Today, at 12:30pm I picked up the Nelson Star after my friend/student asked me if I had seen it yet. I knew there’d be an article in there as I had already seen the online article about my guitar studio, written by Bill Metcalf. Still, nothing had prepared me for what I saw. Driving up to the news paper stand my daughter Mahdi said: “Look daddy that’s you in your office” pointing at the paper. My eyes widened and I said: “What?! Wow, I’m on the front page!”
Moving To Nelson BC
The road to this moment wasn’t all sunshine, lollipops and rainbows though. When we moved to Canada in 2015, I didn’t have a job lined up, all my guitar studio gear would be in transit for many long months, and living in this area isn’t exactly cheap. Savings that we had figured to last for 2 years were running out within a year and by February 2016, I was having many sleepless nights. Worrying about paying rent, whether we had enough for groceries, and whether we’d still have a home when our second child would be born in the summer. Yes, on top of all that, Renée was pregnant and I was feeling my responsibilities big time.
How Selkirk College Changed Everything
Almost by miracle someone told me that Paul Landsberg and Darren Mahe might be looking for another guitar instructor to help them out at Selkirk College. Within a few days about 3 people mentioned to me that there was a job posting. I researched it, applied and got in! That changed everything for my family! My new Job at Selkirk would allow us to settle in Nelson BC and without it we might have left sometime in 2016. I am, and will always be, way beyond grateful for what Selkirk College has meant to me and my family.
The years ahead were now a bit easier but because the job wasn’t even close to being full time, I had to do a lot of different things on the side. Finding local students however, proved to be more difficult than we thought and setting up my own guitar studio seemed to be a bit of a pipe dream. Even online things weren’t so straight forward as my youtube channel your guitar workshop was in decline. YouTube rewards consistent uploads, it punishes creators taking long breaks. As I didn’t have my gear for 6 months, and lost another 6 months in 2016 as I had to focus on “real work”, it meant that the numbers were going down drastically. Also, YouTube was cutting the pay you’d get for ads played meaning an even smaller slice of the pie.
The 9 Ways I Generate Income For My Family
In 2018 I started a patreon page, something my dear friend and colleague/YouTube creator Gareth Evans had told me to do already in 2014 (or earlier), and quickly it started to gain traction. Patreon was soon bringing in more revenue than YouTube did through ads, even though I had over 20 million hits. Over time I started to generate income in a number of different areas:
- Gigs (mainly playing in a guitar duo with Paul Landsberg)
- Grants (Columbia basin trust)
- CD sales
- Royalties (for music on youtube)
- Videography Gigs
- Patreon (follower support)
- Ad revenue (YouTube preroll ads and website banner ads)
- Students (in my own guitar studio)
- Selkirk College as a guitar instructor.
As happy as I was with how these things started to develop, I can’t help but think: “What if I had listened to Gareth from day 1? What if I started that Patreon page in 2014 instead of 2018?”
How My Guitar Studio Grew During Covid-Times
So now it’s 2020, the pandemic is about to hit. I am already sensing that my time at Selkirk may be coming to an end. ( I always think ahead, try to anticipate trends) After repeated (failed) attempts to secure a full time position I seriously started to doubt whether I’d ever be able to do it. Then in March schools closed and I just knew, I would not hold on to my position, I would need to be self sufficient very soon and I better start planning for it.
And so I did! I started doing free live streamed guitar lessons for people within the community of Nelson BC. Many joined and within a week I reached not dozens but hundreds of households. Not just in Nelson but in British Columbia. I wasn’t making money from that but do I believe my name started to circulate a lot more. As a result, by September, I got more and more phone calls from potential students. Also via zoom I gained students from the US, Europe, and places within BC that I could not have reached teaching private lessons. Tech proved to be our family’s lifeline.
So here we are, at the turn of the year, a full schedule with over 50 students. Half of them online, half of them come to my guitar studio in Nelson following Covid protocols. All that was lost has been gained by then. Not only that, it put new life in old ideas that I should have finished a long time ago: Online courses for my students and using online platforms to extend my reach way beyond this region. But that’s a whole other story 🙂