I know I’m not alone when I say that there are a lot of things in business and life that I have zero affinity for. I’m not a tech person, my administrative skills are so-so at best and I am not a naturally organized person. At the start of last year, I made a big list of a bunch of dream projects that I have been wanting to tackle for a long time and I realized that there was one thing separating me from achieving them: they would all require skills I don’t have.
I considered my options. I could either:
1. hire someone to do them or 2. Figure it out on my own.
Not having thousands of dollars at my disposal, I had no choice but to take the “figure it out” route.
Somehow in the last 18 months, I have managed to tackle several impossible-it-will-never-ever-happen tasks in a pretty successful way. I learned how to record video and audio, how to edit multicamera videos, resulting in a successful online course and dozens of videos posted on my YouTube channel. I also managed to do all of my own publicity and radio distribution for a new album, which got 10x more press and radio interest then my last album, which I paid a professional publicist thousands of dollars to promote.
Now I’m not bragging (well, maybe just a little…), I’m just trying to promote the idea that if I can do it, literally anyone else on Earth can. It took some serious elbow grease, and some swearing at the computer and vowing never to take on a project like this again, but even though they felt totally undoable, these projects actually got done. I’m going to share a few tips on how you too can tackle some of your dream projects in a DIY fashion.
- Figure out what skills and equipment you need.
In order to tackle promoting my new album, I needed to gain some administrative skills that I didn’t have. I learned that in order to send mass emails, you needed something called a “mail merge”. For my video work, I researched which cameras and software would be effective and easy to use for my purposes.
- Ask for help.
Do you have a friend who is an expert at a skill you lack? Ask them for tips on how to get started. My friend Jan is an admin wiz and she was super helpful in answering a few questions about how to get started creating and Excel spreadsheet.
- Give yourself lots of time.
You’ll need time to get comfortable as you work through these new skills and you will make a lot of mistakes along the way. Don’t give yourself a too-tight deadline, as it will take some time to use these new skills.
- Take an online course.
As I was getting my mind around learning how to do my own publicity, I heard of a fantastic online course called JazzFuel. Taught by one of the top jazz managers in Europe, I learned step-by-step to prepare and execute this huge project. It was time and money well spent!
- Don’t forget YouTube.
You can pretty much learn anything on YouTube as there are video tutorials for pretty much any topic under the sun. I taught myself the video editing software Final Cut Pro using a variety of YouTube videos.
- Take notes as you go.
I have kept elaborate records of each step of my DIY learning, from which YouTube links I used, to step-by-step directions on how to do everything from setting up the audio on a video shoot to how to print mailing labels. I keep all of this in a file on my computer called “How to do things” and saves me hours of time. You can also make notes on what worked and what didn’t work, so you don’t have to repeat the same mistakes for the next project.
As we move into a new year (and new decade), everyone is starting to think about what is on the horizon. Consider what you would be able to achieve if you weren’t hindered by the skills that you lack. What would you accomplish if you could DIY?