STG 100: Milestones – 100 Episodes of Start Teaching Guitar


complete guitar player

This week is the 100th episode of the Start Teaching Guitar Podcast! In this “centennial” episode, I’m going to talk about the milestones we’ve hit together with STG and tell the story of how it all came together almost 3 years ago. I’ll also share what I feel has been my “secret” to success! I’ll wrap things up with information on how powerful milestones can be for staying motivated and keeping your teaching studio moving in the right direction.

To call in with a question, a comment or to leave feedback for the show, call the Listener Feedback Hotline at (719) 428-5480 and leave a message! I just might include your recorded message in a future episode.

Items Mentioned In This Episode:

Link – Email List Training Course
Link – “Done For You” Email Autoresponder Series
Link – Group Guitar Launch Formula
Link – STG All-Access
Link – “Done For You” Teaching Websites

Podcast Transcript

All right, everybody, we’ve got a reason to celebrate today. This is Episode 100 of the STG Podcast. It’s hard to believe that we’ve done a hundred podcast episodes together. Just blows my mind when I look back and think about how many different topics we’ve covered and all the different things we’ve talked about over the last few years. I never thought that I would make it to Episode 100. It’s kind of crazy that we’re here, together, a hundred episodes later.

So, this is my centennial episode of the podcast and it’s also another milestone I want to celebrate with you guys; is that we’ve reached 40 thousand downloads of the STG Podcast as well. So, two big milestones here today that we’re going to talk about. A hundred episodes of the podcast and 40 thousand downloads. That means that there are people all over the world that have downloaded different episodes of the podcast over 40 thousand times. It’s pretty freaking awesome. So, since we’re talking about milestones, I’m going to dig a little deeper and I’m going to get into what kind of milestones you can celebrate in your own teaching studio as well, and I’m going to kind of go back, take a trip down memory lane to kind of commemorate this 100th episode, and talk about kind of the story of STG and how we started out and how it got to where it is today, and all of that stuff.

Milestones: 100 Episodes

So, a hundred episodes. That’s a lot. A lot of podcasts never make it that far. And I guess my secret to success, if I have one; it’s not really a secret, but what I’ve done and what has worked for me is that I have been doing what I think is right and I have kept on doing it, even if it didn’t seem to be working at first. So, my secret basically to success, with the podcast anyway, is to just not give up. Now, I’ve learned a lot over the years. I’ve tried to implement things the best way that I understand them, but I think the mistake a lot of people make that results in failure is that they just give up too soon. They don’t see results right away. You know, six months or a year goes by and they’re not seeing what they thought they were going to see, so they quit. And honestly, the secret to Start Teaching Guitar’s success and the only reason that I’m still here at Episode 100 and the only reason we’re even having this conversation is because I was crazy enough to have this dream that started back in 2011 and I was crazy enough to start doing it and just keep doing it, even when it didn’t seem to be working.

So, there are times when you want to make midcourse corrections and stuff, and I’ve done that, but generally I’ve basically stuck to true to the vision that I had when I started this podcast almost three years ago and just decided to keep doing it. And hey, guess what. Here I am. So, milestones like this one are all about moving forward and all about making progress. The whole concept of milestones is all about progress and forward momentum. And there’s this quote that I love by Will Rogers. He says, “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” That’s so true. Even if you’re on the right track, even if you have a great plan, if you don’t take action and keep moving forward, you’re just going to get run over and you’re going to fail.

So, there’s a lot of truth in that quote that applies to taking action in your business. And if you’re not hitting milestones in your business, if you’re not setting goals and achieving them and reaching milestones, then you might just be sitting there and it might be time for you to get up and start taking some action. But milestones are great to identify and to celebrate in your teaching studio. There are a lot of benefits to recognizing milestones. First, they help your motivation. If you don’t have things that you celebrate from time to time, kind of like little mile markers along the way, it’s real easy to get discouraged. It’s easy to feel like you don’t know where you’re going and like nothing is happening. So, if you want to stay motivated, then spec out some milestones that are achievable for you. And then, every time you reach one, throw a little party for yourself. It’s kind of what I’m doing with this episode. I’m not going to get into any deep content or anything like that. This is kind of like just a celebration episode, right, for the one hundred podcast episodes in a can.

So, this is going to help me to be motivated to keep on producing episodes into the future. So, milestones help you with your motivation. They also help you mark progress towards your goals. So, a lot of times, big goals – you break them down into a lot of smaller steps, and each one of those steps can be milestones. And then, once you reach one step, you know that you’re that much closer to your goal, so you have a feeling of progress and you actually start making progress because you’re tracking your progress. Milestones are great for tracking progress.

They also give you a good opportunity to look back and reflect on how far you’ve come. That’s kind of what I’m going to do today. Just take a look back and say, “Wow, this is where we were when we got started and this is where the kind of major steps along the way.” Things that happened. Events that are worth noting. Kind of our story, our journey here at Start Teaching Guitar, and then: “Wow, look how far we’ve come in just under three years.” It’s pretty awesome. So, it’s always healthy to do that because then you can honor the hard work that you’ve put into your business so far, and then it also, like I said before, energizes you so that you can make progress towards the future.

And then, milestones help you remember too that you’re still going in the right direction. Milestones – the whole term milestone comes from mile markers on the side of the highway. You know, back in the old days, they would put a stone every mile so that you knew you were still heading toward your destination. And then they started putting numbers on those stones so that you could see how far away you were, and then those eventually morphed into the big, green highway signs that we have today. But they were originally designed so that you could know you were on the right track and you could see how far you are from your destination.

And there’s this quote that I found online. I don’t know who to attribute it to. Just going to call it anonymous, but the quote says, “Direction is more important than speed. We are so busy looking at our speedometers that we forget the milestones along the way.” Excellent quote. If you’re so worried about trying to get to your goals faster, to try to make your business successful faster, and speed, speed, speed, rush, rush, rush all the time, you’re so focused on the speedometer that you miss all the milestones along the way. The really genuine successes that you have every step of the journey too. It’s very important to pay attention to those for all the reasons that I just mentioned.

Humble Beginnings

So, since we’re talking about milestones, let’s start off talking about some of mine. So, Start Teaching Guitar started up in May of 2011. Back then I was just a dude with a dream. I was a guitar teacher. I had some other pretty successful business ideas going on. I had some different things going on, but I was really looking for a few different things when I started STG. First, I wanted a way to give something back. In my heart, in my background, I’m a teacher, like a lot of you, and I also really enjoy trying to make a difference in other people’s lives. So, I thought that this would be a great way to give back some of the knowledge that I acquired about building my teaching business.

So, I wanted to find a way to give something back, to make a difference, and to help other guitar teachers succeed. I’m obsessed with music and the guitar, and business and marketing, and all that stuff, and I learned a lot along the way. So, I just thought: “Wow. Okay, this would be a great combination of skills to pull together and impart to anyone who’s willing to listen and to learn.” So, I wanted to do that, and then another key piece of STG was that I wanted a way to develop some location-independent income streams. As much as I love teaching guitar, you’re kind of dependent on showing up. You have to be there, physically, with your students unless you’re teaching online. So, I was trying to find some ways that I can earn money without having to actually be there. And I’m always going to be teaching guitar lessons, but doing things like IT consulting and some of the other stuff I had going on too, it was like: “Wow. Okay, I’m really trading my time for money here and I’d rather get to the point where I create things that I can get money for just because they’re valuable in themselves and they don’t actually require me to earn that money every single time.”

Why did I want to do that? Well, I wanted to have freedom to travel. I wanted to be able to kind of take my business with me and be able to go and do podcasts, do webinars, do Q&A calls, do consulting, and create products and things like that. Write blogs. Do all of that stuff from wherever I am. You know, so I could travel. I could go home. From Colorado, I could go home to visit my family in Louisiana. I could take my family on extended vacations if I want to. You know, different things like that. We could travel, and I could still maintain STG along the way. So, I was looking for something that would let me do that, and then I was also looking for something that would give me the freedom to live in a more rural area of the country, because one of the things that my wife and I really have always wanted to do is kind of do the modern homesteading thing, where you kind of live on a few acres of land and you grow some of your own food, and you raise animals, and just kind of a more simple, rural kind of lifestyle. And to do that, you’ve got to kind of move away from the bigger cities and stuff, and you know, all of my IT consulting clients, my guitar students, all of that stuff was kind of all in the population center.

So, I was like: “Wow, what’s a way that I could do this and have a business that will let me kind of live out in the boondocks and also be able to travel if I want to?” And you know, I scraped my thoughts together and ideas, and talked to a lot of people that I knew, and boom, STG was born. So, I remember whenever I recorded the first podcast episode, actually I bought my podcast mic. I didn’t exactly know what I was doing, but I picked up a Rode Podcaster Microphone off of, with one of those cool-looking boom arms that mounts to your desk so you can pull it around. It looks like you’re a radio DJ or something like that. And I was like: “Wow, okay. So, I’m going to need a better computer probably to do this,” so I plunked down the money and bought a new Macbook Pro at the time, and setup Garage Band so that I could record the podcast.

And I didn’t know if anybody would listen to it, honestly. I didn’t have a guaranteed audience. I didn’t know what the reception was going to be. I thought that I just might be talking to myself and that hardly anybody would listen. But you know what. I decided it doesn’t matter if anybody is going to listen. I’m going to keep recording them anyway. And guess what. After a while, probably around Episode 5 or 6, people started listening. My downloads on iTunes started to go up and I started to get emails and contact from people that wanted help with their teaching studio and stuff. So, I was like: “Wow, okay, people out there are really going to be able to benefit from something like this.”

STG Training Courses

So that’s kind of how I got started. And then I decided. After I’d done the podcast for three or four months, I was like: “Wow, okay. There’s got to be a way that I can put all of the ideas and information that’s floating around in my head into some kind of usable format that people can follow some steps and learn how to do these kinds of things.” Learn how to build a teaching studio. Learn how to market. Learn how to setup different parts of this and do a good job without them having to like randomly go through a bunch of different podcast episodes and things like that. So, I started thinking about training courses.

And the first training course I put together was the Email List Training Course. And actually, I created another product right before that because one of the things that I did for my own teaching studio that was really successful was I started using email autoresponder series that I wrote. So, I remember I took like a three or four-day weekend. It was actually a men’s retreat that my church put on way back when. I can’t remember even what year it was, and I was playing guitar there. So, the times that I wasn’t playing and wasn’t hiking out in the wilderness or whatever, I sat down next to a fire and pulled out my laptop and I wrote these 14 email autoresponder messages for my own teaching studio. And loaded them into my autoresponder software, and would automatically follow up with people that requested free information from my website.

So, that was I don’t remember how many years ago, but I thought: “Wow, okay, maybe other people can benefit from this too.” So, I kind of updated it and then packaged it together, and then offered that for sale and it was really successful. And then I decided to put together the Email List Training Course a few months later, in November of 2011, because I had this autoresponder series that was working really well for people, but a lot of people didn’t know how to set it up and use it. So, okay, I put that training course together and it was moderately successful, so I started thinking: “Okay, now that I know how to put training courses together, what could I do that will really help someone’s business take off a lot faster and help them be more successful, more quickly? What’s this bold, daring, crazy thing that I could teach people how to do?”

Group Guitar Launch Formula

And did some research and I realized that the biggest thing that can help people, someone who’s kind of like a solo guitar teacher trying to struggle and take things to the next level, is to start teaching group guitar classes. So, I started putting pencil to paper and I hashed out what eventually became the outline for Group Guitar Launch Formula. And I kind of did something interesting with that course. What I did for the Email List Training Course was I just pre-recorded everything. So, I wrote it, I scripted it all out, and then I recorded it all and then put it together, and then made it available. But Group Guitar Launch Formula, I did the exact opposite. So, I wrote it all and got it all where I wanted it to be, but I actually sold it before it was created.

That was in February of 2012, and some of you listening to this were in that first group of – I don’t know – 10 or 15 people that bought the very first Group Guitar Launch Formula. And I offered it as a series of webinars. So, I had all the material put together, but I just did it. I presented it live, over five different weeks. And each week was like two to two and a half hours long, or something like that. And those of you that put up with that and listened to it in one sitting should really be commended, right? So, I presented all the material, got it articulated exactly like I wanted to, answered questions from people, and kind of built this whole product after I’d already sold several copies of it, like 15 or so. And then I recorded it and I took those recordings, and went back and had them edited and I put them to screen capture videos, and built the whole course as it is today.

Right, so that was in February of 2012, and Group Guitar Launch Formula has been a big success and it’s honestly one of the most useful courses that I’ve ever put together to really help someone be successful. It’s not for everybody. It’s really for people that want to grow a serious, full-time guitar teaching studio, but it has everything in it that I knew at the time and I still stand by all of that information on how to really fast track your business and grow it to another level. So, that’s one of the products that I’m the most proud of that I’ve put together.

STG All-Access

And then I started getting requests for more podcast episodes. Because I was only doing them bi-weekly at first, and then I started getting emails from people that were saying, “Man, is there any way you could do a podcast every week? I really enjoy listening to them. Even if it’s something that I’m not particularly interested in implementing at the time, I love listening to your podcast because they inspire me. They encourage me. It’s kind of like a weekly shot of inspiration so that I can go back out there and keep growing my business.” So, I started thinking about that, and I decided to put together a membership program called STG All Access.

I introduced that in August of 2012, so about a year and a half ago, and it started out with just a basic thing where you basically got, for a low monthly fee, access to extra podcast episodes that the public didn’t get. And I had some other bonuses that I included in there too, and that was a successful product as well. But in April of 2013, I decided to kind of upgrade that and take it to a whole new level, and that was whenever I put together all three levels of STG All Access. I added a bunch of value. I started doing live monthly webinars. I started doing live monthly question and answer calls. I put together all these other information products and stuff, and made the Silver Level, the Gold Level, and then I started something that I’d always wanted to do, but had never pulled the trigger on, and that was to create a Mastermind Group that I could use to work with other guitar teachers in a group setting and help them reach their goals. Give them feedback. Give them encouragement. Kind of do coaching a little bit, but do it in a small group context so that we could all build close relationships with each other and kind of all understand and help each other walk through our own individual path to become a more successful guitar teacher, but to do it in a relational way and to do it as a group so that everyone had input. Everyone could give everyone else feedback. We could make all these multiple connections through this live, online, small group Mastermind Group-type situation.

So that’s what the Platinum Level is all about. And I’ve had the privilege to work with some amazing people from all over the world. From South Africa, from the United Kingdom, and from different parts of the United States through the Platinum Mastermind Group, and it’s one of my favorite things to do. I look forward to that meeting every month, more than pretty much everything else that I do.

Done-For-You Teaching Websites

And then, right around the same time, I also decided to get into the website business a little bit. So, I started offering prebuilt teaching websites for people, where, if you don’t have a website already, you don’t have a hosting account, you could pay me and I can build it for you based on the specs that I have laid out in all the podcasts about what makes a teaching website successful and good, and all of that stuff. So, I put together packages for people and started building websites this year as well. So that’s kind of been the evolution of the different products that I have available on Start Teaching Guitar, and I have some more coming up in the near future I’ll tell you about in a second.

Prostate Cancer

But kind of right in the middle of all of this stuff, in September or so of 2012, some of you guys already know about this, but I got diagnosed with prostate cancer. That was not what I wanted to hear at the time, right, because I was really focused on growing my business and making STG everything that it can be, and unveiling all of these awesome plans and schemes that I had up my sleeve and stuff. So, I wasn’t ready for that diagnosis and it kind of threw me for a loop, quite honestly. I didn’t really know how to respond to that at first.

A lot of people that get prostate cancer, a lot of men, it’s a scary diagnosis anyway, but it’s the kind of cancer that, more often than not, doesn’t really threaten your life. Most of the diagnoses of prostate cancer are a very low risk form of the disease and a lot of times people still have surgery or have some kind of treatment anyway to just kind of nip it in the bud, but in my case it was a little bit worse than that. I did end up having surgery and I had my prostate removed in January of 2013. And I was thinking. That was about a year ago to the time that I’m recording this. And my pathology report came back clear and they said that there was no indication that the cancer had spread to any other part of my body, so I was really happy about that, but they did notice that it was kind of a little more advanced than I had originally anticipated.

So, there was kind of a 50-50 chance that they may have not gotten all of the cancer out when they did the surgery last year. So, sure enough, I started doing tests every three months after that, and the cancer isn’t completely gone. So, I just actually found out about a week ago that I’m going to have to do some radiation therapy, probably starting in the next couple weeks, probably in January of 2014, which is the month that I’m recording this. So, it’s just another part of my journey. It’s not something that I’m excited about. Not something to jump up and down about, but it’s a part of the story. And some of you guys and gals have been so encouraging to me over the last year and a half, as I’ve been dealing with the cancer and all of that stuff, so I just wanted to share that with you. I could use any prayers and encouragement and kind words that you feel like sending from time to time, because radiation therapy is going to be starting up soon.

And I have every expectation that that treatment, which is going to be like seven weeks of really tightly-focused radiation therapy every day for seven weeks. So, it’s going to be pretty long and intensive, but I have indication that it’s going to completely eliminate whatever cancer had got left over from my surgery earlier in the year. So, we’re still way ahead of the game and I’m just grateful that I had such advance notice about it, and it’s not like the Frank Zappa situation, where I find out about it too late and there’s nothing I can really do; it’s spread to different parts of my body. It’s localized and they think that this is going to completely take care of it. So, I’m happy and grateful for that, and once I can get that clean bill of health, then that’ll be yet another milestone that I’ll celebrate too.

What Lies Ahead

So, that’s kind of where we’ve been. In May, it’ll be three years since I started doing Start Teaching Guitar, and this is kind of what’s in store. So, I’ve got many more podcast episodes to come. Honestly, I’m not exaggerating. I have enough topic ideas probably to take us all the way through Episode 1000, and even beyond. So, you can look forward. As long as I’m around and as long as I’m still doing this, you can expect future episodes of the podcast from me. I have some new free resources that are going to be coming out sometime this year. I’m going to create some free mini eBooks on some interesting topics to guitar teachers that are at different levels. Kind of like instruction guides on how to do certain things for beginning guitar teachers, how to do certain things for intermediate, how to do certain things for music schools, and I’m going to make those available for free on the website. So that’s going to be cool.

And I mentioned before that I’ve been working on an eBook with Desi Serna. It’s going to be called How to Teach Guitar, and it’s going to be for beginners. And we’ve actually been working on it. I started writing it seriously whenever I was down, after my prostate surgery earlier this year, and then kind of got a little sidetracked during the rest of the year, but the first draft is finished. I’m working on the second draft right now, and we’re going to polish things up and we’re going to make it available hopefully in the next couple of months here. So, that new eBook is coming. So, those of you guys that are still contemplating starting your teaching studio, this book is going to tell you everything that you need to know to do that. So, it’s going to be awesome.

And then the last thing that I’m planning for this year is a brand new training course. I’ve already got the outlines put together for it. I’ve just got to create it. I don’t think I’m going to do it GGLF-style, where I’m going to sell it first. I think I’m going to build the videos for this course first, before I make it available. So, it might be mid-2014, maybe the third or fourth quarter, before it’s completely done and ready for you guys to buy it. But it’s going to be called The Guitar Teacher Marketing Makeover Course. And that course is going to be for people that have been teaching for a while, because there’s a big group of people in the audience for the State Teaching Guitar Podcast that already teaching students every week and they just can’t seem to grow their business, and it’s because their marketing is in shambles. They just don’t understand how to market their studio. They don’t understand what good advertising and marketing principles can do for them. They just don’t have any experience with that.

So, what I’m going to do is I’m going to put together this course that takes everything that I have worked with teachers individually on, everything that I talk about in the podcast, all this proven marketing stuff and I’m going to put it into a how-to course that you can take and you can learn that information. You can apply it to your teaching studio, wherever you are, to kind of forklift your marketing and your advertising, and take it to a whole new level so that you could start attracting more students, making more money, and being more successful. So that’s going to be not really for the music studio guys. I’ve been talking to a lot more people that have a lot of teachers working under them. So, I’m going to have some resources coming for you guys too, but this is more for those people right in the middle. You’re like a private, solo guitar teacher, trying to grow this thing, trying to be able to do it full-time, and this is going to give you the marketing tools and skills and tactics that you’re going to need to be able to do that.

So, hopefully you guys are excited about all of that stuff just like I am, but as I wrap up this episode, 100th of STG Podcast, I just want to encourage you to take this principle of milestones and apply it to your own teaching studio. So, what you do is you just take a look at what you’re doing and identify some key milestones for your business. Maybe it’s a calendar anniversary from when you got started teaching. Maybe it’s a certain amount of monthly income that you’re trying to reach. So, whenever you reach a hundred dollars a month income, just start now. That’s a milestone. You should celebrate it. And then when you get to five hundred, and then when you get to a thousand, and then when you get to 25 hundred, and then when you get to five thousand dollars a month, teaching guitar lessons, man, celebrate each one of those milestones and do something nice for yourself.

Make a big deal out of it. Maybe the milestones are numbers of students that you teach. So, maybe right now you’re teaching three students and when you get to five, that’s a milestone. When you get to ten, that’s a milestone. 25, 30 or more, that’s a big milestone for your studio. When you teach your first group class, that’s a milestone. Maybe it growth in your business. Maybe you’re seeing some awesome things in your advertising and community awareness, and building your brand in your local community. Maybe it’s your search engine rankings or something about your business that is being successful. Celebrate that as a milestone and make a big deal out of it so that you can attract even more things like that in the future.

So, that’s it for Episode 100. I just really want to know what your milestones are. So, if you’ve got some milestones that you’ve just reached or that you’re about to reach, then please get in touch with me and let me know. Let’s talk about it in the comments for this episode so that I can celebrate with you.

Thank You For Listening!

If you enjoyed this episode, or any of the other of the episodes of the STG podcast, and you haven’t left a rating or review yet on iTunes, I would really appreciate an honest rating and review from you. It’s one of the most important parts of the ranking algorithm in iTunes, but more importantly, it’ll show future listeners that this podcast is (or isn’t) worth listening to.

To leave a quick review, open up iTunes, search for Start Teaching Guitar and then leave a rating and review as shown below. You can do this from your mobile device as well, even if you’re not subscribed, and even if you listen on another platform – this is where I’d appreciate you leaving your review.


Feel free to use the comments section below to let me know what you think about this episode, to suggest a topic for a future episode or just to join in on the conversation with other guitar teachers.

STG 100: Milestones – 100 Episodes of Start Teaching Guitar was last modified: May 12th, 2014 by Donnie Schexnayder