Tracey asks: How do I move from speaking for free to speaking for a fee?
Good question, Tracy, because public speaking is one of the BEST ways to promote your book and generate extra revenue to support your writing. First of all, it’s okay to speak for free sometimes. I encourage it under these circumstances:
a. You’re just getting started and you need some practice. It’s easier to get speaking engagements when people know that they won’t have to pay to let you cut your teeth.
b. Speaking for free is also a great option if it provides you with quality exposure to a roomful of bona-fide leaders who can hire you for paid speaking engagements. Your speech is your best form of advertising. If you do a good job, leaders will contact you for upcoming events. And, then you can charge a fee.
However, when it comes down to charging a fee, it’s important to base your price on the value that you provide. That’s why A-level authors generally get higher speaking fees. Either they’ve written a bestselling book that everyone likes, or their name alone is a marketing draw that will bring a crowd. Leaders want to make sure that they’ll break even on whatever they pay you. So, an author who has a large platform acts like insurance policy that helps attract enough attendees to cover the event costs.
If you’re just getting started and don’t possess a large platform, then you’ve got to start somewhere. However, every market is different, so there’s no formula that applies to everyone. For example, authors who speak in the corporate world, can usually start at $500 - $1,000 and quickly move up to $3,000 – 5,000 for a major keynote presentation. Celebrities and politicians can make $10,000 – 25,000+ for a single speech.
In contrast, authors who speak in the non-profit or ministry sectors tend to make a lot less. Beginning authors may start at $250 and eventually move up to $1,000 – 2,500. Advanced authors with a large platform may be able to garner $5,000 – 10,000.
If you’re just getting started, try these ideas to establish reasonable speaking fees:
1. Ask other authors you know for a range of fees they think is fair for your level. Don’t take one person’s opinions. Get feedback from a few people and build a range.
2. Look at your personal budget and establish a bare minimum that you’re willing to accept. Speaking in public stinks when you feel you’re doing it for peanuts. So, set a fair fee that makes you excited to speak and promote your book.
3. Practice looking at yourself in the mirror and saying several times confidently, “My speaking fee is _____.” I’m serious, because in order to get the fee that you want, you must first believe that you’re worth it. Otherwise, you’ll cave every time someone asks how much you charge. If you can’t create positive results for your audience, then you should be charging a fee at all. On the other hand, if you really improve people’s lives, then you should be compensated in a worthy manner.
4. Raise your fees as your value grows. If you become a better speaker, build a larger platform, or add new elements to your expertise, then charge more for it. The mistake many authors make is to only raise their fees when their calendar gets full. Then, they drop their fees when their calendar gets empty. Don’t live on this roller-coaster. Keep your fees consistent with your value.
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