#7: How Sound Engineer and Course Creator Nathan Lively Built a Successful Online Business

Welcome to The Creator's Adventure where we interview creators from around the world, hearing their stories about growing a business.

Today we are interviewing Nathan Lively about how to improve audio quality in your content creation, the constant evolution in the journey of a creator, and growing an online course business teaching live sound engineers.

Learn more about Nathan and his business: https://www.sounddesignlive.com/

Listen to Nathan's Podcast: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/sound-design-live-career-building-interviews-on-live/id428175598


Bryan McAnulty: Welcome to the creator's adventure, where we interview creators from around the world, hearing their stories about growing a business. My name is Bryan McAnulty. I'm the founder of Heights platform. And today I'm talking with Nathan lively about how to improve the audio quality in your content creation, the constant evolution in the journey of a creator.

And growing a online course business teaching live sound engineers.

All right. Hey everyone. We're here today with Nathan lively. He has 17 years of experience in pro audio in eight major cities across three countries. He's interviewed 60 plus industry leaders on his podcast with 600,000 download. He's written 200 plus articles in a variety of per audio publications, and he's received the bay area theater critic circle awards for sound design and toured nationally with the Ringling bros circus.

So Nathan, welcome to the show.

Nathan Lively: Yeah. Thanks for having me and good to finally meet you after, after all of the many helpful support emails. Yeah. I

Bryan McAnulty: know I've talked with you, quite a bit in support, so it's always nice to talk. Some of our customers. So let's see you started your career in sound engineering at 17, and that took you to many different places around the world.

So can you tell us a bit about your story and how did you get to where you're at today?

Nathan Lively: Yeah, I guess, I guess ambition is a crazy powerful force, right? Like we're all kind of looking for. Where we fit in, in the world. And so for a long time, I wanted to be a rockstar. So I started out in music school, found out pretty quickly that I was kind of way behind everybody else.

And, and it was just hard to tell how that was gonna work out. So I also started studying the technical side, got into recording. Then I thought I'll be a. You know, world famous record producer got outta school. Couldn't find a job at recording studio and that's when I got into live sound. And so, similar story for a lot of sound engineers.

If you ever meet a sound engineer, they probably started out in music and then were the, you know, somehow technically able and, and started helping out the, the band with the technical side. And so. You know, I, I kind of struggled with it for a while and then eventually found some stuff I really liked about it.

And now I really love my job and I have a, pretty fun combination of teaching that I do. I have an online school for sound engineers, and I'm still work as a sound engineer. So I'm out there sort of learning things every day and then teaching other people the stuff that I'm learning. And I guess you, I don't know.

Did you wanna know about why. All the different cities I've lived in or you were, or was that?

Bryan McAnulty: Yeah, sure. Yeah. Tell, tell me a little bit about that. Yeah.

Nathan Lively: So I guess that's just connected to the ambition thing. I mean, at the time I was moving, I thought there was a real important reason for why I'm going to this next city.

Like, I'm gonna get a job here. And I can tell you about each of those, but looking back, you know, I was really just looking for the next step, you know, and feeling like I was kind of stuck. And so moving to a new city felt like a way of starting over finding new opportunity. And that was good in bad, you know, for sound engineers, our entire business is built on personal referral.

And so when you move and I didn't learn this until after I moved a few times, mm-hmm when you move, you reset that and you all of a sudden have to start all over again. And so even this, you know, group of people that you grew up with for your entire life, who you didn't think of as your referral network, like all of a sudden they're gone.

So, so that, that was kind of the reason for moving is I kept kind of feeling like, oh, this isn't quite working out here. I need to go somewhere else with more opportunity or different opportunity. And yeah, that's, you know, with again, with each one is kind of different except for this last move. This last move was because I made a deal with my wife, that if she came on tour with me, with the circus and gave up her.

And she could choose the next place that we live, which is how we ended up in Minneapolis. And everybody says, you know, why do you live there? And I'm like, well, this, this is, this is the reason. And a lot of people I've met, looking out the window at all the snow, a lot of the people that I've met end up here because of family, they moved back because of family or because one family member lived there and sort of convinces them.

That it's a good idea. Interesting.

Bryan McAnulty: Yeah, definitely. The music industry is really hard. It's something. If you're gonna succeed in it, definitely you need ambition and drive and, determination because it's definitely different from other industries out there. I'm a, a musician as a hobby myself, a guitar player.

I was in a, a band in, in high school and everything, a rock band. And, we did some of our own songs. We'd play shows, but, The path to turning that into a career seemed very, very challenging. So, well, it's a part of living in Austin, Texas. When you grow up there, you move there. You join a band. That's what everybody does.

yeah. So. Let's see, we read that you, some of the countries you lived in, you lived in Portugal, you lived in, Slovakia. So other than that, losing that referral network that you talked about, were there any other challenges like with cultural barriers or anything like that?

Nathan Lively: Sure. I mean, language was a huge thing, culturally.

That's a good question. So I would say that free Lansing in those countries is less common. And so that, that took a little while to get going in both places. And you know, the wages paid to sound. Engineers were a little bit less, I may be generalizing, a little bit too much. But let's see culturally.

Well, one thing is for sure, is that in Slovakia? I think especially in the past, it was way more common to kind of have one job and just stay there forever. And so it's kind of hard for people to understand that you would want to maybe work here for a while and then work somewhere else, which I think is way more common, especially in the us modern times.

And then. Yeah, culturally, I don't know. I guess one other thing I can just share is that in Portugal, a lot of Portuguese people like American culture and in Slovakia, They're sort of less interested in it. And so, you know, depending on where you're from, you show up in a group of Portuguese people and they're like, oh cool.

You're from the us. Depending on, maybe from some other country, they'd be like less interested because they like the culture that comes from the us and, and every Portuguese person in the wor in Portugal wants to live in New York city. That's like every Portuguese person's dream is to move to New York city and.

Slovakia it's, they're like a little bit less interesting, cause they're, they're a little bit more connected with central European culture. And so some of those people wanna live in Germany or, you know, live in Sweden or something like that. So they're a little bit less impressed that you're from the United States, I'd say.


Bryan McAnulty: got it. So we also read in your biography that you mentioned the challenges of climbing the ladder in the sound engineering business. Now you're helping others succeed. Same industry. So how did you overcome some of these challenges?

Nathan Lively: I think that probably the two or three biggest things I can share are number one, just finding a part of the industry where I fit in. Best like where I enjoy the work conditions and, make enough money and things like that. It, I remember there was a milestone in my career where I had been working only in concert sound and theater up until that moment.

And then one day someone just asked me if I could cover a gig for them, substitute for them. And they're like, oh, can you just do this gig for me? You just have to babysit this microphone. And. It pays $32 an hour. And that was like the most I ever made in my life. And I was like, wow, I'm in the wrong. So I sort of started transitioning and started learning more like, oh, if you just work in this part of the industry, you make more money and you have different conditions.

And so. I guess that would be my first tip is just educating yourself about the industry and the different opportunities that are available and the best way to do that is to ask people. And so you find people who are doing that thing and you say, Hey, what do you like about this? And how much money do you make?

And what would you do if you were in my shoes, if you were trying to get your first gig in this area. And the second thing is just meeting more people and asking for help. And so we look for those people that do refer us for. Those are typically other people like us. So other sound engineers. And then of course the people who actually hire for those positions.

So the labor bookers, HR managers may be project managers, technical directors, things like that. And we start just going out to meet those people because for better or for worse, everyone in pro audio just kind of has their own address, book, their own roller decks of contacts, and they just rely on that.

And that's just how it's been for a long time. And I've tried to figure out how to, you know, circumnavigate that, and there's really no way to do it except to, build, try to do something consistently to build those relationships. And so. I'd say that the big, one of the biggest changes about me now, and me 10 years ago is I'm just more, consistent and more, mm.

I don't know what the right verb is, but, I'm trying to working on building those relationships in an ongoing way, even though I've been in business now for as many years as I have been. And like that, I, I still can't just wait for the phone to ring you. And that doesn't mean that I'm also like trying to trick people or like somehow do it in a slimy way.

I'm just doing the things that you would normally do if you're a friend or a neighbor. But you know, in a more sort of consistent way. In the same way, you know, maybe online dating is a good comparison, you know, like in, before online dating you just sort of hope that you meet someone or maybe you go to a bar and like that's where you meet people.

Then with online dating, you know, now you have this sort of consistent way that you can be meeting people. And so before I met my wife, for example, I was setting a goal that like, I will message someone on, okay. Cup. I will message three people a day on OkCupid and, and, you know, I did that for a few months and now I'm married, so it's great.

and so I'm just realizing that online dating is kind of similar to, you know, building relationships and, and meeting people to get work probably in any industry, but definitely in pro audio, you know, you wanna find those people that you get along with and that wanna support you and hire.

Bryan McAnulty: Cool. Yeah, that's really interesting.

I was trying to think, as you described it, like what other interests, what other industries are similar in having so many different, like variations of a similar role where there's different parts of it, of that maybe you're doing something for like live sound or maybe it's for. Maybe it's not for lifestyle, maybe it's for a movie or for an event, or there's so many different little areas where there's these different segments of a similar job that, you have to yeah.

Talk with the people, understand like what that part of the industry is like and all of that. And I think probably what you're doing is one of the industries that has, like, I wanna say the most of that compared to. Some, some other things. I, I can't think of, something else that is really at the same level.

I think maybe some software development, cause there's so many different languages or different roles within that.

Nathan Lively: You know, it's probably every industry, if we look yeah. If you go

Bryan McAnulty: deep enough.

Nathan Lively: Yeah. I guess you think about teachers like. We're both, two PE, two teachers, our two teachers meet, but one of them teaches something completely different than the others.

Like they couldn't substitute for each other. Mm-hmm in the same way. The two sound engineers meet and audio is audio, but maybe I couldn't just walk in and do your job if all of the tools and, and the workflow is completely different. So yeah, I kind of, I'm just, you know, without I'm thinking that probably every industry is that way, but

Bryan McAnulty: yeah, that's, that's true.

I guess. Yeah. I'm thinking, I'm thinking that the sound. Is more similar, but you're right. There's, there's so many different tools because I've, I've learned as a hobby about music production, but live sound mixing is completely different from recorded sound and the tools that you use to do that are even different.

So, yeah. Interesting. So your main focus today, you're helping other sound engineers become successful and achieve their own financial freedom. So as part of doing this, you have your podcast with almost 600,000 downloads. You've interviewed these industry leaders, and now you're selling your online courses and consulting services.

So where was the point for you to make that transition and to say, well, I wanna teach others this as well. I wanna be this course creator, this online coach.

Nathan Lively: Well, I've always just wanted to have a business. Like my, you know, I think even as a little kid, I was typing up my first, business cards and it just said consultant on it.

Cuz I think I asked my mom like what would be good for me? And and so I've always been kind of trying to figure that out. And so I definitely like the entrepreneurial aspects of being a sound engineer. And so kind of on accident, I started developing an audience because there was a point where I was kind of struggling with business and my dad sent me the book, crush it by Gary Chu, I think is how you say his name.

And, and so I was reading about him and his podcast and I was like, I'll start a podcast and I'll get more gigs as a theatrical sound engineer. And so I started the podcast, never got more gigs as theatrical sound engineer did start to. Start developing an audience of other sound engineers who wanted to talk about the same stuff that I was talking about and people that I was interviewing.

And so, I just started having conversations with people in that audience and asking them like, what can I help you with? And I experimented some with business coaching and career coaching, and then eventually discovered that technical training was what really, the thing that sound engineers are just used to paying for.

And so I, I guess as a milestone, there was just. And I can't really put my finger on it, but there was definitely a time back when I was living in Oakland, in the bay area when I was doing the podcast. And I was thinking about product creation and having conversations with people. And that's, I think probably when I launched my first product, which was doing career coaching for sound engineers.

Bryan McAnulty: All right. And then how do you find your clients today for these

Nathan Lively: coaching services? Yeah, so. It used to be, most people had heard about me from the podcast and then eventually would sign up for my mailing list. And then when I was launching something, some of them would be interested in and wanna sign up.

And now it's mostly YouTube. So people go to YouTube, they're searching for something and they, you know, arrive on some of my videos and I have to thank my friend, mark. Years ago for saying, Hey, you should do more videos on YouTube. And I was like, what are you talking about? Like you can't do, you can't teach audio.

It's hard enough trying to teach these classes of audio online. You can't really, how would I do that? Like, I would need a whole camera crew and I just kind of found a little niche of ways that I could just make videos. About the stuff that I teach from my office instead of needing to like set up a huge sound system in an arena or something like that.

Mm-hmm and so, yeah, I think most people find out about me from YouTube and then, they either hear an announcement there or they sign it for my mailing list and I'm announcing something new there.

Bryan McAnulty: So it sounds like for you like the content creation, that is like a consistent, like, really important process for you.

Attract your new customers, right?

Nathan Lively: Yeah. That's huge. I mean, I, I don't know how, yeah. I don't know exactly what to say except that I work on it a little bit every day. And so the last, like hour of my day, I spend either doing a little bit of writing on an article, you know, recording a new video, planning, a new video, working on the podcast.

It's a big part of what I do and I, I definitely recommend it for everyone, you know, of, the best way to do it is just like lots and lots and lots of informal content. And then you see the things that people like, and then you do more of that, you know? Yeah. No one knows what they should be making at the beginning.

So you just start making things and then you kind of see how the world reacts to it. And, and it's also a way that I'm doing my own self training and, and integration and learning as well. So I say like, oh, I'm gonna answer this question. I'm gonna do a video about it. And then I realize this part of it.

I don't understand. So I go ask somebody else and I do some research and I come back. And so it's also. Honestly, I'm I, sometimes I'm making videos just to help myself remember that stuff so that, and then sometimes I forget it and then I'm like, oh, I can go back to that video that I did two years ago.

And oh yeah. That's how you do that. It's sort of a, a time capsule of knowledge for me. Interesting. Yeah.

Bryan McAnulty: Cool. All right. So yeah, building, build that habit. First of creating that content, even if you don't know exactly what. The audience is looking for. And then over time, it's like an exercise. You'll get better at it.

You'll start to realize what it is that people actually wanna see, and it can actually benefit you in the future as well, as reference material for yourself and as just ongoing experience that you get from creating it. Yeah. Cool. So what would you say is. The simplest thing that, a creator can do for somebody listening to this, what's the simplest thing that they can do to improve their audio if they wanna either for their content creation for their online chorus, whatever it is that they're doing,

or if not the simplest thing, maybe the biggest mistake that people make.

Nathan Lively: Yeah. I'm trying to generalize to the, to I'm thinking about all the different ways that people are creating content. But I'll just think about, you know, like of all the interviews that I do. I do a lot of audio restoration and fixing, and the biggest problem is, background noise.

Some kinds of background noise are easy to remove. Some are harder. And so, yeah, being in a quiet room is the number one thing or a quiet space, or. You know, if you're not going to be able to do that, just sort of accepting that. But yeah, that's what I spend most of my time on when I'm fixing audio from other people is trying to, reduce the amount of ambient noise.

That's kind of getting in the way. Cool. And how you do that. Like, I'm just thinking like some people, like I'm in an office and, and I've closed the doors and I'm, I'm doing a lot of things to keep it quiet in here. And I have absorbers around here and things like that, but I'm thinking like other people might just be outside.

So a common tool that I'll just share. One thing, I guess, a common tool that maybe some people don't know about is that now you can get cheap, Bluetooth microphones that will sync with your audio and video for you and connect to your phone. So I got one from my wife, for example, and we've been doing all of her personal training videos with it, and I think it's called smart mic.

There are several out there. And so just getting the microphone closer to you, like you see. Maybe less now, but you see a lot of videos where as the person backs away and the person's just filming on their phone and the farther they get away, you know, the more ambient noise is coming in and the less, the harder it is to understand them.

And so if you just always have one of those mics with you, then you can just turn it on Bluetooth recorded at that app. And then wherever the person walks, however far, they get away. As long as the Bluetooth is still connected. Audio's gonna be a lot better. Yeah. So you, you're always trying to get the microphone as close as possible to the person.

So if the microphone's on your camera and you're like 10 feet away, then that's, that's so different than, you know, having a microphone right next to your face.

Bryan McAnulty: Yeah, definitely. Yeah. I like to tell people that, especially nowadays with how good the smartphone camera is, like generally the first upgrade.

If you're gonna buy something, it's probably not buying a more expensive camera, but probably buying a, a microphone. It doesn't have to be an expensive microphone even. But that can make the biggest kind of overall difference maybe in your quality having that better microphone and making sure that you're putting it close

Nathan Lively: to you.

Yeah. Or if you don't then, you know, just even these kind of cheap headphones that have a microphone built in is better than, you know, like your camera on a selfie stick that you're holding, like. Five or six feet away from you?

Bryan McAnulty: Yeah, definitely. Have you ever used, the, the software crisp AI on the, the computer for like noise cancell.

Nathan Lively: I've looked at it. I have never tried it because every time I look at that, I'm like, what is the value proposition here? Like every app we have has noise cancellation built into it. So is this so, no, I haven't tried it yet. Sorry. And I shouldn't, I shouldn't crap on them without trying it. But do you use it and you like

Bryan McAnulty: it?

So I use it and I like it. But it was something I had to get my head around a little bit too, because in the audio world you're used to, like, you have a, you have these noise, cancellation, plugins, noise reduction, plugins, all kinds of stuff. I'm sure that you use. And for that stuff, like you buy it, you have it crisp is actually charging you a subscription for, I don't know, in some ways it doesn't.

Why does it need to be a subscription? It's just running on your computer. It's not like an online service, but I guess they're continually improving the algorithm. And, what I found is it does work really, really well. For the average person to reduce background. So like right now, as we speak during this interview, there is this giant, machine with this jackhammer going on outside the window.

And it's not coming through, hopefully the, the audio here. Thanks. Thanks to, to that. And I do have some other like plugins and stuff that, that the audio's going through, but I think crisp is, is knocking all of that out where like, even if you like you're clapping or something, or there's some.

Dramatic like sharp, loud noises. It still manages to pretty well. Just completely ignore that while not ruining the quality of the vocal and the actual person speaking, because I've noticed even like a couple of the like software tools I have for music production, it's really easy to, to turn that on and it'll take the noise out.

But then the result of the, the voice is that you're really diminishing the quality of your. Speech and, you, that's when I need that's when you need someone like you to, to really go in there detailed and, and make sure everything's set perfectly. But yeah, crisp is doing a good job at that. So I think it is useful for creators.

If you can't get that situation where you can get into a quiet room with a, something close to your yourself as a mic, even if it's just a, a pair of headphones.

Nathan Lively: That's great to hear that they they've done such a good job with it. I hadn't tried it, so, yeah, that's a good tip.

Bryan McAnulty: Cool. And then, so you create all this different free content.

You've got the YouTube videos, you've got the podcasts. And then you have your paid courses. You've got your coaching sessions. And what I wanna ask is that many creators are scared of offering too much free content. So they fear that if they offer their free content, then they're gonna be driving away their potential paying customers, because the customer's gonna think, oh, well, I can get this for free.

I don't have to buy this course now. So what would you say to someone like that?

Nathan Lively: I would say that a good lesson that I learned is the difference between what I would call white belt and yellow belt content. When you're talking about martial arts. So your white belt content that is free should be the stuff that basically people can consume in what I would think of as like an entertainment way where they're just like listening to it while they're driving, listening to a podcast, watching a video over lunch, which is what I'll probably do after we get out of this interview.

And, then your yellow belt stuff. Which is, you know, paid or low cost or whatever the next step is where you're asking people to do something. And so if then now they're gonna take some time to, you know, fill out this form, do an assignment, do some homework. That is then where, for me, it crosses over into paid content.

So, I could take. A free little mini course that I've made where it's just videos that you watch just for fun and turn it into a paid course that now has homework assignments with the exact same videos. So, what people are paying for is not, I, I kind of stopped thinking about it as just the information, but it's more.

Telling them what to do, guidance, accountability, and feedback on their work, and, you know, potentially one on one time with you. And so when you think about it that way, then you're freed up to do whatever you want. You know, as long as all the free stuff that you're making and putting out there is, is fun for you to make.

But you're not really asking anything of the person. That's watching it, which, you know, and look at this interview that we're doing now, you know, we're gonna be talking and we're probably not gonna ask anyone to go and do something that takes an hour of their day, because that's not what they expect from a free podcast that they're just listening to while they're on a walk.


Bryan McAnulty: Yeah. So if you, if you break it down that way, the content that you're creating for free. In a way you could look at it as like it's still entertainment. It's hopefully it's hopefully helpful to your audience. If it's in the case that you're this creator, you have this something that's more educational, but if you're putting it on YouTube or if it's on the podcast, it's still entertainment in a way.

Whereas the paid content, you're actually leading someone step by step to reach some kind of specific result. So hopefully someone can go and do something and, and learn something new from that free content. It's partially about the structure of the content that is actually leading them and saying, well, here's, this is that one piece of content.

This is another piece of content. Maybe you mentioned some of that before, when you're talking about it for free, but then leading them step by step and then having something to say, well, this is what you have to do now. And then that extra guidance and reviewing the homework and like what you're talking.

Nathan Lively: Yeah. And just one more thing to maybe take some of the fear away. I, I don't think I ever had this well, I'm sure I did at some point, if people have this fear about doing too much free content, like imagine that you discover that you publish this one video and people love it. And it's like your number one video, and they're always telling you about it.

And people are saying this is creating life, amazing life changes for them or whatever. You can always take that down. You could take that, put that into your course or whatever, make that part of your paid product. And then you take down the free thing. Like there's nothing that says that you put up a free thing or you publish anything and that it has to stay there forever.

I think that is an assumption. But that's, you know, just cuz we're kind of used to like you watch a TV show or you listen to a podcast and you expect it to be there forever. But as we, we're not making any commitments to anyone about that, you know, we're out here testing our stuff. And so if it works out and turns out to be huge, like sure, like put that into a paid course and, and then take it off of.

Yeah. Yeah. Or just make it unlisted so that the people who had it before will still find it. There's, there's different ways to approach it. Sorry, go

Bryan McAnulty: ahead. Yeah. You mentioned to me right before we started the interview about how you kind of see the process of a creator of being one of this continuous testing.

Can you, can you explain a little bit more about what you're telling me with that?

Nathan Lively: Yeah. So, sometimes I get upset with my business, cuz I feel like I have too many plates spinning up in the air and it's all gonna topple down on all the plates you're gonna fall out and smash and I'm gonna end up homeless in the ditch.

But when I'm a lot more, just relaxed and comfortable with the ongoing process of testing things and seeing what works and seeing what people want and seeing where I can be of service. Everything is so much easier. So for example, I tested a few things before I finally launched a course that it seemed like people were willing to pay for.

And this is like my first $500 course. And I had enough people sign up that I was like, I think I was making like $3,000 a month and I was moving to Minneapolis. So I was like, great. I can, like, this will be my business. About a year and a half after that PE less and less people are signing up for this course.

I'm still doing the same stuff, same launch, but like less people are signing up. So I could, what am I gonna go outta business? No, I like continue testing things. And so very few people actually take that course that kind of launched my education business anymore. And maybe someday I'll revamp it and launch the 2.0 version or whatever, but.

I'm much more comfortable now just knowing that things will constantly change. And there may never be one thing that I sell or launch or offer that, is the hit product that I've been looking for. And it may always kind of just be this up and down flow of like, this thing is popular for a while. And so may, maybe I make improvements on that.

And I think some people will disagree with me, you know? Probably some people who are like, you know, be a specialist and do this one thing. And that just has not worked out for me yet. And so I want to recommend to people, you know, adopting this idea of just cont continual testing and improvement and, you know, responding to the market as things shift.

A great example is the pandemic, you know, It's never would've guessed it. A lot of venues went outta business. A lot of theaters closed and a lot of sound engineers then went out business. So, you know, with this adopting this idea of testing, you're also like becoming more flexible. So like, oh, okay.

Like I have part of my business a hundred percent relies on us having a good, strong economy and people going out and seeing shows and it being safe to do. So, what do I do now? So, well, I can continue go back to this idea of what else can I test now and launch, how can I respond to this in kind of a creative way?

So I felt like, I feel like maybe I've said almost too many words about it, but, I I'll just say that I've launched way more things that have failed than have been successful and. I'm okay with that, you know? Cause I learned a lot of stuff now not to do. And I'm better at, you know, launching things and figuring out what things are really helpful to people.

Yeah. No, I think

Bryan McAnulty: it's a really great point and I think it is really important. The journey of a creator is not just, oh, I created this one product. This is it. And then if it's not it, I failed. It's over. It is this constant, constant progress. And there's always, there's always gonna be room for new things that you can learn, new things that you can create.

And, so I think that's a great approach and mindset to have for it.

Nathan Lively: And I should just say that there are a lot of good resources out there for how to do this. So let, if it's okay with you, I'll tell you a quick story about an app that I launched. So, the book. Of the many books out there. The number one that I recommend is the mom test and it's super short and it is really clear guidelines about how to talk to your potential customers and clients about what it is that challenges them in their life and how you can help.

Because you know, what most people do is here's this course that I made, do you like it? And of course, You want, we were friends, so you're gonna say yes. And so there's a lot of lying that happens. And then you go down the wrong path. So I was actually following the mom test when I was building this piece, the developing this piece of software.

I ended up paying, software developer, like $5,000 to build this thing. And then it launched and no one signed up and I had worked on it for like a year and I was so confused. Like I was like, I did it. All right. And then when I went back and read the mom test again, I realized there was part of it that I screwed up.

And, you know, no one people had told me what problem they had, but no one, I don't know if I need to get into specifics of how I screwed up, except that I made some assumptions, building things off of assumptions, doing anything out of assumptions, you know, rarely, rarely works. I always like to say

Bryan McAnulty: as a product designer, never underestimate the customer's ability to misunderstand

So even if you think something is as clear as it could possibly be, there's still some way that someone might misunderstand it. So it's actually a really good exercise to go back into whatever it is in your business, but it could be an online course where you say like, okay, well what's a way that someone could.

Somehow misinterpret this somehow be missing some information that they, it wouldn't be clear to them because typically as the creator, you have this idea, you make this course, you make this product and you say, this is my thing. It's about this. And you know it in your mind and your heart, like this is what you've been working on, but it's, it's a whole separate skillset to be able to very clearly communicate that.

So that way the potential customer understands. Oh, this is that, this is what I need too. This is what I value. And so it's really important to be super clear. That's why we always tell everyone think about what is the result your course is gonna provide, and then make sure that you're actually saying that to the customer, because like in your case, like they don't just wanna learn about audio.

There's a reason that they wanna learn about audio

Nathan Lively: specifically.

I think that's a, that's a, that's a great way to say it. And so just getting better at doing the testing part is what I want to pitch to people and, and being enjoying that process. Yeah. Yeah. It's great.

Bryan McAnulty: All right. So one of the things we like to do on this show is to have our guests ask a question to the audience.

So. What is something that you would want to know from our audience?

Nathan Lively: Well, I'm not always curious what people love to do and where that intersects with the world. So if I were to sit down with each of the people that are listening to this today and just have a conversation with them, that's one of the things I would love to find out from them is what is this thing that you love to do?

And then where does that intersect with the, the world in terms of engagement? Like you may love to, you know, stack piles of rocks in the forest. But if no one sees that, like that's a little bit less interesting for me, but what is, what are the things that you do that seem to get some engagement from the world?


Bryan McAnulty: the meeting point of where it can

Nathan Lively: become a business? Yes. And it doesn't have to be, I mean, it could just be, you know, a, a, a mission to, to improve something in the world or whatever. And so it doesn't necessarily have to be a business and make money, but it often is. So yeah, I'm curious where that, where that intersection happens of your skills and passions and sort of the world's needs, Said another way.

You know, there's, there's the artist, there's often the artist mentality and the businessman mentality, and you think like, oh, the artist just does whatever they want. And then you think that the businessman just wants to sell us stuff. And then in the middle though, is where most of us, we all have, we all start on one side, usually, maybe Bryan and I started on the artist.

And then you sort of move towards the middle because you wanna have a business and you want to interact with people and you don't wanna just make things in a and so I'm curious how, how people listening to this are moving towards the middle are moving towards one side

Bryan McAnulty: or the other. Cool. Yeah, that's a great question.

All right, well, thank you so much, Nathan. This has been a great interview before we get going. I want to ask where can people find you.

Nathan Lively: Let's see probably the best place is, I'll say my Facebook page. If you just search your sound design, live on Facebook, that's where I'm posting daily. And then, you know, my, my website and other places like it's occasional, but almost everything I do goes through the sound design, live face, Facebook page.


Bryan McAnulty: right. Awesome. All right, well, thank you so much for joining us, Nathan. Thanks Bryan. If you enjoyed this interview and won the chance to ask questions to our guests live tune in on Tuesdays when new episodes premiere on the Heiss platform, Facebook page, to learn more about the show and get notified when new episodes release, check out the creators, adventure.com until then keep learning and I'll see you in the next episode.

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About the Host

Bryan McAnulty is the founder of Heights Platform: all-in-one online course creation software that allows creators to monetize their knowledge.

His entrepreneurial journey began in 2009, when he founded Velora, a digital product design studio, developing products and websites used by millions worldwide. Stemming from an early obsession with Legos and graphic design programs, Bryan is a designer, developer, musician, and truly a creator at heart. With a passion for discovery, Bryan has traveled to more than 30 countries and 100+ cities meeting creators along the way.

As the founder of Heights Platform, Bryan is in constant contact with creators from all over the world and has learned to recognize their unique needs and goals.

Creating a business from scratch as a solopreneur is not an easy task, and it can feel quite lonely without appropriate support and mentorship.

The show The Creator’s Adventure was born to address this need: to build an online community of creative minds and assist new entrepreneurs with strategies to create a successful online business from their passions.

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