Category Archives: Bedroom Bootstrapper

Business Review Pt 1: How I Doubled Revenue Six Years Straight (and counting)

We’re just crossing mid-year and I hit a major milestone: I have as much on the books halfway through this year compared to ALL of last year!

I’m keeping up with my targetted revenue growth of doubling each and every year. I hit $25k last year so basic math would tell us that I’m looking at $50k for 2018.

It’s also looking like I’ll be able to keep expenses flat despite the massive uptick in revenue.

Gross Rev Expenses Total Gigs Private Gigs Private Rev Bars/Clubs Bar Rev
2012 $100 $234 3 3 $100 0 $0
2013 $1,510 $625 5 5 $1,510 0 $0
2014 $1,841 $2,022 7 7 $1,841 0 $0
2015 $5,128 $3,399 15 13 $4,478 2 $650
2016 $12,840 $11,010 24 16 $10,790 8 $2,050
2017 $25,175 $13,916 67 14 $11,975 53 $14,250
2018 $25,945 $7,168 46 21 $19,795 25 $6,150

Weddings, Weddings, Weddings

So what can we glean from all these fancy numbers? The big thing sticking out is the explosion in Private Gig Revenue. Weddings have accounted for the big growth here.

I had five weddings in 2016 and unfortunately followed that up with absolutely zero in 2017. That changed in a big way this year, as I played five weddings over a four week period in May ALONE. So far I have 11 on the year with another already booked for 2019.

Bar revenue has fallen off a bit but that was to be expected. I stopped spending any and all energy working into the bar scene to focus exclusively on weddings and clearly it’s been paying off. I even began turning away bar gigs to double down on growing the most valuable part of my business.

As you can see below, I’ve done fewer gigs and my revenue has grown. Bar gigs pull in $200-250 not including tax or expenses. My average weddings have been priced at $1500 depending on the package. This is exactly what I planned on.

From Whence They Came

Below I break down percentages of where my revenue has been coming from.

Since a large portion of my income last year were bar gigs, Industry Connects & Multi-ops contributed to half of my revenue. Now that I’m turning away from bar gigs they’ve contributed to only a quarter of my revenue with Paid sources picking up the slack.

Paid sources include sites like Gigmasters and WeddingWire. A big reason why they’ve spiked up is because of the testimonials I’ve gathered.

Sources 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Word of Mouth 100% 100% 100% 70% 41% 31% 33%
Multi-ops 0% 0% 0% 18% 10% 30% 15%
Paid 0% 0% 0% 0% 26% 19% 39%
Industry Connects 0% 0% 0% 0% 2% 20% 7%
Barter 0% 0% 0% 13% 21% 0% 5%

Revenue by Source YoY

More Reviews = More Leads (& Gigs)

In August of 2017 I signed up for a Wedding Wire Pro account and through January 2018 I only had two reviews. By June I got that up to TWELVE, with every single wedding client writing me a testimonial.

Industry average is 20%, 30% at best if you follow-up four times. Once you break double digit testimonials Wedding Wire’s traffic DOUBLES. Anyone can tell you that doubling your ROI is huge, because now you’ve got twice the bang for buck. And Wedding Wire is not cheap.

I’m getting more and more qualified cold leads from clients who are willing and able to pay for quality service. If you don’t have the reviews or marketing assets (like a great website and professional photos), you’re just not going to make the sale outside of budget shoppers.

How Did I Get Reviews from 100% Of My Clients?

It all boils down to doing the unexpected. Spending just 2% of my gig revenue  on a gift, my clients were jumping up and down to write me a glowing review!

Look out for the next the article or sign up for my newsletter to be the first to know when it’s posted!

Stay Classy & Connected With Written Cards

One way I stay connected with past clients is hand writing cards and sending them in the mail.

  • As soon as I DJ their event, I send a Thank You card.
  • Each December I send out Happy New Year cards.
  • If I did a wedding, I send an anniversary card.

Most people just get bills in the mail. There’s something about a hand written note that will strike a cord with some folks.

A C-level executive took me out to dinner one day to learn about DJing, he grabbed the tab. I sent a hand-written Thank You and dropped it in interoffice mail the next day. I then got an email saying how much he appreciated it, “classy move”. I don’t think he’ll ever forget me.

It might take some time to write out your cards, but for that exact reason they’re appreciated that much more. This year I wrote out fifteen cards for New Year’s. It took me about two hours but I bet I easily get a couple gigs out of that. It’s the cheapest ‘advertising’ I’ll do all year, but also the easiest way to stand out.

PS: A reminder to follow-up with your leads! I just booked a wedding afterparty as a result of my THIRD follow-up email via autoresponder.

Do you really know how to use your mixer?

How To Use A Mixer

For over eight years did I lug around the gear to gigs, primarily using it as a conduit for easy microphone use, but I didn’t really know how to use a mixer.

My Traktor S4 had a mic input, but for the longest time I couldn’t figure out how to adequately use it during gigs. My second use for the standalone 12 channel mixer was enabling greater flexibility of audio connections. Many a time did my mixer get me out of a jam because I didn’t have the requisite adapters to hook into the house sound system. In addition it enabled greater volume control across various zones, where I ran TRS to the house system and RCA to my mixer which powered my own speakers.

Alas, it wasn’t until Rob came along and walked me through the standard options I had available.

Peaking Levels

The first thing he taught me was that you want your levels peaking just above the ‘zero’. That was news to me, as I always pushed my gear until I was flashing yellow. While there is still headroom, you want the flexibility in the event the source signal increases (eg. your song gets louder) or if multiple sources are combining (eg. you’re playing two songs at the same time). Anything above zero or ‘unity’ and your mixer is actually boosting the output, and vice versa for anything below it.

Mixer levels

Worse enough you’ll see guys living in red, clueless or ignorant of the fact they’re likely ruining the quality of sound and potentially damaging equipment. Below is a visual demonstration of what happens to sound when it is boosted too loud. The equipment you’re using literally can’t make it any louder. You lose the peaks, they slam up against the upper limit and flatten out, thus sounding like crap. Stay out of the red folks 🙂


Clipping waveform

Setting Your Gains

Now, how to set your gains! You can blast your music all over the venue to see where you start clipping out but this is practical and an amateur move.

To set the gain on your mixer without actually blasting your music there is a feature on most mixers called PFL or Pre-Fade Listen. It allows the signal to pass through and activate the volume meter (those pretty lights) without actually having to hear anything. If you have a Behringer Xenyx mixer like many folks do, activate PFL mode on the upper right of your master fader, then hit the solo button on the channel you need to set your gain on. Now you can adjust your levels without the venue going deaf! Setting PFL

Set your channel fader at zero and adjust the knob up top which you can see in the image below. If you are running into line 5/6 or 7/8 via two TRS cables, you can instead use the button to increase or decrease your level input. I now use these channels and finesse the out from my controller.
Inputs and Gains

Proper Inputs

Now for another rookie mistake: routing your controller or music source into the ‘Mic’ input instead of ‘Line In’. For many mixers the Mic input is the XLR input (the one with three small holes as seen up top). These inputs have greater ‘sensitivity’ to audio signal, meaning that the weaker signals microphones generate are heavily amplified compared to the signal your controller is sending. Your audio will sound much worse by routing your controller into a Mic Input. You want to use the TRS input, preferably ‘balanced’ cables (seen below). TRS Balance vs UnbalancedDon’t have TRS cables? Grab some patch cables!