As a composer and sound designer being into the audio business for around 15 years now, I strongly believe that an artist can be more than just applying or waiting to get hired for a potential upcoming gig.

While I love every bit of writing video game score, trailer & license music and arranging for producers, I wanted to try something new. Something I can call my own and even more important, something which is still there, when other doors are closing.

Besides this, 2019 is one of the most exciting years when it comes to social networks … and building your own personal brand is way more important than it has been before.

No matter about all the things you hear day in, day out, reaching from “music industry is going down” over “streaming ruins everything” to “I reached out to five companies, but no one replied, so I decided to become a taxi driver”, I am convinced that right now is the best time to create yourself rather than finding (or giving up) yourself!

This is my story about how I created a side hustle, generating 2000 EUR every month … and why you probably don’t need a full year to build one too!

What Is Your Goal?

I knew that I didn’t want to replace my main job, but as mentioned before, creating something as a side hustle that I can proudly call mine.

The answer to the most important thing of this whole build-up, fortunately, rushed pretty quickly into my head:

What is my goal?

I love sound design, playing guitar, fooling around in Photoshop and Kontakt and exploring new web services … and in between all the music writing it can be pretty refreshing to sit down and do something different.

Before you dive into anything else of building your side hustle, you should be clear about your goal. Otherwise it will be difficult to focus if you don’t know what you want to do.

In my case, I wanted to go with the opportunity of building a little sample library store.

Please keep in mind that your side hustle can be anything!

Of course, if you ever fooled around with the thought of building a sample library store too, the following steps may be easier to achieve, but you should stick to your own goal.

I am not trying to force you to be like me. Be creative! See all the following steps as modules you can easily replace to build your own side hustle!

If you have problems finding a goal, you can always write me!

8 + 2 =

The Name Of Your Brand … and all the Conflicts

I am one of those people who need around 30 minutes to come up with a cool name for a video game character. How on earth should I come up with a brand name for my side hustle?

Because I am a guitarist and a space nerd, it had to be a combination of these things. After wasting a lot of time I came up with String Theories.

This introduced the first conflicts.

Should I create a new Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram accounts? … but I already build a decent social media presence with my name. I wouldn’t be able to use any this, so I would have to completely build everything from ground up. On the other side, my goal wasn’t to create an entire new company.

I decided to go with the option of building new accounts, domain names and fast forward, it turned out that the response to this wasn’t really that great. People didn’t feel connected to it and even worse … if they just check my website real quick, they didn’t even know who was behind it all of this.

Somewhere in between that time, my blog was born and I also got into building courses, but what now? More brand names? This would become way too confusing.

At some point and many wasted hours, I decided to create one universal domain (alexpfeffer.co) and made my blog, store and course page sub domains.

Not only as easy as pie, but also very effective, because people directly had a face to connect this all to.

Furthermore I was able to keep all my social media accounts.

The Shop of Choice

Finding the right online shop system of choice was probably the hardest thing to do. I tested Sellfy, Selz, WooCommerce and Shopify.

Sellfy and Selz are pretty attractive because you have to take care of absolutely nothing. All you need to do is upload your products, pictures, demos, write some text and decide on a price. That’s it.

However, they are also limited. Annoying things such as not being able to upload several audio tracks, or just one audio track or one video. For someone trying to sell audio products I can’t recommend these.

WooCommerce was my next choice. It is based on WordPress and it let’s you do almost everything you want. Unless, you have the money to buy many necessary plugins which are really expensive. During that time I was using Drip as an email service provider. The Drip plugin to make it an easy integration experience was 79 EUR alone.

You also get lost pretty quickly in the choice of all the beautiful shop templates.

Once your store goes live you will quickly realize that fast is something else, handling orders can be way easier and statistics are not really insightful.

How can you solve that? Yes, more expensive plugins!

Ironically I had a quick look at Shopify right at the very beginning, even before testing Sellfy, but the fact that you had to install a free add-on to handle downloadable products kept me away from using it.

I gave it a try again … and instantly fell in love!

Yes, plugins and add-ons can be expensive too, but depending what Shopify plan you are on or the amount of monthly visitors you have, an addon such as a rating system, mailing list integration or lead generating option can be free.

Handling orders is a breeze and all the statistics and suggestions you get to optimize your store experience is worth every penny.

All in all I am having the best experience with Shopify! The Basic Shopify plan is 29 USD a month and is everything you need to get started.

Just check it out, because you are going to save yourself a lot of trouble.

Mailing List and the Importance of Segmentation

If there is one thing which is essential to understand, it is the importance of your email service provider, the mailing list and the segmentation of your customers. You need one and your sales depend on it!

It took me a long time to understand this, but handling a mailing list is more than just getting a free Mailchimp account and sending out a general newsletters once in a while.

Your email service provider (ESP) should be able to add tags to your customers so you know who clicked on what link and who purchased which product.

It also should be able to do lead scoring. Meaning, showing you the difference between a customer who just grabs free stuff or who is loyal and is purchasing almost every product.

As if wasting so much time and money with online shop systems wasn’t enough, I wasted even more with finding the right email service provider.

Of course, it all started with MailChimp. After a while, I went on to Convertkit, got stuck with Drip for a while and later found the dream email service provider of choice: ActiveCampaign.

The thing is, all of these providers have more or less the same features, but they all handle them differently.

While MailChimp looks awesome, it can be pretty confusing. ConvertKit may be easy with adding tags to people and creating email sequences, but I found it chaotic with rules and automation.

Drip looked very awesome but even handling a simple name and dividing it into first and last names can be a nightmare. This may sound like a smaller issue, but seriously, … you don’t want to send out personal messages like this:

“Hello John Doe, how are you today?”

However, even though ActiveCampaign can be a bit slow at times, once you got the structure and logic down, it is by far the easiest and most intuitive ESP out there.

If you are interested to check out a great ESP which is easy to use, look no further and check out ActiveCampaign.

Build a Strong Social Media Presence

​Ladies and Gentlemen, I can’t press this enough, but 2019 is a very excellent year to make use of social networks to convert interested people into potential customers.

While people bash YouTube because their monetization model sucks, know how to really make use of YouTube and its potential.

I am aware that a monetized video with 1000 clicks may hardly buy you some butter for a single slice of bread, so you may consider the following:

Make a walkthrough video and present your newly released 49 EUR sample library. Let people know that you offer a free version of your full sample library.

20 people may jump for the freebie, which basically means 20 new leads (gathered email addresses). Three of those 1000 may instantly buy it!

Who cares about YouTube’s monetization model when you got 20 new potential customers and 147 EUR in your pockets with a single 1000 clicks video!?

Now apply this kind of thinking to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest!

Be Unique

While releasing my first sample libraries I was really trying to come up with not exactly reinventing the wheel but being more or less unique:

  • My libs had to be artsy
  • Focus on just one thing
  • Simple to use

I decided to make the entire GUI one big controller. I wanted the user to focus on the sound of the samples instead of burying them within hundreds of knobs, layers, and functions.

Out of all effects, I would want to be available as quickly as possible, would be a cutoff filter. So, I simply assigned the huge big knob to a cutoff filter you can control with your ModWheel.

Furthermore, I wanted to have the content focussing on either one concept or one category of sounds/samples. Not 10 risers, 10 downers, 15 bramms, 12 eeks, oohmphs and wooshes.

No, just risers … and 1296 of it, as in the example of my sample library Tonal Risers.

My First Lovely Customers

On this point I want to give you the most helpful advice instead of bore you to death with all the attempts, research and trials & errors.

So, what are effective ways to get customers:

Freebies

One effective way, and to be honest lots of developers don’t do this, is by offering freebie versions of your product. Many people want to test something before they buy it. Why not give them, for example, two to five samples of your new 200 loop sample library for free in return of their email address?

 

Lead Generation Tools

I will never forget the moment when I was about installing a little tool to my Shopify store which was basically a big wheel of fortune. Once you visited my site, a wheel of fortune popped up, giving you the opportunity to get a discount coupon.

I had my doubts because the full service enabling you to create automated coupons is 24 USD a month, but when I look at this screenshot, showing the result of the last 30 days, … no doubts that this was a good idea! 🙂

 

Affiliate Network

This can be a very powerful feature to offer on your store. How many links, promo videos and walkthroughs of new sample libraries do people share across social media every day without getting anything back?

If you offer an affiliate network, meaning you share, for example, 20% off any purchase with everyone who is about to feature your released or upcoming sample libraries, it won’t take very long until forum administrators or sample library review pages, who would be happy to make use of that, will contact you.

By the way, if you are curious to sign up on my affiliate network, make sure to check it out here.

 

Post Promotions

When you see marketing advice from Facebook advertising experts they all tell you that one should stay away from promoting posts. I tried it and I don’t have anything bad to say.

Write a little post on your Facebook page about a newly released library and that you offer a freebie and people will click, visit your site and in order to download that freebie, registering at your store, leaving their email address.

 

Contests

This may be the candidate to generate tons of leads … by doing contests. There are many ways to do it, but I found one really effective service.

It is called UpViral, and it uses a sharing method. Once people sign up to participate in your contest, they will get a personal sharing link.

As soon as they share that link on social networks, they will receive points. They will earn even more points as soon as someone new signs up through their link.

With this method, your giveaway literally eats through the entire social media world.

 

Landing Pages

Another method of converting an interested visitor into a potential customers is having a simple landing page doing one thing and thing only. ​Focusing the visitors attention to sign up in order to download a freebie.

Be aware that you can only put one link to the profiles of your social media accounts. Instead of sending them to your store, why not sending them to an attractive landing page offering a freebie?

A great tool to do this is Leadpages. Why would you need a service to create a simple landing page? Because Leadpages looks awesome, loads fast and you can have a landing page optimized on conversion set up and ready within a few minutes.

Check it out here.

Your Doubts

One clear message from me about your doubts! Fuck them!

No seriously, it doesn’t make sense, because the only thing that destroys upcoming careers, dreams and, as in my case 2000 EUR extra every month, is doubts!

Yes, there are many sample library developers out there. Yes, they have great sample libraries and big budgets to create even better sample libraries. Yes, there is always someone better than you, … but in all honesty, who cares?

You can appreciate all of these companies, but only because they exist it doesn’t mean that you don’t have a right to exist too!

Yes, you will also receive some negative comments or a simple “Fuck off!” as a reply to one of your newsletters, but this is how life goes. Instead of an insulting comment, I only see envoius people!

A Few More General Things

Be aware that your customers are real living people and not money generating machines! You will be surprised by how many people reply to a sent out newsletter, telling you that they never received a personal thank you message after they had purchased something.

The best thing that can happen is interaction with your clients. It builds trust!

I also want to mention this very important thing again at the end of this article.

Be creative!

Almost every time when I talked about what I created and that everyone can do it, there was someone saying:

“But not everyone wants to be a sample library developer!”

Again, this is not what it is about. See all the things I have mentioned here as tools and examples which are applicable to other side hustle ideas!

Last but not least, check out my baby to get an impression

Hey, my name is Alex

Hey, my name is Alex

Composer & Sound designer

 

The audio industry can be a rough place! Stress, deadlines, writer’s block, impostor syndrome, lack of creativity and self-confidence … and problems marketing yourself.

Welcome to my blog, your resource on how to keep a sane mind in the audio industry and maintain your creativity!

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