“How do I get paid to speak?”
“How do I charge more to speak?”
“How can I get booked more often?”
“Get booked to speak, have a great speech, and then wow someone in your audience to get a referral for your next gig. Oh, and just keep raising your speaking fees.”
This advice might work for some speakers but if you’re like me you’re thinking to yourself, “That has to be incredibly inefficient.” Just think of how many events have to line up for something like this to work:
1. You have to get booked in the first place in front of your target audience
2. You have to do a good job—no room for error
3. Someone must be in the audience who can book or recommend you for your next gig
4. That person must have a present need for a speaker like you
5. You have to be available (for both time and travel) for when that person wants to book you
It’s a game of probability. If you speak many times per year, the referral system will probably work in your favor. Yet if you are just starting out or are a speaker that only speaks a few times a year, then the typical referral method isn’t going to cut it.
What can you do instead?
Surely there is a better way to increase your value and demand as a speaker without trying to get lucky off an audience referral.
That’s where content marketing and PR come in. Rather than just using your speech to talk to your audience, get in front of your audience via guest posting, being a podcast guest, writing featured magazine articles, getting interviewed by news outlets, and any other strategy that puts your ideas in front of the people you want to influence.
First, you’ll have more authority when submitting applications to speak at a conference or event. Imagine how much your perceived value as a speaker would be if you could say, “Featured in Forbes…” or “Writer for…top industry magazine.”
Second, when your content gets in front of others and they know you’re a speaker, you’ll be able to field speaker requests without the travel and time required for a speaker event. Plus, content on the web works for you 24/7 without you needing to leave your home.
Third, you can try out new topics ahead of time in small arenas to see if they would make good speech topics. Imagine submitting 5 different blog articles to different publications and then tracking the responses. If you get good feedback on certain topics then those will be fertile ground for your next speech.
1. First, have a place where you regularly produce content. For most people this is a blog. But others are more comfortable with podcasts and videos. That’s fine—just make sure to get audio formats transcribed so that your words can be indexed more easily via search engines. But produce content on a regular basis so that the internet can find you and so you look like an authority.
2. Find opportunities to be a guest writer, guest podcast guest, or get interviewed by the media. You can’t just keep all of your thoughts to yourself or on your blog—instead you have to go to others who are in front of your target audience and ask to appear in front of them. Start with smaller outlets and newer blogs and work your way up. In your bio for anything you produce, make sure to mention that you are a speaker and are available for speaking opportunities.
3. Have a regular system to pitch your ideas and follow up. This is the step that separates out the ineffective campaigns from the effective ones. Even well-pitched ideas get missed or ignored. Typically one to two weeks after sending in a pitch is an OK time to follow up.
This might sound daunting and you may need the help of an agency or content writer. Some can charge anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 a month for their work. It doesn’t need to be that way.
It’s what I’ve been doing for myself and a few of the speakers that I work with. I am about to start a new service called “Launch My Speech,” where I help paid speakers increase their value through content marketing and public relations.
First, you can be a part of a group of speakers who are doing content marketing and PR on their own; the group is there as a resource for learning and for keeping each other accountable. I’ll share my successes (and failures) along with best practices.
Second, you can be one of my clients for “done for you” PR and content marketing services. I work with a select few people who are using content marketing and PR to boost their brand before they ever get on stage. We go through everything from branding, website design, sizzle reel, and content creation.
I mostly work with people who want to get paid for their speeches; however, if you are a startup CEO who wants to get paid through an investor speech or a small business owner who wants to gain more clients through public speaking, then this system can work for you as well.
If either of these sound interesting to you,
Also published on Medium.