I've been trying to be a professional musician for going on seven years now. When I say professional, I don't mean make millions of dollars- I simply mean make a living doing music, so somewhere around $20k, or so after taxes. I've been practicing a lot in those seven years, and have gotten a lot better than when I started. The style of music that I play best is Delta Blues. I was trained in commercial lyric writing, so I can write really good songs which is typically not the strong part of blues, but rather the guitar for obvious songs. My biggest influences are Robert Johnson, and SRv. I play solo, and acoustic.

My question is how do I get clubs to let me play shows? I've tried for years to get to play, and every club I contacted says no, if anything. After watching a ton of Guitar Center Sessions, I noticed that to get started as a band touring, you need a fan base. Another question- how do you get a fan base if you're not being able to play? That one may answer itself, so in another way of saying it, how do I get to play other cities on tour when I don't live in that city?

I've heard a lot about trading shows, but never really knew what that meant. Do you just post an ad on Craig's List in other cities asking any band to let you open for them? Do you give them anything in exchange? I would love to get some feedback on how to start taking that next step in my career. The good thing about blues, delta blues especially, is the older you get, the better you sound for the style, unlike pretty much every other style of music, so I literally have the rest of my life to make a living at it. I'm 28 now, so I've got plenty of time to make a name for myself, and like I said, I'm not looking to make millions- I just want to make a steady living.

If any touring artists on here could give me some advice on how to get my foot in the door to start touring, I'd really appreciate it. Thanks guys.
One more thing, I know that especially with blues, you're not going to make $20k simply from ticket sales. I plan on making the bulk of my money through merch. Wanted to clarify that, so I didn't sound ignorant of how the biz works.
If you go busking on a street corner can you attract a crowd easily? Can you make $100/day busking? If yes you have a shot. Gathering a crowd on the street corner leads to casual gigs. Casual gigs leads to clubs (who often pay worse). If you attract an audience easily, have an agent come down and check you out. If they think you are marketable, they may be willing to put together a tour for a 20% cut. SRV surfed couches between dive bars for 10 years before getting discovered. It's a long hard road.

The rest of us have day jobs so we eat regularly, and are weekend warriors on guitar.
"Your sound is in your hands as much as anything. It's the way you pick, and the way you hold the guitar, more than it is the amp or the guitar you use." -- Stevie Ray Vaughan

"Anybody can play. The note is only 20 percent. The attitude of the motherfucker who plays it is 80 percent." -- Miles Davis

Guthrie on tone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmohdG9lLqY