If I Can Do It...So Can You.
Have you ever wanted to start your own business as a creative, but felt discouraged at the prospect of it?
A lot of the things we see or hear seem completely far fetched to us, and for good reason.
These days YouTube stars the age of 10 are making millions of dollars.
Big businesses like Netflix, Spotify, and others tend to create doubt in our heads that we can successfully start any sort of business.
But hopefully this article can change that for you. I’m a living, breathing example of how a jazz musician can start a business completely from scratch, and live a life of more than just “getting by”.
I’m the owner and founder of jazzpianoschool.com. This is an online membership website that teaches people around the world how to learn jazz piano.
I started this business 8 years ago.
Did I know anything about business?
Did I know anything about marketing?
Did I know anything about tech?
Did I have a fierce drive to quit my 9-8pm job I was working at a gym as a Personal Training Manager?
STEP #1 - LEARN AND EDUCATE YOURSELF
8 years ago the only thing I knew I could do was learn, try, fail, learn more, try more, fail more. Rinse and repeat.
That’s it, I knew nothing!
Here’s what I did. Every morning before work, I walked my dog. During this walk I would listen to podcasts by entrepreneurs.
I was desperately trying to find “my thing,” the entrepreneurial opportunity that was meant for me.
(And by the way, don’t worry, I’ll get to tactical steps very shortly.)
I listened to as many business as podcasts. Most of them were on real estate, starting big corporations, and a lot of other completely overwhelming business topics that I couldn’t relate to or see my self doing being the musician and creative I am.
They were all completely out of my realm. But as you’ll hear me say a lot, I didn’t give up. I never gave up.
I kept searching. I kept listening. And finally, I stumbled across a woman name Amy Porterfield.
She was teaching people how to start a business at home, an online business.
She was teaching about landing pages, and emails, and funnels.
She was teaching people how to set up launches and make money from online business.
This is EXACTLY what I had been looking for.
After devouring all of her podcasts and blog posts I then moved on to others online entrepreneurs in the same niche and did the same thing.
Everything I learned led me to start jazzpianoschool.com, an online jazz piano education membership website.
After 8 years, Jazz Piano School is one the leading providers of jazz piano education online, being used in colleges, high schools, and homes around the world.
Review: LEARN as MUCH as you can, and never, ever, EVER, give up.
STEP #2 - PICK YOUR BUSINESS PATH TO START YOUR OWN BUSINESS
Over the past 8 years, I’ve learned and now teach 4 different business paths you can choose from to start your own online business. Here they are:
A. The Membership Path
I’m sure you’ve heard that term before, and I can almost guarantee you belong to some sort of membership right now.
Netflix is an example of a membership path. Even though we don’t typically think of services like Netflix or Spotify as a membership, it is.
A membership business creates recurring revenue, meaning members subscribe and pay monthly to your service in order to get something in return.
This first path is what I chose when I started Jazz Piano School eight years ago. Jazz Piano School is a membership website among other things, my members pay monthly to access the jazz piano education.
In another blog post I’ll go deeper into the pros and cons of each of these, but for now I think you get the gist.
Pros: Recurring revenue and financial stability, lots of freedom
Cons: Never ends, always need to keep members engaged, support tickets, and an ongoing attention.
B. An Online Course
Online education is 4+ billion dollar industry and growing at an astounding rate. Think about how much education is on the internet these days. You can go on YouTube and find videos to learn how to do anything!
But the difference in an online course made by you as opposed to YouTube is quality and efficiency of learning.
On YouTube, everyone is teaching everything. The quality of the videos are often not great, there are no materials, and no exercises. It’s far from an actual course that can be followed and put into action.
Jazz Piano School can also be purchased as a course. This is done by someone making one payment and purchasing everything.
Now obviously this payment is going to be A LOT higher than the membership, because they’re buying everything and will own it for life.
Online courses are everywhere these days, and you can find them on absolutely any topic at all. If you’re a creative that has education to teach and share, then this could be a great starting point for you.
Pros: Higher price point, more hands off.
Cons: A lot more work up front, revenue isn’t recurring, always need to look for your next customer.
C. Group Program, Group Class, or Group Coaching
If I teach a piano lesson for $50 to one student I make $50 for an hour.
If I teach a piano lessons to ten students, that all pay $50, I make $500 an hour.
Which would you rather do?
It’s really that simple.
Classes and groups structures are a quick and easy way to drastically increase your income. Most musicians I know are only teaching privately and this is one of the VERY first things I suggest to them.
Why not run a group program?
Maybe 3 months, add more value like some written materials, community exercises, and group learning.
This helps people in a different way you wouldn’t even imagine.
We as humans seek community and love it! We love working along side others that are striving to accomplish the same thing we are. We learn from other mistakes and success. It also inspires and motivates us to connect with others and share.
So besides the quick multiplication of income, the group program or class is an incredible structure to start out with and really doesn’t take that much up front work as compared to a membership or course.
PROS: Larger amount of income faster, more connection to people, fulfillment through interaction of helping
CONS: Less freedom, requires more of your personal time to run the business.
D. The Personal Brand
This is a fun one and is the default to most creatives and artists.
What I mean is as a musician, a person playing gigs, recording albums, and selling tickets to their concerts are already using the Personal Brand structure, most people just aren’t aware of it.
This business structure is a great one even though most creatives struggle.
Before I launched Jazz Piano School, I had quit my cozy salary paying job at the gym and was hustling like crazy as a musician. I was essentially running a Personal Brand business structure.
Even though I was an incredible musician, I wasn’t making much money. That’s because I didn’t have any business education yet.
After I started devouring all the podcasts and blogs I told you about before, then my Personal Brand started growing. I learned how to write emails, make an email list, and gain more followers which in turn led to more ticket sales, more gigs, and more march sales.
You see unfortunately the artist or creative is usually incredible at their art, but severely lacks in business education. This equates to the starving, poor musician. Which I was for a long time.
“But it’s about the art Brenden.”
Sure it is, but why not learn a little about business so you can make some money from your art too!
I’ve helped musicians, audio engineers, actors, and tons of other creative with their own personal brand. Once they knew a little tactical strategy, their Personal Brand business began to flourish.
It only takes a little guidance and direction to learn what to do and it will serve you for life.
PROS: Allows you to directly pursue and live your passion in life.
CONS: Price points aren’t as high, still takes lots of time to get off the ground and grow your audience.
STEP #3 - BUILD YOUR AUDIENCE
I’m going to tell you something very important that I want you to remember.
The cure to cancer is worthless if no one knows about it.
Same thing goes for your business.
You could have the best product, service, music, or art in the world, but if no ones knows about it, if you have no audience, then you have no business.
I don’t think many people realize but content as it’s called in the online world serves many purposes.
It delivers education, value, and help to people in need for free. It shows people your personality and lets people decide whether they like you or not and might be interested in learning more from you or buying from you.
It allows people to connect with you. It gives people a input into your teaching style, knowledge, and a hint of what they can expect from you. It helps with marketing in many ways, from search engine optimization to growing your email list and followers.
It provides your business with a stable foundation for growth as it lives on the internet, and will automatically draw attention to it long into the future.
So needless to say, content is extremely important to build your audience.
So many of my new clients start talking about their amazing product they have, or this fully elaborate funnel plan to sell all their services.
Again, that means nothing if you have no one that will see your product or go through your funnel. Your first step before product development should be to build your audience.
I’ll go deeper into how to do this in other posts but for now, content, and putting yourself out there is your friend.
Collaborating with others and showing up for your followers as a leader and a guide. This is what builds loyal followers in your business.
STEP #4 - LAUNCH YOUR BUSINESS WITH THE PATH THAT YOU PICKED IN STEP #2
This is the fun part! Whatever path you chose in step #2 will finally come to fruition and be delivered to your audience here.
If you picked a membership, then you would launch your membership to your email list and audience. Meaning you would announce that it’s ready and available, provide links to sign up, and spread the word as much as possible.
If you picked a course you would launch your course and do the same thing.
If you picked a group or class you would do the same thing.
Personal brand is a little different because you might have different products but the structure is the same.
If you were recording an album then you would release your album to your audience through social media channels, email list, and word of mouth or other artists.
If you were gearing up for a big concert, you would have been promoting the concert and make a large push the week before show time, then perform your concert.
STEP #5 - DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN
Just because you do this once doesn’t mean that’s it. You keep developing products. You keep developing services. You keep running group programs or classes. You grow, you innovate, and expand your business. You tweak and make it better.
Slowly but surely, you have quit your job, you have more time for your kids, your family, whoever’s important to you, and you’re making way more money than you did at your old job. And the best part is, you’re your own boss.
You control your income, no one else.
No one is telling you what to do, you’re making all your decisions.
You’ve created the business of your dreams based on your passion and your creativity.
And as I said before, I know it may sound out of reach, but remember, I started in the same, exact spot as you.
Working a 9-7, making a salary that barely paid my bills.
Barely playing music or gigs, because I had no free time.
The only thing I did that got me to where I am today is just one small thing, but it makes all the difference in people who get ahead and people who don’t.
I took action.
I took action, I learned, I took more action, I failed, I learned more, then took more action.
Over and over and over again and here we are.
In some upcoming posts, I’ll go deeper into each of the 4 paths.
Hope you enjoyed this. Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions.