Now that Ike gave you advice... IGNORE IT!
(well, at least here are my thoughts.)
1.) How to get a website...
You can go free, like Ike mentioned or you can start at NAMES.COM to look for a website that has a good name and see if it is free. Then you have to get software (or a friend who does web design) and find yourself a "web host" (someone who will sell you space to put your pages up). Do a search on line to see what you can find for price. Some of the freebie sites say to your customer... "I AM CHEAP". (If you don't invest in yourself why should they?)
(ALSO, you can partner with a local performer. Say a magician, who does not do balloons, is willing to put your information up on his(her) page you will pay a royalty for every show (s)he sells and or (s)he can offer parties an added discount when hiring both of you.)
2.) How/Where can one create business cards to pass out...
Check your local printer to get ideas on what they offer. Drill them on what paper they recommend and what they would put on the cards. (TAKE NOTES) Figure out what you like. Also, if you know of other entertainers in the area. Ask them for their cards, study them and find out what you like and don't like. Then you know what to have on your card and prices around your area.
(Vista Print... Vista Print is a very good source for printed material including business cards and postcards [love the postcards], however one word of caution about them is that they have been known to sell credit card information on their customers. If you buy, use paypal.com instant money transfers via a "virtual credit card" and you will not have to worry about that.)
Also, if you get Vista Print stuff for free (somethings are worth it) don't have it say, "VISTA PRINT" on it like a lot of the free business cards. (If you don't invest in yourself why should they?)
3.) What do you use to hold/carry/move/ your balloons? (right now I'm using a box that some of them were delivered in)
There are many thoughts on this matter. YOU WANT TO LOOK PROFESSIONAL! (That is the most important thing... people are paying you to be professional look it!)
a. Aprons... if you keep your balloons in an apron it will help keep them organized and accessible. It is good for tight situations such as restaurants, small rooms ETC. I use them often. They are great, but limited on how much you can carry and the variety of balloons you can have on you. If you do get an apron, get a large one so you can expand into it (rather than having to keep upgrading).
b. Balloon buckets or bags. Many performers work out of these items. They store a lot of balloons, much more than an apron can store. They can be made colorful or plain colors. These are great carrying cases for the balloons, however, there is one drawback from this sort of system that I have noticed. HEIGHT! The bag must be set on a table, chair or you have too keep bending down to use them. I have seen a few people successfully attach them to their floor pump, but I have seen some people also have their pumps become top heavy as well. It is more portable then a table for moving around, but it is not as portable as an apron.
c. Small table box. If you have any mechanical or building abilities what so ever (or know someone) you can easily build a small portable box on a table. I have built several over the years. You can either buy an old mic stand (and using a plumbing floor flange), music stand base, or a magician "Sonic table" you can build a small box and attach it to the flange to use as a very portable table. This is very useful as it can hold a lot of balloons. (I built dividers in them 2 inches by 2 inches). It is easy to work with and can be torn apart for transporting. Drawback, unlike an apron it is harder to move around a dining room of a restaurant or tight area.
d. LARGE box. If you are going fairs, carnivals, schools, shopping malls and other large venues you can build a larger version of a box. This would have to be on wheels to move it about, but also affords you every balloon your heart desires (as there is lots of room). It can't be beat for having your balloons handy and organized, but you don't want this for small venues. When working with my box I have all my 260s on me in the apron. All my 160, 350, 646, hearts, 321, geos, eyeballs, alien heads and advertising material in my balloon box. The balloon box can make you look very professional and can also have an advertising photo on the front. The draw back is it will be HEAVY and requires some work to get around stairs, hills and lifting it into your car.
4.) Any laws regarding needing a license for performing and charging for balloon twisting? (I live in Sioux Falls, SD if that helps)
Start by visiting your city hall and asking. Then move on to ask at your small business administration. Both will be able to tell you the exact details or the names of people to ask for more information. If you are performing a service there is generally no state sales tax. If you are selling the balloon, there is sales tax... so do shows (with tips) and not piece work (per balloon sales).
I should mention, that if you are doing this as a hobby or a small side job, generally there is no reason to inquire about the taxation issues or licensing. It is mainly when you really start to make a living at it that they tend to really care or take notice.
5.) How/when/where/how much to Advertise oneself?
a. BECOME GOOD... word of mouth will sell your show more than any advertisement.
b. Post Cards (for handing out face to face)... business cards are great, but something larger with
photos of your work on it will be something that people can see and tend to hold on to.
c. Find venues in the community that will be noticed. Homeless shelter is having a fund raiser
to... (If they contact you and can pay, they should, but seek out places that can't and raise
money for them.) Not only is this a good thing to do, but when you start to bring attention for
their plight you will get some good community press and your work may find FREE press.
d. GET A RESTAURANT! You want your work to be seen. You must get it out there. By having a
regular restaurant venue (or in my case circuit) you are seen and people ask for your cards.
Ideally you want people seeking you out and not having to make cold calls. Look for a
restaurant that caters to the age group you are looking to perform for (for the record CHUCKY
CHEESE will not have any outside entertainers come in, so don't waste your time there.)
You want to pick a place where people sit down to eat and not just take away.
e. STAND UP comedy clubs sometimes have "open mic" night. Take your best material and try
it out. If your stuff goes over well, they may ask you back. It is great to put on a resume
and can get you started on some GOOD paying gigs.
f. Contact schools and universities. Drop off a balloon display and a post card. Introduce
yourself to the dean, principal (and bring a nice gift for the receptionist... she is the one who
often calls the shot on who to hire). Inquire about the names of the student body heads and
ask if you can attend one of their meetings to introduce yourself and tell them about your
g. Grocery stores are a good source for free ads... use them, but keep in mind you get what
you pay for. The people that read them often want things "cheap". Don't get discouraged.
h. Movie theaters often are looking for clever ways to advertise their movies. If you have an
idea for a promotional gimmick or display, they may be keen using you. (These places are
where people with "disposable" income tend to go, so they often have no problem paying
i. Political parties (This is a slippery venue) Don't endorse any candidate completely, or you
may offend the other parties running. Volunteer your services at fund raising dinners or at
victory parties. You will be surprised how many shows you will get booked by people who
see you there...and it doesn't hurt to have a city hall, congressmen or other person in
office who you have "supported". You may find city contracts falling your way.
j. contact the press, in a clever way, (I really should not be telling you this secret)... find a
entertainment journalist, local events or "fluff" piece journalist and drop off a balloon
decoration telling them just how much you enjoyed there story on "XYZ" and you "just felt
led to give them this display of one of your balloon pieces as a way of saying thank you and
keep up the good work". If you don't seem desperate for attention, but act as if it is
natural to give them out... (and you don't do it too often) you would be shocked how you
might become "a story" in no time. Make sure the balloon piece is big enough to get noticed
by everyone who passes their desk. You want them to get very positive feedback from
everyone around them.
l. "Thank you" gifts. Someone recommends you and you hear about it... THANK YOU GIFT. If
someone hires you for an event and you do the event... THANK YOU GIFT. If someone wants
to hire you, but you are busy... THANK YOU GIFT! Someone does something nice for you...
THANK YOU GIFT. (I can not stress enough how much this will help get you established. It
does not have to be something big, just something personal like a balloon with a post card
(with your balloon creation and contact information on it of course) signed with a "Thank
you so much for... It means a lot to me to know you would do that for me. Sincerely, (your
I have about 100 more, but that should get you started...
Hope this gives you a few ideas.