This is the hotel room I stayed in last week when I went to Harrisonburg, VA to teach a social media workshop at a nonprofit conference. It was at the Fairfield Inn. Nothing too glamorous. But then, hotels don’t have to be extra fancy for me to enjoy them. I love them all, really – from the Holiday Inn to the W. I love the whole process of checking in, getting warm cookies (at the Doubletree); sleeping on (hopefully) crisp, clean sheets; getting to watch the Food Network for a few hours; having someone else clean the bathroom; sipping hot tea in my room; looking out the window when I have a great view; hanging out in the jacuzzi (if they have one); eating the free breakfast (if they have one); scheduling a wake up call so I don’t oversleep, getting restaurant recommendations from the concierge or ordering room service that I get to charge to the client (at a reasonable cost, of course!).
So, clearly, professional speaking is what allows me to feed my obsession with hotels LOL. Someone asked if the travel thing gets difficult for me and the answer is mostly no. I love exploring unfamiliar places, even when it’s somewhere like Omaha, Nebraska where I was invited last year for a keynote speech.
Anyway, as a follow up to my post, Four Steps to Becoming a Professional Speaker, I wanted to share some more specifics on how you might go about actually charging money for your speaking services.
What kinds of speaking can you get paid for?
Keep in mind that there are all different kinds of speaking that you can do.
- Keynote speeches at big conferences
- Motivational speeches for youth groups, women’s organizations or churches
- Group training or workshops for employees at various companies
- Breakout sessions at industry conferences
- Webinars or other online training for organizations
- Half-day or full-day trainings for various companies
Obviously, if you want to get paid to speak, all of those options should come with a fee. The good thing is that the list of speaking you might charge for is varied and can be profitable in numerous ways, especially if you are well-known in a particular industry.
How much money should you charge for speaking?
This is a question that, unfortunately, has no clear cut answer. Across industries, there is no “standard” speaking fee. It really depends on whether you have people coming to you or if you are pounding the pavement right now looking for opportunities. When you’re in demand, you have the upper hand! As an extreme example, super famous motivational speakers like Tony Robbins or Les Brown can earn tens of thousands of dollars for just one speech. In my (very unscientific) research of semi-famous speakers who get booked through speakers bureaus, the average speaker charges about $5,000.
A few questions to consider when determining your fee:
- What is the organization’s budget? This is usually the first question you should ask if you do not yet have a set fee. Your stated fee should not vary wildly though, as organizations tend to talk to each other about costs, especially if they are giving you a referral!
- How long will your speech, workshop or training be? The longer it is, the more you’ll want to charge. There should be a significant difference between a 60 minute workshop and a 6 hour training because it takes you longer to prepare and deliver.
How much I charge
My goal with Happy Black Woman is to be able to offer information and inspiration from my own experience, so I will share my actual rates here in the hopes that they will help you see what range might fit for your work. When I first started speaking professionally in 2008, I charged $400-$500 for everything. I didn’t even know I was supposed to charge the client for my travel expenses! So I was making very little profit from my speaking back then LOL.
Now, my fees range from $1,000 for a 90-minute workshop or training to $2,000 for a keynote speech, with lower rates for online training and higher rates for full-day in person training. My travel expenses include roundtrip airfare, hotel accommodations, meals, rental car, parking, tolls, etc. and are billed in addition to my fee.
Below is my current fee schedule (this is also posted publicly on my website for potential clients to review) so you can see what I mean:
My speaking engagement fee schedule for 2012
- $500 Webinar (up to 60 minutes including Q+A)
- $1,000 Workshop, breakout session or panel (up to 90 minutes)
- $1,500 Half-day workshop or staff retreat (up to 3 hours)
- $2,000 Keynote or plenary (up to 90 minutes including Q+A)
- $2,500 Keynote or plenary plus ONE breakout session or panel
- $3,000 Full-day workshop or staff retreat (up to 6 hours)
- $3,500 Keynote or plenary plus TWO breakout sessions or panels
Although my fees may seem like a lot to someone who is just now trying to breaking into professional speaking, I am still a “low budget” speaker compared to most of my older, more experienced, superstar famous peers in this industry.
But I suppose you could say that for my sub-industry (the nonprofit field, where money is usually tight for organizations), my fee is fairly high. For this reason, some groups are not able to work with me and I am OK with that.
What factors should you consider when thinking about charging for speaking?
- Who do you want to serve with the gift of your speaking? Most of us get into speaking because we have a message to share or valuable information to teach. I would love to work with more women’s groups, especially black women’s organizations or conferences, but those are not always the audiences who are able to pay my fee. I still do (some) pro-bono speaking if it is in line with my personal mission statement, but I have to stay on target with my income goals as well. Just keep in mind that the people you want to serve may not always be able to pay you, so you may need to adjust your fee schedule to reflect that.
- What do you have to offer as a speaker? Is your information in high demand? Is your personal story unique and inspirational to your ideal audience? Do you have a “signature talk” that you give often that you know will be a hit for certain events? Are you able to provide concrete takeaways for attendees that will help them move forward in their personal or professional lives?
- Who is your ideal client? Someone has to cut the check! If it is churches, most of them will not be able to pay you very much unless they are a larger congregation with deep pockets for that kind of thing. If it is large corporations, they will typically have a much bigger budget for speakers and trainers.
In short, figure out what you have to offer, what sort of groups you want to work with and what THAT market will bear. My market in 2012 is different (larger) than it was in 2008. More people know who I am in the nonprofit field now. People have seen me speak in places all over the country and in Canada. My big goal now is to continue to expand the types of organizations I work with as well as branch out internationally, which would be an awesome way to further combine my love of speaking with my love of travel.
If speaking is a service you offer (or want to offer) in your business, how much are you charging (or want to be charging)? How will you attract the kind of clients who are willing and able to pay?