Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Top Ten Ways to Make Money Speaking

SELL YOUR KNOWLEDGE This is my overriding principle that came from years of hard knocks trying to get people to hire me to speak. I got more speaking engagements than I ever had before when I quit trying to sell them and began selling my knowledge in as many different formats as possible. The idea is that infinitely more people can buy what you know through books, tapes, CDs, E-books and videos than could ever hire you to speak. Your name recognition because of your knowledge distribution makes speaking engagements much easier to come by because the people that could hire you have already heard you and your message on your knowledge based products. In the mean time, the money from the product sales keeps your business thriving.

GET SPONSORSHIP You can get other companies to sponsor your speaking fee so they can be associated with your message when you speak. Stop and think of what kinds of groups would want to be associated with your message. Let's say you speak to the banking industry. Maybe mortgage, or mutual fund companies would sponsor you. Maybe bank equipment companies would. Think of anyone who would want to have exposure to your target audience then simply make a proposal to their public relations department.

GET DIRECTLY PAID This is pretty straight forward. You speak to a corporation, association, civic group, or anyone who would hire you and they pay you directly. Most of the time you should try to get a deposit up front of about 50 percent and the balance either before the event, or the day of the event. You will use various methods to get hired. I have had the greatest success in my career getting hired to speak by promoting myself properly on the Internet.

SPEAKERS BUREAUS A speakers bureau is a for profit organization that locates speakers for paying clients. The speakers bureau normally takes a percentage of your gross fee. The percentage is usually in the 15 to 30 percent range with the average fee being 25 percent. It is very difficult to start with speakers bureaus unless you are a bonafide celebrity and your fees are substantial. You must remember they get paid on straight commission and the higher your fee, the more they make. Also, unless you have a proven track record, a speakers bureau will be afraid to put you in front of one of their clients because if you bomb, they could lose many more bookings from the same client. You must also supply the bureau with promotional materials that don't have your contact information so anyone that sees the material will contact the bureau directly and not you.

PUBLIC SEMINARS This is another fairly simple idea, but that doesn't mean it's simple to do. Basically you promote your seminar to the public and they buy tickets to attend. You could also promote it to corporate management and get them to buy tickets for their employees to attend. I avoided public seminars for years because of the risk and expense involved in printing and mailing brochures. Now I do lots of public seminars because I can promote them at no cost through my website and email magazine.

TELEPHONE SEMINARS This can be a form of public seminar, or it can be done for private groups. You arrange for a telephone bridge line (very inexpensive), or a conference call (can be VERY expensive). You have participants call in and you deliver the seminar over the telephone. This saves a tremendous amount of money on travel expenses for the group and the participants along with all kinds of other savings (travel, time out of office, etc.) For visuals you can have the participants sitting in front of their computer while on the phone. You tell them what web page to visit to see your visuals.

WEBCASTS This is similar to telephone seminars except you are using the Internet instead of a telephone to hold the seminar.

TRAINING COMPANIES In this case a company hires you to deliver their programs to public seminar participants, or to participants all from the same private company. Career Track, would be an example of a company who hires seminar leaders. In some cases you can develop programs for the seminar company and get a higher fee for delivering that program and a fee each time it is delivered by another seminar leader. You also get a percentage of all the back of room products you sell. These companies can keep you on the road quite a bit so you better be ready to travel and don't think each event will be in the Bahamas . . .Your events are more likely to be in places like Toledo, Cleveland and Columbus. These are relatively low paying jobs when compared to the kind of money you can get promoting your own speeches and seminars.

SPEAK FREE TO PROMOTE YOUR BUSINESS Many professionals speak or give free public seminars to help get clients. Attorneys, doctors, dentists, accountants, real estate agents, lawyers, home builders and many other people from a wide variety of professions give seminars to promote their business and to gain clients directly from the seminars. To do this effectively you must not spend the entire seminar promoting yourself. You must give the participants good information with the idea of establishing yourself or your company as the expert. There is certainly nothing wrong with showing people how complicated things are and even though they can do it themselves, it might not be a wise thing to do. For instance, you could be a plumber giving a seminar on how to remodel your bathroom. You tell the participants every little detail of how to do it and also tell them the perils if they do it wrong. No one will complain that you were just giving a sales pitch, but many will think to themselves, "Maybe this is too much to tackle by myself. Maybe I should hire this person to either help me or do it for me."

SPEAK AS PART OF YOUR JOB Many companies have their own speakers bureau. Normally the only reason it exists is as a public relations tool to provide a good image of their company to the community. One of the ways you can speak for pay in your company is to volunteer to be in the speakers bureau. As long as you are on company time when you are speaking, you are indirectly getting paid to speak. If they always ask you to speak after hours on your own time, well that's a different story. You still might want to do it to continue to become a better speaker. Another way to get paid to speak in your job is to join the training staff of your company, or start one if one doesn't exist. You can simply target a problem the company is having and work up a program to train others in the company on how to solve the problem. Suggest a few sessions to your boss to see how it goes. If you get results, chances are they will want you to do the same program for others in the company.


SPEAK AT FUNDRAISERS I always like to give extra value so here's the eleventh way to make money speaking. I'm not talking about speaking for free and hoping that someone in the crowd hires you to speak for them. That can work, but this is a better way. The basic idea is that you pre-package a seminar which a group promotes to their members as a fundraiser. You split the money with the group. I've done this over 100 times in my career and every single time I made money for the group and made money for myself too. I've got a complimentary webinar on this topic at

To learn all about the business of speaking either part time or full time and how I pay YOU to use my training materials visit  You can also get a free subscription to Great Speaking the largest ezine in the world on public speaking.


CLCupid said...

Speaking, pound-for-pound, is one of--if not the most lucrative professions on the face of the Earth!

The return on investment with just one of these stategies can mean exponential growth to your speaking business.

To connect with others speakers visit

Unknown said...

CL Cupid's comment is ridiculous. There can be no exponential growth in any human services business since there is only 40 working hours in a week. Speakers, like consultants, cap out at maximum billable hours. That's it. No more growth. Fees can only increase so much - since offer exceeds demand in almost all published products. All forms of punditry are over crowded beyond beleif.
Many conferences and training firms actually refuse to pay ANY speaker fees since they view their podiums as an ad opportunity. They figure you'll get consulting opportunities so YOU should actually pay to speak. This over-supply acts a check on prices. Tertiary revenues from books and newsletters are small change. This phenom is already prevalent in art fairs- where almost all artists pay to be judged for art contests.

As with any field, 1 % of the players control the lion's share of the revenues. Or use the 80/20 principal if you prefer. The likely hood of getting rich on speaker fees is a myth, except for the Clinton/ Kissinger types. Even Tony Robbins has had to change his revenue model numerous times over the years. And chances are: you're no Tony Robbins.
On the flip side- there is always a niche for a niche. But good content in a small niche doesn't translate into exponential growth. A niche is by definition- small.
My advice is become a prolific niche player, mediate heavily, and stay fresh.

But exponential growth? There are only a few products on the planet that enjoy such demand, and even they become commoditized quickly. ( sugar, guns, cigarettes, petrol, bandwith, storage)