Are you working IN or ON the business?

Are you working IN or ON the business?


29 OCTOBER 2017

written by Mike




Who doesn’t want to be their boss?

To make the hours, take holidays when you want, not answering to anyone when you make a decision. It sounds fantastic, and even though it wasn’t my main reason to leave a good job, I can’t say I didn’t think of that. Two years have passed, and I can say that ‘doing it’ on your own is not easy, and not for everyone.

One of the distinctions that I can make is the difference between building a business and being a business. These are not exclusive but it is vital to know the difference, and Michael Gerber ‘E-Myth’ best explains that.

The truth is that most don’t create a business – they create a job for themselves. When I left my last workplace, I started freelancing.

Is freelancing a business?

It is on paper, but in reality, it was a job that I had to attend every day, even though it was done from home. That’s the biggest mistake people make, according to GerberAfter the grand opening, they quickly create a job for themselves and start working in the business rather than on the business.




So what I could do differently?

Well, if I wanted to start an editing business I would need to find people who edit for me and my job would be to bring new projects – make sales. The profit made by paying the editors and charging the clients would be mine – as a main shareholder in the business. Hence why most small businesses fail. You can’t grow the venture if you are doing the work, which is, of course, a classic catch-22. Most people start a small business on a shoe-string budget; every penny counts, therefore, doing most of the work is the best way to save and reinvest.

But what if you want to do the work?

What if you enjoy it?

That’s not a problem, according to Seth Godin

He started various businesses but calls himself a freelancer. If you are a writer, musician, producer, consultant – you are de facto a freelancer. That is, you charge a client for your advice and time you spend on the problem.

Let’s take me for example; I enjoy producing Casefile podcast – writing music for it, editing it, mixing the show. I could hire someone to do the work for me and start a production business, but I don’t want to. I like being part of the team.

My partner is a graphic designer; she too is a freelancer, she trades expertise and time for money. However, on the last project she hired someone else to do the work, she is dealing with the client and the freelancer and takes a fee for being a person in the middle. Business should be a machine, a machine that can run even if you are away on holiday, even when you sleep.

Freelancing does not make you money when you sleep, as you are the money-making machine.




So what is the best way? What is the magic answer?

Like with most things in life, there is none. First, you need to know yourself, what do you like to do, how do you envision your future. Next, take steps based on that vision.m. Starting a business is a lot of work, and there is a high risk of failure.

Are you comfortable with that?

Do you know how to bring clients and sales to the table?

On the other hand, freelancing has a ceiling. There will be a time when you won’t be able to charge more per hour of your service than the maximum, with a business you don’t have these limits. For myself, I reckon the best way is to mix two options.

If you are a freelancer, that means you have a money making skills. It can be graphic design, editing, marketing – it doesn’t matter. You know that worst case scenario you can always make money to cover the bills, you know you can rely on yourself. 

Then you can try your strengths in business. Learn how it works, experiment, fail and try again. It will still be scary, but there will be a comfort on the back of your mind. You know that even if you close the venture, you can always make money with you, with your skills.

I think it gives an easier way to take risks because it won’t make you too desperate. It also mitigates some of the risks, and business (and life) is all about risk control.

How can you try and experiment but protect the downside and your assets at the same time?

What is the best way to turn the opportunity in your favour?

If you are on a fence and thinking of quitting your job, ask yourself first – what is that you want to do and achieve?

What is the best way to do it, while protecting your current situation?

And then, if you are bold enough, leap.

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What Are Your Strengths?

What Are Your Strengths?


20 OCTOBER 2017

written by Mike




It is easy to get excited about new trends, latest tech, attractive and innovative opportunities.
Even by looking at podcasting, everyone seems to be excited about the medium.
Podcasts are getting popular and more people are taking upon them – celebrities, actors, radio personalities are using the audio as the latest opportunity to expand the brand or business.

Everyone’s on it now! I’ve gotta do something!

While it is usually a right business decision to be the first mover, in my opinion analysing strengths and weaknesses and then planning strategy based on that is a better bet.
The first step should be identifying what you are best at.
Let’s say you do want to start podcasting,
Do you want to be the host? Or maybe a writer? Sound editor?
Or run an advertisement company?

Then think if you are best suited for the role.
For example, I like to sing but I know that even with the best training I would not be the best singer, I’m not naturally skilled at it.
Same with sports like basketball or football. I can train to be very good, but it’s not something that comes easy for me.
Identifying the strengths and being self-aware will help you in the long run.

Base skill does not have to be narrow either, next thing should be thinking about what do you like to do.
Maybe it’s reading books?
Does it mean that you should be an author?
Does not hurt to try, but if your strength is not writing but communication and social skills, then maybe being a literary agent is a better choice.
Connect the dots between your strengths and your likes.

Next will be getting the third leg of the stool – what job can you do?
It’s easy to say follow your passion, advice that we hear every day from people who made it to the top.
Unfortunately is not that simple.
Once you start charging money for your hobby, it’s not a hobby anymore – it becomes a job.
It doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy your work, quite the opposite – you should like it, but even with something creative like writing music or writing books it’s can become a struggle.

If you want to get paid, understand that there will be times when you don’t feel inspired, but still have to do the work.
Also, it’s crucial to understand where the future jobs and trends are going.
Over time, specific jobs fade and go away, and new ones come into place. Staying flexible and unafraid of change will help you in the coming years as automation becomes more common in our lives.




So, for now, you have a base skill, your likes and job trends. Finding something in the middle is extremely hard and may take you a while to narrow.
Also, your likes and strengths can change over time.

You may have an excellent eye for aesthetics which prompt you to train as a graphic designer which you might have enjoyed for few years.
What if you eventually get bored?
Or design stops being as lucrative as it was a few years back?

You could make a change to brand strategy, social media marketing or VR design. The turn will be easy to make as you would have years of experience behind a belt and your natural knack for aesthetics will still play a significant role.

That all sounds great but what if you are not sure what you are good at?
Not all is lost!
A good exercise would be to ask people around you, your friends, your colleagues, your workmates.
Ask them what do they think you are good at?
Is it speaking? Empathy? Drawing?

The further the relation, the better. The easiest is to ask your parents, but their answer will be the most biased.
Get ten people to take your ‘survey’. Tell them you want to change careers or looking for a new direction, looking for their help.
See if any of the answers repeat and how different are they from what you thought.

Usually, we know, deep down, what we want to do and what are our strengths.
More than often we still need external validation to take the leap and to act hence personal coaching or business coaching is always so popular.

Take personal training, it’s easy to find workout routines online and design a schedule on your own but more than often people train much harder when someone is looking over their shoulder.
It doesn’t need to be a personal trainer it may be a workout buddy.

It’s not easy to find something that you are good at, that you enjoy and that it makes you enough money to keep doing it.

I think it was Seth Godin who said that it is better to have a successful business than a passion that fails as a business.

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Creating Globally Appealing Stories

Creating Globally Appealing Stories


13 OCTOBER 2017

written by Mike




When starting a business, a blog or an internet show, the usual advice is to find a niche, explore it, become an expert in it and then go wide.
Competing on a global level is tough so starting with a narrow topic is a good idea, at least it seems like it.

But what if you want to create something that appeals to a mainstream audience?
What if you want your podcast to be at the top of the charts, listened by thousands?

After working on a show that speaks to a global audience, I can give you a few pointers, a few tips that hopefully can lead to a right direction.




Who listens?

Understanding the audience is the most critical point on the list. Gather the data, study it, draw the conclusions.
What are the countries, regions, gender, the age of the listeners?
What do they expect, what do they like?

It’s difficult to create something for everyone, so aim at a niche but think how can you make it attractive for people who are not familiar with a genre.
Do I need to know the technical language before listening?
Do I need to be familiar with the subject?
Ideally, no.
The goal is to create a show that is popular within a niche but easy to start for new listeners.

Remember that familiarity will more than likely bring listeners. People tend to click on stories and topics they already know, the fear of the unknown is real.
On the other side, you don’t want to be re-hashing same old stories over and over again.
A mixture of old and new is your best bet, offer something familiar to the new audience and something different to established listeners.


The Structure

If you want to appeal to a global audience, you need to keep the listener engaged from the start and throughout the show.
I understand that not every episode will be the best, but the goal should be to do the best work each time.

Look at other successful podcasts, how do they structure their shows?
What makes them better than others? Why do listeners keep coming back?

There are limitless shows and content on the internet, the listener has a choice what to do with their time.
They may choose to listen to your podcast once, but you need to think how to make it attractive, so they come back.

The insight I’ve got is that the longer stories tend to do better, but it’s not always the case. We have Joe Rogan‘s 3+ hours per show as well as 30 minute Lore episodes next to each other on the top charts.

Whatever your format is, make your show easy to listen and understandable. Avoid jargon and technical knowledge and if you need to do it, explain the terms used.
Make sure that the show is easy to follow for people who are not familiar with the genre.





To reach a global audience, you need to complete on a global level. Yes, you can still record from a spare bedroom, but when it comes to technicalities, you will need to invest in a professional gear.
That means a microphone, recording software, reliable system.
You will also need to hire people to help, you won’t be able to do it on your own.

In my experience, the difference between an average and something special is usually just 1%, but it’s that 1% that most people cannot put the finger on.

The music band, the director, the artist, the company with a fantastic product.
It seems like the top achievers are doing the same thing as everybody else, but somehow they are different and better.

It’s usually a team effort. The team must work together towards the same goal.
Constant improvement, adjustments, learning from failure and mistakes are the crucial ingredients to success.

Most people say to avoid perfectionism, I agree to some extent, you can’t be extreme if you want to meet deadlines.
But attention to details and at least working towards a perfect product or show, in my opinion, should be a driver too.
If you want to be at the top, of course.
Elements of your show must work together as a whole, nothing stands out, nothing takes priority.
When gathering feedback and reviews, you want people to praise the whole show, the episode, the podcast.
It’s still amazing if they write that the narration or music or writing was excellent, but to be the best, the pieces must work like puzzles. All fit together to create the full picture.

For the last one, don’t take anything for granted.
Once you reach the top, you may think you found a perfect formula, that it’s the time to relax, to step back and enjoy.

Unfortunately, it’s not how it works.
Global audience means more pressure and higher standards, people will see if you start to slack off, everything you do is looked at with a magnifying glass.
The minute the audience is upset or bored, they will switch off the show or change to something else.

Stay on your toes, improve and be grateful that people tune in to your podcast. They don’t have to do that.

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Starting Your Home Studio

Starting Your Home Studio


04 OCTOBER 2017

written by Mathew Dunn




This article has been contributed as a guest post by Mathew Dunn. Mathew has been playing various instruments for a long time, and he is a self-taught musician. He started MusicAlien.Net to share his experiences and thoughts about instruments and music.


Most of us musicians would love to have their home recording studio and luckily for us, as the technology advanced, it is now way easier and cheaper to make your home studio than it used to be.

In this article, I will summarise the essentials you need to set up your home studio and what are the most important things to look for when choosing studio equipment and on top of this I will share with you some tips which may be of help to someone who hasn’t done this before.

One thing I would like to say upfront is that you should not have a spend more mentality when picking your gear. The needed studio equipment has gotten better and better with time and the cheapest things today will in most cases beat what used to be the best 20 years ago which is more than enough to get you started if you are a beginner.

However, if you need more professional gear, then I assume you know exactly what you need it for and you will know how to make a choice. Still, keep in mind that the essentials I discuss below do not have to be the most expensive ones as you should choose equipment that suits your budget and overall needs.

Now let’s go through the most important equipment for your home studio:



This is a no-brainer, but I want to share with you a few tips on how to pick yours. First of all, I don’t know what your preferences, PC or a Mac, Laptop or a Desktop are. Whatever they are, they are fine. And if you are a beginner looking to start simple, then if you are reading this on a computer, that computer is probably good enough to get you started, but I don’t know how far will it take you depending on its power.

Things to consider when choosing your computer are

Ram Size

RAM is your most significant friend as a recording musician. And you should have as much as you can of it. Considering that the RAM sticks are getting cheaper and cheaper this should be no problem. Pretty much any computer which was made in the last ten years will have a motherboard support for 16GB of RAM which is more than enough.

Now if you have 8GB of RAM you don’t have to upgrade to 16 immediately but when you see that your computer needs more of it. It is wise to have some widget on your desktop to notify you of the used RAM, and once you start making more and more complicated tracks on your computer you will notice when it reaches about 90%, and your music editing program(s) begin to lag, then you will know that it is time for an upgrade.

If you have 4GB of RAM, then you will be able to start, but an upgrade will be in order soon down the road once you reach the limits.


Same goes as with the RAM. Whatever you have now will get you started, but depending on the strength an upgrade might be in order. With CPUs getting more and more powerful it is easier than ever to get one that is good enough for music production. I would go with some CPU that has Quad Core and multithreading as it will give you additional virtual cores.

But today it is a standard for any decent computer to have a Quad Core CPU, so it will have you covered. The stronger the CPU, the faster your music editing program will work, and as long as the CPU has enough power to have the program running without lag, you will do fine.

You will spend most of your time working on your computer, so this makes it the most important element of your studio.



DAW (Digital Audio Workstation)

This is where the magic is going to happen, and it is one of the most critical parts of your studio.

If you don’t know the digital audio workstation or shorter DAW, it is a computer program which you will use to record, mix and edit your music.

There are various DAWs out there, and if you don’t know about them, you should first research them and choose one that works for you. Make sure you select the DAW program that you are going to be able to get comfortable with since it is necessary for you to pretty much master the program (don’t be scared as that’s not hard as it seems).

You should work with the DAW program which can be an “extension” of you so that you can think about the music and not about menus, options, etc. You want to own the tool you are working with and not the other way around.

Now the good part comes in. Pretty much all DAWs will get you started, and you should learn about them and try multiple DAWs. Please do not waste too much time overthinking which program should you choose since all of them will get you started if you are a beginner and as time goes by and experience is piled up you will know if you need to change it.

Depending on the computer you use some of these programs might not be available to you as some like Logic is for Mac only but most of them work on multiple platforms.

These are some of the popular and incredible DAWs you should check out:



Pro Tools




Studio One

A solid audio interface

You will need something to get your analog sounds like keyboards or voice into your computer in the form of a digital sound, and this is where an audio interface comes into play.

You don’t need anything special here. Don’t go around spending your money on those crazy interfaces since a decent one with two channels will do just fine.

You should look for an interface that has microphone preamp, line inputs for keyboards and guitars, stereo out and a headphones out.

Make sure to check that the product you are going to get has good reviews and that it meets your needs and you will do just fine.



You need a quality studio microphone

Every studio needs at least one decent microphone in its possession as the microphone will have everything to do with how your recorded sounds will turn out.

There are three main types of microphones, but you will want to get a condenser microphone. The condenser microphone has always been used for studio recordings because their technology allows them to pick up the audio and convert it into electricity in a much more detailed way.

You shouldn’t spend thousands of dollars on your microphone since most of the cheaper microphones are good enough for any recording. However, you should research the mic you are buying well and read its reviews.

But the technology of condenser microphones has advanced, and there are so many manufacturers because of the increasing demand for this type of microphone that the prices went down over the years.

Unless you need some particular microphone for a specific purpose in your studio, don’t spend top dollar for it. Research your condenser mic thoroughly and go with some option that will fit your budget as most of these microphones will be a great choice.


You will need something to listen to your music

You have two options here, and they are headphones and monitors, and it is great if you could have both since they both have their uses.

But if you want to save a little money it is perfectly fine just to get the headphones first. But keep in mind that it is a bit tricky to record and mix using headphones, but it can be done.

Besides, you can always listen to your recordings on other people systems to get the proper reference on how the recording using headphones impacts the production.

It is okay to start with the headphones and acquire monitors later on. But if you do want to get the monitors from the outset you will want the monitors that fit your room, and that fit your budget.

Also do not overthink the choice of monitors since various factors will affect how the audio is perceived by the listener like the room shape, listener’s position relative to the monitors, your DAW, etc.

It is essential to research the monitors you are going to get and check their reviews but be aware that there will always be things you can’t control that are shaping the sound you hear so once you decide which monitors you want just to make the purchase and move on.



Creating is the key

Your primary focus should be on getting started. The creative process will make the magic happen not just the gear so make sure you get the gear you need and don’t waste too much time overthinking it. Once you start and once a certain amount of time passes and the experience is piled up, you will know if it is time for an upgrade or if you need another piece of the ear, etc.

You want to get started. That’s the main thing you should strive for, and everything else will fall in its place eventually. Don’t give up and create every day. Work on what you love, and it will pay off in more than one way.

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