When I first started my company I’ve been sending cold emails to members of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce for two weeks. I lived in Brooklyn so I thought it would be a great opportunity to get some local customers quickly. 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 would be interested in leading a community-wide workshop. I believe the topic was “Digital Marketing for Small Business” or something along those lines.
They said yes, put me on their list, and even gave me free access to a conference room. On the day of the event, I was shocked to see over 50 people show up to hear me speak. After the event, several attendees came over to talk to me. Mind you, I’m sure I contacted some of them via email several weeks prior.
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 was already sharing 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 in a week.
Then it dawned on me: Speaking up was a much more efficient process for building my credibility, attracting leads, and closing deals. And that’s why I was so happy that 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 how to better package, pitch and sell their products and services.
During our interview, she shared tactical-level strategies on how to get paid with 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 as you let the customer down and damage your reputation. In addition, you cannot generate leads after delivering a mediocre performance. So while it may be tempting to charge a lot of money from the start, make sure your fee is aligned with the results you’ve already been able to deliver.
At the same time, do not deliver better than you sell. As an expert you have a distorted view of how valuable your knowledge is. But remember that what is easy for you may be very difficult for others. So don’t underestimate yourself. Otherwise, you won’t make enough money and you’ll be less likely to keep talking, which means you won’t be able to help those who need you.
How much to charge for speaking engagements
While you may just want to speak up for lead generation and branding, there’s no reason why 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 started to establish yourself.
Asking $1,000 is enough to justify your time without being too expensive for many organizations. However, Ashley encourages you to keep leveling up so you can recharge your real worth. She referenced an industry report that showed the average professional speaker charges $7,500. So consider this the next step once you land a few gigs at a lower price.
How to make a $100,000 talking 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 automatically limit their earning potential.
Instead, Ashley encourages you to pitch a series of talks and offers additional options such as e-books, courses, and VIP dinners. In addition, you can significantly increase your rates by including consulting services. Offering to help individuals or organizations apply what they’ve learned at your event is a great way to build a closer partnership and significantly increase your rates.
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Learn more about her programs and community
Listen to the full episode with Ashley below.