Making The Jump From Side Hustle To full-time DJ: What You Need To Know

online dj course

Mary Nisi

Dear readers, at the risk of stating the obvious, the New Year is almost upon us. As 2022 edges closer toward the curtain call, we’re looking ahead to 2023.

For many of you, you’ve perused The Lab’s blog, subscribed to my Newsletter, set up some coaching sessions, and taken my online DJ course. As a result, you’re refining business processes, setting goals, and getting into that motivated mindset for next year.

For some DJs, this may look like an increase in qualified leads, hiring a subcontractor or employee, or raising your prices. 

For other DJs, their goals may look like finally leaving their day jobs and transitioning into DJing full-time – and this is exactly what we’re covering today. I’m going to dish on what you need to know before taking that leap and discuss how my own experience went. 

Let’s dive in:

Get a business bank account

One thing that you should take care of as soon as possible, if you’ve not already, is creating a separate business bank account. Ideally you’ll have a few savings accounts and a checking account so you can allocate funds for income tax, sales tax, and general business income. 

Once you’ve made over $600 dollars from an individual entity, you’ve got to report to the IRS. These are just the bare facts, and this is much easier to do when you’ve got an account solely dedicated to business income. 

Plus, when you’re paying subcontractors, it should come out of a business account – not your personal checking account. 

Identify your ideal monthly income

Set aside some time and really figure out how much money you truly need to make in order to survive and thrive. 

This includes all of your bills: rent, mortgage, utilities, groceries, credit card payments, and more. If the amount totals $3,000 – this should be your first financial goal for when you leave your day job. Ideally, you’ll set aside an emergency fund for 3 to 6 months of personal expenses before handing in your notice. 

Find out what that amount translates to in terms of gigs per month and per year – for most DJs, depending on the cost of living in their region, the bare minimum is 36 events per year. Set goals to book well in advance so you’re not scrambling to find work month after month. 

Planning ahead ensures that you can still survive during the slow months and use that extra time to work on your sales process and marketing efforts.

Know your limits

If you have a full-time day job and your DJ business is growing steadily, there’s going to become a point where you reach critical mass. 

Many individuals decide to do both.  Of course, no matter your lifestyle, you will need to put in the work for a while and that may mean working evenings and weekends, but you’re not a machine. Eventually, you’ll need to make a choice. 

Once you put your full focus into moving your DJ side hustle to full-time, it becomes easier to manage. Your schedule is easier to fill with gigs, and you can start booking in advance so that you’re, again, not scrambling during those slow months to fill income gaps. 

My story:

When I started Toast & Jam In November of 2005, I had 18 weddings booked for the following year. I knew I had the money from those weddings to keep me afloat, and I had a bit of savings as well. 

It was fairly brazen – I just quit my day job at the time and bought an ad in Chicago Brides magazine. This ad really gave me the traction I needed, and it was perfectly timed. See, back in the olden days of the early 2000s, a person who wanted a wedding dress or insights on planning weddings would have to purchase a paper magazine. 

At the time, The Knot was actually only an online forum, and the power of social media, websites, and a powerful online presence wasn’t a thing. I had to invest in marketing myself through this ad. 

I also treated it like a REAL job. A full-time, serious job. I took myself seriously. I even made 100 tiny little jam jars and used a ribbon and hole-punch to attach my business cards. I took them around to all the venues and vendor storefronts and really put my name out there. 

It was a different time for marketing, yes, but it doesn’t mean you can’t get creative today. Anyone can post an ad and be successful, but making an impression in this day and age still requires some creativity. 

Let’s talk!

At the end of the day, it’s about being self-aware. Do you have what it takes to sacrifice weekends and evenings long term? Do you work better with a ‘boss’ or can you assume the responsibility of being boss, marketing team, sales team, accounting team, and employee? 

If you’re unsure about your next steps, let’s chat. I offer 1:1 coaching sessions, and I leverage my near-twenty years of experience to help my clients identify and action their goals. Book here!

If you’re ready to take the plunge and quit your day job, check out The Lab. They’re DJ lessons, all online.

The Lab’s training videos are hilarious, valuable, engaging, and super-well produced. They’re also yours forever once you’ve purchased them. Bonus – our videos include a full transcript, so it’s easy to come back and quickly reference what you’ve learned. 
Ready to build that DJ empire? Here’s our sign-up form here.