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The Craftsman Creative - Daren Smith | Episode 33

Hey there! I'm Daren.

I've been a career creative for over 15 years, and have spent much of that time building my own business up to six figures in revenue, and helping artists and creatives do the same.

I help creatives get the results they want in their businesses through my writing, the courses I produce, and coaching, and I'd love to work with you.

Guest Links:

Transcript: ( Autogenerated )

[00:00:00] Hello, and welcome to the next episode of the quest for new inspiration. My name is Katie Maschler and this week I'm excited to welcome Darren Smith. And this week, I'm excited to welcome Darren Smith. He has been a long time creator as well as a live sound engineer. Post-production sound designer, film, director, and TV producer, as well as a screenwriter and many more.

I hope he inspires you as much as he's inspired me.

Daren Smith: Well, thanks for having me on this. My name is Darren Smith and like to say, I'm a, multihyphenate, I'm a career creator and in the. Last 15 years or so of being a professional creator.

I have been a live [00:01:00] sound engineer, a post production sound designer, a film and TV producer, a screenwriter, and lately I've been getting into writing and being an author and all these things. So I do a lot of different things in the creative industries. Um, but my main gig right now is as a film and TV producer, I've been producing movies the last year and a half or so.

And before that was doing TV. And last year in the middle of the pandemic, right at the start of the pandemic, I started a online course platform for creators. So that kept me busy in between some projects while the world was kind of going what's next, uh, in 2020. And so now that's part of what I do.

KT Maschler: Awesome. Do you want to explain a little bit about like your creative course and how

Daren Smith: all that. Yeah, definitely. So, you know, with having a background as a film and TV producer, when everything shut down, I got furloughed from the TV show that I was working on and I found myself with four months of free time, which is something I had never had in my entire life free [00:02:00] time.

And so I had to think about what can I do with just the tools and experience and skills that I have, uh, without a lot more people being involved because of COVID and. What's something that I can do to kind of contribute and to help people because yeah, money's great. But I'd love to build something that has a little bit more lasting impact rather than, you know, quick transaction.

So I had this idea to create some online courses. I created two of my own and launched the first one, two weeks after the pandemic hit the United States. And, you know, I sold a few copies, which was nice, but everyone in that moment was freaking out about money and their jobs and their gigs and their projects and their clients.

So not a lot of people were investing in online courses. So. I did the smart thing and created another one. And, but this time I released that course for free, because it was really about how to help, creators and artists kind of get a better footing for their business. I wanted them to understand that, you know, you don't [00:03:00] have to have your business wiped out when a pandemic kits you could have.

Outcomes. You can have, you know, finances that are keeping you afloat, and you can have things that are providing a foundation for your business so that you can survive these kinds of things. I had a lot of musician, friends just completely go unemployed because all the gigs straight up, they had no other sources of income, et cetera.

So I really took a strong look at that and wanted to do more. So I realized after producing two of my own courses, one of them putting them out for free, it wasn't a big money-making prospect. So I reached out to a creative friend. She is a hand lettering artist here in Provo, Utah, where I live, and she had a much bigger following than I had, about 11,000 followers at the time on Instagram and a really engaged audience.

And I said, have you ever thought about making an online course? She said, oh my gosh, I've been wanting to for so long. I just have no idea. I don't know how to do the editing. I don't know how to do the filming. I don't know how to host it. I don't know how to do any of that [00:04:00] stuff. I'm like, well, guess what?

I know how to do all those things. And I have a platform that I created that you could just put your course on there. Why don't we try one? I said, let's just do a simple 50, 50 split. You bring the content and your audience all do all the technical stuff and website stuff. And it worked like gangbusters.

She did like $10,000 in a week. She had a hundred students before the end of the month. And I was like, that's the business? So since then I've produced another about a dozen more courses and tend to produce one to two a month, you know, while I'm not producing movies and stuff. So we've got about 15 on the site right now, which is pretty crazy.

So that's how that came about.

KT Maschler: Super cool. Do they like kind of vary and their topics or did they kind of stay. One sector.

Daren Smith: Yeah. They're all the consistent thing through all of them is that they're all about creativity, creative businesses, mindset, those kinds of things, but all for [00:05:00] creators and artists.

So I'm not doing like SEO courses. I'm not doing financial planning courses and that kind of stuff. So, but they definitely vary. I have photography courses. I have a home design and styling courses. I've hand lettering, makeup Kickstarter. And then some business courses on there. So there's a lot, that's on the site now.

And in the next year and two years, we're going to be adding a lot more. Going deeper on some of those subjects, like can littering and artistry and then going wider with some other, uh, different types of courses as well. Super cool.

KT Maschler: Okay. Um, to go back and kind of pick your brain on the whole, like movie TV, is there anything that you've worked on that I would've seen or anything that you're super, super proud on and maybe I needed to go check.

Daren Smith: I don't know. So the TV show I worked on is it was on a network called BYU TV, which is a local, you know, it stems from the college Brigham young university, it's their network. So they produce a bunch of different TV shows and [00:06:00] movies and stuff like that. So the show I worked on is called relative race.

You may or may not have heard of it? Probably not. There's I think about seven or 800,000 people watched that every week. So it's a small cable network, but I did four seasons of that TV show. You can actually watch it for It's a fun show. It's kind of like the amazing race meets genealogy.

So you have teams of two that are going and racing around the country and competing and challenges. But at the end of each day, they meet a family member they've never met with. So we spend a bunch of time before we go and film the show, finding people's parents and siblings and aunts and uncles and grandparents.

And then they get there on the day. We know what's happening. Cause I found the couple and scheduled everything and made it so that everything is going to line up. But you know, they'll knock on a door and they'll say, hi, are you related? And they're like, yeah, I'm related to you. And how are we doing? Um, your dad, it's not scripted, it's not fake.

You know, it's very, very genuine, real meaning [00:07:00] people that you've been looking for your whole life for the very first time. So it was a really rewarding show to work on. And I highly recommend to anyone who wants to just have a feel good show and maybe cry a little. You can check that shot. It's super cool.

I did a bunch of different just like industrial and commercial work over the years. And then I, um, the S the, the movie that I produced earlier this year, it hasn't been released or put out for distribution yet. So the movie is called roost. It was directed by Amy Redford. you know, we're helping to get it into a festival early next year, like a south by Southwest or something like.

And if that happens, then more people can actually see it because currently I think the editors, the director and the producer have seen the movie, the composer too, probably. So a handful of people have seen it before. It's not out yet, but I've got two or three more movies I'm looking to do next year, which should be a little bit easier to wrangle as far as viewing them online and stuff.[00:08:00]

KT Maschler: Yeah, well, um, to kind of go back to, I guess, I don't want to say COVID or anything, but when you were in that mindset, what did you kind of, you mentioned you're building your course, but how did you kind of shift your mindset from being little to okay. I can actually do.

Daren Smith: Yeah. I'm I feel really, really lucky that I had done a lot of work as far as mindset goes in the previous months leading up to COVID.

but in that moment, what happened was I saw two options. You see, I could have either. Done what a lot of people did, which is, well, this is the reality we live in. This is what's happening. It's out of my control. There's nothing I can do about it. So I'm going to wait to see, you know, like maybe the government will send me a check or maybe my employer will figure their stuff out and get some PPP money and be able to pay me.

And I didn't like that option because I had zero control. And in that scenario I had no. [00:09:00] Uh, way to, affect the outcome. And I really, you know, I started going down that road a little bit for like a day and I was like, crap, everything. Bad. Everything is happening and I can't control it. And what am I going to do?

And I was freaking out and then I realized I don't want to be freaking out. I caught myself in that moment and I had enough skills and tools in this mindset area to kind of go wait a minute. What do I really want this moment to be? And I thought back to, um, I forget who said it, I don't have the quote ready, but there's something that says that most of the.

There's a ton of wealth that gets built in downtimes. So the 2008 and nine, we got things like zoom and Stripe and some of these big, huge companies, same with the year 2000. When the internet bubble burst, you had Google and Amazon and some of these big, big, big, like, Three biggest companies in the planet came from that moment where [00:10:00] everything was a bubble.

It broke, there was, you know, a downside downsize for people for the stock market and everything was down. And he can even go all the way back to like the stock market crash of 1929. And you've got things like Disney that came out of these moments. Some of the biggest companies that have been around for a hundred years almost came out of these moments where everything was bleak.

And there was a ton of uncertainty and chaos in the market and in people's lives. But there were people in those moments who chose to take advantage of the opportunity or create opportunities in all that chaos and uncertainty and. I told myself in that moment, I want to be like that. You know, I, I was too young to capitalize on anything in 2000.

I was still in high school, so it's not like I was building businesses yet 2008 and nine, you know, I was starting to build a film production company, a boutique little video and commercial film production company. And didn't really see it yet. I was in that other mindset of like, well, the market's down, so no one's [00:11:00] investing money right now.

So I guess we'll wait it out. And instead of waiting it out, I went and took a job selling cars, like, cause I ha I was newlywed and I needed to make money and provide for a family. And so I went and found money instead of creating opportunities in my creative business. So this time I was like, no, I want to do it differently.

I want to take control of the scenario. I want to create something. And I'm really glad I did cause already crashed and creative. The online course platform is already doing tens of thousands of dollars in sales and hundreds of students. And next year is going to be even bigger and had I not started 18 months ago, who knows where I'd be right now?

KT Maschler: That's awesome. I love that creating opportunities. That's amazing. So do you have any, um, either audio engineers or people in your life who inspire you to keep going.

Daren Smith: Yeah. You know, there's a lot of people that I all, I consider them mentors at this point, because what I found interesting is [00:12:00] that in any group of people, if you look at the top performers, the people who are the best-selling authors or the best-selling speakers or the best-selling filmmakers, the people that are at the top of their game, there's always one or two that are willing to talk to people that are.

On the same path, but maybe a few steps behind. And so, you know, one example, an early example of this, where I realized how true this idea was. There's a film producer named Cassie and Ellis, and he has, I mean, if you look him up on IMDV or something you've heard of every movie he's produced, he's kind of the Michael Jordan of independent film producers.

And he's, you know, he's insanely in demand. He's someone that can get movies that are. Two to $20 million. He can get them financed. He can get them produced. He can get them distributed. He's got all the connections. He's just been in the industry for like 30 years. And there was one day if you know, probably six or eight years ago.

And I was like, you know what? I really want to get to know Cassie and [00:13:00] Ellis. So I did, I did a current, very cursory job of like finding his contact info in that I sent an email to just a random Gmail address, thinking maybe that's his email. We'll see what happens. So I sent an email and an hour later I got a message.

Now I sent him a very specific question. I said, Hey, this is who I am. I'm a producer. I'm working on indie films. And I have this very specific question. I think it was around financing and he sent me back a one sentence, looked like it was typed on his iPhone answer, but that started to relate to. And since that point, like there were times where I would go out to conferences and I knew he was there and I'd say, Hey, I'd love to treat you to breakfast and I'd take them to breakfast.

We had an hour chat and there have been other times when I've been able to email him and email back and forth and ask more questions. And as I've been progressing in my career, I'm able to share like, Hey, you gave me this suggestion or this guidance years ago, I implemented it. And now look where I'm at.

And [00:14:00] when mentors here that you took the. Suggestions implemented them and succeeded. There's nothing better. There's no better feeling. And so now that like Cassie, was this someone that I can call or email and say, Hey, I've got this project. And I've sent him a few projects and none of them are like big enough yet.

He's now graduated to more like the 10 to $30 million range. So he's like when you got one of those, let me know. But you know, I sent him a million dollar script and I sent him a $4 million project and he gave me feedback and it was great. And so there are a number of people like that. Um, Shout out one or two more.

Derek Sivers is someone from the music world. He created CD baby, back in the nineties, I want to say early two thousands. And he sold CD baby for like $22 million. So this is a massive success. He, you know, is just highly in demand, like hundreds of thousands of musicians and artists knew who he was. And since then he's done Ted talks and he's written books and all this stuff.

So he's someone who's got [00:15:00] hundreds of thousands of followers, tons of people on his email list. And I'm sure it's just getting inundated with requests day after day after day. Well, same kind of deal. A few years ago, I responded to one of his email newsletters and I said, Hey, Derek just wanted to say, thanks.

I have loved your writing. I love your story. It's been impactful. I took this principle and I implemented it and this happened and. Derek emails me back. This is a guy who probably gets thousands of emails a day, but he emailed me. And then I emailed him again, like a month later, and then he emailed me back and then I heard that during COVID he moved to New Zealand.

And so I said, Hey, my wife and I have been thinking about traveling to New Zealand, where should we go? And he sent back like an eight paragraph detailed itinerary, go here three days here, go to this place, check this because we built a relationship over two years prior to that. And even just last week, you know, we were chatting together on Twitter.

And so. It's crazy to me that as early as I am in my career, even [00:16:00] though I'm 15 years in, I still feel like I'm really early in my career. The people I look up to to answer, actually answer your question. The people I look up to and think are just amazing are those that are, that are at the top of their game, but realize that there's.

More to life than just being at the top of their game. Part of what happens when you reach a certain stage in your career is you should turn around and help clear the path for the people behind you. And that's what these gentlemen have done for me. And so it's what I'm trying to do now, even though I'm not as far along in my career, I'm trying to implement that as early on as possible by creating things like crest and creative and helping people come up the same path that I've.


KT Maschler: I totally relate to that. Basically what the podcast, I mean, I'm only 25. So like reaching out to literally anybody in their middle of their career, early, early on to their career, or even those. Made like that overnight success them taking a step back and sharing their lessons with [00:17:00] me has just been so monumental.

Like I remember the first couple episodes like Sean, James. I literally had no business. Emailing or reaching out to a retired NFL player. He had no business talking to me except for he had a connection to my mom and he was more than happy to talk my ear off about everything, about everything. He's learned, all of his different missions and everything.

And he's like, seriously, anybody with like on his level of success, he tends, they tend to be. All in to just step back and share their resources. So I've loved it.

Daren Smith: That's awesome to hear

KT Maschler: that. So I don't want to take too much of your time. So do you have any, um, last like piece of advice or kind of like mantra that you would like,

Daren Smith: you know, a piece of advice that I love to share?

I'll tell a quick story around it too. And I have times that aren't stress on my end, [00:18:00] but. There's my mom passed away in 20 years. And I went to her grave site one year. And, um, earlier that year I had kind of found this mantra or this piece of advice, which was make progress every day. And I've made that, like the name of my phone.

So when it shows up on my computer, like, do you want to airdrop something to make progress every day? It's like this nice little daily reminder of, oh yeah. I want to make progress every day. Like, that's what it's about. And for the life of me, I can't remember off the top of my head. I know I have a picture of it, but I went and visited my mom's gravestone in Sacramento, California, and, you know, cleared off the leads.

And right there is an inscription that was just another rephrasing of that same idea of like make progress every day. It was something that. Do something every day to make your life better or something like that. And it just was such a cool moment and it stuck with me since then, I feel bad that I don't have the exact wording.

Obviously didn't stick with me well enough. I need to go [00:19:00] find that. But that concept of, you know, anything is possible as long as you keep making progress every day. And what that really looks like. Rather than just showing up and doing the work. It's taking time also to analyze the work you've done, what's working, what's not working.

What do you want to do more of? What do you want to do less of and really analyzing and going. Okay. If I want to have. Let's say a podcast with a hundred thousand subscribers. How can I get there? Well, you can talk to people who are already there and ask for directions. That's something that Derek Sivers taught.

The author I mentioned, which is a great principle called the destination and ask for directions. The other thing, if you can't do that is to make progress every day. And the easiest way to make progress is to just do more of what works and less of what doesn't. So it requires a little bit of an analytical side or putting on like a marketing hat or whatever, where you're just going.

Yeah. I, you know, I tweeted eight times [00:20:00] last week. Did any of them take off or any of them outperform the others? Oh, that one did. I'm going to do more tweets like that. Cause my audience resonated with it. So the more that you can make progress every day. My belief is that success becomes inevitable if you have that mindset.

So going back to the mindset conversation, if you believe that anything is possible, as long as you just continue to make progress every day, I believe you. I think nothing can stop you at that point because it's really in your control and whether it takes a month or a year or 10 years or a lifetime, you'll still make progress every day, which can in and of itself is a success.

So I love that mantra and I try to remember it every day.

KT Maschler: Yeah, I totally can see that in my own life, for sure as well. Like with the podcast, I have to literally sometimes convince myself on like nights before I released something. I'm like, you can finish it, you can do it. I'm like procrastinating. And I'm just the expert at waking up, like at four 30 [00:21:00] before my boyfriend thinks I'm crazy.

He's like, why wouldn't you just do it the night before? I can wake up and just make it launched by six. It's fine. And I totally, that's amazing. I love that. Well, thank you so much for your time today. That was awesome.

Daren Smith: Yeah. Thank you so much. I appreciate the invite and it's been great chatting with you.

And that is it for this week's episode. Thank you guys so much for tuning in every single place truly does mean the world to me. If you guys love the podcast, make sure you let me know by sharing the podcast, leaving review or a five star rating on apple podcast or your favorite podcast player.

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