In 2017, John McLucas was homeless and sleeping on a foam pad in his one-room, windowless recording studio. Just a few years later, he's earning a six-figure income as a producer working with pop artists to provide a high-value, white-glove service.
How did he make this massive change? While there isn’t one thing John did right, there are a few big things he did that you can start doing today to put your own freelance business on a similar trajectory.
Listen to this episode of 6 Figure Creative now to learn more!
In this episode you’ll discover:
- How John went from sleeping on his studio floor to earning six figures… In three years
- Why offering a premium service is one of the best decisions you can make
- How to differentiate your business from the competition
- Thinking ahead 10 years: will people still want to work with you?
- How to deal with online haters and trolls
- The power of harnessing TikTok to generate leads for your business
- Why it’s important to avoid overworking yourself
- Methods of dealing with plateaus in your business
- Learning to invest in your education to grow your business and skills
Join The Discussion In Our Community
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“If you're price sensitive, if you're always trying to get a good deal, it's hard to charge high rates.” – Chris Graham
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Brian: [00:00:00] Welcome back to another episode of the six-figure creative podcast. I am your host, Brian, what the
Chris: Buster. yeah, you guys definitely heard that. Didn't you?
Brian: I am your host Brian Hood. I'm here with my big bulb. Beautiful co-host and his loud doc.
Brian: And I'm sitting here wondering, should we just redo this whole intro? Christopher J. Graham. Hi, do today, Chris.
Chris: doing great, man. I've had a weird day of, you know, I doctor dentist doctor, like I did all my things, a batched to today was my,
Brian: it's a self it's a self care day.
Chris: It was. Yeah. And so I'm there and Buster's.
Brian: said, it's not a good place to be. You're not even here. I'm not even sure that you're here at is like you're, you're so distant right now that I'm like, as Chris Graham, even here today,
Chris: Well, when Buster starts barking, it's like, wait, is everything safe?
Brian: there's a ghost in your house. There's a hundred percent of ghosts in
Brian: house right now.
Chris: it's Instacart with my delivery outside.
Brian: Not sponsored by. Thank you very much, Chris, for bringing that brand on here. These big brands trying to take over the [00:01:00] world
Chris: Oh, snap. You know what? I'll tell you what guys, Lincoln, the description I've been using Instacart, like crazy.
Brian: Oh, shut the hell
Brian: here. Are you serious?
Chris: Yes. Like, because for me, my time is super valuable and I don't like going to the grocery store. It's
Brian: do they have an affiliate link that you're about to put
Brian: in the
Chris: yes, I am. I'm going to put my affiliate link down there.
Brian: God. Look at, look at the market or Chris.
Chris: I love it. Like I don't have to go to the grocery store almost ever anymore. I
Chris: hate the grocery
Brian: this episode is officially sponsored by Chris Graham's affiliate link to Instacart Lincoln, the description. Oh my God.
Chris: Click that link. Get you some groceries. I think you get 10 bucks and free groceries if you use my
Brian: I use Shipt S H I P T, which has been incredible flawless. That best shoppers on earth, but I, I am a hundred percent with you, Chris. I do not shop for groceries. My wife does not shop for groceries.
Brian: We have that stuff delivered to our house because you know why Chris? I know, you know why, because our time is valuable and it's better spent elsewhere,
Brian: whether that's in my business or though that's with my wife. Yeah. I know Chris. Everything's a system to you. If you think of the
Chris: think [00:02:00] of a system. Think of how stupid grocery stores are. Walk in with a list of things you want and try to find them.
Brian: Good luck.
Chris: There's no map. There's like some signs that are like dog food and cereals in this aisle. But there's other stuff in that aisle too. That's not dog food or cereal and you just have to anticipate, well, that's sort of like cereal, I guess I'll try this aisle.
Chris: And you just like, you were on the whole thing it's designed to make you impulse.
Brian: Dude, if you legitimately did the math on how much time you spend to go to the grocery store for like your weekly or like your major graphics, and then you actually do the math on how much extra you're paying for the shoppers to do it. it's an insignificant amount of money that you're
Brian: for that sort of
Brian: So reinvest in your time and your business people. All right. Let's let, let's bring our guests in here today. Cause he's just been politely staring at us. When we talk about stupid grocer Delilah, you probably heard a third voice. If you're not listening, watching a new tip and you're thinking, what was that voice?
Brian: There is a spirit and then Kiska hands house. Our guest today is none other than Mr. John McLucas, who is [00:03:00] actually part of the dream team for the very first course, the six figure home studio put out called the profit over. Here's your course, John, I'm glad to finally have you on the podcast like three years after you joined that.
John: This is like such a full, full circle moment for me. I didn't even know I'm going to be honest. I didn't even know if I get emotional today. Like thinking about the journey of it because we met when I was living on the floor of that rehearsal studio unit and I took that course sleeping on that foam pad and then to be here now today, like it's it, it closes well, not a closed chapter, but it's, uh, it's been a journey and it's wild to be in this moment. And I'm, I am just really excited to be here.
Brian: I'm excited to have you man, like, okay. So for those who don't know, six figure home studio was the original brand of six-figure creative. And John was one of the first 50 students I ever had in my first like flagship course called the profitable producer course. And John at the time that he joined the course was slipping on the floor of his studio in LA.
Brian: Cause it was like the most expensive it's the most expensive city to live in. and he went to the course and you are [00:04:00] an awesome testimonial at the end. And even seeing like your, your like exit interview video from that point where you'd already seen some success to now, like it is a night and day difference.
Brian: And we were talking beforehand and I asked you for permission on this, but you've, you've brought in like over $130,000 in the last year for your home. Is it still a home studio or is it not, do you have a commercial space?
John: well, technically I have even less than a home studio. I have a, I am traveling around right now. Like I don't actually have a set home. So 90% of my work is done on the laptop and the VSX headphones I'm wearing right now. And then I go to studio like last week I was in LA for two weeks to record vocals for a bunch of stuff.
John: And then now I'm going to go back and send them off for editing and do all that. So it's actually just two Pelican cases of studio that I unravel and Ravel up to go places and using the internet and a jacked up Mac book for really the rest of it.
Chris: You're so cool, John, you are so cool. That's awesome,
Brian: So it's really [00:05:00] fun to always get out. Anytime we can get a community member on the podcast, we always enjoy it. And John has a special place in my heart just because of how long he's been around and how much I've seen him grow. And today he's going from not he's, he's officially going from the student to the teacher, but you've been the teacher for awhile now, honestly.
Brian: So this is honestly it's past, due time to get you on this podcast here. So today we're going to talk about not really so much for journey, because we've probably talked about that on kind of like a case study interview we did with you, John, but more than anything, I think we can talk about what is working in your business to be able to earn what you're earning with, what you currently just stated that you're doing it with.
Brian: I know so many commercial studio owners who are all going to have a call with them and they'll, they'll be trying to help me to crack the marketing code for them. Here's a hint, it's not your $500,000 a year that you have in the studio. And if anything, the debt note you're paying on that monthly is even making it even harder because people like John Lucas are touring around the world with a laptop and a couple of Pelican cases and crushing you.
Brian: It has something to do with a special sauce that I think John McLucas has here. And we're going to discuss that today. So, John, [00:06:00] I think a really fun place to start here always think of things linearly. And so when I think things linearly, I think of top of funnel, middle funnel, bottom of funnel.
Brian: And I really like approaching interviews in that way, especially when it's an interview
Brian: of somebody who's doing really well.
John: Yes. I've noticed that. I kind of think I assumed that was the, that was going to be the flow today.
Brian: Yeah. So for anyone who's not familiar with what that term is, I talk about it all the time. So go back and listen to more episodes. I'm not going to give you a revamp of that here, but John, for top of funnel for you for way of generating awareness for what it is actually, before we even go to that, what do you do?
Brian: Give people a rundown of what you do. So, so people are kind of really well-grounded and know what we're talking about from this point on.
John: Yeah, I am a traveling pop producer. So my primary job is working with singer songwriters and pop artists, creating instrumentals, really creating, creating the full universe around their vocals and doing it in a really collaborative way. Like my process specifically is very, open-ended a lot of, kind of white glove, I guess to say like, like personal time together.
John: It's not the, and this is just not how I do things. It's not like cool vocal here, Trek. [00:07:00] Okay. You've done vocals cool here mix. Like it's, it's very, it's, it's a more personalized long-term relationship where we take the time and really nurture their story. What, what they want to sound like, what they want to feel like when people hear it and create something that, you, know, my, my, my tagline has been. you know, like making memorable music or some I've been playing with variations of that. We want it to be something memorable where they look back in a decade and it's not out of fashion. It's not out of style. Like they can look back as a class. Like that's a classic John piece, you know, classic Brian piece of cloth across classic Chris piece.
John: And that's, that's the core of it. There's some other things that are more exhilarated, but that's the heart of my business and how I work with and serve people.
Brian: you said something there that actually made me want to change the direction of what we're gonna talk about first. And, and it's it's because you said it's, it's a white, it's a white glove service, meaning like it's very high touch. You put a line a lot of time, effort and energy collaborating with your clients.
Brian: And, and this brings up a really interesting point, is that the only reason you're able to do that is [00:08:00] because from what we've discussed, at least you charge premium prices for what you do. And for those who are just putting clients through a machine and just churning people out, endlessly, those people have to do that because they're not able to charge a premium for what they do.
Brian: So they're forced to just churn people through a machine endlessly, and they're not able to put the amount of collaboration and care and love into it. Can you talk about how your pricing projects are kind of the ballpark of pricing? Because I think that's an area so many people get stuck on. They want to spend white glove premium amounts of time with people at rock bottom prices.
Brian: And that that model does not work.
John: It's an anxiety model. So, yeah. Um, no, that's great. So if people are just for like a 62nd context, when it talks about being a pop producer, I mean, that can mean a lot of things to people. The majority of artists that I've worked with and we create music together are people who have either like a bare bones demo or they might've found a loop.
John: Pace it through and rent a demo saying to it, or they just sing into their [00:09:00] phone. And they're like, here it is to like, here's what the little click track going in, have it off to me. So we're building it from the base and I'm doing everything from all the, every pretty much every sound you hear all the vocal arranging sometimes too, I'm coming in with harmony sheets and middy and ranging four-part choirs and, you know, coaching them through how they should be singing and, and really going deep in it.
John: So just for some context, if you might hear producer and it's like, oh, you just give them the beat. It's like, no, we're, I'm starting from the the dirt with them and building the house.
Chris: You want to help them understand who they are as part of making them.
John: Yeah. it's not, I think there's obviously the market for people who want instrumentals into right to that. And that's just not what I do. So people who want that kind of relationship just don't hit me up because it's pretty clear that that's not what I do. And so prices range anywhere from, depending on what they're looking for around two K a song, if we're doing. Kind of what I think it would be without talking to them like full arrangement.
John: I'm helping them with their vocal recording. We're doing this. We're even helping bring in song writers to help with lyrics [00:10:00] and arrangement and harmony stacks and anything that, they need. I have a, actually a new orchestral arranger to on, on hold for when I need him. So around two K would be like the starting price for that.
John: Assuming we're not renting like a mega studio for the vocal de
Brian: Yeah. So with that, like how long did it take you to build up to that sort of pricing and what sort of, what sort of mindset shifts, if any, did you have to break through to get to that kind of pricing level?
John: when I, okay. When I first started with you, I think by the end of it, I was 600 a song and that was from 300 a song.
John: I was
John: about six to 800 a song.
Brian: a quick doubling of.
John: Quick doubling and then it's doubled again. But every time I've doubled their realize how much better I can help people. And I think the hardest part with the mindset is believing.
John: Cause when you're a lot cheaper, when you are the Costco cut or whatever you want to call it, you end up attracting those kinds of people. And it's very hard to realize that there are people who are artistic, are in various situations, I think, okay, this is what it is. I had the conversation, somebody, oh, I'm so excited.
John: This is I in here is. [00:11:00] I think we forget that there's a lot of artistic people who have jobs and want to invest back into their creative passions and what they want to do with their life. I think the archetype that we like as creative freelancers create of other creatives is that they are, you know, these, these, you know, I bleed by the art and I don't, you know, Dilla, Dilla debt, but there's so many people I've worked with who have, who are great at what they do have other sources of.
John: income and say, Hey, I know what it's like when people hire me to help them find a great home.
John: So I want to find somebody who serves me as well as I serve, you know, my job that I work. So there's this it's, it just took me, I think the first couple to realize that those people exist. You know, I I'm very open to work with all kinds of people, but to know that there are yet people who are artistic and creative, who work in real estate and who have a job in this tech place, are they they're salespeople themselves in are good at sales.
John: And so they're like, yeah, I want to keep crushing sales. So let me get the songs done. And then I [00:12:00] have great bang of Rooney songs. And then I can use those great songs that did it. And it's this upward spiral. Like they just, they do exist, but you can't understand that when you're charging $400 for 40 hours of your time and you get become cynical and jaded through the confirmation bias that I think ends up being inevitable because you build that reality and it only takes one person to show you that that's different.
John: And I think that was the hardest point is like having that first person to kind of took the leap. And I was like, why you said yes to that. Great. Cool. And then like in that I was winning.
Chris: and that brings up such a great conversation. I think that it's the same for most people is that they have to get in a position. Firstly, Where they can throw out a quote that they're totally okay with losing
John: Oh, that's yeah, that's a big part.
Chris: yeah, You throw out that you find that client or that client finds you. You're like, Hmm.
Chris: I'm going to ask for a lot more than I normally would a lot of times people will throw out a high quote because they don't want to work with a person it's a defense tactic.
Chris: And then when they say, yes, I do want to work with you. It starts to open your mind that there [00:13:00] are more people out there willing to spend more. And I encountered this years ago before the podcast where this happened a couple of times where I was, you know, just specifically focused on an audio mastering world and I wasn't recording anybody.
Chris: And people would still occasionally reach out to me. And if they were a good friend, I would be like, here's the quote, but don't hire me. I'm way too expensive. Like you could get somebody else for half. And every time I did that, they'd say yes. When you have this opportunity to throw out a quote that you're okay with losing and people say yes to it.
Chris: It exactly what you said, John, it opens their mind. So tell us a story about that.
John: I think something that a lot of creative freelancers and took me a long time to get out of this don't realize is how powerful it is to not need to close or, or to, to go in just assuming like I just, and that's how I felt.
John: I've talked to artists that I work with right now. I've, tried to deter them from working with me because I wasn't sure if it was right. And it's like, yo, I don't know if this is correct. And I genuinely mean it. Like, [00:14:00] I'm just not attached to you saying yes right now I will show you why. I think you're the answer if I do, I think people say it as a tactic. Like, oh Yeah. Like I like try to trick themselves, but they, they secretly are like, ah, like for like clinging on to, to wanting to work with somebody. But
Chris: they don't say yes, it will be a reflection on who I am as a human being.
John: Yeah. And, and I think that's because they're in that, that pit of, you know, the charging low prices, they need to get the next one and it creates this impossible vicious circle.
John: And I think there's so much that they forget where it's like, that's why having another income source outside of it is actually like a pretty baller superpower to where when you wanna, when you want to build something, you can say no, and be like, Yeah.
John: I don't actually need to say yes is, here's how we can serve you up to you.
John: That's how I've always approached it. And if I don't want to work with somebody, I'll be like, yo, I just walk away. I haven't thrown out like an F-you price if you price for like maybe three or four years now, because I'd just say like, yo, this isn't it. I'm trying to think 10 years, like, like the next 10 [00:15:00] years, I'm, I'm only 27, you know?
John: And, and I'm trying to think of when I'm 37 47, like, what will people be saying about me? And I don't want it to be like, yeah. John said yes to that because I think he wanted my money. Like, that's who I want
Brian: Yep. And, but to get to that place I would say it takes time you're wise beyond your years junk. Cause when I was 27, I was probably saying yes to the products I should have been saying no to. So I was definitely not there at that point. I think just now at 35, I just turned 35 this week, just now, just now on 35, I am just out of the place.
Brian: I feel where I. Consistently turned down clients or projects that I did not think was right for me. And I think that's the place that we should all strive to be. And it starts with, in my opinion, charging premium rates for what you do, going back to your business model, John, because that opens up so much more opportunity to fully serve your clients the way they deserve to be served.
Brian: And for you just to kind of bring this back and then we're going to kind of go on to the next section here, just to bring this back, John. Is able to fully flex his creative muscle, which creates a better end product because he's put so much of [00:16:00] himself into the project, which makes clients happier, which increases referrals and word of mouth because they see how much work John puts into things, which brings other people to his studio.
Brian: and because he's so good at what he does now, he's able to pick whatever one he wants. He can cherry pick the clients he wants. He can say no to the ones he doesn't want. And he's saying yes to the clients that he gels well with that the music's going to turn out the way he wants it, scratches his creative itch.
Brian: And at the end of the day, it's the things that he wants to actually work with, which makes the projects more fun for him and fulfilling for him. So it's this wonderful cycle that continues and continues and continues.
Chris: I think one of the most fascinating pieces about this. It's something that I've struggled with a lot. And I think all of us have of assuming that everybody else, all of your clients see money in the same way that you do. Some people value time. Some people value, convenience. Some people value, pleasure.
Chris: Some people value money. And I think the assumption is when you're starting to work with a client, that if you're going to throw out a high quote like that, that they're going to value money the same way you do. And they're going to, if you're price [00:17:00] sensitive, if you're always trying to get a good deal, it's hard to charge high rates. It's hard to get to that point.
Brian: There's a quote that I love and that you've heard many times John, and it's you sell, like you buy. And so if you're the type of person who's always looking for a deal, if you're the type of person who is always trying to save a buck and spend 30 hours saving a buck, if you're the kind of person who is always trying to negotiate down and low ball people, you're going to get treated the exact same way with your clients, because you're going to be selling that exact same way, because that's what you expect from other people.
Brian: And it is incredible what you can accomplish in a sales conversation, which we'll get to sales in a bit with John is incredible. What you can do when you're selling your services and what kind of prices you can command when you willingly and openly spend money to invest into your business. And I know for a fact that John, not just with my course in back of the day, he's invested thousands, tens of thousands.
Brian: I don't know how much money you've invested back into your own education. And then that has shown in how you sell your services.
John: Yeah, I have spent, I probably between 15 to 20 grand on [00:18:00] learning in the last 18 months.
John: That and, and I've literally never got on the phone call, not ready to buy. I'm just like, cool. Is this going to get me where I want to go? Is this going to get me the thing I want? Fab fabulous. Yeah. I just, and it comes across.
John: And I think I understand when there's somebody who wants to get it done, not to fluff my own booty over here, but once you get it done well in and wants to get it done with care and like is understanding that patience is going to create something better that will give them the opportunity to stand out and to, to impress people who stumble upon them.
John: It's yeah. Like, like I ha I just couldn't understand somebody who could get to that point without doing it themselves.
Brian: So you've got this premium pricing that you're doing. John, you've got a really, really good like process for, for finding clients like you.
Brian: To me, you have the perfect business model as a producer, which is what I would try to get everyone to, to duplicate is what you're doing. High dollar. You're really spending time with your clients. You're making them happy. But the problem [00:19:00] with this is like, you can have a really good product. You can make your clients really happy.
Brian: They're going to refer clients to you, but you don't really control that. I put a YouTube video talking about the word of mouth lie recently, but you do get the word out in another way that I think is worth diving into because we all have ourselves essentially is what we're trying to sell. And John, thankfully, what you're selling, which is yourself is a beautiful thing.
Brian: do it in a clever way that I think most people fail to do. And that's through content creation. Can you talk about, and this is where we're going back to the top of funnel. The thing I started talking about the beginning of this interview, and we kind of got sidetracked to the pricing side of things, but you've got a really good product, but how do you get that product?
Brian: Which is your, your services, your, your production. How do you get that out into the world? So people even are aware that you are offering the service.
John: Welcome to Tik TOK class. Let's go. It's going down. I'm about to make everybody, you make it. Take talk and
John: actually take, take care of it for a little bit. But actually seriously though, at the end of the day, like I, I'm going to reverse engineer really quick because, because it's not as much that it's tech [00:20:00] talk it's in order for somebody.
John: Cause I work in a very emotional. Service business, you know, th there's very different than the podcast agency, very different. I think even then than mixing mastering, very diff you know, kind of like almost like a wedding photography, or you had a wedding person on, and the services where it has to do with like a piece of somebody's heart.
John: You know, like this last week in the studio, I worked with, an artist whose song was about a really toxic breakup in some horrifying things. I probably, I won't even discuss that. This exited to them a song about a new love. That's somebody else's having a, a thought, well, a song about sex. And so it's not as emotional, but it's uh, it's about, it's about getting it and just like all these different parts, but like a lot of these are very personal.
John: And even if it is about sex, like it's still like this expression of yourself and your sexuality, and that's very personal. So to express your sexuality publicly, Every human you may ever encounter for the rest of [00:21:00] your life. And because of that, it's not the kind of thing that I've personally ever felt made sense to be, you know, doing the kind of traditional, like opt in to the D LeDoux.
John: It's just like, yo, this is you like, Hey John, tell me, I need to make a song about my, my mother's passing. Like, that's that takes a long time to find somebody to help you with that, that you, that you trust. So this isn't the kind of thing where I have a banger, like tool kit box about like how to process your grief into a song, 10 tips like that doesn't exist.
John: Eh, well maybe it does. I could be wrong. That's just not what feels authentic to me. So I've always gone with the know like, and trust way of approaching things. And in order for people, you to have to know you who you are, they have to like, not think you're. Poopoo. And then they have to, I forgot people do a bleep.
John: This, do you guys believe this now? And then they have to trust that you'll get the job done. So in order, that's the only way that you'll ever get hired to help [00:22:00] anybody. And if you want people to know you, you can pay for it or have it come organically. So now we're at that point. And then, well, how could I find new people who.
John: Be benefiting from what I can help them with right now. It's TechTalk and in two years it'll be Blick block or, you know, something on the, on the blockchain, like a social media on the blockchain is probably what's going to come next to something that takes over with, NFTs where, um, that's a whole different
Brian: wait for everything I've ever done to be on the blockchain permanently and irreversibly.
John: Yes, but that's the reason that I'm on Tik TOK and that's why I've taken it seriously. The last two years is I know there's an opportunity to help people with how I work and how many terrible experiences people have had with other producers, other engineers. I know I can serve them better. So it's my duty to help find those people and to bring them into my world so I can give them a positive experience so I can give them what they've been trying to get done for two years, five years, 10 years, all these things that people [00:23:00] have said they wanted to have happen.
John: And Tik TOK is where that currently is happening, the easiest to connect with those people. So that's a really long way to say that. Yeah.
John: it's where the organic attention is. If I want to find new people and we have a couple of ways to do it and take talk is where that's happening.
Brian: I think you, you told the long-winded story for a very specific reason, and that is knowing your audience. Like, if I, like you said, if I'm going after businesses who wants to launch podcasts for my new podcast production agency, good fortune media if I'm looking for clients in, in that world, I'm probably not gonna be on Tik TOK.
Brian: First of all. And even if I am on tech talk, I'm going to be making wildly different types of content than you would be. John I'd be being content. That's reaching my specific type of audience, which is all my business owners. So for you, you're talking about the amount of emotion that goes into your work and the amount of motion you're having to deal with on a day-to-day basis.
Brian: And I say deal with in a nice way. It's just like you're having to manage that and put it into a craft into a song, which funny story. I believe it was one of mark accurate assistance. His headline in his website was turned your trauma into a, a banger or something like that. It's a really good headline.
Brian: So [00:24:00] all that to say like your, your content is speaking to that specific individual. in the result of that is when people actually get on a sales call with you, which we'll get into like vape, they're ready. They're already sold. They already know you're the person, because they've already seen your content.
Brian: They've already been following you for a long time. Can you talk about a, how you approach content creation and then the effects of what that turns into.
John: For me, the content is a super long play. Like I make very few pitches to like book me or hire me. I intentionally try to. Again, like very like 10, 20 year kind of a thing. It's like, I, I'm not concerned about the next, like two months. I'm concerned about how many people I can connect with for the next 10 years and who right, I'll go with this metaphor.
John: If I can, if I think of an airplane hanger and I can put as many people in that one room, who all think that I am good at this thing, the more opportunity I have to help them with it. Like the more I can just cram a room full of people that think positively of me in some way through and again, through authentically what I'm good at and how [00:25:00] I can help you.
John: Not like through being a fake person online, like this is what I'm good at. I wish I wouldn't have gotten here. It would have been pretty quick. And the more I can do that the better. So I'm putting out content that I'm specifically trying to demonstrate that I'm an expert at what I do. That's the only thing that matters.
John: I want to build my authority as somebody who's a great pop producer and also somebody who has that reciprocity in that two way street. And so I'm accomplishing that through really two things. One is discussing or like breaking down other media, other music has been great. And you can do that in all forms, right?
John: As, and as any creative, you could break down the cinematography of the real Moolah, the live-action Milan and why it felt like a aggressive or something. And talk about those shots. Maybe. Does that make sense?
Brian: Yes. Yeah. Or you can critique cats, the movie and how it should have never been made and why the animation was so weird and the.
John: Exactly they used the square paint brush tool and it should have been the triangle paint brush tool, Like a [00:26:00] program to do the animation. And this is why it was bad. So I'm using a good amount of stuff that already exists. So it's kind of cross appealing by also discussing pop culture. And, but then adding my commentary and by default, I am me who is a very flowery plumpy, flump, Bert kind of an energy, you know, obviously very good at what I do, but I have, I'm very floppy in a lot of ways.
John: So I very much deter. I I've gotten pushed back on my energy, but that's exactly the point is like, I want people to know exactly what they're getting into. And then the, then on the other side, some of my best content has been in the studio where it's a clip of me talking to an artist, coaching them through a moment, like discussing what I need out of them.
John: And they're like, wow. That's not what it's like working with this person, this other person that was cool. Maybe I should go that maybe I should think about doing that next time. So they get to see that I know what I'm talking about either through, through popular songs or I'll [00:27:00] use my own tracks that I've worked on and package it as like making a snow Lego track, making them, and maybe three track and reap and package it that way.
John: And then also seeing me actually in the trenches with people, and it's like, wow, that he actually like, truly genuinely cares and will take the time to make it right. Which, which is, you know, and then at that point, yeah, it's like, these are the things that they've struggled with. Like people flexing or people being kind of not degrading demeaning towards them in a very emotional, creative process.
John: And I don't want that to be I'm seen at all,
Brian: So you're creating, so you're creating this content and you said something earlier that I really want to touch on because this is a fear that so many people have when they're creating content on such a public platform. Like tick-tock you said you've gotten some pushback from some people, meaning somebody didn't like the content you created.
Brian: Can you talk about like, why do you not care if someone basically on your. Tik TOK content. Like I'm assuming you don't really care because you
Brian: wouldn't keep putting it out. If you, if you truly cared.
John: I sat as this may sound I've [00:28:00] had a very difficult time with, with people ever, even just foundationally understanding the path that I want to walk in my life. I'm used to being consistently judged by people, very close in my life, and hence having a very small circle that people I want to spend my time with that it's just almost comical that some anonymous scrotum on the internet thinks that they have an understanding of who I am as a person than I do.
Brian: Based off of a 15 second tick
John: based off of a 15th. Somebody told me my content was damaging to the children on the app.
John: because they didn't agree with my harmonic analysis of Cardi B's wop, because my justification was, it felt more like a blues scale going from four flat five, five, it, it, but then the liquids really blunt.
John: And I'm just like, I don't care. Thanks for the interaction. I'll take it. But like, it's just so funny that people go there. Like, I dunno, it's I have that very like, oh, I [00:29:00] feel this is how you're spending your time. This is your precious life
Chris: one of the things I think that's fascinating about the emotion when you're making content, when content is driving your business's growth, but the content also sometimes hurts you. I remember one time years ago, I got a comment on an ad that I was. That it looked like in the video, I was chewing gum and that the gap in my teeth was effing disgusting.
Chris: And it was like, oh,
Chris: I'm just trying to get someone to let me master their music for him. But I think what's funny that I found that I did with this. And John, tell me if you, if you do this too, is I equally weight, all comments, anything someone says to me negatively, I assume that this person represents someone whose opinion.
Chris: I maybe should respect. I assume they're like 30 years old and relatively intelligent and somewhat educated. I don't think about, well, is this like the crazy person that yelled at me on the street yesterday that I [00:30:00] was able to immediately look at and be like, man, they're, they're struggling on the internet.
Chris: You don't really have that benefit. You just see the. And you think this, this is from an intelligent person whose opinion I should respect. It's not that it's not always the case. It's difficult to discount anything that someone says negatively. When that's your businessman. That's intense.
John: It's very hard to emotionally detach from it. But I think the heart, I wouldn't do that curve to where obviously when I was in on the floor of the rehearsal studio, I didn't have a life. It was actually quite sad in a lot of ways is very depressing. And I had a vitamin D deficiency, and a lot of problems going on in, in
John: in my heart.
John: There's no windows. So when, when you'd work a 14 hour day, I'd be like, whoa, where was the sun? Well, I guess I'll go back to sleep in the same box I'm in.
Chris: the only person in Los Angeles with the vitamin D deficient.
John: I think through that moment, when I realized that people just, how could they understand? I've never received criticism, that kind of criticism from somebody I actually respect.
John: [00:31:00] And if I did, it would not be pack it, be not be packaged in that way. If one of you two lovely gentlemen gave me a critique, it would be well-constructed. It would be. Polite and, well, I know Brian's a bit more chorus, but it would, it would be, I understand Brian your style. So I know that you're, that you're just going to throw it down, but I, I filter it through how you deliver things and I'm
John: not expecting how I would give criticism
Brian: I brought this up though, because I, it, isn't a really important point, because would you say that content creation is the core of your, of your like lead generation in your
Brian: business? Or is it through other means?
John: It's absolutely everything. Yeah.
Brian: here's here and here's the central, the central thing that I want to get a point across to everyone listening.
Brian: So again, if you're multitasking putting the dishes away and you've kind of zoned out for some ridiculous reason, because John's amazing, useless in every word he says, yeah, just come back to us here. John failed to ignore the haters and, and push through the fear of, of using Tik TOK or some sort of content creation platform, he would not have a business.
Brian: That's how important it is to get past the fear here. and then the other side of the. [00:32:00] If you are not getting hateful comments and content you're creating, you're not trying hard enough. You're not doing anything interesting enough because the people who put out bland, boring content get bland, boring comments.
Brian: If any interaction at all, the people who actually get interaction are the ones who are getting people who absolutely love them and absolutely hate them. And if you want any proof of this, go look at our political uh, situation in 2020, and you'll see the love and hate on both sides and how that basically is the way it works when it comes to a popularity contest these days.
Brian: Now I'm not saying to go that ridiculous don't create wild and crazy content just for the sake of it, but just know that if, if anything, most people, especially creatives venture on the safe side, because they have an innate fear of being judged and being rejected. And John, you don't, you still I'm sure.
Brian: You've just like anyone else have that same innate fear, but you found a way to get past that.
Chris: one of the things that we talk about, Brian, a lot as we're coming up with ideas for content here, that's right on, right on topic with. Is Tim Ferris is sort of famous for saying, [00:33:00] make content that 10% of your audience will absolutely go crazy for, I think the death blow that you can, that you can get into when you're making content is to just try to make something that everybody likes, even across all your fans.
Chris: He's talking about focus on, you know, you know, we, we, a long time ago did a tax episode and we knew like, eh, people in
Brian: today. Today is the worst episode by download numbers we've ever done, I think,
Brian: but I guarantee you, it was the highest quality concentration of our audience because the
Brian: about taxes are the ones who are serious about their business.
Chris: Well, not only that, but it was an international issue we're in America and people outside it wasn't useful to them.
Brian: no one was making fun of us for that episode. So let that be clear. I'm I'm really, I'm trying to get the point across, especially for John here, as you push through the fear and put the content out anyways, how often are you putting out content on Tik TOK?
John: Now we'll have very soon as everything gets launched out, it's, it'll be about one to two a day. So about 10, 10 to 12 a week is what [00:34:00] we'll be doing on TechTalk and reels. And then I'll, I'll myself. Try to do like two to three things on the gram and Facebook might, But, really the
John: focus is the vertical content.
Brian: but John, I'm a creative and I just want to work in my studio or in my office and create all day. I don't have time to do Tik TOK.
John: Oh, I love this. So, okay.
John: I, what I would say to that, what I would say that is, I'd say. I'm fully in support of that. If you've heard the argument in favor of it and you're not interested in doing that, that's totally okay. And I, at the end of the day, don't care if you choose to do it or not, it is an effecting my life.
John: So do what you want. But I would also hope you can understand the potential ramifications and consequences of that decision. So as long as you feel that you've been informed of the benefits, what it takes to, to potentially get it done, and you say, I'm not interested in doing that. I'm going to say, sounds great.
John: Have a great day. I just don't that I've said my peace. Thanks.[00:35:00] Good luck like that. I wish you all the best.
Chris: So, how have you found enough time to make all this content? John?
Chris: There it is.
John: his loan it up, baby.
Brian: There it is. I
Brian: thought I did, but I
Brian: didn't do a good enough job, Chris. Thanks for pushing the final mile there.
John: So that's a great question, Chris. Well, as it became really, it was a it an arc because if you, my approach has always been, so I'm scratching my head on camera. I realized I'm the one that's also up as I'm speaking. So if you don't have enough going on and you need help connecting with the right people to serve with your work, then your job is to make content.
John: That's how I approach it. Like, Oh, I don't have something to work on today. My job is to make a thing, even if I was really bad at it. And it was terrible and it got no interaction to did do it did nothing. I, that was my regimen. And then as I got busier, of course, Then became into an issue. So with a lot of ebbs and flows, I had to kind of navigate that.
John: And I hit that this sticking point recently. And that's when we started working together, Chris, boom,
John: there's the [00:36:00] pitch we're in. But one of the first things that we talked about was a system for content, because content is the lifeblood of everything that I do. And I'm not even just talking about like, I think also quick, quick aside, I'm gonna get back to this.
John: The wildest thing about content is that it creates opportunities that you can never predict when you are publicly out there in the world. So for example, I have. You know, a significant amount of money come in from brand deals from, for creating tech talks, for creating on YouTube, for creating for other companies purely because they're like, yo, that guy, that guy can make things that look good and he's articulate.
John: Wow. He, and he's not a total flaky sack. Like he's, we should go work with him. And I'm even doing a giveaway with slate digital next month because they like my content and we're going to partner up to do like a really cool contest and purely from me making content
Brian: so if anyone's listening, it's not in the audio world. Slate digital is like one of the bigger software [00:37:00] plugin companies in the audio world.
Chris: How do you, so I, I think a good story for you that I'd love to hear you tell John is to talk about how you began to reinvest into marketing. So you were making content, you realized it was working. So you decided to make more content in the same way. If you're running ads and the ads are working, you should spend more on the ads and figure out where does it start to level off?
Chris: Where does the investment start to not turn the same return? So you found pretty, pretty right off the bat that wow, this content is working. I will make more of it and it will work more. How did you do.
John: Uh, It started off, I think pretty unhealthfully with a lot of, you know, overworking. And, but then as I got, more in demand and I'm very fortunate to be a lot more in demand than it was two years ago. I had, I hit that sticking point where it became a matter of like, well, how can I become more efficient while not sacrificing quality?
John: And that's when I had my first experiences outsourcing with editors, for my YouTube content and kind of the [00:38:00] Mongo machine Mongo, mega mega machine. There we go. That sounds way better. the mega machine of content that I've put together to allow me to focus on kind of the, the Gary V document don't create where I can sit down and work for one day a month and create everything I need to, and I have like a really intensive.
John: Set of checklists and instructions in form submissions and protocols for somebody else to follow to where now I am essentially duplicating myself by handing all that off to them. And they are executing at like an a 95% 90 to 95%, every single time on like the first swing at something minus maybe the copywriting that's been the hardest thing, but besides that, getting a lot of it off the plate.
John: And that was probably, that was the first thing that we worked on when we started working together, Chris, which was like, whoa, how do we get more of this off my plate? So it really came down to once I knew that the three things essentially that were effective, I'm not trying [00:39:00] to innovate too far beyond that.
John: It's like, this is working. This is great. I am a service provider. I don't necessarily want to be an influencer. that's have no interest in doing that. I want to now make sure I can focus and serve these people as best as I can, which means now this has to get reduced by 90% and handed off to somebody. So I essentially actually got forced into it.
John: Like it was that, or, or not have a life
Chris: that's awesome. I think for most people, when they start to realize how I need to do more of the things that are working, but in order to do more of the things that are. I have to get more efficient and to get more efficient, I have to build dope systems. And this thing that you're talking about of having these come to Jesus moments, I think is how everyone that has ever gotten that it's ever become a systems ninja or has had some level of success systemizing their business.
Chris: It's necessity. If it's just like I'm going to build a business. And I'm just going to think about all my systems at the same time, necessity is the mother of invention. And I think [00:40:00] overwhelm is the mother of systems.
Brian: Yeah. So just for anyone listening right now, like this is something you will inevitably hit this, especially when you hit the six figure mark, because as a creative, unless you're, unless you're like working with corporate clients and you're working with like super high dollar budgets, the a hundred, $150,000 mark is when you hit that, that first massive bottleneck in your business where you can, you can no longer, you hit a ceiling on your income.
Brian: So it's really hard to get up above that. you hit a ceiling with your time. So where you're maxed out all the time, you're always overwhelmed. You start dropping the ball. And so your quality starts to drop. And so this is, this is why we've talked about this many times with you, Chris, about how you hit this moment, where like almost ruined your business and you were forced to build out systems in your business to get past that bottleneck in your business.
Brian: And you're one of the few people who, with your awful business model of really low dollar projects, just being candid with you, it was an awful business model. You were the few, one of the few who managed to have such crazy systems to scale above the a hundred, hundred 50,000, maybe even $200,000 a year with that specific business model.
Brian: And I think everyone. When they hit that part of the business, you know, it, you absolutely know [00:41:00] it.
Chris: John, I think we're a year at right now is you've encountered just like I did. And just like everybody, every small business owner does that. There are different stages of your business that you need something to change, to break. For me breaking through 25 K the first time in a year was really hard.
Chris: It took me like six or seven years.
Brian: And that's usually a marketing.
Chris: yeah, well as a whole lot of problems, but yeah, basically a marketing problem. And then, you know, I started figuring it out. I got to 60 and then breaking 60 was kind of challenging. And then 90 was also pretty difficult to break and I had to build new systems at each of these stages, in my business to break me through that ceiling.
Chris: I sorta hit this plateau of how I think is what we've called it in the podcast in the past of like, okay, I'm as busy as I can stand to be working with as many customers, I can stand to work with charging as much as they can stand to pay. Something has to change. And in that moment, it's efficiency, it's systems, it's automation, it's [00:42:00] systemizing so that you can delegate a lot of people.
Chris: They want to delegate to somebody else, but they can't find someone smart enough because they don't have any.
John: I love those. That art gets, you talked about, I've gone through those similar different bumps and one thing I've from what I've seen, like in community posts and conversations with people, and I really want to caution. Anybody really just everybody. But I mean, honestly, I'm not gonna speak for above my pay grade on this for things.
John: I think a lot of people who are having some success in doing in their work and what they're doing, they want to over systemize before they need it. Like, I've seen some ridiculous questions in, in the community group where they're like asking these really advanced, like
John: how do I create the Bibly boob, dupli, DOP, like,
Brian: that is literally just procrastinate.
John: And I've had that conversation. I'm like, yo, so how are things going? They're like, I'm just getting ready for it to go. Good. And it's like, that's the problem is you won't know the, the system, the next process, the thing you need to eliminate how to get better at this until there's a [00:43:00] ferocious necessity to do it, because then you only then do kind of like, yeah, take a step back and look at the balloon and like, what is actually in this thing now, but when you're not there, you can just yeah.
John: Fantasize about what the problem could be and build out tons of zaps. But then when you actually get to that point, you're like, all this is garbage. Actually what I need is this. So I think on the back of that, I also want to just caution people like to make sure that you, you are needing almost, not, hopefully not at the hell point, but when you get close to it, you like look back at how things are going.
John: And you're like, okay, I those things. All right, great. So before I burn out, I'm going to go and take care of that. And, and then, and then you address it instead of, I think you have the tendencies, the over-planning procrastination, and you have so many dope things that you use once every six months that took 12 hours to build.
John: And it's like, well, you kind of just kinda just done
Chris: I love that. Well, and that, that's one of the reasons that it's so important to build a business that can do two things. One [00:44:00] that you can bring people in to help you work in the business and two, so that you can bring people in to help you work on the business. And that's one of the things that we've been talking a lot about is just building out systems, but also documentation to go with those systems so that your assistant can change the system. You know, having these are called SLPs, but building a business out. You're inevitably going to hit another plateau in the future. And right now the plateau, you and I are working on is becoming an automation ninja so that everything that is not the crap that you love is either automated or systemized and then delegated.
Chris: And man, I, I love that. And I think that's a really, really exciting vision, but you're going to hit a plateau again in the future where maybe this time it's gonna be marketing, or maybe this time it's going to be hiring a ton of people. you don't know, but you need to build a business that allows you to bring other people in to help you break through these plateaus.
Chris: And John that's. One of the things [00:45:00] I admire about you so much, like when you and I started working together, I knew you and Brian had worked, started, started working together. I knew you had taken Dan Henry's course. You're a grower. You recognize when you're hitting a plateau, when you are overwhelmed and that you need someone else to come in and help you break through that.
Chris: And that's awesome, dude.
Chris: speaks volumes of your heart and your mind.
Brian: Yeah. So to, to take the awkwardness out because literally no one on earth can sit and listen to a compliment about themselves for that long
Brian: Chris, and then have anything witty to
Brian: Okay. Well, all that, all that to say, though, is, is there, you're going to hit these roadblocks and being willing to reinvest back in your business is an important part of that.
Brian: And I, and I can just tell you as someone who has reinvested over a hundred grand back into my business, just on the education side in my life, like in my last decade of business, I am telling you this as someone who has spent ridiculous amounts of money to be better at what I do, not someone who is selling you education, because it's really hard to have a opinion when you are also selling some sort of [00:46:00] course or products in the backend.
Brian: But I'm just telling you as someone who has spent a ton of my own money on education and, and improving my own systems, or honestly improving myself. Yes. In business, like we hit these roadblocks because of a lack of a few things. Majority of them are skills, some are character traits, and then a lot of it is a mindset issue or that we have to get past.
Brian: And sometimes it's all three of those things. We have to get past the money roadblock so that we can have a self-improvement character trait so that we can learn the skills that we need to develop in order to get past these roadblocks. And John is, is on this podcast today because like four years ago, he, he started that self-improvement journey and went from literally laying on his floor, sleeping with a vitamin D deficiency to now earning over six figures a year, coming on our podcast, sharing some of his wisdom with us.
Brian: Honestly, I wish you were here to share more wasn't with us, but we kind of got to wrap this interview up. And it is because you have constantly reinvested in yourself and you have the self-awareness to know that I, that you are not necessarily good enough to overcome every roadblock you hit on your own.
Brian: And sometimes it [00:47:00] takes help from other people.
Chris: And that's so beautiful. Brian, like it's asking for help, I think is one of the hardest things in the entire world. And I'm, I mean that from the standpoint of business, I mean that personally, I mean it, across the, across the board, You know, John, I think what's so cool about your story is that you clearly went from a place of perpetual overwhelm to you're winning the war, man.
Chris: Like you are marching down the field and the future's crazy 10 years from now, what are you going to be doing? It's going to be unbelievable to watch you on that, on that trip. And it's just so cool to see you defeat overwhelmed, man. it's a battle for all of us for the rest of our lives, but you are. You're looking good over there, bud. You're doing great.
John: Well, thank you guys so much. It's Yeah, it's really just incredible to be here and I am not against having yeah. There's, there's so many things I would love to, to continue to talk about
Brian: John, as we wrap this interview up, is there anywhere you'd like to send our listeners
John: two things. One, if you thought this was helpful, [00:48:00] like the biggest thing for me would be if you hit me up and told me it was helpful, like I would rather, I actually could pitch some things, but I'm not even going to bother doing it.
John: If you want it, you can ask and then I'll pitch you something. How about that? But really what, what is most important to me is to know that this conversation was helpful. And then that way, if you also bombard Brian and Chris saying how incredibly insightful having me on was they'll invite me on again.
John: And eventually I might even become a co-host one day that's I'm putting it out in the universe. I'm manifesting
John: it right.
Brian: there's always the mark Eckerd approach of being the substitute co-host for an episode or two.
John: It's all right. I got time. I got time. I got plenty of time,
Brian: All right. Well, thanks for coming on.
John: dude. Thanks guys so much.
Chris: Yeah, man. We love you. We care about you. It's fun to watch you prosper.
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