It’s Not Too Good To Be True, You Can Earn A Great Living As A DJ (Here’s How!)

Can you really earn a living as a DJ?

Courses run rampant. This is the digital age, and while that means tons of cool learning choices and a plethora of ways to meet really awesome people, the decision fatigue when selecting the Right Course For You can be…a lot. 

DJ courses are much the same; Google is rife with selection, and it can seem too good to be true – because much of the time, it is. 

That’s where my DJ course, Toast & Jam Lab comes in. We set ourselves apart from all the other courses by integrating a healthy portion of the boring but extremely necessary business stuff. Like business financials, automation, when to scale, and a little about DJ etiquette. 

We organize our course in a digestible, accessible way. It’s easy: students have access to the material forever and can start immediately upon sign-up in the comfort of their homes. 

Let’s dive into a little about how I got started and outline the bare bones of what you need to succeed as a successful DJ – and how our DJ course can help.

My Origin Story:

I founded Toast and Jam in 2005. The company was rooted in the idea that my clients and guests should be entertained – not overshadowed. I’ve been music-obsessed since childhood and got my start in community radio while in university. 

I began DJing events when a listener called the request line on the radio show I worked on and asked if I would DJ their wedding. During the wedding, not only did I get to play cool music, but I got to play an integral role in the structure of the event. I got to be the boss for that little slice of time. Everyone was excited, everyone danced, and I remember feeling like…this is the rest of my life. I incorporated my business the next day. 

Since then, my company has provided the soundtrack to thousands of weddings and events in Chicago and beyond, most notably for Barack & Michelle Obama, Vince Vaughan, and so many more awesome people.

Over the years, I started consulting. Helping others in the entrepreneurial space – even if it wasn’t a DJ-focused project. My latest venture, The Toast & Jam Lab, is a comprehensive online course for mobile DJs looking to transform their business into a thriving empire. I got the stuff you need. 

Okay, let’s get to what you came here for:

 

The Business Stuff:

Hone in on your ideal client:

This is a key boundary I set very early on in my business which continues to serve me to this day. It’s serving the client, yes, but serving the right client for you.  

You can’t be everything to everyone. Some clients won’t be right for you. Your service offering and the ideal client that it works for needs to be niche enough to work. If you’re good at it and trust the process – you’ll never work with the wrong client again.  

That doesn’t mean you won’t have jerky clients. Jerks are hiding in plain sight everywhere. But at least you won’t be doing things outside your scope of work and breeding resentment and burnout. 

I looked really hard at who the Toast & Jam client is. We are not the DJ for everyone. We aren’t the DJ for a $500,000 wedding and we don’t want to be. 

Give me a 28-year-old that wants to hear Tame Impala and Nick Drake during cocktails and dinner and then Dua Lipa and Biggie for a dance set rager that will live in the hearts and minds of their friends for eons.

The T&J client is a couple that understands that for them, music and a fun raging party is the most important thing for their event. They want their wedding to feel very personal to them. 

To suss out your ideal client, consider the following:

  • What’s the most important thing to this client? 
  • What does this client do for a living?
  • How old are they? How do they like to spend their free time?
  • What are they spending on their wedding? 
  • How are they paying for your services? 
  • How can I find this client? Where do they live?

     

     

This will help you narrow your ideal customer into a few different segments, and will help inform your messaging and how you conduct your business. 

 

Cultivate a solid brand identity:

This almost goes hand in hand with honing in on your ideal client. Once you narrow down who you’re looking to serve the most, you can get granular on how you’re going to position yourself to them and your team. 

For me, it was being armed with the knowledge of who I wanted to work with, culling through the mass of cheesy DJ gimmicks in the Chicago area, and identifying how my service offering differed from the competition.

There’s plenty of DJ selection in Chicago, but setting myself apart from my competition and appealing to my target market through my messaging and brand identity was key to my success. 

There are a few ways to do this:

  • Develop actual branding. Having a professional logo, color scheme, tagline, images, letterhead, or brochures makes a huge difference. It helps you stand out and shows your prospects that you’re the real deal.
  • In that vein, with your branding identified, get a website set up. This is the customer’s first impression of you; your storefront. Make sure it’s easy to navigate and that it’s very clear to your customers who you are, what you do, who you do it for, and how to contact you.
  • Be sure the messaging on your website is targeted to your ideal client. Toast & Jam’s website is fresh, inclusive, snappy, cool, and fun. While folks of all ages and walks of life enjoy this,  it’s targeted to our ideal client – the one that wants a super fun, super personalized raging dance party.
  • Ensure that the messaging and branding (so, images and color scheme) on your social media accounts, your website, and anywhere else your brand exists is consistent. Always show up professionally and ensure there are no grammatical gaffes. 

Create (and stick to) a business plan:

There’s something to be said for viewing yourself as a business that provides a premium service versus just one person who does work for others for money. 

Identify your goals. Your five-year plan. Do you want to DJ for the rest of your life? Do you want to be able to step away and have some free time? Do you want a more strategic, network-y style role eventually? Will you want to sell your business? 

Well, you won’t be able to do anything but work unless you cultivate a solid business plan and stop trying to do it all yourself. 

When you can stick your head up above the mire, you can strategize, figure out where your leads are coming from, how many leads you’re losing (and why), develop customized pricing, level up your marketing, and make sure you stay on top of taxes and other serious financial stuff.

We can use what we’ve covered so far to help inform a business plan:

  • Leverage your ideal customer into action – where do they hang out most? Do some market research to find out how you can meet their needs. 
  • Gather data on your industry. What’s the going cost of weddings in your target area these days? What are the going wedding DJ and entertainment trends? How can you bolster your offering with this in mind?
  • Conduct an unbiased competitive analysis. How do you measure up to the competition? What do you do well? What are you missing?
  • Develop a robust Sales and Marketing plan. Will you run ads? Will you post on social media more? Will you incorporate organic SEO into your web messaging so people can find you easier?
  • Develop an operations plan. Who is doing what in your business? What resources do you need to keep things afloat?
  • Develop a financial plan. How will you pay your employees? Overhead costs? Pay yourself?

The DJ Stuff

All of the above is very well and good, but you won’t get super far if you don’t exercise a little quality control with your DJ gear and stay abreast of industry trends and learning. 

This means making sure your gear is in good condition, educating yourself on mixing and making sure you stay on top of DJ etiquette. 

Be respectful to your team, your clients, dress properly for the occasion, and always stay aware of the vibe on the dance floor. If there are teens on the dance floor and they’re having a fantastic time, it might not be prudent to switch over to lesser-known genres from the 1980s. 

Let’s talk!

You’re likely at the end of this missive and dealing with a bit of information overload. That’s okay. The goal here is to communicate that earning a living as a DJ is very possible, you just have to lay a little groundwork – as with any business. 

The Lab’s DJ lesson framework is meant to be super digestible and informative. We’ve got worksheets, financial resources, templates, and checklists. Plus, our courses are available in video and transcript format, which makes learning that much easier. 

I want to help you scale. To be successful. Toast & Jam has been alive and well for over 15 years, and we’ve managed to survive and thrive even through COVID-19. Through The Lab, I’ve got things to teach you. 

Have questions? Check out our FAQ. Wanna take the leap and enroll? Check out our sign-up form here

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