When I was in my 20s, I started doing speaking events for free. No one ever told me that you could actually make a career out of speaking, never mind make good money from it. Later on, I realized that you can get paid to speak and even make a living out of it. I’ve built my reputation and business around speaking… and you can do it too!
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be a best-selling author or someone famous to get paid to speak, and you certainly don’t have to belong to the top keynote speakers’ list to get paid. Here are 3 ways you can get started as a paid speaker:
1. Create a brand that’s authentically yours.
To establish a brand that is uniquely yours, you should be able to clearly articulate what you can offer that sets you apart from everyone else. Keep these questions in mind:
- What’s your story?
- What’s your unique message?
- What makes you a thought leader in your industry?
Be clear and specific in who you are and what you do. This helps people immediately determine if you’re the right person to speak for an event and if they would be willing to pay for your time and expertise.
2. Optimize your LinkedIn profile.
LinkedIn is a great tool that can help you secure speaking engagements when you know how to effectively use it. To optimize your LinkedIn profile, make sure your headline includes “public speaker” and your subject-area credentials. This way, active searchers looking for speakers with your expertise—both on LinkedIn and Google—can easily find you. Use your profile’s summary section to showcase your areas of expertise, and make it conversational by telling a story instead of listing your experiences.
On LinkedIn, you also have the option to provide content as evidence of your expertise. For instance, you can upload video recordings of your previous speaking engagements. If you don’t have any, you can create a high-quality demo video to give people a good idea of your speaking style and what energy you bring to the table. You can also include expert blog posts and articles in your LinkedIn profile to showcase your writing/analytical skills.
3. Stick to your pricing.
Don’t let the line “We don’t have a budget” sway you right away. More often than not, many organizations will tell you this; but when you tell them the value you will bring and stand firm on your pricing, most of the time they will agree to pay your asking price.
To give you an idea of how much speakers get paid, here’s a list of rates compiled by the Harvard Business Review:
- $500-$2,500: For newbies
- $5,000-$10,000: For speakers who are starting out or those who are initially building a brand with their first book.
- $10,000-$20,000: Speakers with several books and a following.
- $20,000-35,000: Well-known experts in their field (such as best-selling authors).
Keep in Mind: You can still choose to speak for free, but do it strategically.
Unpaid events can also offer great opportunities. For instance, you could be invited to speak to a group that can generate leads for future paid speaking engagements or allow you to network with industry leaders. An unpaid speaking engagement can also be worthwhile if it can add excellent credit to your bio. The idea here is to choose the ones that make sense for your business and personal interests.
Just because we’re not told we can choose speaking as a career path doesn’t mean that you can’t pursue it. We’re all out to change the world in one way or another, and I discovered that I found my purpose while speaking and telling my story. Feel free to reach out to me and ask any additional questions you have about my journey through speaking specifically.
Let’s continue making an impact by following our passions and pursuing our calling. It paid off for me, and I know it will for you too!
In love and respect,