- The advantages of starting as someone's assistant
- How to grow your own business after working for someone else
- Finding the techniques that stick
- Making your clients' life as easy as possible
- Keeping your workspace clean to help focus
- Freeing up time to explore new areas of your business
- How bad (or no) systems can cost opportunities
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Nicholas Di Lorenzo
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[00:00:00] Welcome to the six figure creative podcast. I am your host Brian Hood. If this is your first time joining us, this podcast is all about earning more money as a creative in ethical, wonderful ways.
we explore a lot of different conversations from a lot of different backgrounds of people from all sorts of different fields in the creativity space, so that we can learn all from each other and become better entrepreneurs ourselves. And so today's guest is Nicholas de Lazo. He runs a mastering studio called Panorama mastering.
And for those that are not familiar with, with the audio space, which is my background as a music producer, his business model is honestly one of the most difficult business models to make work in the audio industry. And the reason for this is, mastering as a service This is an easy one for people to grasp, but similar to like logo design in the design world, in a lot of cases, it's a relatively, lower cost service. It's a relatively faster service and you need a lot of clients and a lot of projects to keep that ball rolling and keep the business doors open. And what Nick's done is, um, he's kind of gone through the full cycle of.
Investing a lot of money into his business, getting it up off the ground, assuming people are gonna [00:01:00] show up and, only getting a couple projects at a time and quickly had to learn how to be a real business owner. And he's done that now. He has a six figure, over six figure business as a creative, and he's put a lot of things into place that I think that us as creatives we can all learn from it doesn't matter what field you're in, what services you're offering.
We can all learn from that.
and what I want you to really pay attention to in this interview is when he really starts to figure out how to be an entrepreneur.
I think we all start as creatives. We all start as someone who is Trying to just make a living with our creativity, we just wanna make a little bit of money doing something we actually love. And there comes a time that I think most people hit this transition where if we're gonna make this work, we have to actually be entrepreneurs.
That's kind of the gist of this entire show. It's the whole point of the show is to help us be better entrepreneurs so that we can then use our creativity as a tool to fuel our businesses, our lives, but also be fulfilling at the same time. And so Nicholas goes through this transformation as a Lance. as someone who's taking his business seriously and not just waiting around for clients to find him, but also he's someone that is, a constant seeker of knowledge.[00:02:00]
he looks for influences all over the place. he even mentions Chris DOE, if you don't know who Chris DOE is, he's huge in the design world, not so much in the audio world. And this is why I love this podcast. Now that we've started branching out and talking to more and more people in different creative fields is we get so much more input from other people that we can then I.
In our little neck of the woods, whatever that is. If you're a music producer, which is a lot of our audience, if you're in design or videography, or even one of our listeners does services for real estate agents.
So whatever your business is or whatever your freelance niche is, there's something you can take from not just this episode, but any of our past episodes on this podcast. And, uh, I want you to pay also specific attention to this interview where, where Nicholas starts talking about. User experience, which is just a really nerdy term, actually read a book on UX design, which is user experience design in order to make the experience for his clients as smooth as humanly possible.
And when you are a mastering engineer, which is a high volume. Business, which is a lot of clients coming through at a relatively low dollar amount, meaning you're not making $20,000 per project. You have to figure this out because if you [00:03:00] don't have a really smooth, great experience, you're gonna get inundated with the emails and questions and be bugged by your clients.
And so he's had to perfect this part of his business that I. All of us can take away piece of this. I implement into our business.
So, I'm gonna stop rambling on this intro. I just want you all to pay attention wonderful interview with, my guest this week. Nicholas dealer Renzo. nicholas. Thanks for coming on the podcast, man, dude.
we already talked about your background on the, intro of the show and, and why you're on the show. But, um, I wanna start things out, man, at, What was it that actually made you want to go into mastering? Cause the service you offer right now, your Panorama mastering, you have, A great mastering studio. You've got a great business that you've built a six figure, business.
And it's a very specific service, like for those who don't know mastering in the audio industry, like, or the audio industry in general, mastering is like the final step in the chain. Like one of the final things you do to, I guess the, to put it in layman's terms to sweeten the song to make it just sound professional and balanced and so on and so forth.
And, we don't have to go into this right now, but it is a very specific skillset and a very specific part of the,[00:04:00] audio and music journey. What made you go into this in the first place, instead of staying in like, music production or staying in recording artists or in that's, you know, there's a bunch of different places you could go.
Because once I, stepped into the box of interning at recording studios for professional paying gigs, my personality didn't line up with it. I love the technology side of
it, but managing artists at midnight in a
booth, that are passing out or need extra time
to, to finish a bottle of whiskey before they do their next takes. I didn't have the interpersonal skills for that. So I sort of bowed outta that race. I'm like, that's not for me. I'll do
anything in the music industry, whether it was being in
publishing or managing events, I didn't care. And it just so happened. Stumbled across an
assistant position at a mastering studio.
And I loved the workflow. I loved the
hours. It was
like, this suits my personality. So it was more a personality fit more than me being like, oh, I wanna
do this. I just sort of fell into it. I'm like, oh, this works well. I'm not dealing with crazy artists at [00:05:00] one in the morning at a studio.
I'm doing it at my own pace nine to sort of nine to five. It's everybody know that's a fallacy when it comes to business. But yeah,
I mean, you started out as an assistant position. You were working with another master engineer. How long were you at that? And then how long did it take you to transition out on your own as a master engineer? So
Two years, because A lot of the people I knew were hobbyists people
starting out producers my own age in those early
twenties sort of age, they can't
afford top tier mastering, but they're like, well, the next best thing is the assistant.
So let's start using him. And I was freelancing outta my bedroom. And then it got to the point where every single day I'd have people coming into my bedroom to master records. And this is like real chop shop set up from the get go. I'm like, well, I've got the knowledge and experience working in a professional facility.
I've got the clientele coming in, let me build something for it. Because when this assistant position runs out, cuz you outgrow positions eventually I need to have something. So either go all in or figure out something else
[00:06:00] how, how important, like, could you have actually launched. Lancer without working as an assistant under this guy first, or do you think that was like an imperative part of the journey? Cause I think anyone listening right now could probably find if they're brand new at, at whatever they're trying to do, they could probably find some sort of assistant position to work under someone who has experienced and a lot of people either scoff at that, or they don't wanna take that path. do you think that's something that's necessary? Was it something that was helpful for you? Could you you've done it without ever working with someone.
I could have, but it would've been a really bad struggle. Would've been a really bad struggle.
I'll give you an example, an assistant position, the tasks you could do was something as menial as making coffee or
dusting the desk all the way to topping and
tailing or doing tape archives, for catalogs. So you could go super
technical and actually get hands on or you'll be making coffees, dusting vacuuming. And, and the thing is, and this is what people,
when they sort of think about getting into an assistant or intern position, they think it's gonna be So much fun. I'm gonna be getting into the technical side where I'm gonna be hands on.
But the most [00:07:00] valuable things I learned was simple things like making a coffee for the clients is So important because it's about that
experience. They enjoy,
coffee, by the way, not trash coffee.
Not trash coffee. being able to keep the room clean and
tidy is part of that experience. It's, you know,
how you welcome clients when they come in, those were professional standards,
which I hadn't experienced, even the way you sent out an
email or, or get
deliverables across to a client and name things. not very hard, but you'll have a very hard
learning on your own without actually going into a space or, an engagement with a professional who has those systems
set up to learn
And that was something that I think I was missing in my journey as a freelancer is I. Was so adamant on being self taught. it's a gift that I have. And it's the struggle that I have that I just want to do everything myself. Like, I don't want your damn help. Sorry. I don't wanna work for you person.
Who's maybe been doing this 15 years and I think you're doing it all wrong, but you're probably not that's an issue that I have. But as a, like an Enneagram eight, my number one drive is is freedom it's like, control. I [00:08:00] don't want to have to be under the control of someone else.
So I can't stand the thought of working for someone else, but I love that you were able to glean that sort of stuff and learn what they were doing.
Right. But also, maybe some things that they might have been doing wrong that you could have done better. Cuz to me, it's so much easier to spot what someone's doing wrong than to fully appreciate what they're doing. Right? So like even sometimes if you're working with someone who's not amazing at what they do, you still can glean a lot from that.
As long as you were doing things to make it a better experience for your own clients. So you moved I assumed it was a slow transition out into the, full-time freelance world where you're out on your own as a mastering engineer. talk about that transition. Was it just like a smooth, you just had clients lined up? Was it a struggle? Like give us an idea of that. Moving out on your own as a master.
so for the last year of my system position, I was designing and getting prepared to build my own facility. Because I had the clients lined up for my freelance work. And as soon as I finished the assistant position, probably four months later, I'd finished building and moved into the new space.
And the transition was really hard because [00:09:00] again, I was very young at this point. I would've been 21 years old and, I've had a bit of experience freelancing where I've been sustaining myself off it. And then I've went out and spent a bunch of money building a space like this is the room within a room built, invested in the gear.
And the reason why it's a hard transition is because when you're younger, you're a little bit more ignorant or at least I was okay, I'm not gonna make that generalization. I'm like, I built it. They will come.
So my days were like, I got the website, I got the space. I've got some clients, which was like more of a ego, not an ego.
It was more like a, vanity check. I don't know what the word is there, but it's like, people were saying, I value you to give you money to exchange something. So it made me feel good. But then the reality sets in it's like, well, just cuz you built the space doesn't mean anybody owes you to come to it
or employ you.
So I'd probably do like two, three sessions a week,
which is horrible standards for a masking engineer. And then the, rest of the, time I'd be like playing
and outside tanning go to the gym, [00:10:00] like and then it wasn't until a few
years later I was I'm sort of like this isn't going anywhere and I'm
gonna kick my ass into gear.
transition was sort of like ignorance is
bliss and then sort of starts going, okay, what the going on here? This isn't something's not connecting here. And I gotta figure that out.
a lot of people have that, oh,
moment where They put all this work time, effort, energy, sometimes money into their business, getting it off the ground. And they listen to that little whisper in their head that says I build, if they will come and then no one comes two or three people a week, by the way, this is something worth explaining about, the business model that you're in with mastering.
This is generally a much higher volume, meaning like you do a lot more projects And work with a lot more people at a much lower price point. a, it's a volume game versus like someone who may be in like the, design space where you're working with like a full branding package and charging 20, 30 grand for it, or like what?
We had our guest on episode 2 0 6 when we had Ryan, Corlon you know, he's doing these video projects that are up to a hundred thousand dollars. So it's like completely different business model where you're working with a corporate client for a big project for a lot amount of time, with a lot [00:11:00] on the line and a lot of moving parts and a lot of employees. Nicholas is in the other kind of business model, which is like, I'm working with a lot of clients. it's relatively smaller projects, but they all add up over time, which is why two or three projects a week. Ain't gonna cut it It's a very difficult business to make. And honestly, I, I tried to advise people not to go into mastering my general business advice in the audio world, because it is such a saturated, hard to differentiate, you gotta get a lot of things, right. Which I think is one of the reasons I wanna get on the podcast is mastering is a notoriously difficult business model to make work built it. Some people came, but not enough to really call it a full time living. And so this is a place a lot of people are. So what did you do when you realized like, I can't just go to the gym and tan, outside and play video games in my free time. When I only have two or three clients, like I am responsible for getting clients now it's not someone who's overlooking me saying, all right, Nicholas, make some coffee now. All right, Nicholas, do weird random thing that only master engineers understand the reference to, like you said a second ago with something about tape. oh, okay. Nicholas reply to these people for me. you don't have a manager now you're your own [00:12:00] manager. You're your own technician. talk about that transition where you finally realized that and you had to start taking this business seriously.
still young mind jaded
cuz when you're young it's like, oh this is so exciting.
This is so cool. this
is so exciting. The stars sort of aligned where that was sort of where the Gary V come up was sort of happening,
which I don't neither see as constructive or destructive.
It was just
a thing that was happening and I was consuming and I'm going, okay, I'm gonna do something now. What did I do? I did everything from doing YouTube videos to more social media, to
doing lead magnets and things coming in I was just throwing
at the wall. I was doing
a million things. And.
Every single thing I did, I could probably say was a failure. Like, as in it just didn't work, but every time it didn't work,
I learned something. So instead
of pissing the
time that I wasn't having sessions down the
drain, I was just doing stuff. I created cool little checklists, which you can download and
get your email.
I'll send you out an email, like all
these little sort of marketing things. Some would hit
some would miss, [00:13:00] but I was learning. And I think
the idea of time in the game learning is important.
because a lot of people, especially in business, they'll
try one singular thing
Okay. so they'll
go and they'll be like,
I am going to make this product
and it's gonna help me grow my business.
And they put all those eggs in one basket. It doesn't work. And they're like, no, it was all wrong.
Everything's I don't
secret source. I don't
have that silver bullet solution, but the reality is it's like we all have different knowledge bases or I think you follow Christo a little bit.
in one of his videos, he mentions the, boundary of your knowledge or or the edge of your forest of knowledge. and then it's only until you reach the edge of that that you can expand further on it.
So it's like until you actually do something, you can't reach the limits of what, you know, to then go further. I just did that a lot. my circle was like this. big. And then I'd like, you know, go to there. And that was doing a lead magnet. And then I'm like, oh, that worked, that didn't work.
And then my circle would grow bigger. And then I'd just keep [00:14:00] expanding my circle of knowledge and understanding of what works, what doesn't, how to operate within a market. And then three, four years down the track I started sort of going, okay, some things? are sticking much more now than others, to be honest, I can't even recall what was working or what wasn't now in hindsight now I'm at a point where I've just got a little bit more intuition to understand how to move in my business And make it work.
you make a really interesting point. Like, I love that you can't even look to a specific thing that worked because. You were trying to do so many things. So let's just go back to Gary V for a second. he's the most loved or hated entrepreneur. I know , some people love him.
Some people hate him. Like don't know many people that are like, yeah, he is okay. and the reason that people hate him, if they do hate him is because he is the front runner of the hustle and grind mentality on the internet. And do everything, be everything, hustle kind of mentality that he, he stands for. I don't necessarily agree with it, but here's the cool thing that I think, is a wonderful takeaway is that it push you to taking action. And I want people to pay attention right now. Like people that struggle [00:15:00] freelancers that are, Not earning what they wanna earn. They're not having the success they wanna have. They're not getting the, clients that they want to get. Maybe they're working with some clients, but not the ones they want, not the bigger, better clients. the thing I see most often is that they do no action or they do what you said. They take one action and say, oh, I didn't work. I'll try something else. Oh, that didn't work. I only spend 50 bucks on a boosted post on Facebook ads. Ah, Facebook ads doesn't work. Uh, let me reach out to 10 leads. Uh, cold outreach.
Oh, cold outreach. Doesn't work. Oh, lemme try posting on Instagram or TikTok. Ah, 10 posts later. Oh, it didn't work. I didn't get million followers. And so this is the, this is the thing they repeat over and over again. It's a pattern. and what you found was that you were at least exploring different areas and something was sticking here and there.
Maybe it wasn't a lot of success, but eventually you honed your skills and your knowledge to the point where more and more was sticking. And here's the thing I just wrote down in my notes here is I can give you two guarantees. here's guarantee one, if you take no action, you will get no results. If you take some action. Here's the other guarantee. If you take some action or a lot of action in better case, you will get a guaranteed result. [00:16:00] You may not be the result you want, but it'll be some sort of result. And that allows you to then point your direction to, pivot and try something else.
So, I wanna actually move into, something that, um, I know is one of your superpowers and I love talking about superpowers on this podcast You told me we started recording this, that you read a book about UX, which for anyone who doesn't know what this is, it's user experience. and you read it. And you implemented this on your emails. Just talk through this. Cause this was fascinating to me. And I really wanna go deep into this conversation because like user experience is everything as a service professional, whenever you offering a freelance service, the experience that you give someone from your website to the emails they get from you to the experience in the office or in the studio or in person or every single touchpoint that you have is part of the user experience.
And you implemented this in a very specific way with your emails. Just, talk about that.
So I'll, I'll backtrack one step to fill in more context as to why I started going down it. So Sam Metler from EDM prod, [00:17:00] suggested I read the book
perennial seller by Ryan holiday. for anybody who's read that
book, it's about creating the most insanely
good products. Or services or whatever you bring to
market that outlives your time in the market.
So the experience for me is what I sell to the market in terms of mastering
it's like you design a logo for someone
that's cool, but how do they remember you from
designing that logo? What's that experience like? that's what they remember. So I'm like, okay, well I'm mastering records
They're getting a service outta me. They like the
result, but how can this result outlive my time working on that project with them So in two months, three months, three years, five years
time, they remember that experience. Having worked with me, mastering that record for them, that they go, wow, that was so incredible.
And my business is typically referral based, that was really important to me. So I'm like, okay, I've gotta figure out All the ancillary parts of mastering a record for somebody in terms of the
communications, the way they engage me in getting a [00:18:00] quote emailing me, me, responding me, sending out things. How is that experience look like for them? And that's why I'm like, I started
looking into UX design, which is a user experience design. it, typically pertains to more digital things in terms of how you design an
app or design a landing page or design a
and it. basically denotes the interaction between the user and the product, whether it's an app or a website And how they navigate that and what their experience is accessing that information and navigating through it So this book, a project guide to UX design. It's, a very technical book. It's a very big book on how people do UX design. And I thought, well, I wanna read this I wanna understand it because the most. Common thing that I'm doing outside of mastering records is sending and responding to emails, giving feedback on work.
In terms of before it comes in for mastering sending out an invoice, requesting information to fill me out on the scope of a project um, delivering files to people, updating files for [00:19:00] people. do I communicate these things? Because if you go eight years back to the first masters I was sending off, when I was just starting out. it was hello.
John loved working on your master. Here's a link. The link would be pasted, blah, blah, blah, blah, warmly Nicholas. well that's not very good user experience cuz it doesn't tell people what's in that file. How do they use the information in that file? What's the most important information. So I can pull up.
My template for, delivering a
file. what are the deliverables? It says, which files are for press kits, which files are for distributors, which files are for apple digital masters. It says that these files will be available up and until X date. it gives people the session notes. it tells people where they can look at for how to upload to digital stores where they like it, gives people a lay of the land of what they're getting, so they can, navigate that information. you know, why that information's important [00:20:00] because if I just send a link with five masters there. in terms of one for distributors, one for your press kit, one for apple digital masters, blah, blah, blah.
They'll all come back and go. Which one do I upload to the distributors? Which one do I use for the press kit? I'll get three emails from the same mastering project asking me questions, which I can inform them before on that. So I've got a project delivery emails information for your session emails. That's for mixing sessions, a mix feedback template for when I give people mix feedback,
and invoice back invoice email, if
I'm updating a project email a feedback request form in terms of after a project finishes an
introductory email, when I try and introduce two different contacts in the industry, I have an email and a framework for introducing them.
A quote, email, a follow up
email. If I need a follow up on a lead,
those are the main ones I use.
most people probably have some, some version of this where it's like in every single part of the journey of me working with someone for the first time or first time contacting them or them contacting. [00:21:00] All the way to getting the deposit to the remaining balance, to the final delivery, to any revisions and So on and so forth.
There's emails that go out all along the way. You already probably had some of these, but what you did with UX design is you went back and revamped every single email based on a better user experience so that the client leaves super stoked working with you. Like they think like everything is taken care of, like when you and, I started recording here, we have a checklist of things to go through ahead of time to make sure our conversation flows smoothly, to make sure we don't have to worry about something popping up or something dinging or something, not sounding right or not looking.
Right. So that we can just focus on the conversation. That's part of, I guess, user experience, cuz the people listening to this podcast now get to benefit from that. So think about it from your perspective. You have these emails already? Why are they not making them the best? You could be not you Nicholas, but the, people listening right now.
So talk through like, what were some big ahas you had with just general user, uh, design principles that you were able to deploy into these emails or other areas that you work with clients,
the first one is hierarchy of information. What's most important let's say in a [00:22:00] deliverable, there's a lot of minute
details, which are sort of tertiary to the main context of what you're delivering. so you've got tertiary details, which they need, but they don't necessarily
need upfront. You've got very important details, which, are very critical to the information that's being communicated. so hierarchies number one is super important.
The second thing is also the engagement.
So I'll give you two examples. The first thing is when I was doing these emails, each one probably went through five different revisions where I was just trying to cut down the word count. if something warrants. A person spending five, 10 minutes in an email.
It makes sense. But most five, 10 minute emails are better just
to have a call. You don't need to write paragraphs
out for any of those sort of emails that would go out. I just have notes in a notepad and then I'd have a let's book,
a call link because there's no point giving them five, 10 minutes in an email.
They'll be like, oh, this is so overwhelming.
they'll misread things. They'll miscommunicate things, not worth it. The second
thing is[00:23:00] the way you absorb information, the quick you're able to consume it, the, quick you're able to absorb it, I'll give you, an example with your checklist.
Okay. I will guarantee you, if you sent me that checklist as a form, on a link in the email, I wouldn't have bothered with
it. I would've brushed
over it. And it
would've been like, oh, this is cool. I'll get to this
Whereas the fact that you
did it at the start of the podcast where we're engaged with one
another means you have my direct attention. you're getting direct feedback. I'm giving you
direct feedback and I'm not gonna
back burner. So the user experience of that. was
really cool for me. I
also just sent you an email with my booking template email, so you can actually see
we'll have that on our show notes page. If you go to six figure creative.com/ 2 0 8, we'll have, uh, links to anything we mention on this podcast, including the, text from that, email.
Perfect. Yeah. So
hi rack is important. Read time is
important. Scale is important as well because scale guides The
eyes we read left to right [00:24:00] top to bottom. So This might be a little bit hard to delineate on a podcast, but I have two columns on the left column.
Larger, bolder subheadings on the right column is context or fill in, or the, copy that needs to be there. So that way, as people scroll down an email, they can read on the left, give them context. Ah, this is, about the scheduled date. Okay. On the right. it, has all the information.
Ah, this is about if I need to contact them. Okay. on the right there's a smaller detail. So that way they can follow that information logically.
I feel like this sort of stuff applies to more than just emails, more than just websites. And, And just to back up for a second and explain why this is so important. as Nick pointed out earlier, his business runs on referrals. so if at the end of the project, if the experience wasn't amazing in every way, shape or form, there's a less likely chance that he'll be referred to someone else. And as freelancers, this inevitably becomes our number one source of clients is referrals. That's the goal is to just be 100% booked up with word of mouth [00:25:00] clients and the, Faster, you know, this client experience or this user experience in every single element of your business obsess over it, like be obsessive over it from every single email to your website, to your, we, I, was joking with you off air, your Lincoln bio and Instagram was a, absolute mess. but like every little thing, just to be truthfully honest with you. Every single little element of like experience with you is just, topnotch grade. a that sort of stuff is what helps get referrals. Obviously like the personal stuff, having a good personality, go reread how to win friends and influence people.
If you haven't read that in a while. that's one of my yearly reads, these sorts of things are what adds up for the. And the quality of work is actually secondary, in my opinion. I'm not gonna speak anything bad about your quality of work, Nicholas, but there are likely other master engineers who put out similar quality work to you that are not getting the same gigs that you're getting simply because you've obsessed over things like user experience.
So are there any other areas that you have found to just really obsess on user experience and gotten results from, getting [00:26:00] referrals from. And this is
No, it it's mainly in communication. So even the way you pick up your phone, if clients come round, I'm like a, bit of a neat freak with the studio. Like it's very minimal, it's
always clean. I don't have junk around. that was actually one of the things I learned in my interning position at recording studios that all the extra gear, the cabasa on the side of something, or, you know, a shaker here or
a set of guitar pedals there,
people would start fidling around in the control room
and they wouldn't be focused on the work at hand.
So for me, it's like when people do come in, they're completely focused on the craft on the project, on the process, which is really important,
going back to this. This is part of differentiation. bring this into your own freelance niche, whatever you're doing.
There's probably other people doing it just as well as you. And so in order to stand out in order to differentiate, it takes a lot of work user experience or, client experience. Those are AR ways to stand out and differentiate yourself. But what are some of the other things you've done to stand out from other master engineers to say that like, I'm the one you wanna hire, not this other person, again, not that it's a competition, [00:27:00] but in some regards it is, if we're being completely honest, like we do want the clients. so like what are you doing to stand out and differentiate yourself?
I'll take you through my thought process when I was starting out, because when you're passionate about
any creative industry, whether it's photography and you're watching Peter McKinnon videos or design and you're on the future page, and you're looking at different typography, and you're really into the it's almost like you pace this craft, this passion on a really high pedestal And all the outside influence influences your decision making.
It was the same for me with mastering. I'd see the studios, I'd see the people working with gear and, and, and all the cool stuff they were doing. And I felt like I had to do the same, especially with the marketing side of things I had to have Instagram or YouTube posts about, how to master a record.
Like very, like, this is what people wanna see because I'm infatuated with at right now, in
that pedestal style. That can be really bad, cuz then you just
end up copying. What's being done. It's like that's already been done. [00:28:00] You end up copying it and you don't end
up finding your own path. And that is, I think the most dangerous thing what's important. If you're really passionate about what you're doing and it can feel a little
bit awkward at first and it's something I've leaned into
pretty hard over the last 12 months is the reality is we're always a
learning and it can be a little bit embarrassing learning because we make mistakes. like you said before this show, you know, you've checked out my stuff, you know, my audience and my target market
or other engineers and other producers.
So I show my target market. My process of learning and understanding my craft and further developing it. And it's a very different take for mastering engineers to do, because we are meant to be especially proficient people like Peter, McKinnon, Christo Matthew ands, they're incredible craftsmen. they they never show their weaknesses. They're always showing the best of what they're doing. And that is incredible. Cuz that's what they're built it on. Whereas for me, it's sort of like, I'm really good at what I do, but there's so many other people who are really good at what they do, how many people are really good.
And improving [00:29:00] themselves and making mistakes and learning from them. and I sort of put that, on a pedestal now on a lot of my content where I'm like, oh, I'm exploring this. And I just learned this about compression and oh, you know, that video I did the other day on this particular topic. Yeah. I was wrong because I learned this about it from this person.
So I I'm making that more the forefront of my marketing because people connect with that in my industry. They're like, that's my differentiating point is that other engineers see it? And they're like, oh, he's just like, me. he thought listening at 96 kilohertz per second, which is a technical term, like, listening to music at this resolution was so much better and he can't actually hear the difference nor can I.
Okay. That's cool so that's, that's sort of been my sort of thing. You, you really have to find what you, what your truth or meaning behind your craft is and be comfortable with that rather than fitting into other people's boxes.
I don't know these people, they're probably lovely people, but there's like a, an Instagram family called the bucket list family. And I can't stand looking at their stuff it's just an Instagram traveling account with like a, family and everything on their feet is [00:30:00] absolute perfection. And as someone who's traveled for like six weeks at a time, it becomes a slog. Even after six weeks, I'm like, I'm ready to
go home. but this family travels nonstop and I'm like, that
is, that is not fun. I am sorry. Like maybe they love it. Maybe they don't. I don't know. But, bringing this back to freelancing, so many other people see these like, perfect accounts of other freelancers, this is especially common in the photography niche in the design east where like where image is perfection and having this perfect image. people get sick of that stuff. So it's sometimes it's good to Zig when everyone else is zagging. like we're zag when everyone's zigging. I don't know which way you say it, but when everyone out there is trying to be perfect, it's the one person who's saying I'm a little bit of a clot. I'm a little different. That's where you stand out. That's where you differentiate. That's where you're saying I'm not a perfect person. it's so funny that we were talking again off air where we're in the middle of an interview and we might mess something up and I'm like, oh, you're getting to see the other side of this podcast, Nicholas, where we are able to cut out all the, crap that I mess up and it makes me look perfect.
Um, , it's like, can be a breath of fresh air to show imperfection and to show what you're learning And that just really [00:31:00] highlights for people who want to do content, which we're gonna get into in a second, cuz you're doing a lot of it now for people who want to do content, you don't have to be perfect.
There can be, There are content creators, especially in other niches that are, more of the reluctant hero kind of
the technical term for marketing, the reluctant hero where it's like, I don't necessarily wanna be doing this thing or I
don't necessarily feel like I'm called to be the expert.
I'm just the student here. I'm just learning. and I feel like I would. Love to bring what I'm learning to other people, instead of you relying on these like perfect porcelain people who are like, I don't wanna say fake, but who are excluding a large portion of their imperfect life, from the internet in order to look better.
So I like that as a standout point, but you talk about content.
I wanna bring that, up because you're doing a lot of content now. and this seems to be a large portion of what you're doing to differentiate as well. Because I glanced through some of your TikTok, some of your Instagram stuff, and I got a good feel for who you were.
honestly, before this interview, I'd never really seen you speak. but I saw clips from other podcasts. I saw you [00:32:00] doing some like howtos And some things, you're learning. And that brought a lot of like clarity, like what kind of person Nicholas is and, and that sort of stuff helps you stand out. what was your aim putting out content on TikTok or Instagram or wherever you tend to put out content? What was your aim at the start? When you first started this.
Oh, when I first started, it was get more business
and this we're talking like six, seven years ago. It was, I'm gonna do this. get more business. And it was the worst way to approach it because it, it creates a lot of burnout. It creates a lot of self judgment if especially things aren't working.
And people look at nicely made YouTube videos and they're like, I enjoyed that. That's a cool video. I want to do that. And they're like, okay, I'm gonna point a camera and do it.
And it's like, no, that's not how it works. You didn't get a video. You got an experience. You got a story, you got a start middle and end. mark bone has a YouTube channel. He's a filmmaker. documentary filmmaker. and, he talks about, having a story, a character, a struggle, a journey. and that's actually how I do my videos now, because it's much [00:33:00] more engaging for me to make that content. Now I'm not concerned about if it's bringing in more business or not. I'm trying to communicate the value that I have in the studio. And then the, byproduct of that. Yeah. More people recognize business.
Other engineers get on board. They hit me up. Yes, that happens. But all I'm
trying to do is, communicate the story of, or the value
that I have in my studio and What I'm doing. And I think of it like that every time I set out to do a video, it's an exciting engagement. I'm no longer shooting a video.
I'm almost like a documentary filmmaker. I'm thinking, what's the story here. Who's the main character. what's their struggle and how, how do they build up to that. And you know, like, I'll give you an example. I, I put out a video today on compression and I'm not gonna get too technical on, on this because I don't wanna deviate, but basically what it was was me going through the exploring of this technology And understanding the fundamentalist, the most basic level of it, I already understood, but I
completely to a great depth
and then creating tests and developing it.
And [00:34:00] that was my journey was like, I use this tool every day. How can I use it better? What do I need to. understand?
Let's explore this together. and that creates a good video for me, because people
enjoy that. they see it And, they
get engaged in it. And to me, that's really rewarding as
outside of the whole business of doing business. It's like, a cool little hobby now.
on episode 204, we had, James Martin on the show from made by James. Who's a well known designer and I dunno if he has a fully similar approach to that where he's kind of sharing what he's learning, but I think the thing that you guys have common with each other is that you were always sharing what it's what would look like to work with. and I think that is a, a huge part of, if you are trying to get clients, is yes. You're putting story into it. Yes. That's very smart. But at the very least, people are understanding like what does it feel like to work with Nicholas? and here's the other, the site, the added benefit to that is you are always showing that you are learning and you are getting better and you are trying to master your craft versus someone who's like, there's other approach of like, I am the expert, but I think most people [00:35:00] struggle with positioning themselves as the expert. They have imposter syndrome. It's really hard to create content as a freelancer. If you have imposter syndrome holding you back, because you look to these people that are like, like James Martin, who have their stuff together, who are incredible at what they do. And you say, how could I make content like that?
I can't be the expert cuz he already is. Whereas Nicholas has said, I. I'm not gonna pretend to be the expert. I'm out there learning I'm out there, honing my craft. I'm out there asking relatively simple questions. Like what is compression? It's this thing I use every day as a master engineer, let's explore this together and bringing people along for the journey of, of learning and exploration and, and testing.
So I, I love that approach and I probably could implement more of that myself. Cause I'm still, I'm still learning myself in the business world, in marketing, in client acquisition I'm learning all the time and I feel like I don't really explore my struggles and ups and downs with this.
And one of the things I'm trying to bring this podcast more and more are the struggles people's experiencing as they go through their business. and that's one thing I'm trying to bring up with you is just like, as you're doing these things, what is the struggle? Where's the story? What's the [00:36:00] main character kind of the things you were talking about from the film industry. With content. Let's go back to this. Now that I've gone on my long spiel that I like to do on podcast with guests, as you stare at me and think, Brian, when are you gonna stop talking? So I can speak I'm the guest here. Don't stop talking, Brian. I wanna bring up, creating content.
One of the things that's holding freelancers back from this more than anything is they don't have time. And we talked about before our interview, how you've freed up a ton of time in your business, and now can then invest it on working on your business. Now, we've talked about this on the podcast at length here in the past, on past episodes about working in your business versus working on your business.
So many freelancers are stuck working in their business, doing the work, and they never have a time to work on themselves or on their business, improving things, building systems. Eliminating things they shouldn't be doing. Talk about some of the things you've done to free up time so that you can actually pursue some of these other initiatives that may be a long term play content is not make it. and I'm famous overnight. It is a long term play. So what are some of these things you've done to free up time to then explore those other [00:37:00] areas?
so the main thing was, I cuz remember I'm a volume business and I think it doesn't
matter if you're a volume business or not. you still have to understand
how many projects you got coming in,
how much each of those projects will cost, how many you need to get through a year. So
basically I did that and I'm like, okay, if I do
six masters a day, every day of the week, Monday to
Friday for the year, I'm good.
And the rest of the time I can do for everything else. And that's literally what I did. I'm basically like I'm capping it at six and whatever needs to get backlog gets backlogged for a couple of weeks and the six is roll over. And then the rest of the day I, I do what I need to for the business
you work on a queue system. So basically like when people submit songs to be mastered, you just put it in line and you do it in the order that they come in, basically. Is that how you do it?
Yep. unless people have like,
for albums and stuff, I'll know a month or two in
advance and I'll just
block out that time. in
advance and it's pretty cool
because wake up at four o'clock and start email and admin early on in the day and finish at about 5:00 PM.[00:38:00]
So I've got a lot of hours in the day that I'm working on my
business So those six hours of work, six blocks. I can move around and juggle and
put some at the end of the day, move them here, move them there,
take one off one day, put it on
another, do something else on that. Other like, so I got a lot of flexibility
with that system because my
projects are in one hour blocks.
So to speak. If you're just working on singles, if you're working on albums,
it could be two days, but, that's a whole nother thing, but, but the idea is I just go, what do I need to, to keep the business afloat? Or growing, I think is a better term because I did make sure it. would be growing based on my numbers.
And then just make sure I fill that out. And then the rest is all cream and fun and a lot of the working on my business is working on things I'm passionate about. So that way I, can put the effort into,
into them and investing time that is valuable into them.
and it's funny cuz you're not like a lot of mastering engineers. I talk to where it's like. All technical numbers dollars since like metrics systemization, automation, all the crazy things that a lot of mastering engineers, [00:39:00] talk about. Typically a lot of it was just like, based on feel like what lit you up, what made you excited? And I feel like that resonates with more, more and more creatives is like, we're not just trying to build a business so that we can just make money and, be a robot machine. Like this has to fill this up as well. So I like that you capped your amount of work per day at six songs. don't know many people that would cap it at a certain amount, but like knowing what your limit is, is great of just like I'm only doing this so that I always have this available to work on my business or on myself, which. my thought process here at six figure creative is there is no difference between your business and yourself as a freelancer. So any chance you get to work on yourself, you are also working on your business. Anytime you work on your business, you are also working on yourself. These two things are married together and inseparable, as long as you're a freelancer.
And that's why I'm talking about working on your business and on your self. one of the things you brought up that I thought was fascinating as master engineer working in a volume based business, meaning you have to work on a lot of projects to make any real income. Usually they have a bunch of tools and a lot of automation, a lot of crazy stuff they're doing.
You said [00:40:00] something that blew my mind when it came to like what tools you find is very helpful as a freelancer. what was it you told me about your tool set.
Yeah, I got rid of it all. I reformatted
my computers got
of all the apps and all the plugin
on apples, on Chrome and stuff.
There was just too much of a distraction at the processing has a high level of knowledge and complication to it. but the inputs and outputs are relatively simple and direct and straightforward. And I
found a lot of the apps and, productivity sort of things that were all ancillary to that Just impeded on
on my efficiency and clarity. So I was like, I'll get rid of it. All, all of it.
which I was like, heresy, heresy. How dare you?
I, I actually got a whole video on it which, which has done pretty well, where I show how I use the tag function on the new, I S to organize them all into
smart lists. And basically I
open up in the morning, I, got these names and then instead of
ticking them off, if I need to follow them up, I just change the
so many apps, it just, impedes on not, not [00:41:00] like those minimalist purists who are like, oh, you can't have anything, but it's just like, for me, it was sort of like all those apps And all the special features and adding a, home address and this contact, like, there's, 50 different fields in one CRM card.
And it's like, what? the point? you just need to know, you need to know their name. how to contact them and what you're talking about. Cool. Okay. I can do that in, in my reminders app.
I will not get that crazy and move to reminders for a CRM, tell people all the time I'm a self admitted like soul is being when it comes to metrics and numbers and I love numbers and it's like a game to me. I'm still a creative and I still love creating things.
And I still have a lot of things that I do that fill me up, but I just love numbers. And I love the things that CRMs give me as far as reports and metrics data. But I love the simplicity as well. I love the idea. Of just deleting everything off my computer and saying, what is built into my computer?
And I'm gonna utilize that. You said you use notes, you don't use Evernote. You don't use Google docs. You don't use whatever cold trendy app thing is, is hot. Right now you just use the built in notes on apple, which is just simple. you've [00:42:00] simplified everything by just removing all the tools and barriers that could, for some people, not everyone for some people could end up being more confusing than relieving.
you're just communicating one set of information. And
if you use the 80 20 rule, there's only a small subset of the
information that you can provide to these apps. That's actually really relevant to the task at hand.
just to kind of go through the flow here, someone goes to your website, they fill out your quote request form that just goes to your
email inbox, just a normal email inbox.
Yeah. Just go straight to my email inbox. I see it. And then depending on the complexity of that, input in terms
of it's something too complex, like I said, a five to 10 minute email, not gonna do, I'll just be like, Hey, this is really cool. Let's tee up a call and chat about it. and that's that.
does Gmail even have built in template stuff or I don't even know anymore. I don't use Gmail.
Oh, yeah. Yeah. You got cased they used to be called cash now they're just called templates and you just click on it, it propagates, and then you can fill in the, the gaps
And then if you need a reminder to follow up with them, you just put it into your reminders app, or you tell Siri to do it, or what do you do [00:43:00] for that? What's your, I'm just trying to get your workflow here. I'm trying to understand myself who is like a tech nerd. I love all the systems and things that I have built.
I wanna know the simple version.
when I'm doing that email, I'll just go onto the reminders app and type in John Smith, follow up in two weeks. It'll sort it out. It'll know and I'll know. And that's it.
I love the idea of simplifying things, but like here's the point is it's really not what app you use. It is the fact that you're using something to organize what you're doing. for some people, simple is better for some people complex is better. It just depends on your personality.
So if you resonate with what Nicholas is talking about, just mimic what he's doing, but make sure you're doing something. Don't just do nothing. Cuz if you do nothing, you're gonna have a bad experience yourself. And that's gonna trickle down to leaving bad experiences for your clients, which is gonna leave a bad taste in their mouth, which means less referrals, less repeat customers, less money in the bank.
And that's again, a six figure creative that's unacceptable. I cannot let a systems problem deprive you of clients.
I, I was using a CRM and getting into that CRM was after, you know, how you talk about metrics and looking back into everything there was, it [00:44:00] was probably maybe five years ago, six years ago, I looked at all my email inquiries. So I went on my Gmail and typed in, you know, project form, blah, blah, blah.
So I sorted them and I did a manual count of all my inquiries and all the jobs I got. And I left about $14,000 of jobs UN responded to, so I'd responded to the inquiries. They'd hit me back. And then the email chain, I just left off because I lost it. I was even more rudimentary. maybe two, three years ago, I was just using a notebook for my reminders. Just pen and paper. Even if you just do that, you're much better off than having nothing.
call you the purest, the tools purest, which is fine, a fine way to do things. I am more like when it comes to tools, I am the flashy peacock, like too much stuff going on. I have like five different node apps for different news cases. I have so much automation. If you saw my Chrome plugins tool thing, it's disgusting, but that's the way I like things to be, but everyone can kind of decide their own path and their own journey. Yeah. So I, [00:45:00] I love this, man. I love this conversation and, uh, I love what you were able to share with our audience today, man. Where can, uh, people go? If they want to learn more about you or maybe hire you for mastering services or whatever, what is the action you want people to take that are listening right now?
Okay guys, you can find me on Instagram at Panorama underscore mastering if you on YouTube and you type in Panorama, Mexican mastering, you'll find all my videos there or go to Panorama, mastering.com AU. To find out more about what I'm doing. Be more than happy to connect with anybody that hits me up.
And again, we'll have links to all of that in our show notes. If you want just one singer URL to go, to, to find all firstname.lastname@example.org slash 2 0 8.
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