Starting out independent, need any and all help/advice

SDDavid

New DJ
May 20, 2019
4
24
Hello, everyone. I'm starting out as an independent DJ and need help. I have equipment and have done a few weddings, only for friends and through pools. Now I want to go into business for myself to get business moving and make more money. What did you do when you started out? What pro-tips have you accumulated along the way? Input from everyone on your process is welcome; I'd love to hear everything I can. TIA
 

djtaso

DJ Extraordinaire
Apr 4, 2017
5,281
32
NJ
www.djtaso.com
Social Media and Content are your friend! Post about everything, showcase everything, and do it all often. Sponsored ads help in this industry, especially if you're just starting out and looking to build a following. Build a website... make it nice. Contact photogs and videographers from past events you worked weddings at and see if they can share photos from the first dance and dancing... offer to pay (don't expect free stuff, but always be super thankful). After you start getting a few gigs, the key will be word of mouth branding. This will only work through AMAZING performances... no one talks about average. If you want to do minimal work, expect to pay substantially for advertising over time, as few will naturally talk about you if you aren't worth talking about. Feel free to post online on local facebook community pages that you're new to the area and while you're seasoned and skilled, you're offering your services at a discount to get your name out. Don't say that for your local town, but perhaps the towns you want to expand into.

After you do a number of parties and find what you're comfortable with and where you want your niche to be... then you can start to discuss brand image and a more structured pricing system.

Again... the most important thing... content content content. We live in an instagram and youtube age. Videos and photos are everything. I read in a photobooth seminar yesterday that half of couples actually check out a companies instagram page before actually visiting their site. This is more true for photo and videography where photos and videos are literally their work, but it's also true for many experiences. My wife and I went to NYC last night since I had a night off, and when we started naming a bunch of restaurants to go to... she made her decision by going to instagram and seeing what place appealed most to her. When we booked our hotels for greece this summer, she went to instagram and searched for people that had been to the places to see photos of the views and the grounds (not the photo shopped photos the venue usually provides). She's at exactly the same age as the avg bride (for nj at least), so her habits are clearly typical of what most do, even more so for younger brides. I just got off the phone with a groom who was planning on hiring me... he was talking things over with his wife when she got home from work, and i got a text from him saying "dude your instagram is killing me... my wife is looking at all your photos and videos and wants everything"... what started as a $2400 package over the phone is now ending up closer to $4000. Idk how old you are so some of this may come naturally, or may be like learning a whole new language, but depending on how serious you want to be will determine how serious you need to invest your time into the social media end of things.
 

Scott Hanna

DJ Extraordinaire
Oct 25, 2006
6,697
53
Cleveland, OH
www.djincleveland.com
You should network with other djs in your area. Some will welcome you, some won't.

Don't think DJ's in your area are your competition. My competition is my time and how I use it to develop business.

Some people think if other lower priced DJ's in their area would quit or raise their prices, they're get more business. Its rarely the case.

I not only network with other DJ's, I send business their way when we are booked, pick up dates I want to fill.

Network with other DJ's here too. Lots of wisdom here.

Avoid rude people. People don't talk down someone they really want to help.
 

Handinon

DJ Extraordinaire
Oct 1, 2014
2,366
72
Hello, everyone. I'm starting out as an independent DJ and need help. I have equipment and have done a few weddings, only for friends and through pools. Now I want to go into business for myself to get business moving and make more money. What did you do when you started out? What pro-tips have you accumulated along the way? Input from everyone on your process is welcome; I'd love to hear everything I can. TIA
If I'm reading this correctly, it sounds like you want to do more weddings. That probably means also doing some MC'ing, not just DJ'ing. If you are not comfortable talking, with a microphone, in front of a large group of people - well, you need to work towards that. By "comfortable", I mean easily ad-lib in front of them, for lack of a better description.

Some people just naturally have personalities that are like this. If yours isn't, start working on it now, and it doesn't have to be DJ'ing. Public Speaking course at Adult Ed, Toastmasters, singing Karaoke in large venues (even if you suck as a singer) and interfacing with the crowd, Eulogies, whatever. The more you do it, the better (except maybe eulogies). Just put yourself out there.

Thou shalt not wedding DJ sitting down. The more energy you throw at them, the more you get back!

You did not say how old you are. If you are young, lets say less than 30, learn Spanish if you don't already know it. IMHO, this applies to any business in the US, not just DJ'ing.

What I'm describing takes time and work, as opposed to equipment and a song library which can be acquired quickly - but it's what will separate you long term from the legion of run-of-the-mill wedding DJ's. As for getting known/advertising/pricing, the guys above me have already given great advice.
 
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What did you do when you started out?

In the 90s, while living in NYC, I studied and modeled the most successful Mobile DJ Companied such as Hart to Hart, Double G Productions, and Star DJs. I then decided to follow my own independent path and became a single op in order to offer a more personalized "quality" entertainment service for customers that valued entertainment.

I've always relied on WOM referrals by local vendors, venues, and prior clients. So my primary focus has always been on my performance & customer service. Using expensive advertising did not work for me, but building a reputation with my prior clients has been my primary form of promotion for almost two decades.

Work on your craft and the rest will follow.