I belong to several speaker online groups. Anytime the topic of speaking for "fee vs free" comes up, it's a wild conversation. The outcry from "professional speakers" is that a person should NEVER speak for free. They claim it diminishes the professionalism and pay scale for all.
I disagree. I am more concerned about the people in the audience and why they are attending the event than I am about receiving a speaker fee. Why? Because I know from experience that when I choose the events right for my message, income and sales will be generated because of my follow up system.
If you are a novice speaker and not making a good living from money generated from speaking gigs, I strongly promote speaking for free.
Here are 7 main reasons:
- You have a "live" audience to practice your talk on, gauge reactions, and tweak content for future talks based on their responses.
- You can practice your "call to action" and see how many sign up on your form.
- You have more opportunities to speak to your target market - especially locally.
- You can test your follow-up system to see how many convert into clients.
- There is less pressure on you by the organizer.
- You'll obtain testimonials and recommendations of those who brought you in to speak, which gives you credibility and increases perceived value.
- You'll build confidence in what you offer to the organizer and audience.
When you use speaking as a lead-generator, you'll find you make a lot more money with an effective follow up system than you would by charging a speaker fee.
For example, I know that I generate $6,000-$8,000 each time I speak to a group of 40 or more that are in my target market. If I speak for free, I can easily obtain 10 speaking gigs per year.
- 10 free speaking gigs @ $6,000 each = $60,000 Most of the time, these are close enough to home where very little time is devoted to travel.
- 2 speaking gigs @ $7,500 speaker fee = $14,000 Often this will include travel, which can be difficult on a family. Plus, there is more competition for these events so they are more difficult to obtain without great credentials or an "inside" recommendation.
It's been my experience that groups that pay a speaker fee require credentials that we don't have AND may place more limits on seeding your talk or even presenting a free offer to the audience.
But groups who bring in speakers without paying a fee are generally more open to letting you seed your talk, provide a handout, and present a free offer for the audience to sign up for as long as you aren't blatantly "pitching".
If you are speaking as a way to grow your current business, don't let the "free or fee" distract you from your real mission: getting in front of ideal prospects who want, need, and are willing to buy what you offer.