Speaking Fees: How to Determine What You Should Charge

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As a public speaker, keynote speaker or guest speaker, it can be super stressful when it comes to determining what your speaking fees will be.

The questions are endless and the scenarios are vast. You want to start or continue speaking professionally, but often times you don’t know where to begin or what to charge for your next gig.

  • What if this is your 1st or 30th gig?
  • Will the travel expenses be included?
  • Do you consider the location and type of audience?
  • What about the industry?
  • Will you be able to sell anything after the talk?
  • How long do I work for free?

I could go on and on with a number of questions I get on this topic.

I know it can be tough and let me tell you, speaking is not an exact science. The list of questions and scenarios are long and the combinations are endless.

The number one question I get from TSL community is, “What do I charge?”

And the real answer is “it depends,” but no one wants to hear that.

I didn’t either.

You want someone to give you a highly educated “guess” based on your situation. A customizable approach to what you should charge and why.

Well, lucky for you friend, I have just the thing to help you.

There are tons of variables that go into choosing the right fee, but here are some variables YOU should consider when quoting out your price.

Introducing…
The Speaker Lab Fee Calculator

Click Here to Calculate Your Speaker Fee

You’ll answer a few questions based on common variables that speakers use to determine their speaking fee.

***Remember, setting your speaker fee schedule is more of an art than a science.***

NEVER SAY NEVER

These numbers are not set in stone. They are here to get you started. If you feel the number is too high and you “could never charge that,” then don’t, but what if you did?

What if someone actually said, “yes” and paid you that higher rate?

Think about it, maybe you don’t feel comfortable charging that, YET, but that doesn’t mean it’s not possible.

If you’re not ready, you’re not ready, but don’t sell yourself short either. I’m not going to dig into money mindset on this, I’ll save that for another post.

Know that all things are possible.

Never say never. ...but I digress.

Use the calculator as a gauge to get a ballpark number. At the end of the day, charge what you’re most comfortable with. When it comes to creating your pay rate as a new or experienced speaker, use this fancy tool as your guide.

You can also reuse this calculator again and again with different scenarios as you learn and advance as a professional speaker. I wish I had this calculator when I first started out.

Click Here to Calculate Your Speaker Fee

You can thank me in Dr. Pepper later!

Let me show you how this breaks down.

WHERE SHOULD I START?

I’m starting with $1,500 as a base/minimum for speaking. You can certainly choose to accept less, but $1,500 is a good starting point for most speakers.

Let’s say you’re speaking 2 times at an event. You’d charge a flat fee (~$1,500) for one talk and a little more (~$500) per additional talk. Your time and expertise are valuable so you should be charging as such.

The more times you speak, the more you should be paid. You’ve spoken between 11-50 times in your career, so you should be compensated for your experience.

Now, I’ve known people to do 30 talks in 60 days because they wanted to gain experience and fast. And that approach may work for some of you, but just because you've spoken a lot doesn't necessarily make you a great speaker.

I’ve seen plenty of speakers that have done a lot of speaking, but they still suck.

EXPERIENCE DOESN’T ALWAYS EQUAL SUCCESS

Sorry, but that’s the truth!

Increase your skills, practice new techniques, get better over time, and learn from those that came before you.

Study why you felt inspired and captivated by their public presence. Soon enough you’ll know and understand what they’ve done, how they made you feel, and then you can repeat that process in your own career.

Think about it, you’ll be the most sought-after guy or gal in your industry. 🙂

On the flip side, typically with experience, you become better.
The more you speak, the better you get — The better you get, the more you charge.

You catch the drift.

THE TYPE OF AUDIENCE MATTERS

Say you’re speaking to an industry filled with corporate professionals. You’re able to charge more based on the perceived value of your information, plus the fact that for-profit organizations have larger budgets to spend on conferences and events.

Who you’re talking to matters.

If you’re speaking to a non-profit organization the rate would significantly differ compared to a corporate powerhouse.

Click Here to Calculate Your Speaker Fee

 

TRAVEL FEE INCLUDED?

Perhaps you’ll need to fly to the event, which means you’ll have more expenses like car rental, taxi, parking meals etc.

On average, you can charge an additional $750 for long distance gigs.

Now, this expense could be more, it could be less, but this is an average industry standard. There is a lot of room for negotiation here.

Knowing what questions to ask is critical in determining your travel expenses. Again, the numbers in the calculator don’t account for everything. You have room to wiggle here so use your judgment.

MOTEL HELL OR HOTEL HEAVEN

No one tells you how awful the accommodations can be when you travel, especially when you’re in no-man's-land for a gig.

Those are the nights you want to cry yourself to sleep in the rental car with the windows down in February.

Anything would be better than a rock hard bed, a dirty bathroom, and a floor filled with trash from who knows when.

I’ll spare you the gory details and disgusting stories. But trust me when I say you need to ask about accommodations before you say “yes” to your next speaking engagement.

With that being said, you’ve done your research and checked out the hotels in the area. Luckily, they all have a 4-5 star rating!

You lucky dog, you.

You happily agree and confirm that you’ll need overnight accommodation. At that point, you’ll need to negotiate that into your fee or choose where you’d like to stay — within reason.

You can’t charge them for the Hotel Heaven when they have a Motel Hell budget.

Click Here to Calculate Your Speaker Fee

 

LOCATION! LOCATION! LOCATION!

We all know that in the real estate industry, location is everything. I feel the same for booking speaking gigs too.

If I’m invited to speak at an event in Spain and I’ve always wanted to go there, I’d be more likely to decrease my speaking fee.

Why might you ask? If I have to fly to Spain and my travel expenses are significantly more, shouldn’t I be charging more?

Well, that depends on how you look at it.

In my opinion, if the location is amazing and Spain has been on my bucket list for decades, I’d be more inclined to lower my speaking fee just to attend.

If you price yourself out of the water due to traveling across the world, you’re possibly allowing your dreams to slowly fade away.

Please don’t let that happen.
Take less, find the money and embrace the experience. What you charge doesn’t matter.

What does matter is that you get your butt on that plane and carpe diem, my Friend!

Say YES, call your spouse, book the flight — find a way.
And if you’re a beach bum and there’s an event in Aruba — find a way.
Oh, you’re a ski bum and Vail is calling your name — find a way.

Don’t forget to stop and smell the roses. It’s why you do what you do. You want to make a living doing what you love.

Take those chances, embrace the opportunities and make a difference with your message.

As a side note, if you’re organizing an event, please pick a cool place that people would want to go to.

Create an experience that people will remember and enjoy year after year.

Click Here to Calculate Your Speaker Fee

 

BE MY GUEST

I’m not talking about the song from Beauty and the Beast. I’m talking about speaking at an event that you’ll already be a guest at. If you plan on attending the event you’ve been asked to speak at, you could lower your speaking fee or simply have them comp your visit.

No harm in breaking even!

Bonus. No-brainer. Where do I sign? If they’re willing to pay for your entry ticket, hotel room, food, happy hour etc. or any of the above, you're in like Flynn.

Can I get a fist bump?

HOW LONG SHOULD YOU WORK FOR FREE?

There are pros and cons to working for free. There comes a time when you must provide food, clothing, and shelter for yourself and your family.

Working for free doesn’t pay the bills.

You want to be paid for your time, energy and expertise, and rightfully so.

So say you have a gig and the event coordinator is telling you, “you’re allowed to sell” and you’ll have the prime keynote spot.

Now you’ve been at this for awhile and you most likely have a few things lined up behind the scenes in way of products and services. If not, (and you're new to the speaking industry) this is definitely something to consider down the road.

What should you charge if you’re able to sell your products before, during or after your talk?
Will the venue or host organization take a portion of the sales?
What percentage of the sales?

The list of questions goes on and on…

Meet Marc.

Marc is a member of the TSL community and he speaks for free.

Free, you say? Yes, free.

This entire post is helping you figure out what to charge for your speaking engagements and you’re telling me this guy works for free.

I know, seems counterintuitive, but hear me out.
Here’s the deal.

Marc is a 6-figure business owner that speaks for free. Why?

Because Marc only books gigs where he has the potential to sell his high-level coaching services before, during or after his speech. He’s very strategic about his business, his audience, and is confident he can deliver time and time again.

Now Marc didn’t start doing this on day one of his speaking career. My point is, you don’t have to charge thousands of dollars to become a successful, paid speaker. You could charge NOTHING and still bring home the bacon in other ways.

Click Here to Calculate Your Speaker Fee

 

HERE’S WHY AUDIENCE SIZE DOESN’T MATTER

In a nutshell, it generally doesn't matter whether you're giving a talk to 50 or 500 people. Your effort is more or less the same.

You’re still spending the same amount of time, energy and expertise on planning, developing, practicing and delivering your speech.

If you’re talking to 5 people or 500 people the prep and practice are the same. Now if you’re speaking to 5 people, your approach could be a little more relaxed and conversational, but if you’re talking to 500 people then your energy needs to be much higher and bigger.

Here’s where audience size DOES matter.

  1. If you're selling a digital or physical product, audience size does matter. For example, the bigger the crowd the more potential sales there are, so you might be willing to take less money for a larger audience because you’ll make it up on the back-end.
  2. If there are any hard costs associated with your talk. Meaning, if every attendee needs a workbook and you’re covering the costs, it's going to make a big difference if there are 50 or 500 people in the room.

Like I said in the beginning, speaking is not an exact science. There are tons of variables that go into the determining your speaking fees.

Use the fancy calculator below and I’d love to know:

  1. What’s your calculated speaking fee?
  2. How do you feel about that number?

Click “Start” to Begin!