A great DJ can make a huge difference at any party. This includes anything from a casual get-together to more formal events like weddings. Many people are prepared to pay good money for a quality DJ who can entertain their guests for several hours. And if you've got a knack for mixing music and reading a crowd, it doesn't take much to start operating independently. If you're wondering how to start your own wedding DJ business, this article is for you.
Before you begin, keep in mind that this is hard work. It's one thing to be a good DJ and enjoy mixing tracks, but running a successful business is a completely different story. You will need to be determined and have a structured approach to your work.
Can You Make Money with Your Own Wedding DJ Business?
With that in mind, you can make some pretty good money with your own wedding DJ business. Some of the best wedding DJs can easily earn 4-figure paychecks several times a month. Of course, getting to that point requires a lot of determination and a little bit of luck. You have to be prepared to go through the grind that everyone else goes through.
You must also understand your local market. Weddings can be very different from one part of the country to another. You might need to adapt to certain styles of music and other local preferences.
How Much Can You Earn as a Wedding DJ?
When you're still unknown and not very experienced, you can expect to charge between $200 and $500 for a single wedding. This includes larger weddings as well. This might not sound like much, but it's about in line with what most people make at the beginning of their careers in this sector. Once you’ve developed a reputation and have invested a bit more into equipment and marketing, you can start charging more.
How to Set Up Your Fee Structure
It's important to have your fee structure figured out before you begin. Some wedding DJs charge by the hour, while others charge for the entire event. You might offer different options for different customers according to their needs. Always take your own schedule and investments into consideration. For example, you might be asked to procure some more expensive equipment for a certain wedding. You should include the cost of renting that equipment and the additional insurance it requires in the final fee.
How much you're going to charge also depends on the other services you might want to offer on top of being a DJ. For example, you might be responsible for setting up the lighting and decor of the place. Some weddings also require much more preparation than others. It will take a while to figure out those points, and you might end up selling yourself short a few times until you've found a good balance. However, try not to go too low when you're in doubt about your prices. Once you've set a certain bar, it will become the norm for your future contracts.
A Service Fit for Every Customer
As a wedding DJ you must be able to adapt to weddings of different sizes. Small weddings require a different approach to your preparation than medium and large ones. I would recommend that you stick to small events for the beginning. This will allow you to figure out how things work while keeping the stakes low.
Small weddings tend to be pretty straightforward. The small size of the crowd means that it should be easier to find fitting music. You can also expect your customers to have a more hands-on approach in these situations. This means that the bride and groom might directly tell you what kind of entertainment they expect, and sort out any other details of your performance.
Medium weddings are a mixed bag. Some tend to be pretty simple, while others require more preparation and harder work. The main challenge here usually lies in finding the right type of music and ensuring that your playlist stays varied enough for the entire wedding. With some medium sized weddings, you might not work directly with the bride and groom. Instead, you will be working with a wedding organizer. This can be a huge relief in some cases because these people already know how to work with professionals like you. However, that's not guaranteed.
I would recommend staying away from large weddings until you're really confident in your skills. These come with many additional implications that you might not be prepared to deal with as a beginner. In most cases, people invest a lot of money into a large wedding and expect a correspondingly high-quality service from every vendor.
In addition, these weddings are almost guaranteed to have you working with one or more wedding organizers. There might be a lot of preparation work, conversations to sort out last-minute details, and other events that might eat into your time.
On the bright side, you can easily charge a lot more money for large weddings. $3,000 to $5,000 is a perfectly reasonable sum for an event like this. This is especially true if you're bringing some exclusive equipment or can offer other perks that help you stand out from the competition.
How to Find Customers for Your Wedding DJ Business
The market for wedding DJs is quite crowded. It can take you a while to stand out when you're still new. Don't get discouraged, just keep looking for new customers and eventually you'll manage to establish your own position and build a name for yourself. I encourage you to put work into your marketing from the very beginning. Some people take promotion for granted. As I mentioned above though, you're running a business. The sooner you start treating it like one, the better your long-term prospects will be. That includes actively promoting yourself.
Social media can be great for finding clients as a wedding DJ. Subscribe to local groups for weddings and other similar events and keep track of what's being posted there. Make your own post from time to time advertising your services. Try not to get too obnoxious with this, though. Remember that you're far from the only one trying to make a name for themselves on this market. Some Facebook groups might have specific rules about self-promotion that you have to abide by.
Try to develop a relationship with renowned local wedding organizers as soon as possible. They can easily become your main source of customer traffic. Not only that, but they are going to bring in higher quality clients by default. If somebody is using a wedding organizer, this means that they are more flexible with their budget. In addition, the wedding organizer will act as an intermediary between you and the customers. This can relieve you of a huge burden in some cases when you're dealing with a more difficult bride or groom.
Your Own Website
Nothing beats having your own website when you want to market your services as a wedding DJ. In fact, some people are going to expect you to have one by default. Not having a website can raise some eyebrows, and some might see it as a red flag. It doesn't have to be anything fancy. You can quickly put together a website with WordPress and some plugins, and post some content to fill it up. You don't have to keep it updated on a regular basis. But of course, if you can think of quality blog posts to publish, this can greatly assist you in your marketing and even bring in some extra money.
What Costs Does a Wedding DJ Business Typically Have?
How much does it cost to set up your own wedding DJ business in the first place? Your costs will be mainly split between equipment, software licenses, the occasional training course, as well as insurance and marketing. You can rent some of those things for a start, but the sooner you invest in your own equipment, the better you will be prepared for the long term.
Here is a brief rundown of some of the equipment you can expect to purchase as a wedding DJ, and a cost estimate for most items.
- Laptop – this will be your main tool in most cases. While you can get away with a cheap sub-$500 model, I recommend splurging a bit on this purchase. Reliability is a huge factor when you’re performing a live event like a wedding. One small hiccup can kill the entire mood.
- Speakers – you may sometimes be asked to provide your own speakers. A good pair of speakers that can handle a wedding or a similar event can cost around $300 to $500. You shouldn’t have to spend more on that for a start, as most people wouldn’t be able to tell the difference anyway.
- Headphones – every DJ needs a good pair of headphones to stay on top of their game. This will allow you to easily test live mixes without disturbing the crowd. You can get a cheap pair for as little as $50, but I recommend going a bit higher on this investment.
- Mixer – while you can do some mixing on your laptop, having a dedicated hardware mixer will go a long way towards making your life as a DJ easier. You don’t need to get too fancy here. A mixer with 6 channels should be enough for pretty much any wedding event, unless you’re playing alongside a live band or something like that.
- Microphones – yes, plural. I recommend getting one dedicated mic for yourself, as well as one that you can hand over to guests for special announcements. These will happen at pretty much every wedding, and you’ll be expected to accommodate those requests.
- Lighting – you won’t always be expected to provide a lighting setup, but doing so can go a long way in making a good impression. Expect to spend several hundred dollars on this once you decide to purchase this type of equipment.
You will also need very specialized software to do your work. There are some free programs out there that can work quite well, but using a professional suite is always recommended when a lot of money is on the line. Some solutions have a monthly subscription that can cost you just $10 – $20 a month, while others have to be purchased upfront. You might also need a license for editing software and other additional tools.
It's a good idea to set aside some funding for some training courses. While you can learn a lot about your job online, there's nothing like being taught by a professional. This will save you a lot of time and will point you in the right direction about developing your career. How much this will cost depends on the kinds of courses you want to take and your own preferences. Keep in mind that those purchases are usually tax deductible.
You must always get insurance for all of your equipment. You're bringing in thousands of dollars worth of gear to an event where people will be drunk and dancing around wildly. This is a recipe for disaster. It's only a matter of time before someone spills a drink on one of your speakers or trips on a cable. You will be expected to be covered by an insurance policy in those cases. Considering how cheap that can be, it's a no-brainer to invest in it.
Marketing is something else you should be prepared to spend a bit more on. The more you're willing to spend, the faster your business will take off. At some point you might think that you don't even need marketing anymore. Don't fall for that trap, though. As soon as you take your listings off the market, somebody else is going to take your spot. You have to maintain a constant presence to ensure your long-term success.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Should I work with a partner or approach this solo?
A: I recommend starting out solo, unless you already know someone you can absolutely trust. This isn’t just about being aligned creatively. Working together on a business can be stressful and it can reveal the ugly side of a person if things go wrong. Once you have established some presence, you can look into expanding your business.
Q: What other types of similar work can I turn into a profitable venture?
A: If you have a thing for organizing events and watching people have fun with the results of your work, you can also consider becoming a party planner. I’ve covered that in a separate article, so check it out if this sounds right up your alley!