Today I’m chatting with one of my Wedding Pro members Dan, the wedding DJ behind JN Sounds. We talk all about taking big action and finding success.
Dan shares his journey in starting the business with his friend John over 13 years ago and how they grew, as well as the lessons he learned when John moved on, and he had to run it solo.
We talk about the importance of networking, social media, and setting boundaries to avoid burnout!
Find out more about Dan here:
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Introduction [00:00:20] Becca introduces herself and the podcast, and welcomes Dan from JN Sounds.
Starting the business [00:01:49] Dan talks about how he started his mobile DJ business with his friend John, and how they gradually shifted towards doing more weddings.
Finding first wedding bookings [00:03:43] Dan talks about how they got their first wedding bookings, which were mostly through word of mouth and online advertising.
Going solo [00:05:12] Dan talks about how he decided to continue the business on his own after his partner John decided to leave, and the challenges and benefits of working solo.
Lessons learned [00:07:52] Becca asks Dan about the biggest lessons he’s learned in his years of running a wedding DJ business.
Networking and Social Media [00:08:05] Importance of networking events and social media in growing the business.
Inquiries and Marketing [00:09:49] Sources of inquiries and the importance of keeping up with changing marketing trends.
Investing in Personal Development [00:11:22] Importance of investing in personal development and constantly improving oneself.
Building Relationships with Venues [00:13:29] Approach to building relationships with venues and getting on recommended supplier lists.
Balancing Full-Time Job and DJ Business [00:15:12] Managing time and setting boundaries while balancing a full-time job and a DJ business.
Setting boundaries for your business [00:16:28] Dan and Becca discuss the importance of setting boundaries for your business, especially when it comes to the number of weddings you take on.
Book recommendations [00:18:05] Becca asks Dan for a business book recommendation, and they discuss the benefits of reading and listening to audiobooks.
Future plans for JN Sounds [00:20:33] Dan talks about his plans for the future of his business, including the possibility of bringing in younger DJs.
Lessons learned in the wedding industry [00:22:22] Dan shares his top lessons learned in the wedding industry, including the power of networking, the importance of investing in your business, and the value of branding.
Dan: But we said, oh, we can, we can set up another speaker for you to play the ceremony music. So we did that. And yeah, after that they, yeah, emailed us, oh, thank you for helping us out. Could we put you on the recommended supplies list? So, yeah, like I say, I’ve never asked. It’s just being nice. Being a nice, being helpful, being me. Yeah.
Becca: I am Becca Pountney wedding business marketing expert, speaker and blogger, and you are listening to the Wedding Pros who are Ready to Grow podcast. I’m here to share with you actionable tips, strategies, and real life examples to help you take your wedding business to the next level. If you are an ambitious wedding business owner that wants to take your passion and use it to build a profitable, sustainable business doing what you love, then you’re in the right place.
Let’s get going with today’s. Today I’m chatting with one of my favorite wedding pros on the planet, Dan from JN Sounds. I’ve been working with Dan for the last six years, and I’ve watched his DJ business explode from being in a partnership to taking the business on alone through a rebrand new website and multiple wedding seasons.
So why do I love Dan as a client? Well, he shows up. He takes serious action. He’s always willing to help other people, and he does it all alongside a full-time job. So inspiring. I can’t wait for you to hear his story. Dan, welcome to the podcast.
Dan: Hey, Becca. How are you? How’s it going?
Becca: I’m good, thank you. Thank you so much for joining me. I know I’ve been trying to get you on this podcast for a while. You’re a busy man, but it’s really good to have you and I know people are gonna love hearing your story today. Good to be here. Looking forward to it. Okay, so. Start by going right back to the beginning of your journey.
If you can take yourself back to that point of starting your wedding business. Like why did you decide to start a wedding business in the first place? What happened to get you onto that journey?
Dan: Yeah, so it was a good few years now, probably about 13 years ago, maybe even a bit more, and I mean it, it wasn’t really a wedding business as such to start off with it was just, you know, a mobile.
DJ business. And this was with my friend John. So there was two of us, and it was more, it was more kind of doing every event that we can rather than just, just weddings. But over the time, over the first few years, we, you know, we realized that weddings, you know, despite being more work compared to like a birthday party, they’re a lot more fun and pay a bit more as well.
And so, yeah, we started going more and more in down into the wedding route.
Becca: So did you and John just have a chat one day and think, let’s start a business? Like how did that come about?
Dan: So, yeah, so I guess, yeah, before we actually started the business, so before John got into DJing, his dad was into DJing, so he was a mobile DJ back in the seventies.
Like they said, the original. mobile DJs back then. So, yeah, so John kind of got into it through that and I think John started, you know, sort of doing parties and things when he was about 15, 16. Then I met John at McDonald’s where we both worked when I was about 16, 17. I don’t work there anymore. And then, yeah, so I, I, I, yeah, I was, I’ve always been massively into music and, you know, I, you know, when I sort of started, became 18, started going to clubs and things that was.
I was looking at what the DJs were doing. I wanted to do what they were doing and, and yeah, so me and yeah, me and John were both into that and I went and helped John at some, uh, parties that he was doing. And then yeah, we did, did more and more, and then we decided let’s take things a bit more seriously and charge a bit more money and, yeah. and then it just spiraled
Becca: And it went from there. So you started off doing more kind of parties, celebrations, that kind of thing. One thing people always ask me, especially when they’re just starting out is, well, where on earth do I find my first wedding bookings from? So can you remember back to that point, like how did you get your first weddings? Where did that come from?
Dan: So our first one was some friends, friends of my sister who were getting married. And so they, they, they must have heard, I can’t remember, they must have heard that we were doing, doing parties and things and asked if we could book us for their wedding. And, yeah, that’s a good point.
I mean, the, the first few weddings that we did, yeah, they were like, for people we didn’t know. We, they were quite scary, but we, you know, we’d done a lot of parties, you know, we were confident sort of music wise. But yeah, how we, how we got them? I can’t remember. I mean, we, we set up a website and Facebook page.
Yeah, thinking back to some of the earlier ones, they were probably like friends of friends and at some point back in the day we used Google AdWords, which was like really cheap. Back then you, you, if you spent 20 pounds, you’d get like 50 pound credit and one click would be like 50 piers opposed to whatever it is now.
I don’t even know. Probably multiple pounds. Facebook. Yeah, through Facebook as well. You know, Facebook, I don’t use so much now, but back in the day I got a lot of inquiries through that.
Becca: So you basically just put yourselves out there. You started a, you started a website, you told people that you were willing to do it, and then people started to find you and your business grew.
And when I first met you, you and John were in business together. You were working really hard. You had a great successful. Business and then things took a different turn, didn’t they? Because you decided that it was gonna be time to go it alone. So tell me a bit more about that story and how that ended up happening.
Dan: Yeah, see, there was quite a few years where we worked together and we did, did a lot of weddings. So just before Covid 2019 was it, so about halfway through that year, John said that he was gonna, hang up his headphones cuz he’d, he’d been doing it for a long time. He had a, a young child and his yeah.
His other job, which he still enjoyed, was starting to sort of clash with like Saturdays. So he said, oh, at the end of 2019 I’m gonna stop. It was all, all totally amicable, but I had to decide, oh, am I gonna stop as well? Or, or carry on. And. I decided to carry on so early 2020. I was ready to get ready to go.
Lots of bookings. And then, and then, and then I bought a van and bought another van. I bought some new speakers and then Covid happened. Yeah.
Becca: Yes. The years that we don’t like to talk about, but I do remember if we go back before that, I remember having conversations with you when you were thinking about doing it on your own.
Whether it’s the right thing, whether it was something you were gonna be able to do, whether couples would like you as much if you were on your own. Now, looking back, like what’s been your experience of, of taking that leap and going and carrying on, on your own?
Dan: Yeah, I was thinking lots about it. I was speaking to you and lots of other people about it, and it was, it was quite, yeah, it was scary.
Having to do everything on my own. I think one of the, one of the big things that, one of the main things that John would sort of do as opposed to me was a lot of the hosting on the mic. You know, so I’d concentrate on the music and he’d be concentrating on the microphone especially. So we sort of owned it more like all day weddings and doing the hosting during the day for like the speeches and things like that.
So that was one big thing that was a bit scary for me. And I, but I just, you know, it’s not that I hadn’t done it before. It did it most of the time, and I had to just dive in and do it. And now, yeah, now I’m totally, totally fine with that, but I’ve been, I’ve enjoyed it. It’s been good. Just doing things just kind of my way as opposed to, yeah, we’d always check things with each other.
Now I can just sort of, yeah, it’s different, but I like it. I can just do things my way and. Yeah, it’s going well.
Becca: Great. And I think there’s always pros and cons to working in a partnership or working on your own. There’s some great benefits to being with a partner because you’ve got someone else to share ideas with and you’ve got someone else to share responsibility with.
But then on the other hand, you’ve also got someone to share responsibility with a share ideas with, which can’t be difficult. So I think, for me, there’s never a right or wrong. People often ask me, should I do this on my own or should I go into business with someone else? And I think the question to think about, What’s the reason you wanna do it with someone else and so often it is confidence. They feel like they can’t do it on their own, but actually sometimes they do better when they do things on their own because they can just make all of the decisions instantly.
Dan: Yeah, yeah, I agree. Absolutely. Yeah.
Becca: Okay, so you’ve been in business for a number of years now. You’ve got a lot of experience from when you first started.
What are some of the big lessons you’ve learned along the way in terms of getting business and working at weddings?
Dan: Oh, thats a big question. I think like networking events, you know, meeting other suppliers and just, you know, as time has gone on over, you know, over the years I’ve sort of met more suppliers and more, got into more venues and that sort of thing, that, that’s really important.
And I think the, the first few years we weren’t really, well, I think there was a lot less networking groups. Around, especially wedding specific ones. So we, we’d meet suppliers, you know, photographers and people at the weddings and chat to them, but then, then you might see them again at another wedding, but not, you know, not really chatting between.
So that, that’s been massive. I think, you know, going to networking events and where they’re, you know, networking events that are a bit more ones, like you’ve organized Becca, where there’s like, what was it like quickfire sort of chatting sessions that you did, wasn’t it? where you sort of get to know people a bit more formally, but then Yeah, but then just some. informally going out for people with drinks and you know, meeting all sorts of, I, I know so many people in the wedding industry now and have learned a lot. A lot from a lot of people. I think. Yeah, a lot of it just comes. Over time, like just meeting more people over time. But yeah, the networking has been massive social media as well, just growing social media.
When Instagram started becoming more popular, moving over to that, I never, I couldn’t get into that sort of straightaway. I didn’t get Instagram first of all, but when it started ballooning, you know, I put more effort. Instagram, then Facebook. And I think, you know, the wedding, the sort of age groups of people getting married moved over to Instagram as well, didn’t they?
Rather than Facebook. And so yeah, Instagram is, I put a lot of effort into that for a, for someone who’s a part-time DJ and yeah, and I got a lot, lot of inquiries through that. And yeah. What was the question? ?
Becca: Yeah, I think you, you’ve answered it perfectly because you, the two things you mentioned are two things that I think.
Don’t value enough often. So the first one being networking. Often people don’t understand, well, why would I need to go to networking? How’s that gonna get me business? There’s not gonna be any couples there. But actually in this industry, who you know is so important and people can bring work to you by mentioning you to their couples.
And secondly, talking about how you first got onto Instagram, you know, over the 13 years or so you’ve been in business, like business is changing all of the time. The social platforms are changing all of the time. . People don’t understand that in business. You’ve gotta keep up with those things, like you’ve gotta be on your toes.
The things that worked five years ago are different to the things that work today and are gonna be different to the things that work again in five years time right now. Where do you think most of your inquiries come from? If you were to have a broad look at what’s going on in your business?
Dan: You know what? I haven’t looked at the stats lately, I should. I think when I, when I last looked, it was probably about 50 50 between, so. Our. You know, my website has been around good few years now, so that does well in Google rankings. So a lot of, inquiries come from Google. I’d say probably 50%, like just through Google.
So my contact form, I have a, a box. Where did you find me? So a lot from Google and then the other half I’d probably say venue recommendations or other supplier recommendations or other DJ. and, and social media? Yeah, quite a few through, through Instagram as well. I’d say that’s the main places.
Becca: One of the things I really. Love about you, Dan, is that I think you’re so humble in the way that you talk about things and you downplay things so much. So you talk about, oh, I’ve had a website for a long time, and it does really well on Google. I know because I’ve watched it over the last few years. You work incredibly hard at things like that.
I know you work on your search engine optimization, you learn about it. I think you have the apps to look at it. You keep a track of it. You go to trading sessions and you implement it. Why have you? Kind of put so much emphasis on investing in yourself and doing that kind of personal development.
Dan: I think it’s important to. And you know, even back 13 years ago when we started the business, we didn’t, we wanted to do things, you know, we didn’t want it to just be a casual kind of part-time business. We wanted to, you know, as a business, so we wanted to take things seriously and we’d, you know, we’d go to training events, you know, where you kind of learn to pick up DJ skills and hosting skills, but then, events that the likes of you put on where you learn about seo and Yeah, I just, I just always wanna do things the, the best that I can.
Basically, you know, if I can improve my website and get more inquiries, even if I’m turning, even if it just means I’m getting more inquiries about having to turn away, load more. Cause I can’t do them all. Yeah. I just wanna do. do things as, as best as I can with the, with the time, time I’ve got.
Becca: And I think that’s really important for people listening to think about because so often people just, they see someone like you, they see you being really successful, and they think there’s some kind of magic involved and they just think, well, I just want more people to inquire.
But what they don’t necessarily see is that it is not just coincidental. You’ve put in huge amounts of hard work. Always learning and you are always taking action to keep on improving your results. So if you are listening to this and you’re thinking, I just, I just wish that I could be in a position where I could turn down inquiries.
It doesn’t happen overnight, and it doesn’t happen by accident. But if you put in the hard work and you market yourself and you keep on learning, then it will happen for you a hundred percent. Now, one of the things you mentioned was venue recommendations. And I know this is a topic that comes up in questions to me a lot.
How have you built relationships with venues over the last few years and what’s worked for you in terms of getting on those elusive supply lists?
Dan: I don’t think there’s a secret answer or tip. It’s just I’ve. It’s been me. I’ve just gone to venues and been nice. Been nice to people, and helpful. I’ve never asked to be on any, on any list.
List. I don’t think they’ve always, I’ve always been approached by venues. I remember the first one I got onto this, this is when John was around. He’s still alive. He’s not dead , when I was working with John, we were setting up in the day a bit earlier, like for the evenings. We weren’t, we weren’t working in the day, but we was, we were just gonna be DJing the evening, but we’re setting up earlier.
And I think the venue, they were either having trouble with this, so the ceremony was gonna be just outside the venue and they were either having trouble with. Their speaker or something, or I can’t remember exactly, but we said, oh, we can, we can set up another speaker for you to play the ceremony music.
So we did that and yeah, after that they, yeah, emailed us, oh, thank you for helping us out. Could we put you on the recommended supplies list? So yeah, like I say, I never asked. It’s just. being nice. Being a nice, being helpful, being me.
Becca: Yeah, a hundred percent. And going above and beyond her people, because a lot of people would think, oh, that’s out of my remit.
I don’t have to do that. That’s the, that’s the venue’s problem, that their speaker’s not working, not my problem. But actually doing something kind, stepping out of our way and doing something that probably wasn’t that much extra effort for you to do can make all the difference in building that relationship.
Dan: Yep, absolutely.
Becca: With the venue.
Becca: Now, you mentioned earlier about how you are a part-time dj. I think that’s a little unfair because I know you work incredibly hard on your business, but you do still have, a full-time job alongside of your business. So how on earth do you manage your time? How do you balance the two, and why is it that you.
Carry on with your day job as well as your DJ business.
Dan: Yeah, so it does, I tell this a lot. It does feel like two full-time jobs times. So yeah, I work pretty much Monday to Friday, nine till five. So a lot of evenings I spend, or even, even lunch times at work. We’ve got like a cafe at work and I’ll. Take my laptop to work with me and go and do stuff at lunchtime.
Not every, I don’t want it to be every lunchtime, you know, that I’m just working the whole day. But yeah, lunchtimes evenings, you know, most evenings, a lot of evenings I have client meetings, especially at the moment. There’s loads. Yeah. My, my other, I enjoy my other job, so I work at university and you know, it’s a nice place to work.
I’ve, yeah, I’m just, I’m just comfortable. Comfortable at the moment and working my other job. And then, and then sort of only, you know, I don’t do loads of weddings a year, although last year was pretty mental, so I’m trying to do a bit less just this year to have more, some more free weekends. Yeah.
Becca: So how do you set those boundaries?
How do you decide, right, this year I wanna do this many weddings. Do you decide on number of weddings that you wanna do? Or do you block out weekends that you wanna have off? Do you look at monetary value? Because I know that you probably could book more weekends than you do because you do get a lot of inquiries.
So how do you keep yourself accountable? How do you set those boundaries in your business?
Dan: Yeah, I’d, so I’d say like for each, I’d probably look to do like so many a month say. , you know, it does, it does vary a bit. And sometimes in the summer months, I can do a bit more to make up for, say like January and February, where there’s not as many.
But say, if I, if I sort of say, right, I’m gonna limit it to three in a month, and that’s it. And then once that month gets full, then I, that’s it. It is, you know, it’s so tempting to take on other ones when they come in and I, you know, sometimes do, especially if I think, oh, nothing’s happened that weekend, but you know, this year I’m being stricter.
And if I’ve got, say, like three weekends in a row, and then I’ve got a break of another of a weekend, and then I’ve got a couple more weekends I’ll, I’ll be like, no, I’m definitely keeping that weekend free. So I’m not doing six weekends in a row, especially this year. More being more. more strict with that.
Becca: I think it’s really important to talk about it because it’s a problem. People don’t realize they’re gonna have until they have it. So when people first start working with me, often they’ll say, you know, how do I get my first wedding? I wish I could get more leads or I wish I could get more inquiries. I wish I could get more weddings.
Then they blink and the next minute, they’re working so hard, they’ve got no time to do anything else. And actually, I think it’s really important to think about those boundaries before you hit them. And to know, yeah, okay. Occasionally if something really good comes in, you can break them a little bit.
But if we know, you know, I only wanna do 20 weddings next year, and once you hit your 20, that’s it. You close your books and that’s okay. You don’t have to keep on taking more and more and more and more.
Dan: Yeah. I mean, you know, I do look at the number. Yeah. So you start, yeah. The number of weddings and. , the sort of, you know, financial number of weddings as. Yeah.
Becca: So you track both statistics. Yeah. Now one of the things you are known for inside of my member’s lounge, although you haven’t done it for a little while, so maybe you need to do it again soon, is for giving great book recommendations. I know you read loads of different business books and you’ve learned so much from books.
So off the cuff, I would love to know, is there a business book that you’ve read recently that you would recommend to people who are listening?
Dan: Do you know what? I haven’t read as many recently. In the last, I’d probably say in the last sort of year or two, I’ve got more into podcasts cuz they’re a bit easy, , bit easy, you know, you can listen to ’em as you are, as you’re doing other stuff, you know, in the gym or whatever.
I’m trying to think of the last actual book I read. There’s one book and I, and I know you’ve read it, Becca, that I always recommend to people, and it’s one I’ve read, it’s a few years ago and it was a book on branding called Build. Is it Building a Story Brand by, I wanna say Donald, somebody.
Becca: Yeah. Don miller.
Dan: That’s the one. Yeah.
Becca: Donald miller. I’ve got it on my shelf behind me building a story brand with Donald Miller.
Dan: That’s an amazing, I, you know, for a business book that’s, I can put it down. It was like, I need to get the end of this. Read it in like a weekend. And, yeah, if you are, especially if you are.
So at the time when I read that I was kind of building a new website, so that really helped. But even if you’re not, if you think, oh my, you know, my website needs an update. It’s not what I want, want it to be reading. That just opens your mind at how people look at websites. And you know now, and now every time, every website I see now I see it in a different way that I never saw it before kind of thing.
Becca: Yeah, it’s a great book. It’s a great book. I’ll definitely put a link to it in the show notes cuz yeah. Take Dan’s recommendations. He always recommends good books. I always read the books that he recommends for me to read. So yeah, you need to get some more recommendations. And Dan, if you like podcasts, you should get into audio books, because audio books have revolutionized the way that I read because I am terrible at having time to read.
But since listening to audio books, I have listened to more books this year than I’ve probably read in the last 10 years because I, as you said, you can listen to them while you’re at the gym and, carry on with the rest of your day.
Dan: Yeah, I should, I don’t think I’ve. . I might have had some free ones for Amazon.
I don’t think I have an account to get them at the moment sort of thing, but yeah, I should.
Becca: Absolutely. You need to get back onto the reading and make some more recommendations. Yeah, inside of the members lounge. So Dan, what is next then for you and jn sounds You’ve achieved so much over the last 13 years.
Your business has grown and developed. What’s on the horizon for you next?
Dan: That is a very good question. that, that I wish I knew the answer to. I think, I mean, going back to what we, what I was saying about, you know, just starting off on my own, just before Covid, so I’ve only, I’ve only, it’s only been so there’s nothing for in 2020.
2020, the, it is around summer 21, wasn’t it? Where weddings, parties for weddings anyway, were allowed to go ahead. So it’s only. A year and a half where I’ve been, doing weddings on my own and I’ve really enjoyed it. And so I want to just carry on for a bit as, as is at the moment. I dunno, as a, you know, as a DJ and the late nights and heavy lifting and everything, you know, I take, I take my hat off to full-time DJs who, who do it a long time and will do. Five weddings in a week, cuz it is, it can be really tiring. It does take its toll on your body. And I, and I don’t sleep well as it is at times. So yeah, I don’t, I dunno how many more years I’m going to carry on for, but certainly a few. But even, you know, if that, if that in mind, I’m not just going to give up or let the website and everything just fizzle out.
You know, I’ll, I will, I know. I’ll carry on putting. Effort into what I do until I, until the day I stop kind of thing.
Becca: Maybe it’s time to start looking around for some younger DJs to bring into the JN Sounds collective.
Dan: Yeah. That, that, things like that do cross my mind. You know how I can do things where I don’t have to, where I can. stay sitting down and people do things for me. Yeah, maybe, maybe one day.
Becca: You’ve got so much to give. I know that you will achieve great things over the next five to 10 years. I have absolutely no doubt. Now, before we finish this chat down, I always finish my interviews with the same question, which is this.
What’s one thing you wish you’d known sooner in your own wedding business?
Dan: I think going back to what we. The, I think the number one thing, going back to what we spoke about earlier, is like the power of networking and knowing other suppliers and, and venues. It’s just you learn so much, you know, you get recommendations, you help each other, you make, and you make amazing friends and that, yeah, like I say, the first few years that just, We didn’t know.
Networking was such a powerful thing and there wasn’t much of it as around. So, and you know, whether it’s in on, in Zoom meetings or face-to-face, or even in, even in Facebook groups, you know, there’s so many niche wedding Facebook groups and you know, for me there’s millions of DJ groups. I mean, that, that was, that’s the main thing.
The other thing I’d say is, , get an accountant. The first few years we tried it on our own and that was horrible, . It was one of the most scary things every year when it came round. And, and again, I think what I, again, what I mentioned earlier, investing in yourself, so in your business, so whether it’s improving your, oh, I dunno.
Any, anything that improves you or like courses that can improve your business on seo. branding and whatever or the, or the specific wedding industry that you’re in. And, and yeah, and just, and branding as well, like the image and brand of your business, I think is, is really important. I think, I think as some people don’t think about it enough, perhaps if they’re new or just have never thought to that, it’s a thing to think about.
I think that’s really important. And once you’ve had a, your brand starts to get recognized. It’s been a few years that that really helps with, with inquiry.
Becca: Yeah, a hundred percent And take action, which is what you definitely do. You don’t just listen. Yeah, you don’t just learn. You take action. You take it on and then you go out and do it.
And that is what makes you successful. Dan, it’s been such a pleasure to talk to you. If people wanna find out more about you and about your business, where’s the best place for them to find you?
Dan: My website is jnsounds.com. I am jn sounds on all the social medias I hang out on Instagram the most I would.
Not on TikTok yet.
Becca: Maybe in the future we’ll find you on TikTok. I’ll be sure to add
Dan: I think in, I think in the future everyone will, everyone will be, will need to be on TikTok unless it gets canceled in this country. ,
Becca: watch this space. Dan, it’s been such a pleasure chatting to you. Thank you, and I’ll see you soon.
Dan: Thanks for having me. Cheers, Becca.
Becca: I love that conversation with Dan. Isn’t he great? And he’s so good at taking action. So if you take nothing else from this podcast episode, remember it’s not just about listening, it’s about going out there and taking action. I’ll see you next time.