids in all different locations. We’ve created a map of the world that shows different mermaids in every area. If someone requests a mermaid in a specific area that you are located in, we may reach out to you. This map is not public. It is only for Aquamermaid private use, but you can apply here to join our performers.
- Get listed on other websites- Sometimes you have to pay to be listed on a website that shows professional mermaids for hire in the area, but it’s a great way to get discovered and get gigs. For example, on Gigsalad you can list yourself as a performer.
- Reach out to mermaids in the area- If there are mermaids near you, contact them and see if they ever want to collaborate, or if they need extra mermaids ever.
- Get online ads- Online ads are a great way to get business. Someone who’s never even heard of professional mermaids could stumble upon your ad and decide to do a mermaid party for their kid. Focus locally and test a variety of photos and ad copy. Make sure you can track sales on your website. Because you need to be able to track where your sales are coming from if you are opting for paid ads.
*Important: Do not sign an exclusivity deal; that will block you from getting your own gigs in addition to working for someone else from time to time. Only sign an exclusivity deal if the contract supplies you with full-time work.
You have to put yourself out there in order to be successful as a professional mermaid. Remember, it takes time to achieve your goals. You have to be patient and persistent. Don’t get discouraged if It takes a long time to get mermaid jobs. Stay optimistic and work hard and you will accomplish your dreams in time. Hopefully, this guide was helpful to you in your mermaid journey!
This blog post was co-written by Olivia Gilbert