I saw someone on Facebook a bit ago who was working as a uni-messenger, you know like a bike messenger but infinitely cooler? I know it’s not directly a ‘unicycle job’ but it gives you an excuse to ride every day, and an excuse to keep your gear in good nick.
Any guesses at how many people actually make a living unicycling? Even KH’s bio implies that he has a day job.
One that comes to mind: Off-road bicycle tires are where unicycle tires come from, and that might be the one part of the business that isn’t totally at rock bottom right now. Maxxis, Kenda, Schwalbe, etc. have people who work shows and festivals, probably part of sales/marketing/product management/etc. Any big dirt festivals out your way? (Utah–gotta be some, right?) You could hit the tents and just ask folks how they got started and how things are looking. I’ll bet they’d be thrilled to get anything besides, “Can you give me free stuff?” Being able to show off their goods on a unicycle would definitely set you apart from other people also looking to get in.
Also, we’re coming up on the time of year when shops hire for spring and summer. Being on the inside at all seems like a way to learn about how the business works, especially at an indie where you were around the people who dealt with suppliers and decided what to stock. I know a local shop owner who likes to talk about his former employees who’ve gone on to various careers in the industry and sounds quite proud of them.
Also, fwiw: Sometimes doing it for a living is a great way to turn something you love into a job. Not always, but I’ve seen it happen.
Well, i kind of use my unicycle during work hours. A part of my teaching job is to visit students who are doing internships at companies and as a rule a teacher visits them at least once during each internship. Sometimes these places are at remote locations. As it happens i have sold my car a while back and haven’t needed one since. With this as an excuse i can now get away with cycling to these locations.
It is really funny to see the surprise if you turn up on a large gas processing facility from shell and cycle up to the guards at the entrance and tell them that you are there to visit a student….
Really love the idea of this thread. Not that it is for me but I like to try to think outside the box. I know someone posted about a guy who wears t shirts from companies to advertise for them and does quite well. It would be even better on a unicycle. Keep in mind what you may decide to do may not be the norm but if it something you really want, then persist. Are you computer savvy? Can you write some sort of UNI-app? I have seen where people are interested in amount of calories burned… Anyway, I always heard, find something you love to do (which you have) then find someone to pay you to do it. What do I do? I am a photographer that photographs kids at daycares on a pony. Think outside the box.
Not a full-time living by any means but getting cast in commercials that call for a unicyclist is a great way to get paid for riding and can be quite lucrative! Of course, commercials featuring unicyclists are extremely rare, and so far I’ve been in only one national commercial, but just auditioned for a new one so I’m keeping my spokes crossed!
sponsored unicyclists don’t make a living from being sponsored. Or if this is not accurate, who?
Much appreciated. Very few clowns ride unicycles. Perhaps you were implying the performing arts in general? More about that below.
A very tiny amount. I know some performers who are very unicycle-centric, such as Peter Rosendahl and Dustin Kelm. Both are former IUF Freestyle World Champions and both are still doing it. Peter was the first (Unicon I). I can’t remember which one was Dustin! Also Jamey Mossengren makes his living doing street shows, and his are definitely unicycle-centric as well.
There are others, but not a lot. Not that actually pay all their bills from unicycling. Including me. While I was a “professional unicyclist” for many years, even when I worked full time for the National Circus Project the unicycle was only a portion of what I did. It was my specialty in the shows we did, but a rare part of the circus arts education we did, since few schools had their own unicycles. I loved that world though.
Being a “professional” means you charge for your work (and presumably aren’t ripping people off). So I continued to do shows here and there for a long time after moving to CA. But Sacramento is not a big market for live entertainment. I haven’t done any pro jobs for a while, but it’s still a possibility.
That would probably be really fun, and closer to the type of unicycling you like. But even if you got onto a circuit, I don’t think it’s enough to live on. To break into that market you would probably need some good videos to start with. This is what Kris Holm used to do back when he started the KH brand.
I first heard this in an article in the old USA Newsletter, from a member of an old-school act called the Cyclonians. When it becomes a job, it may eventually stop being fun. I remember Sem Abrahams making a comment on that topic once (after many years of doing shows as Teresa and Sem). He said “What? Ride unicycles for fun?” while making a face. He still does, for fun, but I knew what he meant. BTW, they also belong on my list above. Not only did they do lots of shows in places like NBA basketball halftime shows, but in the 80s and 90s their “day job” was Semcycle; also unicycle-related.
There must be some mountain bike-oriented bike shops in your area? Just based on what I know of Utah but I don’t know where you are. But working in a bike shop is not unicycling, it just keeps you near the equipment. You would learn a lot, and it’s a more steady job than any of the other stuff.
You could also add the unicycle to existing jobs. Sign shaker (if you have those in your area), handing out pamphlets or similar (as mentioned above), promotional stuff (being hired to advertise a business or as “walkaround” entertainment at events), etc. All of that is more piece-work, and nothing steady.
Terry is fortunate to live in the #1 place, possibly in the world, to do TV/film stuff with unicycles. Even living in the NYC area, as I used to, auditions were more rare. I usually couldn’t go to any because working for the National Circus Project was mostly full-time. Going to an audition would generally kill at least half a day. And you never know if they even want someone who can ride well; often they just want someone who looks a certain way (not like you) but you never find this out until you get there.
One more way. Start a franchise of unicycle schools. You won’t make any money until it gets big, but if you can figure out a way to package a method for teaching people to ride unicycles (and/or start unicycle clubs), then get this to spread across the country and around the world, you could make a living from that. Maybe. It’s worth a try!
Then how do they get to work? But yeah, I was referring to performing as a unicyclist I’ve seen some AMAZING uni performers in my life, I like to hope that they’re getting paid a sizeable living for it but having been on the ‘pro musician’ circuit I know that probably isn’t true until they’re part of a world-class act…
Bike shops are great, though my experiences are a bit jaded because the only one I’ve worked is my dads, so it’s not like I had a crazed boss out ta get me. Maybe you could run a bike shop, but be known as the ‘unicycle-friendly’ one (stocking 36er parts for example, as well as uni-specific stuff like hubs and cranks). It’s more of a technical role than a riding role though, and like any technical role that gels with customer service/support, you’ll require a stiff drink every half-hour to keep sane. Ask anyone who works in IT as helpdesk and you’ll know what I mean!