Now that I host several of my own live events throughout the year, I don’t speak at conferences as much I used to, but I still I get a TON of questions from aspiring speakers who want to make money by spreading their important message all over the world. I’ve been speaking professionally since 2008 and I love being able to get paid to do what I would do for free – teach and inspire others!
Today, I sat down to reflect on five of the most important steps I’ve taken over the past 6 years to build a successful speaking career. I hope they help you launch your own speaking business in the coming year!
1. Determine your speaking topics. What kind of speaker do you want to be? Many women want to be a “motivational speaker,” but these days, with so many professional speakers out there, it’s important to be as specific as you can about what kind of speaking you do. What are your speaking topics? What kind of audiences will they work for? How will the content benefit the audience? If you can answer these questions in an organized way, you will rise to the top of the list of speakers in your industry.
2. Create a speaking packet. Once you determine your speaking topics, you will need to organize them in a format that looks professional and is easy for potential clients to understand. Having a speaking packet is what sets you apart from your peers who just market themselves as a “motivational speaker” but have no clear process for how they work with organizations and audiences, nor the value they bring to each event. In my experience, conference organizers like to have as much information about you as possible when they are considering whether to hire you for their event!
3. Set a fee schedule for your speaking services. Figure out how much you charge BEFORE you get invited to speak so you’re not tongue-tied and nervous when a potential client contacts you! Most speakers have different fees depending on whether they are doing a keynote/plenary or workshop/breakout session. Plus, there are additional fees you will need to charge the client for expenses if there is travel involved. Once you get clear on your speaking fees, you will feel much more confident in your ability to actually make real money as a professional speaker, instead of just settling for a $50 honorarium here and there for your transformational work.
4. Start a blog to build your brand as a speaker. You can’t get booked for speaking gigs if no one knows who you are! Here’s the thing. Organizations host conferences all year long, on all kinds of topics, in every industry you can think of. Event organizers are always looking for speakers who can bring a fresh perspective and add value to their audience. And one of the first places they look is on the internet! So if you want to sell your expertise, it’s important for you to have a place where people can go to read your ideas and see that you’re the “real deal” before they hire you.
5. Get business cards to promote yourself as a speaker. Whenever you meet a potential speaking client at a networking event, you want to be ready with your business cards so they can follow up with you and vice versa. People don’t always remember who you were when they get home from that happy hour, so make sure it’s clearly stated on your business card that you are a speaker. Even if you haven’t booked any speaking engagements yet, give yourself permission to start referring to yourself as a speaker now, so that those opportunities will begin to show up in your life.
If you need help implementing these steps in your professional speaking journey, don’t worry! I have put together a useful resource with all the practical tools you need to get started here: startyourspeakingcareer.com. Almost 200 women have invested in this training, with many inspiring success stories so far!
I wanted to share just one success story from one of my students, Quanisha Smith, who completed my How to Become a Professional Speaker course and was recently selected as the keynote speaker for a girls conference in California. Here’s what she said:
“I was selected as the keynote speaker for a girls conference in California!”
“I wanted to give you a quick update and thank you. I used your templates and guidelines from the How to Become a Professional Speaker course and I was selected as the keynote speaker for a girls conference in California!
Although they couldn’t pay an honorarium, they did provide $1,500 for expenses! Because of your training, I knew how to ask about it and present myself properly. Thanks for always providing such thorough trainings!”
– Quanisha M. Smith, quanishasmith.com