Starting a mobile DJ business

Starting A Mobile DJ Business


Starting a part time mobile DJ business is not going to make you rich, but it can really make a big difference in your life. You can use the money to pay off bills, take a nice vacation or just be able to purchase things that you wouldn't normally be able to afford.

As a DJ, you can usually make between $50 to $200 an hour, depending on the type of event that you are deejaying or where you are located.

You may be asking that is it is possible to make so much money deejaying, then why doesn't everyone do it? Good question.

Well the answer is really simple.

First most people are scared to try it because that don't know exactly how to go about getting started deejaying. They don't know how to go about getting customers for their mobile DJ business and they don't know what equipment they well need to deejay with.

Second reason is that you have to be able to afford to invest in DJ equipment, which makes it hard if you don’t have any money to spend on the initial equipment.

These are what I call "barriers to entry". This is a good thing for you as a DJ. It keeps other people from getting into the business.

On this site,  I explain everything you need to know on how to get customers and DJ equipment, even if you don’t have money to buy the equipment up front to start your mobile DJ business.

If you are interested in learning how to do beat matching and "club" style DJing, then click here to learn more.

Getting Started With No Money!


Here are a couple of ideas to get your equipment to start your mobile DJ business without using your own money. (And yes it is legal)

(You will be surprised how little is cost to get a basic entry level DJ package. I was able to get my first set for about $550 and it is quality equipment. )

Don’t let the lack of money stop you from making money deejaying!

First, you can start marketing your business even before you get your first piece of  equipment. You do not have to have equipment to talk with potential clients or even to book future events.

You can collect the deposit money that you are given for future events and use that money to purchase your equipment. This means no money out of your pocket!

It is customary in the mobile DJ business to receive a deposit from your clients when they book an event in order to reserve the date. This is the basis of my no money out of pocket plan.

I will use the wedding niche as my example. Most people planning a wedding will be planning it several months or even a year in advance.

Most weddings at the minimum pay $350 to $500 and depending on the demand and time of the year, $500 to $1000 is more like the norm. You can expect to get a deposit of anywhere from $100 to half of the fee.

Let’s say you find a DJ set that you can get for $750. What you need to do is work on booking enough events to get $750 in deposit money to buy the set outright.

All you have to do is book a few weddings maybe 6 months in the future and collect the deposits now. Are you following along? We are using other people’s money to buy us equipment that we will use to deejay their event (where they will be paying us even more money).

Equipment On Credit


You can also buy your deejaying equipment on a payment plan system right now before booking any gigs.

Many of the equipment company have a 3 or 4 payment plan.

Then if you can book enough events during the payment plan time frame, you can pay for your equipment with no money out of your pocket.

Lastly, if you have a credit card, you could just buy your equipment with it and make the payments with your business profits.

I like buying my equipment on Amazon because I get better deals there.

Why do I know these will work? Simple, I have done it myself and if I did it, so can you.


Basic Equipment


When it comes to DJ equipment, there is the bare minimums that you will need and then there is both nicer/better equipment and the “extras”.

Speakers – There are two kind to choose from. Active and passive. Active speakers have the amp built in and passive require an amplifier to send them the power/sound. ( I like active speakers.)

With passive speakers, the audio signal comes out of the mixer and goes into the amplifier.  From the amplier out comes the power to drive the speakers.

I am not a big fan of these because if the amp goes out, you are done for the night.

The advantage of these are that they are lighter than active speakers, but beyond that, I don’t see much use for them.

Active speakers have the amplifier built into them. This mean you send a low level signal to them and the speaker will amplify it.

Usually there are several controls on the speaker that you can use to adjust the sound level, tone, etc.

I usually adjust my speakers to about the middle range on the amplifier scale ( ie 5) and then control the level of the signal I sent to the speakers via the mixing board.

I can also control the level of the signal coming out of the laptop or iPod that I use.

As you can see, there are lots of ways to control the volume and you have to adjust to avoid distortion. A hint is to never run anything on it highest level.

I like the active speakers because if my mixing board dies I can still hook it up in a way that I can produce music for people to hear.

If you are using passive speakers and your amp blows, you are done. Also a lot of amps come as a amp/mixer combo, so if either of these blow, you are done.

I want to make sure that I don’t ruin anyone’s event because of my equipment failing and I feel that active speakers give me a better chance of that not happening.

I recommend:

Behringer EUROLIVE B215XL 1000-Watt 2-Way Pa Speaker System with 15 Woofer And 1.75 Titanium Compression Driver
.

These are active speakers but they aren’t very heavy.

I have used Behringer speakers since I started and they sound good and  really hold up.

I love these speakers but you should look at buying them in a package like I did. You can save a ton of money this way. I recommend this package:

PA System With 15-In Powered Speakers & More PA System

It has everything you need to get started (except speaker stands) and it will save you money buying it this way.

Speaker Stands- These are simply stands that hold your speakers up off the ground. (they can be used to hold lights, too) Sturdy Speaker Stands

Mixer Board- Think of this as a big switch. You use it to turn on and off incoming sigal ( music or mics) and control the signal going to the amp ( or speakers, if you are using active speakers)

Think of the mixer board as just a big switch. There are a lot of options and most of the time you will only be using the sound board to switch between the inputs. Most of the times all you will need is 2 inputs for music and an input for a microphone.

The big thing to look for are the inputs and output connection types, stereo or mono, and the style of control knobs ( slider or turn knob). Behringer Sound Board

Amplifier- If you are using passive speakers, you have to boost the signal before sending it to the speakers. This is placed between the mixing board and the speakers. Pyle Pro

Audio Player/Storage Device- This is what you use to play and store your music in. Most likely it is going to be a lap top computer, but it can be an iPod, MP3 player, CD player. Depending on the set up, you might be using 2 or more of these.

Microphone- There are mics that you hook up via a microphone wire and then there are wireless microphones. Pro Wireless Mics

Wires- You will need a lot of different wires to connect your equipment up.

Extension cords and power strips- You will need several of these. Go with black extension cords, they look more professional. Here is a good 50 ft cord.

DJ Table and Stand- This will vary, but you need some place to hold all your equipment and make it look professional. (I have a really slick way of doing it)

In this picture, you can see my DJ table/stand set up.

DYI DJ Stand



I built a box out of plywood and covered it with black automotive carpet.

I put a hinged shelf on top to hold my laptop computer and my mixing board goes inside the box.

I just us a card table with a black cloth over it to make it look good and to hide all of my cables.

As you can see, everything is hidden from view, which gives a clean, professional look to my DJ table.

You can easily make this yourself for probably less than $20.

You need to make sure that you make it big enough to fit your mixing board in and a power strip.

I cut a hole in the black cloth to run the speaker cord and the extension cord out of.

Advanced Equipment

Here are some things that you will need to add as you grow your DJ business.

Lights- You can spend an ton on theses but I will show you hold to do it for next to nothing and have a great looking light set up.

Here are the lights I use: ADJ Products Micro Burst LED Lighting

You can fill a room with light with just 2 of these. I attach them to my speakers or speaker stands.

The second light option you should look at getting is black lights. You can use these a high school dances or you can offer “highlighter” parties as part of your DJ services.

You can usually charge extra for both kinds of lights and usually pay for them with the first gig you do with them.

Speaker Bags- These are used to safety store and move your speakers with. These have wheels and makes moving your equipment a whole lot easier. Gator Speaker Bag
 

DJ Gigs


There are many different events yo can do as a DJ, here these are the most common:

Wedding DJ- This can and most like will be your biggest money maker. You can expect to make anywhere from $400 to $1000 plus for a 4 hour reception.

High School Dances- This can be a great money maker too. You are looking at anywhere from $150 to $1000 plus ( proms pay really good) Most of the post game fund raising dances are going to pay $200-$300 depending where you are located.

Corporate Events- This can be company picnics, social events or office Christmas parties. This can be a real money maker for you too.

Frat/Sorority Formals- Here is the funniest and easiest money. Many Greek organizations have a Christmas/Winter Formal dance and a Spring Formal. These are like high school proms where anything goes.

There are also night clubs, pool parties, birthday parties, car shows, and events where they just need a MC or use of PA equipment

How Much To Charge For Deejaying An Event


When you are trying to decide how much to charge for DJing an event, you should never have your prices posted.

Every  event is different and should have a different cost. You have to take into consideration the time of year, the event type, the time of the event, how long the event is and how much  equipment you are going to need to bring.

The #1 tip that I have is to never give a quote for the event before asking the customer what their budget is.

For example, you get a call for someone wanting to book a wedding reception. You should ask the date, location, how long it is, number of guest, etc. Before giving the customer a quote, say something like, ” What kind of budget do you have for the DJ?”

Maybe they say $800 to $1000 and you would have done it for $500. You just made at least $300 extra by not giving a price first.

You would say something like, ” We can work with that budget” “I think we could do it for $850″

You can do this for any other type of event.


Building Up Your DJ Business

Have the old fashion DJ business cards printed up for your business and have a stack setting out on your DJ table at any event you are deejaying at.

Stop!

Before you get those cards printed, let’s do the next step first.

Setting Up Your Mobile DJ Business Website

You need to set up a  business website. This will make you look very professional if done right. I recommend that you get your own domain and not try to get one of those free sites. They look cheap  and you can have a website at Fatcow for well under a $100 a year.   Than is super cheap advertising.

On this site, you want to create a contact page and you should supply some sort of additional free information that the people planning an event might find useful.

Here is an easy way to us the internet and video to get your website to rank higher in the search engines ( which is like gettting free advertising for your business).

You can post videos to YouTube for videos you shoot at your events and link  them back to you website in the description area. You can also post tpicttures and videos from your events on FaceBook and tag people in them. People will share the video with their friends and family.

In the internet world, this is call backlinking, SEO and social media, all of which get your DJ business in front of eyes of potential customers and it is basically free.

The number on tip is to name the videos something like “Wedding DJ Anytown, New York”. This give you a “long tail keyword” which means the when someone is Goggling “wedding Dj Anytown New York”, there is a good chance your video comes up and their is a link sending them to your website which has your contact information.

Next you want to list your mobile deejaying business on the local web business pages directories. Link your website to this.

Other Ways To Find Leads


After that you need to put free ads up on Craigslist to advertise your business.  Be sure to link back to your website.

I have a few other ideas that I have used in the past to drum up more leads for my business.

I have sent business cards to all the local high schools with a letter to the principle asking if he would pass these along to any groups that may be hosting school dances that school year.  These cards may end up in the trash can or they may end up in the teachers mail boxes.

I stop by the local bridal dress shop and leave a stack of  business cards.

I contact my competitors  and ask them if they want me to refer them for any events that I can’t do and ask them to do the same for me.

Example:

You will find that sometimes you will get three bridal couples that want you to deejay their wedding reception, all on the same Saturday afternoon.  You can only choose one reception to DJ and the bridal customers will probably ask you if you know of any other deejays.

There are also times when you will book a job for $300 and then have someone that will be paying $1000 to have their event deejayed that is scheduled at the same time.  What should you to do??  You contact your fellow deejay and get him to cover you on the gig for $300. You would make the extra $700 and the other DJ will pass on jobs to you in the future.


You will soon find that you both will start to cover each others back and you will get way more gigs this way in the long run.

Sure you will get some crappy jobs for the other DJat first, but you pass out your business cards at those events and before you know it, you get bookings out of the crappy jobs.

This work great!

One of the ways that you can get your name out as a DJ and to promote your mobile DJ business is to volunteer your services for free.

There are many organizations that want or need someone to provide the sound system for their event.  This could be anything from a Walkathon to car show.

This is also a really good way to get experience if you are just getting started.  If you make mistakes while deejaying one of these events, nobody can really say anything because you are doing it for free.

You will benefit from getting a chance to learn the business with more hands on experience.

Sometimes you will just be providing a mic and loudspeakers and the people running the event may be doing all the talking.  Other times, you may be the event announcer or just playing music.

It normally only cost you your time, maybe a little gas money at the most and you will be giving something back to the community. Meanwhile, the people attending the event will be walking referrals.  Remember, word of mouth advertising is the best and cheapest advertising you can have.

I always get back more than I give and you will find out the same will happen for you, too.


How For Get Referrals As A DJ


If you want to make a lot of money as a DJ, you are going to have to learn how to get referrals as a DJ. You will find that you get more business this way than advertising or a website.

It is called word of mouth advertising and it has works for a long, long time in just about every business there ever has been.

You get referrals from good customer service and most of it come before the actual event happens.

You have to put your customers at ease during the event planning stage. Sometimes you have to even help plan out the event. For example, many times I help plan the wedding reception for people that have no idea how to plan one.

Happy customers give good referrals, which make you more money.

Remember it is not about deejaying skills but more about making people happy and there event run smooth.


Building A Playlist For Deejaying


As a DJ, you should never just show up to an event and wing it when it comes to song selection. I am not saying that you don’t take requests or don’t change the playlist, but you need to a playlist that covers the expected time frame of the event.

You should take into consideration the type of event and the length of the event when building this list.
You should make it at least as long as the event, if not longer. You can always skip some songs or just not play the end of the playlist.

Here are some of my ideas for building a good play list:

Don’t play any of your “good” songs at the very beginning . Thins about a high school dance. Kids are coming in for the first 10-15 minutes, so don’t play the current, most popular song during this time.

Don’t play the same song twice. There will be excepts to this, but at my son senior prom, they play “Chicken Fried” three times. WTF

Play a few songs that really has people dancing, then something they can’t dance to. People need a break.

Usually play only on song dance song at a time.

As cheesy as they are, people love to do the “group” dance songs. Cha Cha Slide, Wobble Baby Wobble….

Your songs at the end of the night should be just like the songs at the beginning ( throw away songs). People are tired, leaving or talking. Nobody cares what the DJ is playing at that point ( you just want someone to tell you to go home).

If you are doing a wedding with a dinner, you should use Jazz, Frank Sinatra, Michael Buble or Vitamin String Quartet. Easiest money ever!

Use the same playlist for months with high school dances. Just a new song every now and then and you will rock that dance.

If you get lots of request for songs, then add them to you playlist.

Colleges are way ahead of high school. Plan on using college request about 6 months down the road.

Save all your playlist and you can always just que one up if you are in a hurry.

Software For Deejaying


You need to download these 2 free programs.

The first one is Mixxx. It is a free open source program that you can use to basically play all your music on through a computer. It will help you set up playlists and easily control your whole music library.

The second program you are going to need is call Audacity.  This is another free open source program that is very popular for editing music. No matter what style of deejaying you are planning on doing, you will have to do some editing.

Use Mixxx DJ Software To Automatically Fade Songs Together


If you want to sound like a Pro DJ, you need to make sure that you don’t have a gap of silence between songs. This can be a real pain if you are manually doing this on your sound mixer and 2 different audio sources.

The good news is that you can use the free Mixxx DJ software to auto deejay your playlist for you. It will fade out one song and fade into the next automatically.

Make Clean Versions of Songs With Audacity


If you are going to be deejaying high school dances, you are going to need to make sure that you have clean versions of the popular songs.

You can easily do this yourself with the free software call Audacity.

I would suggest that you rename your song with the “songtitle”-clean, so that you know what has been edited to the clean version and what hasn’t.

How Act Professionally As A DJ


You need to learn how to be professional as a DJ if you want to get future gigs from some of the guest at your current gig (this is where you will get most of your future business, at least that is how it works for me).
 
Here is a basic list of rules a professional DJ must follow:

Arrive early to set up your DJ equipment so that you have time to test out the set up and take care of any last minute problems that you may have. Remember, you may be use to deejaying events but the customer is probably nervous about the event going off smoothly. Showing up late will only make them increase their nervousness.

Dress like a professional dDJ. This can vary depending on the event you are the DJ at. A formal wedding may require a suit or tux ( yes, you can get more for your “tux package”). Generally black pants and a long sleeve black button up shirt will cover just about any event. A less formal event like a pool party would probably only need casual attire.
   
Remember, you are “hired help” and not a guest at the event. This means that you just can’t help yourself to the open bar or buffet ( you should discuss this when you meet with your clients, many will tell you to help yourself to the food, bar, etc.)
   
You need to remember that it is not about what kind of music you like and if you are going to deejay professionally, you need to always keep this in mind. You need to play what your client and their guess want to hear.

You are trying to make the event as special as possible for your clients. Your job is to set the mood or tone of the party. This is what you are really providing to your client. Go out of your way to make it special.

This is just a small part of what I consider basic techniques. It is really just basic manners and a professional attitude.

Also when you are deejaying an event, you have to plan ahead for potential problems.

One of the things that I always do whenever I am deejaying is to make sure I have extra cords. You never know when one will short out.

I saw this happen a deejay at a Father-Daughter girl scout dance several years ago. The cord from his lap top to his mixing board went out. We were without music for about 45 minutes. Needless to say, it put a damper on the dance.

Another problem that can happen when you are deejaying is that the power plug in is too far away and you do not have a long enough extension cord. I have had this happen and had to be very constructive in my cord layout.

Other things that you might need is extra fuses, duct tape and of course a backup device to play music on.

You do not ever want to ruin your customers event by not being prepared. A professional deejay is always ready to handle problems.

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