Each of us has gone on a different journey when it comes to transitioning from a part-time mobile DJ into a full-time mobile DJ. But we all have one thing in common: that moment when you make the decision to tap into your inner performer and passion to DJ as a career instead of a hobby or second job. Not every DJ wants to go full time, which is completely fine. This is my personal journey thus far, after making that life-changing decision. I hope it educates and inspires you, while also giving a realistic view of the road ahead, if you are thinking about your own next step.
I never thought I’d choose to provide awesome music soundtracks and entertain people at events as a career. I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was born as an entertainer though. I can remember putting together a choreographed gymnastic or dance routine for company when they’d come over to the house for dinner, or setting up my red Little Tikes radio at the bus stop and putting my roller skates on to perform for the people while they waited. I grew up in a household where music was played frequently, so I fell in love with what music can do to one’s soul and spirit. And of course, I loved to dance to it!
I first was introduced to the world of DJing while attending college at Miami University of Ohio. I fell in with several area mic-masters and became their #1 fan. When the owner of the DJ company talked to me one night about trying it out, I immediately jumped at the offer. It seemed like a natural fit for me, not to mention a pretty good way to make some extra cash. The excitement and creativity I found behind the turntables was exhilarating and I started spinning at nightclubs and bars, as well as private and campus events. To compliment my live shows, I joined the college radio station to cohost a weekend music show.
After graduation, I continued to spin on the weekends while pursuing a career in TV broadcasting, which is what I really went to college for. I moved out to Los Angeles to continue to pursue my dream, but to help pay the bills I also subcontracted as a DJ/ MC/dancer on the weekends and even took a position as an office manager with a DJ company until I could get “my break” in TV journalism or some other niche I might discover in the crazy entertainment world. After years of many challenges, failures, few successes, an empty bank account, a broken heart, and an overwhelming feeling of being lost and unable to find a stable job I enjoyed, I decided it was time for a major change. I reluctantly packed up my things and moved back to the cornfields and green flatlands of Ohio. Little did I know that moving back to Ohio would be a blessing—and one of the best decisions I would ever make.
FINDING A NEW PERSPECTIVE
It took awhile to recover and rediscover what I was truly passion- ate about and what I wanted to do with my career life. That’s a whole other story in itself, so I’m going fast-forward a bit to get to the nuts and bolts of my experience going from PT to FT DJ.
While I was doing my “soul searching,” I stepped back into being a part-time DJ.
I figured I could always do it as a side business, plus I honestly needed the money. In the process of applying for “real world” jobs, rediscovering my passions, my likes/dislikes, strengths/weaknesses etc., I realized that becoming an entrepreneur as a full-time DJ/MC would be extremely gratifying on many levels and I could envision where this path could take me. Thus, I trusted myself and took a leap of faith.
Here are five nuggets of wisdom I have learned along the way that I feel has contributed to shaping me into a someone who could succeed full-time in the DJ business:
Researching the Market: It’s important to research the market and competitors in your area. Figure out what type of events you want to do, along with what you are going to offer and what will you charge.
Branding/Marketing: This ties into the research aspect. I feel strongly that marketing is a powerful tool, so I put A LOT of thought into how I want to brand and market myself. Even down to the style of clothes I choose to wear for events and client meetings.
I made the decision to stay solo versus going multi-op, so I had to devise a plan for how I was going to market/ brand myself so as to set myself apart from others. I had to think long and hard about how to become successful as a “solopreneur.”
I wanted to give my clients that “wow” factor, along with consistency, so they know exactly what to expect when I’m hired. This stays in my mind when marketing. I also utilize a variety of the available marketing outlets i.e., social media, blogging, website (which I admit is overdue for a rede- sign-I will get on that before end of the year), YouTube, snazzy business cards, a press kit, online advertising, print advertising, bridal shows, etc. Not all types of marketing have worked in my favor, but it’s a learning process and the good ol’ trial and error method rings true for any new business. Networking: I am a networking enthusiast. When I moved back to Ohio after being gone for five years, I really didn’t know many people because I had only gone to college here and worked a couple of jobs. I had to start fresh with a blank slate. Even though I had 10 years of DJing experience, to everyone else (the venues, vendors, and clients) I was a “new DJ.” I had to break that impression and get out there and meet people. I am now a member of TBN (The Business Network) and the ToastMasters. I also will attend NACE & ISES meetings, Perfect Wedding Guide luncheons/networking mixers, eWomen Network luncheons, WIBN meetings, Chamber of Commerce or BNI meetings. Dedication and Ambition: These two words are vitally important when transitioning from a PT DJ into a FT DJ. The word dedication means “the quality of being dedicated or committed to a task or purpose.” Ambition means “a strong desire to do or to achieve something, typically requiring determination and hard work.” With the roadblocks I’ve hit along the way, without having dedication and ambition, I would have given up already and be sulking in a corner eating Dove chocolates or working a job that I hate and just settled for. In addition, when I receive praise from a client or witness positive results from my hard work, it drives me to continue to be dedicated and ambitious.
Support System: I am surrounded with an incredible support system made up of my family, friends, mentors within the DJ industry and in life, and account- ability partners. Everyone needs people who give you love, honest and open feedback, who keep you on track when you feel you may be losing your marbles, and who help you move beyond the blocks, encourage you, make you laugh, and keep you aligned. I am thankful to those who have continued to be by my side along this journey.
It’s been almost three years since I took that leap of faith. It’s a continuous learning and growing process filled with amazing successes that leave me feeling elated and grateful. In addition, there have been failures that were tough to handle and times of exhaustion when seeking out elusive solutions for overcoming some major challenges. But all of this has made me stronger and helped me continually strive to be a better business owner. It is extremely rewarding when I reflect on how I have reignited my passion and found happiness in a full-time career, where I help people celebrate special moments and leave them feeling the shine too!
By DJ Dayna
Originally published in Mobile Beat issue #166 – link to http://www.mobilebeat.com/emagscurrent/166