Share on facebook

I grew a music hustle into a 7-figure business — here's what I learned - Business Insider

I never thought I’d make a ton of money as a musician, and for many years I didn’t. 
In 2009, during a terrible recession , I lost two jobs — one in finance when the department dissolved and one at a software startup when it shut down — right after signing up for my first mortgage and having my first child. My wife and I eventually had to go on food stamps to survive. Willing to make anything work, I decided to focus more on my music side hustle. 
I started doing freelance work producing music for bands and singer-songwriters and creating content about music production on my blog. I also launched a YouTube channel, The Recording Revolution, where I taught musicians how to record professional-sounding music on a budget and from a home studio.
Since then, I’ve grown my YouTube channel to more than 600,000 subscribers. I post every week without fail.
So in 2010 I launched my first product, an online course that taught viewers how to use a popular audio-recording software called Pro Tools. I made only $10,000 in the first year from the course, but it was a start, and over the years I created more courses on music and recording. In 2018, I hit more than $1 million in revenue from selling these courses.
The more it grew, the more people began asking me questions about my business, not just music. They wanted to know how they could build an income by making their own courses. In 2018, I decided to launch a second business teaching others how to launch their own online business based on their own areas of expertise. This involved starting a second YouTube channel and blog and a separate website of online courses and coaching products. In 2021, this second business brought in more than $1.2 million in revenue. 
Growing a side hustle into an income-generating business takes consistency. In the years since launching my businesses, here’s what I’ve learned about what it takes to be successful selling courses online. 
In the business of info-products and selling courses, you need to reach a lot of people to earn their business. Some people run ads to get customers, but I focus on giving my best content away for free because in my experience this generates more leads that can turn into paying customers.
In the beginning I was nervous that giving away my “secrets” for free would mean that no one would buy my paid products or I wouldn’t have anything left to sell. 
But the opposite happened — the more content I made available for free, the bigger my audience grew and the more they trusted me. People who had good results after following advice from my free content often email me saying that it’s what made them decide to join one of my paid programs. 
Even after launching for-purchase courses, I still create valuable, free content on my blog, podcast, and YouTube channel. 
My free content tends to focus on one-off nuggets of information while the paid courses are more in-depth and involved. For example, I might teach a specific technique for free on how to make your drums sound more punchy and aggressive, but also have a paid course that teaches everything you need to know about recording and producing great drum sounds.
I absolutely despise “hustle culture” — in my experience, working more is simply not the answer to earning more. 
In the early years of launching my online businesses, I averaged between 20 to 30 working hours per week. But since my business products are online courses, once I finish a new one and publish it, it can continually generate passive income. By doing this, I’ve created systems that keep my business running smoothly and now allow me to work just five to 10 hours per week. 
For example, in each of my YouTube videos or podcast episodes I offer an exclusive free training in exchange for their email address if they’d like to go deeper with my content. I use automated software to follow up with those leads via email to handle the qualifying and sales process, eventually offering some of my paid digital products and making the sale for me. Then if they purchase, my system automatically delivers the product and takes them through an onboarding welcome process, again via email.
Additionally, I have a virtual assistant who handles the uploading, tagging, and sharing of my weekly content. He also handles all customer service emails for me, ensuring I stay out of my inbox as much as possible so I can focus on creating content, which is the best use of my time.
When you’re ruthless about efficiency and effectiveness, you’ll have more bandwidth and time to actually focus on real growth.
When I started my business, I had a lot of self-limiting beliefs and feelings of imposter syndrome. I’d sometimes fall into negative thinking that people wouldn’t think I’m good enough to learn from. 
But in reality, few people have cared that I don’t have a Grammy or produce music for household names. Instead, they appreciate that my videos have helped them make better-sounding music. And as my skills and knowledge have increased, I have more value to offer my students and can take them further in their journey. 
Here were two realities I learned that have helped me overcome feelings of imposter syndrome: 
I don’t believe in sacrificing everything in my personal life to grow the business.
Family time is important to me, so I built my business around it from the start. Originally, I simply decided to not work on Fridays. At the time my kids were little, so we’d have “Family Fun Fridays” when we’d go to the beach or the zoo or have a picnic in our backyard. 
As they’ve gotten older, I’ve made sure to cut work off every afternoon by 4 p.m. so I can give them and my wife my full attention in the evenings and on weekends. I also adjust my schedule as needed to be able to take them to and from school every day, no matter what. 
For new business owners, protecting this personal time could look like making plans with friends and sticking to them or putting away your laptop at a set time every night.
I didn’t learn these lessons overnight — it took me years of trial and error, experimentation, and fighting through my own fears and insecurities. And while building an online business is more doable now than ever, it takes strategy, commitment, and consistent effort to make it happen.
Graham Cochrane is a business coach and the author of “How To Get Paid for What You Know.” He founded his YouTube channel and an online music business, The Recording Revolution, in 2009. Cochrane has been featured on CNBC, Yahoo!, and HuffPost.
Keep reading



Gonerfest 2022 in Memphis: Lineup, tickets, streaming and more - Commercial Appeal

Step Into The Future With These 3 Streaming Service Stocks - Seeking Alpha

Most Viewed