The Fastest Way to Go from Zero to a Consistent Speaking Income

Uncategorized Sep 17, 2019

Oh boy. The title of this article reeks of a “get rich quick” ploy, doesn’t it? Well, I have good news. Getting rich isn’t even on the table here. Instead, it’s about a small income that is steady, consistent, and reliable – not about massive windfalls or wealth.

I repeat. SMALL income.

The advice and links you’re about to get are aimed specifically at someone in the following situation:

  • You want to become a professional motivational speaker.
  • You have very little speaking experience. Maybe even less.
  • You have no credentials and no long-term clients.
  • You need to get your speaking business to produce consistent income as quickly as possible.
  • You’re willing to work hard.
  • You can tolerate a little risk.

Maybe you need consistent income because you want to quit your job. Maybe it’s because your job quit you. Maybe you want the consistent income quickly so that you can “buy” the time to create that significant income so often promised by the world of professional speaking. Whatever the case, time is of the essence.

There are two main avenues to becoming a professional speaker. You can build your own speaking business, or you can work as a speaker for someone else’s organization.

Which one gets you to consistent bookings faster?

Although the length of time it takes to build a speaking business will vary for every speaker, (it depends on your starting point, your level of business savvy, your speaking topic, your motivation, etc.) working as a speaker for someone else’s organization is almost always faster.

I like an analogy that Brendon Burchard uses. “If you wanted to build your own railroad, then you’d have to clear the land, lay the tracks, construct the engine, buy the fuel, hire an engineer, etc. Why not just hook yourself onto a train that’s ALREADY going where you want to go?”

If all you really want is consistent bookings quickly, then building your own speaking business is foolish. Find the fastest train out there, and then just buy a damn ticket.

There are a few ways to align yourself with an organization that already has momentum in the industry: speakers bureaus, licensing deals, and contract training.

Speaker’s Bureaus
For brand new speakers starting at zero, this is fantasy land. The good ones simply won’t take a chance on a new speaker. They want you to be established, in demand, and earning a fee that produces a commission worth their while. In other words, they don’t want you until you don’t need them.

Ignore the bureaus until you’re ready! The only thing you’re likely to do is make a bad first impression. Let’s move on.

Licensing Deals
Let’s say Max Johnson has  written a speech. It’s a great speech. It’s a great topic! It books itself! He’ll sell you the rights to deliver that speech and then boom! You’re a speaker. Right?

Not really. You still need to build a speaking business around that content. Max may tell you that you’ll get exposure to his clientele, but so will every other licensee. And don’t you think that the REALLY good clients want to work with Max directly? After all, why get the imitation if you can afford the original?

All you’ve got here is a product. You still need to build a business around that product. Of course, this is possible, but we’re interested in speed today.

Speakers bureaus and licensing deals have their time and place, but they don’t save you from having to build your own speaking business in order to get gigs.

Contract Training
Seminar companies are the only one of the three with more bookings than speakers. Often, their business model involves selling tickets to full-day (or multi-day) seminars that teach valuable business skills. They hire speakers and trainers to deliver the seminars and hopefully sell some of the seminar company’s products and services along the way. The big ones are doing thousands of these events every year.

THOUSANDS of gigs? What speaker wouldn’t want a piece of THAT pie?

Actually, a lot of speakers avoid these kinds of gigs because they aren't exactly ideal. Here’s what you’ll be sacrificing when you sign on with a seminar company:

  • The unlimited earning potential that your own speaking-based business offers.
  • The freedom to speak on any topic you want.
  • The ability to create and own intellectual property.
  • The chance for fame and fortune.
  • The likelihood that you’ll be treated like a rock star before, during, and after gigs.
  • Your time and money while you become a certified – possibly annually.

BUT, if you don’t mind working long hours for little money, if you don’t mind cheap flights with three layovers and a seat in the middle row, if you don’t mind two-star hotels and motels in little Podunk towns that no one has ever heard of, and if you don’t mind investing your own time and money into becoming certified, then this method can make you a speaker faster than anything else.

I know. I make it sound so glamorous.

It’s obviously not glamorous, but there are certainly benefits to this kind of arrangement. Think about what you get...

  • Gigs! And lots of ‘em. I did this early in my career and they regularly maxed out my available schedule at sixteen gigs a month!
  • If you manage to do well enough for only a few people to ask for their money back at every gig, then they’ll keep you around.
  • You could be off to the races in a couple of months.
  • Massive amounts of flight time. You can hone the skill of public speaking in months, not years.
  • A peek behind the curtain. You’ll learn what people want and how to give it to them. There’s no better education about the industry of public speaking than going out and DOING lots of public speaking.

Where Do You Find These Companies?

Some quick Google sleuthing with terms like “how do I become a corporate trainer” will turn up the usual suspects: Fred Pryor, National Seminars Training, Skillpath (who merged with NST), Dale Carnegie, and others. There’s also Brentwood in the UK, Bodhih in India, Inspire Education in Australia, and plenty more. Job sites like Indeed.com will have listings for corporate trainers wanted as well.

Pick a company that offers courses on topics you are interested in and simply reach out to inquire about becoming a trainer.

Here’s a hot tip: they’re STARVING for new trainers.

A Launching Pad for Your Speaking Career

As a long-term plan, contract training is barely better than a regular job. But if you don’t think of it as a career, and instead think of it as a launching pad...then you just might have something. In my book, I cover ten ways to leverage a contract training gig to boost your own speaking career. If you aren’t proactive about your exit plan, then you just might find yourself in the cushy trap of depending on the seminar company for regular gigs and monthly checks. In the world of speaking, there are worse things, I suppose.

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