Successful Berklee Alumni #56: Ryan Heenan

Ryan Heenan

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Listen to the interview (approx. 50 min) or download it.

To illustrate the power of online freelancing, Ryan hired someone to clean up the audio and add an introduction.  Enjoy!

 

Graduated in 2007 with a major in Music Business.  Principal Instrument:  guitar.

Position:  Entrepreneur.  For five years, Ryan makes and sells marketing and instructional videos, both freelance via fiverr.com and other freelance sites and via his own website.   His rates vary between $200 and $460 per minute for videos, depending on the level of creative input required.

Overview:  After graduating, Ryan moved to California hoping to set up a home studio, but couldn’t find a good space (a blessing in disguise).  He taught music lesson for a year, then moved back to Massachusetts, where he waited tables for 6 months, then took a job as a music specialist with a pre-school.  A colleague, Big Joe the Storyteller, encouraged Ryan to use his talents in a side job.  Ryan put out a Kids CD based on healthy eating, which was a good learning experience albeit not a huge commercial success.  Then he started doing birthday jingles for kids on fiverr.

Soon people requested video with jingles so he taught himself video editing and animation software.  Ryan started getting requests for videos without jingles, and Ryan’s work increased to the point where in mid-2012 he resigned from the pre-school and moved to California, supporting himself on his freelance work plus waiting tables once/week until by 2013 his work volume had increased to where he could give that up.  Increasingly finding himself doing marketing videos, Ryan studied marketing so as to be able to design good videos as well as construct them.  By 2015 the volume of work had grown to the point that he hired his sister, who had just received her masters degree in psychology.

Because of his commercial success via these freelance websites, Ryan has been featured in many different articles, including in the L.A. Times,  Forbes Magazine, and the NY Daily News.

 

You can see Ryan’s LinkedIn profile here.

 

Choice Quotes:  “It’s a challenge in life to find something fulfilling.  We spend so much time working, it’s important to do that.  I get a nice creative outlet.  I get to do this artistic element, but in a new and creative way.  Every day there’s a new challenge, a headache, something fun, something I learn.  I get to do this creative thing that’s making me a great living and is something I enjoy.”

“I’ve done around 8000 videos over the past 5 years, and at this point so much has been made that I can reuse footage and do things much faster and cheaper.”

“I view my career as a step ladder, which each step leading to the next step.  When you have an open mind, it opens so many potential doors.

See the full index of Successful Berklee Grads.

 

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Ryan giving a presentation.  He tells Berklee students and recent grads, “You don’t just have to open a recording studio.  There are many cool ways to incorporate what you learned and apply it in the real world.”  Indeed, while they’re no longer the backbone of his business, Ryan still writes jingles.

 

 

 

 

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Ryan as a Berklee student, rocking out.  “One thing I learned at Berklee was you get out what you put in.  I dove deep into classes and got out as much as I can, and to this day I try to learn as much as I can.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ryan on vacation with his wife.  “I’m a firm believer in the 10,000 hour rule, where it takes 10,000 hours to be an expert.  When I started the business my prices were a whole lot lower, as I knew I had a lot to learn, but at the same time I needed to earn enough to make it worth my time.  I didn’t just want to be working all the time.  Life’s just not enjoyable if all you’re doing is working.”

 

 

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