1191
8 min 25 sec

Software Tester Tunes Pianos for Harmonious Hustle

A software tester and serial side hustler learns a new skill, “tuning” a profit in just over a week.
Piano Service

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What It's About

Tune in on how to listen and find the right key with this hustle.

Business Model
Service
Skills Required
Research & Marketing
Complexity
Low
Profit Potential
Medium

Words of Wisdom

Listen to yourself. Good side hustle ideas can come from the thought, "I know I could do a better job, create a better product, or provide a better service...".

Fun Fact

Josh got into piano tuning only because a piano tuner he had an appointment with failed to show up. That got him thinking - how much work do piano tuners have that they can afford to blow him off?

Notes from Chris

Episode 1191

Software tester Josh Kemp has always been adept at using his hands. Although his day job involves working at a computer, he enjoys learning more physical skills on the side. In particular, he liked trades that were at the intersection of art and science, which led him to study topics ranging from shoeing horses to installing water fountains. These skills also allowed him to generate several income sources apart from his paycheck.

When Josh got a free piano off Craigslist, he decided that he would restore it as best as he could. But after messaging several piano tuners in the area, he only received one reply for an offer to do the job for $135. Worse, the piano tuner failed to show up on the day of the appointment and never responded to any of Josh’s emails. That’s right—he was ghosted by a piano tuner.

Josh was upset at first but the whole incident got him thinking: how much work do piano tuners have if they could treat customers this way? And if there was so much work out there, how hard would it be to learn to tune a piano himself and clink out a harmonious new source of income?

The first thing he did was to reach out to a few known piano tuners in other states from contact addresses he got off the internet to ask what they thought about someone breaking into the field. Then, he proceeded to use his wife’s phone to ring up those in the local neighborhood to gather feedback. Some thought that pianos were going away and that it was a gig that would soon disappear, but the majority believed that there was a lot of work around. Armed with this information, Josh jumped into developing the skills he needed.

Based on the recommendations from real piano tuners in the YouTube videos, Josh bought a tuning app for $300. This worked far better than what the online course had taught him, and now he was ready to play the diatonic scale. Now he just needed customers. The online course had taught him to run Google ads, but Josh found that $100 of ads had failed to net him a single piano in need of tuning. The piano tuners that he had spoken to had zero experience with digital marketing. This made Josh decide not to pay for marketing, but instead, to rely on social media and free, organic posts to spread the word.

It worked. His free piano tuning ads on platforms such as Facebook Marketplace and NextDoor got the attention he needed, and at $80 for a piano to be tuned, Josh got his first client. He then started to experiment with his prices, raising them to $90, and finally to $100, as he realized that was the optimal price for his service.

Within three months, he showed up on the first page of Google for piano tuners in the area with 24 reviews, and started receiving calls off this ranking. The results were far better than he ever got from the online course he bought.

Josh’s experience led him to develop his own online piano tuning course, with lessons drawn from his own journey. Having picked up piano tuning on June 28th and made his first dollar on July 5th, Josh knows that a bias for action and practical experience goes far. In fact, it spans seven octaves.

 
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Inspiration is good; inspiration combined with action is better. Now get back to work!

Yours in the revolution,

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Quote of the Day
"I always tried to figure out what other successful piano tuners were REALLY doing in the real world and that ended up really helping me."
—Josh Kemp #SideHustleSchool

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To infinity and beyond,

Chris Guillebeau