You may not know the name Mark Cawley, but you’ve probably heard a song he’s written for artists like Tina Turner, Joe Cocker, Diana Ross, Chaka Khan, Wynonna and The Spice Girls (to name a few). Looking for a new challenge, and a new way to combine his passion for songwriting and his passion for business, Cawley launched IDoCoach.com, a business in which Mark uses Skype to coach aspiring songwriters around the world. Mark credits the ability to use video chat as the key to his success with IDoCoach.com. Recently, Mark agreed to be a part of our “How it Helps Us :series and share how Skype helped him create his business.
How It Helps Us: Every business is different. Solutions don’t come in one-size-fits-all. For that reason, we’ve started the feature, “How it Helps Us” in which we interview small business owners who have found success using certain products, approaches, channels or ideas. If you have a favorite method, approach or product that is helpful to you and that you can share with others the specific ways in which you use it, scroll down to the bottom of this page and fill out the form.
Had you been coaching songwriters before you created IDoCoach?
Before my current business, Hall Of Fame Songwriter Kye Fleming and I started an online service for songwriters called “Song Journey” This was around 13 years ago and to my knowledge, the first of its kind to combine one on one songwriting and mentoring online.
What are your hours like? What’s your week look like?
To give you an example of a typical workday, last Friday I started with a songwriting client in Singapore at 9 a.m. my time, followed by a session with a writer in Nashville at noon, One in Melbourne at 5:00 p.m. and one in New Zealand at 6:30. 4 sessions a day, 5 days a week is getting more typical as my business has been building. I have clients in some interesting parts of the world as well as across the US. It has really turned into a full time job these days.
I don’t use a set curriculum but rather talk with potential clients first to see where they’d like to focus and go from there.
Has implementing the use of Skype to teach lessons helped your business?
My business couldn’t exist without the ability to video chat across a stable format. It’s only in the past 3 or 4 years that everyone I coach has a fast enough computer (and bandwidth) to make this kind of coaching really work. In the beginning there were drops and numerous problems but that’s become rare.
What has Skype allowed you to do that you wouldn’t normally be able to do as a songwriting coach?
That’s easy. Connect visually with the person I’m coaching. This makes a world of difference when you’re building trust. The international aspect of my coaching would be impossible if I had to depend on doing sessions strictly by phone.
What are some difficulties you’ve come across in conducting lessons via video chat?
Since it’s become a more common and stable format I don’t usually have any problems. Once in awhile I have clients whose first language is not english but again, Skype makes it easier to see someone and work through the language barrier.
How do you acquire most of your clients?
At this point I would credit social media. I blog regularly, am a member of tons of online songwriting groups and contribute articles to some major songwriting sites. I’ve also been a judge for the UK Songwriting Contest, one of the biggest in the world and this type of exposure has helped. Facebook has been a vital tool in reaching potential clients. I do my own workshops from time to time and word of mouth has also been important but building interest and eventual trust, through social media has been the main tool.
How is your retention rate? In other words, is it easy to form a bond with a client via video?
To my complete surprise, the majority of my clients continue well past the initial 4 sessions. I’ve had some for a few years. I would attribute this to continually looking for ways to give them new tools, individualized for the areas they need. This also keeps it interesting for me. I’m constantly researching otherwise I could use up whatever is in my head!
With your experience, what types of businesses would do best to implement video-chatting with their clients/customers?
Almost any lesson/coaching based business. It allows you to do what you do anywhere in the world.
Does coaching songwriters help you in your own creative pursuits?
It’s made me a better writer by digging deeper than I ever had. Also makes me really appreciate what goes into this. I’ve been coaching a first time novelist as well as a songwriter writing an eBook so the process keeps me creative.
What’s the best thing about your job?
Watching a light come on when you’re working with a writer. Might be sharing something that I learned either the hard way or from someone else and being able to shortcut the process for someone. Hearing the difference in their songs over time is also the best! It also helps be able to build the business exactly how you’d like it, call your own hours and meet people from all over the world for an hour at a time. It’s a fantastic way for me to stay creative and feel like I have more to offer. It’s almost feels like a second act for me.
To read more from Mark, check out his blog at IDoCoach.com.
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