Many people who know how to DJ usually do so for their friends and family for free or just practice on their own for fun. While there is no harm in this, you can also turn this hobby into a way to make money while still enjoying being the life of the party. If you want to find out how to make money as a DJ, here’s a simple guide to help you get started.

What is a DJ?

A DJ, or Disc Jockey, is an individual who selects and plays recorded music for an audience. They’re the ones who create the awesome beats that get people dancing all around the world. They pick and mix songs, making them flow smoothly from one to the next, keeping the music going without any interruptions. DJs do more than just create playlists; they understand the crowd, set the mood, and pump up the energy of the party.

There are various types of DJs, each with its own specialization:

  • Club DJs: These DJs rule the nightclub scene, crafting dynamic sets to keep the dance floor packed.
  • Radio DJs: They introduce listeners to new music, entertain them with banter, and host shows.
  • Mobile DJs: These versatile entertainers perform at events like weddings, parties, and corporate functions.
  • Turntablists: Masters of scratching and manipulating vinyl records, showcasing their technical skills while entertaining their listeners at competitions.
  • Touring DJs: These DJs travel extensively, performing at music festivals, concerts, and international venues, often building a global fan base.

How Much Do DJs Make?

As a side hustle, the earnings of a DJ can vary significantly based on various factors, including location, experience, and the number of gigs secured. Many DJs initially started DJing as a part-time endeavor while holding down other jobs. In this capacity, they might earn anywhere from $50 to a few hundred dollars per gig, depending on the type of event and their skill level.

Weddings and private parties often provide lucrative opportunities, with DJs charging upwards of $1000 for these special occasions. Going on tours also brings in a respectable amount of money as it is long-term work. Ultimately,  a talented DJ with several years of experience will command higher fees, particularly if they have a strong online presence and positive reviews.

How to Become a DJ

Building Your DJing Skills

Building your skills is the first step to learning how to become a DJ. Start by mastering the art of beat matching, seamlessly blending tracks, and understanding the dynamics of different music genres. You can acquire these skills through online tutorials or in DJ schools, which often come with a fee. Alternatively, you might get the chance to learn from a seasoned DJ through mentorship, providing you with a firsthand glimpse into the DJing world.

Once you’ve acquired a strong foundation, it’s time to refine your mixing techniques. Experiment with various effects and transitions to craft a unique style that distinguishes you from the competition. This differentiation sets you on the path to gaining recognition and becoming a more renowned DJ in your own right.

The DJing Equipment Essential

What is a DJ without the essential equipment? You’ll need a reliable DJ controller or turntables, quality headphones, powered speakers, or a PA system. Consider software like Serato, Traktor, or Virtual DJ for music management and mixing.

Additionally, ensure your music collection is diverse and well-organized, spanning various genres to cater to different audiences. Don’t forget cables, adapters, and a sturdy travel case to protect your gear on the go.

Creating Your DJ Brand

Crafting a unique DJ brand sets you apart in a competitive field. Start by selecting a memorable DJ name and logo that reflects your style. Follow this up with creating a professional online presence with a website and active social media profiles where you can share mixes, engage with fans, and promote upcoming gigs.

Whatever you put out for the world to see must have a signature sound or theme that allows listeners to recognize it as your work. You should also network with fellow DJs and event organizers, as they can often recommend you for opportunities.

The Gig Circuit: Where to Start

As a DJ, you are not restricted to playing at one type of event unless you have chosen that as your specialty. Here are the varieties of gigs you can play at:

Different Types of DJ Gigs

  • Nightclubs and Bars: Nightclubs and bars are the heart of the DJ scene. Resident DJs or guest DJs create electrifying atmospheres, playing music that keeps patrons dancing all night long. These gigs often allow DJs to experiment with different genres and build a loyal local following.
  • Weddings and Private Events: DJs play a crucial role in weddings and private parties, setting the tone for these special occasions. Wedding DJs curate playlists, provide announcements and ensure a seamless flow of music to keep guests entertained.
  • Music Festivals: Music festivals offer DJs the chance to perform on larger stages in front of massive crowds. These high-energy gigs can catapult DJs to stardom and are excellent opportunities for exposure.
  • Corporate Events: Corporate functions, product launches, and team-building events often hire DJs to create an engaging and lively atmosphere. These gigs require adaptability in music selection to cater to diverse corporate audiences.
  • Radio Shows: DJs often host radio shows, introducing listeners to new music, sharing insights, and interacting with the audience. Radio gigs provide exposure and can lead to additional opportunities in the music industry.
  • Online Streaming and Virtual Gigs: With the rise of online streaming platforms, DJs can perform virtual gigs, reaching a global audience from the comfort of their own setup.
  • Concerts and Tours: Established DJs may embark on concert tours, performing in various cities and countries. These tours can be both financially rewarding and artistically fulfilling.
  • Cruise Ships and Resorts: Some DJs find gigs on cruise ships or at resorts, entertaining tourists and travelers. These gigs often provide a unique and picturesque setting.

Securing Your First Gigs

Many clubs and bars offer open deck nights where emerging DJs can perform. Participating in these events allows you to meet prospective employers.

You could also submit your promo mix when applying for resident DJ positions at local clubs or if you randomly meet event organizers and promoters. Showcasing your skills through a demo can pique their interest and potentially lead to bookings.

For the first few gigs, you might have to play for free or for a small amount. While this might be a bit uncomfortable, these opportunities help you gain experience and build a portfolio.

Maximizing Your Earnings

As you gain confidence and visibility, you should begin to aim for more significant opportunities that will further expand your reach and maximize your earnings.

Marketing Yourself as a DJ

Effectively marketing yourself is essential to maximizing your earnings as a DJ. Start by building a strong online presence by maintaining active and engaging social media profiles. You should also consider creating a professional website to showcase your portfolio, music, and testimonials. On this platform, regularly update your promotional materials, such as press kits and demo reels, to reflect your latest work and skills.

Networking is equally crucial. Attend industry events, collaborate with fellow DJs, and connect with event planners, venue managers, and potential clients. Word of mouth remains a powerful tool, so provide exceptional service at every gig to encourage referrals. If you feel that isn’t sufficient, you can utilize digital marketing strategies, including email campaigns and paid advertising.

Pricing Strategies

Determining your pricing strategy is vital for both attracting clients and maximizing your earnings. Your rates should consider factors such as your experience, skill level, and the type of event. Research local market rates to check how much do DJs make. This will help you remain competitive.

Consider offering different packages to cater to various client needs. For instance, you could provide basic DJ services for smaller events and premium packages for weddings or corporate functions. Ensure that your pricing reflects the value you bring to each event.

Additionally, think about pricing add-ons like lighting, special effects, or additional equipment, which can increase your overall income.

Negotiation of Fees and Contracts

Most DJs typically have a flat rate for the different kinds of gigs they could play at. However, it is best to leave room for negotiations because a client’s budget and expectations might vary. Be flexible but firm, as the goal is to find common ground and not underprice yourself.

Clearly define your responsibilities, payment terms, and any additional services or equipment in a contract that the client would sign. Ensure the client understands and agrees to these terms before inking the contract.

Don’t forget to clearly communicate any extra charges for overtime or additional services to avoid misunderstandings. For long-term clients and first-time clients, you can offer some discounts as an incentive.

DJing Beyond Live Gigs

Expanding your DJ career beyond live gigs offers opportunities to diversify your income streams.

  • Consider producing music to release on platforms like SoundCloud, Spotify, or iTunes. This not only generates royalties but also enhances your reputation as an artist.
  • Teaching DJing is another avenue. Offer lessons to beginners, those looking to improve their skills, or those who want to learn how to become a DJ. You can conduct classes in person or online, depending on both parties.
  • Starting a YouTube channel dedicated to performances and music reviews. You could also discuss details on the rudiments of how to become a DJ and how much do DJs make.

Challenges and Pitfalls

Common Challenges Faced by Aspiring DJs

  • Competition: The DJ industry is very competitive, and it can be difficult to stand out from the crowd.
  • Creative Burnout: DJing can be demanding and it can be easy to burn out, leading to a loss of inspiration and innovation in music selection and performance.
  • Travel: DJs often have to travel to gigs, which can be tiring and expensive.
  • Technological Problems: DJs need to be up-to-date on the latest technology, and they need to be able to troubleshoot problems quickly.
  • Unpredictable Income: The income of a DJ can be unpredictable, depending on the number of gigs they get and the size of the crowds.

Tips for Overcoming the Challenges

  • Be Unique: Don’t try to be someone you’re not. Find your own unique sound and style.
  • Take Care of Yourself: Get enough sleep, eat healthy, and exercise. This will help you avoid burnout and stay healthy.
  • Learn the Latest Technology: Keep up with the latest technology, so you can use it to your advantage.
  • Be Prepared for Anything: Things don’t always go according to plan, so be prepared to troubleshoot problems and improvise.
  • Don’t Take Criticism Personally: Everyone has different tastes, so don’t take it personally if someone doesn’t like your music.


In the world of DJing, passion, dedication, and adaptability are your greatest allies. With persistence, professionalism, and a commitment to your craft, you can transform your love for music into a rewarding and potentially lucrative side hustle that resonates with your audience and fuels your creative spirit.

Remember that every DJ’s journey is unique, and success doesn’t come overnight. It requires continual learning, honing your skills, and staying up-to-date with the ever-evolving music industry. Embrace challenges as opportunities for growth, and don’t be disheartened by setbacks; they often pave the way for breakthrough moments.

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Anita Akpuoforba

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