How Tom Camp went from broke fitting room attendant to over 1.3 million dollars in online business.
How Tom Camp went from broke fitting room attendant to over 1.3 million dollars in online business.
It was another Saturday night scribbling lyrics on a post-it note that I carefully hid from my boss stuck working at Ross clothing store as a fitting room attendant...
I was making a whopping $6/hour counting clothes to hopefully fund my dreams of surviving as a musician someday...
Dealing with people who didn't appreciate my sense of humor, and constantly being threatened by my boss that I would be fired if I was caught sitting down one more time...
I'm not exactly capable of becoming employee of the month.
The problem wasn't that I wasn't willing to work hard, it's that I wasn't good at working for other people.
There is something that I always say...
"There are two ways to do things. The right way and the better way that hasn't yet been discovered. I'm always trying to find the better way."
-Me Wishing I Was Yoda
This type of mentality doesn't work well in corporate America. The truth is that I challenge everything. I have a deep need to understand everything that I do and the phrase "because I said so" is never enough. In other words, I'm an employer's worst nightmare.
After years of being in multiple industries and businesses, I finally decided to try something new...
Sitting in my living room studio, I fired up my computer and googled "learn marketing." I started to come across a few blogs online that got my wheels spinning. I decided that if I was going to make money in a business, it might as well be something that I love... music.
"The operative word in 'music industry' is 'industry' so if I learn how to be great at marketing, I can fund my dreams and pay my bills... I'm all in."
So I started combining my musical creativity and marketing with my band and my studio business.
15 months later my band went from zero to over 1.8 million streams, and my studio was bringing in a few thousand dollars a month.
"Holy shit... I did it!"
I was completely blown away. Growing up in the cold, miserable state of New Jersey, I had seen many musicians become major superstars. I was happy that I had my first real taste of success.
From then on I was obsessed with marketing and knew it was only a matter of time until my business was making six figures a year and my band was on top of the world...
Until I lost everything in an instant.
Something I hadn't even thought of going wrong did. By the time I realized it, it was too late.
I took a brief hiatus from social media and the internet to make a new record. I told all 83,000 followers and fans that I would be back in 3 months.
I thought I needed a break.
During that time, Facebook entered the market and MySpace (yes, I'm that old) became a ghost town overnight.
All 83,000 of the people that I talked to and built relationships with moved to Facebook. I had no audience anymore and no more leads were coming into my business.
Everything came crashing down to zero... including my income.
As a result, I had to start over from nothing.
Two years passed with no luck...
I was barely getting by.
I had to take a job at an office full-time while still trying to figure out how to get more clients to record with me on weeknights and weekends.
I tried running promotions with little success...😔
Next, I tried running discounts on Groupon... that failed. 😩
Finally, I posted an ad on Craigslist offering a stupid cheap discount without any luck... 😭
Staring at the drawing board, I had to come up with something... so I decided to try a new approach...
Then Things Got Worse...
There I was... a broke studio engineer and producer trying to discount my prices to find clients. I really wanted to make enough money to live off of so that I wouldn't have to shut down my business, be a failure, and get stuck back at my job forever.
I dreamed of quitting the rat race and leaving it all behind to travel and work remotely.
I was only making a few hundred dollars a month, and many times I actually lost money on advertising. There was no way I could afford my dream lifestyle, let alone quit my job.
To make things worse, I felt terrible because my family didn’t believe in me and even worse, my girlfriend was supporting me. I was supposed to be the man in the relationship, and my girlfriend was working two jobs while I was going to shows to find clients and trying to live out my dreams.
I was failing. I felt like jumping off of a building.
The problem was that not only did I lose my entire audience, but the music industry went through a major change; bands and artists had no clue how to make their money back from a record.
This meant my clients weren't willing to pay for recording and many tried doing it themselves, killing my only source of income.
Then, as if by chance, something amazing happened...
A Meeting By Chance...
I ran into a friend, and we were reminiscing talking about our old band days. He was asking me how the hell I managed to get to 1.8 million plays in under a year without advertising... we shared different techniques and talked about some of the old marketing tricks I picked up from those blog posts I read years ago...
Then I had to admit to him how bad things spiraled out of control. I was ashamed...
My girlfriend and I ended up moving in with a friend because we couldn't afford our rent and I had to go back to work. I couldn't figure out how to find new clients and new opportunity.
I needed an answer... I was lost...
That is when he told me the secret about getting ahead of the curve!
"You already know so much, start applying it for other people!" he told me.
After an hour, it became crystal clear to me how to make more money from every customer who I worked with, and I realized I never had to worry about studio "down time" again.
I also learned that there is no benefit to being the cheaper option. Instead, you need to be the most valuable option.
As a result, I started reading more books and taking courses to become super valuable to my customers.
By accident, I leveled up and became a real marketing guru.
Now I was confident that I could solve REAL life problems for clients that helped them be more successful.
After I did that, I started getting more leads than I could handle.
Suddenly, I was in control. And I was picking and choosing which clients I wanted to work with.
That’s when I realized that the secret wasn’t to discount my prices to find clients, it was to diversify my marketing and media skills to build my personal value.
Trying Something New
My plan was to start using all of my new marketing secrets and apply them to my studio to attract my dream clients.
So I started rebuilding my website, creating sales funnels, studying SEO, writing books on mixing, and marketing like a madman.
But it still wasn’t enough to quit my job…
So I started advertising to potential clients.
After that, I created several new marketing ideas to attract new clients.
But there was still a problem...
Each new idea took between 6 to 8 weeks to create, on average. I had no idea how to convince leads to work with me. Some months I would spend $300 on advertising only to make $50.
Other days I would lose money completely! I learned the ins and outs of marketing through trial and error, but it was costing me a fortune! And I wasn't getting enough business to justify the cost.
I spent all of my days online, and it left me with such little time to do what I actually loved doing; making music! I started to dislike the work. I started to resent clients that didn't have the money to invest in themselves.
All I wanted to do was use my talents to help people. I wanted to work on music and not be burnt out.
Stress levels were high as my girlfriend’s work slowed down, and my bank account dipped into the negative from my failed advertising campaigns.
I was too ashamed to tell anybody. I was so confident months before because I thought I had it all figured out, but I was dead wrong. I started to feel like a complete failure.
I felt like I would be the laughing stock of my hometown, and it looked like I would be shutting down my business and be stuck at my full-time job forever…
I was prepared to tell my family I was ready to give up on my dreams. To them, this meant being realistic and responsible. It meant “settling down” in cold, dingy, boring, shitty New Jersey.
As I was preparing to visit my family to tell them the news, I opened a magazine and there it was… A quote from Steve Jobs staring right at me.
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma—which is living with the results of other people’s thinking.”
That was the small push I needed. If I didn’t gamble on myself, no one would; so I doubled down. I sold a bunch of gear, invested the money into myself, and swore that I wasn't going to give up—no matter what.
I put my blinders on, and I didn’t care what anybody else thought. I pushed my chips “all in.”
No Turning Back
If I failed this time, there was no turning back. But I knew I was one client from being able to ramp up my business because in this business you’re only one client away…
Then something unexpected happened. My friend saw my website redesign. He said that his boss needed one and was willing to pay for it.
I never built a website for anyone else before but thought “why not?” I asked what his boss’ budget was... he said $5,000. I thought that was a bit over the top. It only took me only 2-3 days to do it. Seems like a lot of money and responsibility in a field that, quite frankly, I had no business being apart due to having zero understanding of coding or experience.
“I’m a musician, not a web developer. And I don’t know any coding language,” I told my friend.
He laughed and said, “you’re in luck… neither is he!”
So I hopped on a call with his boss. As I asked him what he was looking for I began to hone in on what RESULTS he wanted from the website, not what features he wanted or how he wanted it to look.
I realized that he only wanted a website because people told him that was what he needed. He was still relatively new to the business and didn’t know a thing about digital marketing. He didn’t want a website, what he wanted were more clients.
We spent two hours on the phone talking about marketing strategies, SEO, advertising practices, e-mail marketing, and all of these things that I had to learn to run my home studio business effectively.
The info was blowing his mind! He was so grateful and said that out of all of the books he'd been reading and fellow business owners that he has talked to, he understood more about marketing after talking to me.
This made me feel great! I didn't realize how much I learned or how valuable these things were outside of the studio business.
Once I built his website and made the extra $5,000, he called me two days later. He got his first organic lead and wanted me to run his advertising campaigns. I didn't know how to run this for someone else because I've only done it for myself.
Truthfully, I just wanted to make music. But the studio was slow, so I thought, “why not?” I typically only spent a half hour a week checking and running my ad campaigns, so I had no clue what to charge him. Maybe $50 a week? Then I ran into my friend who was managing Facebook ads for a client.
He dropped a bomb on me.
He told me that the secret wasn't charging for what your time is worth, the secret is that you charge for the amount of VALUE that you bring.
He said, “If you run advertising for him and do it well, he makes significantly more money than he would have made without you. I charge $1,500 a month per client and optimize my process to attract the right clients while pushing away the wrong ones.”
Next thing I knew, he convinced me to offer the owner to manage his ads for $1,000 a month on a 90-day contract. “This is crazy,” I thought. I didn’t feel like I was worth that much… I pushed the send button. As I heard the sound of the alert as my proposal went out my heart dropped. I didn’t think it was realistic to ask for that type of money for that amount of work…
Within minutes, my incoming e-mail notification went off…
He said, “Great! Then asked me to send over a contract right away to get started! Within days my bank account went from the negative to having more than I’ve ever had in my life.
This seemingly small project changed the way that I ran my studio. I now had an additional $1,000 a month coming into the business recurring. And I was only spending a few hours a month managing it. It was almost passive income.
Now when I spoke with clients, I wasn't desperate. I wasn't slashing my prices to get someone in the door to keep the lights on and my ramen supply filled.
As a matter of fact, my confidence was so high that I started giving all of my studio clients marketing advice. Through listening to them the same way that I listened to my friend's boss, I could hear the RESULTS that they wanted, not what I thought they wanted.
They didn't care about my mixing tools or my crazy vintage compressor. They didn’t care about my software.
*The people that did were only interested because they wanted to learn how to record themselves to save money.*
The truth is their NUMBER ONE GOAL was to build their audience, get fans, and go on tour.
I began to study how I could help them achieve that. Over time, I earned their trust, and they started to pay me what I was worth. They knew that not only will I give them a great production and mix, but I would also be there to answer any questions they may have at any time throughout their career.
In other words, I became super valuable to them. I was working with my dream clients without worrying about keeping the lights on. I was happy, and I was ready to take the next step…
I ended up getting so excited that I decided to find new ways to use the digital market to get clients that didn’t need convincing and create enough income to leave my job.
The Life of My Dreams
I wanted to create a fun system that worked.
I chose to call it “Hack The System”.
I thought if I could create something that would make it possible to scale my business quickly, then I could finally leave my job. This would make me extremely happy.
After 12 months of research and 6 months of testing, I created Hack The System.
I now travel the world living from place to place, helping people reach their goals, and avoiding the five most imprisoning words in the English language... the 40 hour work week.
The best part was now any time that "regular work" slowed down, I could pick up an extra client or two using one of my other skills.... or sell a product online.
I'm helping new entrepreneurs, freelancers, and businesses achieve the results they need to be successful.
After using my methods, they were not only able to work on their passions full-time, they’ve also been able to stop worrying about how they’re going to afford to live because they can now create win-win situations by providing extremely valuable services.
And in the end, all of this means we’re now able to spend time relaxing and doing the things we truly enjoy.
Once I was finally ready to make that leap... after a lot of failure and setbacks... I was able to level up my skills and my lifestyle.
I have since become a Best-Selling author, did over 1.3 million dollars in business online within 60 days for a client, have traveled all over the world, and more importantly, was able to help others learn what they needed to do to get ahead.
Oh, and now I have the freedom to watch Star Wars at any time of the day that I want.
I'm not sharing this to brag. I'm telling you all of this so that you can see that no matter where you are in your journey, you can do it. You don't need to stop or get sidetracked. The number one cause of complacency and failing is the fear of failure.
Make a goal worth failing for. And I hope that I can help you in some small way to reach it.