How to Become a Paid Speaker

How to become a paid speaker

Becoming a public speaker is a difficult feat to accomplish quickly.  It is even harder to create the demand needed to be paid to do it.  However, with enough time and dedication toward the building and marketing of brand, you can achieve that level of excellence.  Listed below are a few key points to follow on your path.

1.)  Understand that YOU are the business.   Becoming a public speaker is just like starting any other business.  You have to understand that you are not just standing on the stage or behind the podium doing a job.  You are running your own business, and your message is the product that you are selling.  You are the vessel that delivers the message.  You are responsible for it all.

2.)  You must give the public a reason to want to listen to you.  You have to create a demand for whatever it is you are delivering to your audience.  Pay attention to the category you are operating within.  Is it a broad enough category with enough mass appeal to provide a good living?  Are there niches within that category that are in demand and not serviced?  Public speaking works on supply and demand, like every business.  If the demand for your information is high, and the supply of people delivering that information to the target market is low, then there is an opportunity to make money.

3.)  Are you passionate about your topic?  If you are passionate about something, that emotion will be a part of your delivery.  The audience will be able to feel it.  If they feel it, they can identify with you AND your message.  If that happens they will buy whatever you are selling.  If the audience feels like you are going through the motions and could care less about the topic, that will come through loud and clear as well.  Make sure you are passionate about what you are doing, if this is your chosen profession.

4.)  Establish credibility.  This is the biggest reason that people fail in this field.  Write a book on the topic and have it published.  Write a paper for a blog or website.  Do some lectures for free with influential groups like the Chamber of Commerce, where you can get referrals and references to establish your reputation.

 Doing the hard work up front to build your reputation will pay off later in large speaking fees.  Don’t short change yourself by looking for the quick route.

Professional Speaker

Professional Speaker

A professional speaker makes their living as a paid messenger.  The message will vary from field to field, but the professional speaker is the vehicle that delivers the message to the audience.  The topics can range from training in various disciplines, to educating a group about a common interest or it may simply be an attempt to convince a group of people that they need the product that the speaker is selling.  Regardless of the purpose, the professional speaker is paid to accomplish a goal.  His success is measured on how well he delivers his message to the group receiving it, and usually involves spurring the group into a positive action in regard to it.

Becoming a successful professional speaker can take time.  To be effective, the speaker needs an audience that wants to listen to what he has to say.  This takes self-branding, building a solid reputation in person and online, and developing a product or some sort of knowledge or expertise that people want to partake in or learn from.  In order to build those pillars, many professional speakers start out charging nothing, or very little, in order to gain access to an audience and begin to spread their message.  They then use key members of that audience as references to gain other opportunities to speak.  Eventually, they can work their way up to being paid for their speaking engagements, after enough people have heard of them, and their brand and reputation have been established.  Some people can make a very lucrative living in this profession, if they invest the time and resources to build the pillars of their success.

10 Silent Branding Tactics of Successful Speakers

Happy New Year, Everyone! Last week, I hosted my first Webinar, Silent Branding Tactics of Successful Speakers. If your dream is to become a professional speaker or you want to take your speaking career to the next level, I’ve posted the Webinar on the Cre8iv Branding YouTube channel. Check it out!

10 Silent Branding Tactics of Successful Speakers

Whether you are new to speaking, or simply looking to take your speaking career to the next level, there are 10 key steps you can do today to establish your personal brand, get your voice heard, get paid, and play in the million dollar professional speaker club.

1. Start Building Your Social Media Platform Yesterday – If you are thinking of writing a book, speaking, or want to be seen as an authority, you have to have a social media strategy. For speaker, you must have a LinkedIn and a Twitter account. LinkedIn is all about promoting your abilities to potential clients who can recommend, refer, and hire you as a speaker.

2. Tap Into Existing Resources – Don’t recreate the wheel…use what you already have! Use your passion, unique perspectives, skills, talents, connections, accomplishments, and intellectual property to create a personal brand so you stand apart from your competition.

3. Keep It Simple and Professional – Clear messaging across multiple platforms (i.e. website, content, video, and social media) to communicate “Who You Are” and “What You Do” is required for the Fortune 500. When writing and designing, think mobile device. Use a Word Press Responsive design template; crowdsource for a top web developer and copywriter, and you can have a great looking, professional site for a fraction of the price.

4. What’s Your Story? – People connect to people on an emotional level. People want to know why you are so passionate about what you do. They want to feel that you understand their challenges, dreams, and aspirations. When they feel they get you, you’ve got them!

5. Leverage and Build Connections – Speaking is a very “word -of-mouth” industry. It is critical to build relationships to those people who can refer, recommend, or hire your services.  It will be through word-of-mouth marketing and your professional network which will generate the most engagements for you. Also, the more people see you as an influencer and authority the more they will seek you out to add you to “their” professional network.

6. Make People Into Rock Stars – Make the person who hires you look like a “Rock Star” in the eyes of the higher ups in their companies…your “Rock Star”. This is about getting to know the person on a personal level and doing more than just showing up for the presentation. Offer to participate in interviews, writing an article or blog post, Webinar, or leveraging your connections to help their business or career.

7. Content Is King – Don’t waste your money on a pricey website, instead invest your time and money into producing quality content around your key search words and pain points of your clients. You don’t have to post a lot, just start with two 500-700 word blog posts a month. If you have a lot of IP, don’t recreate the wheel. Repurpose what you have. Content (white papers, articles, blogs, video, interviews, eBooks, etc.) is how people do their vetting and determine your social worth as an authority. This is critical for marketing in order to create the momentum, awareness, and generating 90% of the clicks coming to your website.

8. Get Your Voice Heard – Look for speaking opportunities through professional associations or online sites, such as or Or write! A great place to find opportunities to serve as an expert source or be interviewed for an article is, and it’s FREE. Or take matters in your own hands, and produce your own Webinar. All of these opportunities to will help increase your influence and authority, building your reputation.

9. Use Technology – Technology and crowdsourcing have leveled the playing field to a point where it is possible for an individual and small business to compete against “The Big Guys”. Use crowdsourcing sites, such as and, to find top talent to help with your writing, PR, web development, and graphic design at a fraction of the cost. Also, is a great digital publishing company being used by top thought leaders, such as Seth Godin and Gary Vaynerchuck. Make sure to use Google Analytics to study your return on investment on branding and marketing, giving you insights into how visitors use your site, how they arrived on your site, and how you can keep them coming back.

10. Test – Evaluate – Reiterate – Constantly test and measure responses to your marketing campaigns. This helps drive better campaigns with tighter focus on your message platform, building community, and increasing your response rates. My rule of thumb with all my clients is to start small testing your messaging and marketing to see what generates the most leads, retweets, requests for speaking, or interviews.

Make Your Dream A Reality in 2014!

Do you feel overwhelmed when it comes to branding and marketing? If you are serious about taking your personal brand or speaking to the next level and need help, send me your questions. I would be happy to answer them. Or share your success stories so others can learn from you. Subscribe and get access to FREE Cre8iv Branding, Networking, and Live Web Chat events.

5 Simple Tips to Get Your Speaking Career Off the Ground

Last week, I received a lot of questions about “How do I start a speaking career?”  So, how do you get started?  As a former meeting planner and professional speaker manager, I have seen so many entrepreneurs and professionals who had a great deal to say but just didn’t know how to brand and market themselves.  For an entrepreneur or business executive, speaking is a powerful tool in building your personal brand as an authority or market influencer.  If you’re good, it can be lucrative, too!

There are essentially two types of speakers.  You are either (1) a motivational speaker or (2) an expert speaking on a particular subject matter.  For the sake of this blog post, I’m going to focus on the subject matter expert category, as those types of speaker possess the highest revenue potential.

3 Things to Keep in Mind

Previously, I was a talent manager for a speaker who earned $25,000 per keynote (which only the top 5% achieve), the majority of speakers earn between $7,500-$10,000 per speaking engagement.  Honestly, this is a “sweet spot” for the corporate and association meetings marketplace.  As you start to build and establish your speaking career, there are three things for you to keep in mind about the speaking industry:

1)   Speaking opportunities are often generated by Word-Of-Mouth referrals and building relationships. So you have to “Work it….To Earn It”.

2)   Corporations are “Desperate But Hopeful” to find experts who can provide a new and unique approach to help solve critical issues, foster innovation, increase performance, and grow customer engagement.

3)   Reputation is Everything!  Reputation reflects your ability to speak, deliver real tangible solutions and tools, excellent reviews received from your audience, and your professionalism.

Let’s Get Started!

Whether you are new to speaking, or, simply looking to take your speaking career to the next level it is critical to recognize the importance of building a strong foundation to support your personal brand and having the ability to communicate that brand in a clear and concise message “Who You Are” and “What You Do” across multiple platforms (speaking, social media, other media, website, and original content).  The lack of a clear message is the #1 reason why people don’t get speaking gigs.

Here are five things you can do today to start your speaking career:

1. Start Your Social Media Today – The day you decide you want to speak is the day you need to start a social media marketing strategy to build followers and connections to market your speaking services.   You want to put your best face out there for everyone to see, so you must present an up to date, professional online image.  According to Guy Kawasaki, 90% of your avatar (picture) should be your face, and the background image, the other 10%, should tell a story about “Who You Are”.  If you want to represent a professional image, then your avatar needs to exude professionalism.  For the corporate and association markets, it’s critical to have a LinkedIn and Twitter account.  Complete your profile so it reflects your current expertise, key words for your target market, work experience, and accomplishments. You should use the same profile avatar for all your social accounts and in your marketing materials. No matter how people connect to you, whether Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook, potential clients should be able to recognize you instantly online or in person.

2. Have a Great Headshot/Avatar Picture – A picture says a thousand words!  Don’t be cheap!  Your picture should be taken by a professional photographer.  This will run between $500-$1,000.  People connect to other people on both an emotional and personal level, so smile, let them see your eyes, and exude that confidence and positive attitude.  You always want to put your best foot forward for that first impression, and your picture is often the first way people are introduced in today’s digital age.

3. To Whom Do You Want to Be A Hero to? – This is a question I ask all my clients. Speaking is a tough business and it puts a lot of demands on you physically, mentally, and emotionally.  Life is too short to be working for or with people you don’t like.  Or to not to be able to do the things that gives you energy and passion.  Audiences appreciate and admire when they see passion and get energized when they feel you truly understand their challenges and dreams.  I heard a dynamic Mark Buckingham speak and read his book Go Put Your Strengths to Work. It changed my life and how I work.  Required Reading!

4. Get Clear – My rule of thumb is no more than three speaking topics.  SERIOUSLY! I have had professional speakers send me a list of twelve speaking topics.  I didn’t hire them and never referred them.  This looks like you are desperate and “Jack of all trades, but Master of None”. The person hiring you doesn’t have time try to figure out what you do.  As a professional speaker you must brand and position yourself as an expert or authority and convey a clear message of “Who Are You” and “What You Do”.

5. Do the Hustle! – Just like any business, you have to hustle to get new business.  Unless you have a bestselling book, your first speaking gigs usually come from your own professional network.   Identify 10-20 people in your network who can personally vouch for you or are very well connected and willing to introduce you to potential speaking clients in your target market.  Also, look for opportunities to be a panelist.  Submit a Call for Presentation to a local or national trade or professional association, or check out    If you work for an organization, is there an internal opportunity for you to present?  You can even host a event and run your own session. The point with these suggestions is, “you have to start putting yourself out there and start building your reputation as an expert or subject authority, and practice speaking to help your refine your message.” Don’t expect these first gigs to pay.  It is more important to get the exposure to establish your expertise, hone your craft, and build your reputation.  I highly recommend your read Relationship Economics: Transform Your Most Valuable Business Contacts Into Personal and Professional Success by David Nour

I hope this has been helpful and want to hear from you.  Do you have a speaking topic? Who do you want to be a hero to? Do you have connections to people who can refer, recommend, or hire you as a speaker? Are you on social media? Why or Why not?  What’s stopping you from starting a speaking career?  Send me your questions, I would be happy to answer.