“How can I get paid for speaking?”
Starry-eyed speakers dream about becoming a millionaire-speaker, gracing stages across the country.
Traveling via limo from one awe struck audience to another (fresh from a bouncy blow out or hot shave backstage, natch.) Like 80s supermodel Linda Evangelista, they won’t get out of bed for less than $10,000 a day.
The reality? Slightly less glamorous.
Corporations and event organizers have felt the recession squeeze and cut speaker’s budgets to keep their events in the black. Professionals are staying home, rather than enjoying company-funded junkets like the good old days.
Here’s a more likely picture of today’s professional speaker: schlepping a pull cart full of materials from one Radisson ball room to the next, earning fees that work out to slightly less than minimum wage when you include travel and prep time.
But don’t despair! These challenges mean that you might have to get a little creative in order to make bank as a public speaker.
Here are six ways to get paid for speaking:
1. Charge a fee.
Pretty straightforward, right? Set a fee for your time and get it.
For a lucky few, this is reality. Event organizers and corporate contacts already know your reputation and are willing to pay to have you share your message with their audience.
The reason this is challenging for many speakers is that conference organizers reserve the five figure fees for the keynoter – a well-known name (New York Times bestselling author, former athlete, political figure, CEO.) These headliners are expected to draw attendees, based on their name and reputation alone.
The breakout session speakers get paid in “exposure.”
To get a fee for speaking, you have to build a reputation as someone who delivers strong value during your sessions (testimonials and referrals required, people!)
Then, find the organizations that pay speakers. (Psst, here’s a list of ways to find speaking opportunities.)
2. Get a company to sponsor you.
Sponsorship is a way for companies to get their name and message in front of a very targeted audience.
You provide the content, the sponsoring organization pays your fee – everybody wins!
3. Speak for free and “enroll” audience members into your marketing funnel, where you’ll eventually sell your services.
This is the approach that consulting firms and bigger ticket service providers tend to take. If you’ve signed up for a webinar sponsored by, say a webinar service like Citrix, you know that sooner or later a sales representative will call you to ask about your webinar service needs.
You can do this, too. But to make it work, you have to have a solid system for follow up. It’s most effective when you have a bigger ticket offering, because it may take weeks or months to get a new client from the event.
Savvy organizations use speaking as part of their long term strategy. Having company representatives speaking at meetings and conferences promotes the company’s name and image and keeps it top of mind for potential buyers.
4. Sell services from the stage.
If you sell a service, whether it’s consulting, coaching, website design, accounting or legal advice, you can make an offer to the audience.
A colleague who’s a fantastic speaker does something super simple: at the end of her speaking sessions, she makes a very low key offer (it’s delivered in 60 seconds or less) for a discounted coaching session.
The offer expires at the end of the event, creating urgency. She typically gets 5 to 15 takers, depending on the size of the event, which makes speaking profitable and it brings people more deeply into her message and her business.
5. Sell a book.
A book is that magical tool that does double duty: being a published author helps you snag the speaking engagement in the first place and provides you an income boost after you speak.
When audience members get value from hearing you speak, they want to extend that experience by taking a little piece of you home with them.
6. Sell a product.
No doubt you’ve heard a speaker give a talk and then offer a training program on six CDs. This happens most frequently in the motivational and personal development worlds, but don’t rule it out for your topic. Whatever you do, you can create a product that will help audience members who want to learn more.
Maybe it’s a guide, a set of checklists, an interview series or a training that goes deeper into your area of expertise. There’s no better time for a person to buy than when they’ve just heard you speak.
What’s the best choice for you?
Here’s the answer we all hate: it depends.
What your business or movement offers.
What you have created or can create.
What’s comfortable for you.
My advice is to give yourself options and be flexible. You may not be able to sell your products at an event, but you can find a way to collect information and follow up (immediately!) afterward. You do you.
Go through this list and pick one way that you’ll make money as a speaker.
Think through the steps, and make a list of what you’ll need in order to put that option into action.
Then step onto the stage, superstar. Your fans are waiting.