I know that most writers would rather hang out a coffee shop or with their cat writing the day away than speak. I know a few writers who would rather stab themselves in the eye with a sharpened yellow #2 pencil than speak. But if you are working on building a platform, speaking is your quickest way of doing that.
Just today, I had a woman from Texas call me up and say, “I’m ready to speak, but I don’t know how to launch that part of my business/ministry.” Since a good part of each of my work days are spent finding speaking gigs, I thought it would be helpful to share some of my strategies each time I blog here.
Speak for Free
It is the bane of every speaker’s existence. That moment when your event coordinator says, “We don’t really have a budget for speakers, but we would love to have you come.”
In my opinion, unless you are already booked to capacity, take the gig.
Yes, you are worth more than that, and your time is valuable. However, the best way to get more speaking engagements is by speaking. It is a false economy to sit at home all day creating flyers and making phone calls looking for paid speaking engagements, when you have passed up the opportunity to speak for free.
Speaking is your best form of advertisement. When someone is sitting in the audience listening to you, chances are she belongs to at least one or two other groups or organizations that use speakers on a fairly regular basis. Multiply that by the number of people sitting in the audience, and that is the best form of marketing.
Recently, a large church asked me to speak for free to a group of over 150 women. At first I was put off because surly they could afford to pay me. I thought better of it and accepted the gig.
From that one engagement, I have had three paid bookings, and another spin-off booking. Plus, I got a great recording from that one engagement.
If you are going to speak for free, make sure you get something out of it besides free advertising:
- I always ask for my expenses to be reimbursed, (food, travel etc,) Don’t ever let your speaking cost you money.
- Ask your venue if they can record you. Having that recording is essential when you are booking other gigs and they want to hear what you can do.
- Build a great book table so even if you are not getting paid to speak, you can make money by selling your products.
- Ask if the event coordinator will be a reference for you.
- Let the world know your are available. Tell friends, coworker fellow church members that you are open for business and willing to speak no matter the fee
- Search our religious, community, and industry groups who are looking for free speakers
- Even if it is not a subject that you are an expert on or passionate about, see if there is a way you can make it work for the group. This is especially important if you are fiction author. Your local MOPS group probably isn’t going to book you to talk about your latest historical novel, but they might just love your talk on Pursuing Your Passions as you talk about what it took to get published. Or how about a talk on making history come alive to kids? Just figure out how to become a niche expert for any group by bringing in your specific expertise.
Question for You – If you speak, how are you getting your speaking engagements. If you don’t speak, why not?