Most speakers generally prefer to get paid for their efforts. I don’t know about you, but I like to eat and live indoors, therefore, I like it when people give me money for my talks.
But knowing what to charge in the beginning is one of the biggest challenges and hangups for new speakers…
- Do you just charge whatever “feels” right?
- Do you charge whatever budget the client has?
- Does it matter what you speak about or how long you’ve been speaking?
- Do you need to have a bunch of free gigs under your belt before you can justify getting paid?
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How Much do I Charge for Speaking?
The Speaker Lab Speaking Fee Calculator
Let’s start with this…
You CAN get paid on your first real speaking engagement.
But let me give a big caveat to that…
You need to actually be a halfway decent speaker. It doesn’t mean you have to be the best in the world, but if this would be your very first time ever speaking in front of other humans, you’re probably not ready yet.
My very first legit speaking engagement, I was paid $1,000 to speak one time.
But prior to that, I had been a youth pastor and had done some speaking there. I worked for a company doing a few school assemblies as well.
I had done a few things that had at least given me some speaking experience. But I was still paid $1,000 for that first engagement.
What your speaking fee depends on
So how much should you charge?
Well, to be honest, it depends on several factors. Here are a few…
This is probably the biggest factor. The nature of the speaking industry is that you can charge more in some markets compared to others. For example…
- You can charge more speaking at corporate conferences vs non-profits.
- You can charge more speaking at colleges vs high schools.
- You can charge more speaking at association events vs churches.
So often times your fee will be somewhat determined by the market you speak in.
The more experience you have as a speaker, the more you can charge. If you’re just getting started, you may not be able to charge people as much as someone who has several years of experience.
3. Marketing Materials
Often times, decision makers are looking at several different speakers. So if you’re all in a similar ballpark on fees, your marketing materials could be a factor. Meaning, how does your website look relative to other speakers? How about your demo video?
Whether we like it or not, we judge books by their covers and decision makers judge speakers by their marketing materials. If your website sucks, they may assume you suck as a speaker. Sad, but true.
Now, this doesn’t mean you should spend tens of thousands on a website or demo video. You can still have a sharp site or video done relatively inexpensively.
But if you’re going to charge $5,000, your materials should look as good if not better than other speakers at that price point.
Ok Grant, but you still haven’t told me how much I should charge? 🙂
The truth is I can’t tell you exactly how much to charge. So I’ve come up with a solution for you to figure this out on your own. And you can use this tool over and over again each time you have a new speaking opportunity come your way.
Again, although there are several factors that go into it, it’s not unrealistic to charge $1,000-$2,500 for your first talk.
Anything less than that and people generally won’t take you seriously. This is a general rule of thumb, not an all or nothing opinion.
Now you can still take events that pay $500, $750, etc if you want, but I wouldn’t recommend you set your fee at that.
One of the simplest ways to set your fee is to build relationships with other speakers in your market and see what they were charging when they first started out. That’s what I did.
In the beginning, I charged $1,500+ travel for up to 3 presentations in 1 day in the youth market. From there, we’ve raised it numerous times but based on the feedback of other speakers, that seemed to be a good price point when getting started.
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One of my biggest pieces of advice for new speakers wouldn’t be to get so caught up in exactly what to charge but to be grateful that you are charging.
When someone pays you anything for a product or service you provide, it expands your mind to what is possible.
It’s literally a magical experience.
You offer value so don’t give it away for free. Charge for what you do and be proud of it.
I can attest to the fact that the first time you get paid for speaking is just mind-boggling. How could they pay you anything to do something you’d do for free anyway?
But you are bringing value to the client and their audience, so don’t be afraid to get paid for what you do. Your work matters and the world needs to hear your message, and you need to be compensated accordingly.