When I first started my business I spent two weeks cold emailing members of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. I lived in Brooklyn, so I thought it would be a great opportunity to quickly get some local clients. I got two responses.
One person booked me for a small project. And by small, I mean I made $100. I was disappointed but eventually found success with a different approach. Instead of messaging individual members, I asked my contact at the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce if they were interested in me leading a workshop for the entire community. I believe the topic was “Digital Marketing for Small Businesses” or something along those lines.
They said yes, promoted me to their list, and even gave me access to a conference room at no charge. The day of the event I was shocked to see over 50 people show up to hear me speak. After the event, several attendees rushed over to speak to me. Mind you, I’m positive I reached out to some of them via email just weeks before.
But after hearing me speak, their perception of me changed. I wasn’t just some random person trying to sell them something. I was the guy who already shared valuable content and they wanted to know how I could apply that information to their specific business. I walked out with a stack of business cards and closed two deals within the next week.
That’s when it hit me: speaking was a much more efficient process for building my credibility, attracting leads and closing deals. And that’s why I was so glad Ashley Kirkwood agreed to appear on the Launch Your Business podcast. Ashley is the author of Speak Your Way to Cash®: How to Start at the Top of the Speaking Market Instead of Working Your Way Up from the Bottom! Her organization, also called Speak Your Way to Cash, teaches professionals to better package, pitch, and sell their products and services.
During our interview she shared tactic-level strategies on how you can get paid from and through speaking opportunities. I’ve shared some of my favorite takeaways below.
Don’t sell better than you deliver, and don’t deliver better than you sell
We’ll start with the first part: don’t sell better than you deliver. This can be catastrophic since you’re letting the client down and damaging your reputation. Plus, you won’t be able to generate leads after delivering a lackluster performance. So while it may be tempting to charge big bucks from the start, make sure your fee is aligned with the results you’ve already been able to deliver.
At the same time, don’t deliver better than you sell. As an expert you have a skewed perception of how valuable your knowledge is. But remember, what comes easy to you may be quite difficult for others. So don’t undersell yourself. Otherwise you won’t make enough money and you’ll be less likely to continue speaking, which means you won’t be able to help those who need you.
How much to charge for speaking engagements
Although you may just want to speak for lead generation and branding purposes, there’s no reason you shouldn’t get paid at the same time. And while I recommend speaking for free to get your feet wet, you should seriously consider charging for your services once you’ve begun to establish yourself.
Asking for $1,000 is enough to justify your time without being too expensive for many organizations. However, Ashley encourages you to continue ascending so you can charge your true value. She referenced an industry report that revealed the average professional speaker charges $7,500. So consider this a next step once you’ve landed a few gigs at a lower price point.
How to create a $100k speaking package
This was by far my favorite take away from the conversation. Most speakers only pitch one event to potential partners. As a result, they’re automatically limiting their revenue potential.
Instead, Ashley encourages you to pitch a series of talks and includes additional options such as e-books, courses and VIP dinners. Beyond that, you can greatly increase your rates by including consulting services. Offering to help individuals or organizations apply what they’ve learned during your event is a great way to form a deeper partnership and greatly increase your rates.
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Listen to the full episode with Ashley below.