The Speakers Dilemma: How Much to Charge as a Speaker’s Fee?
Having kick started my career initially as just a motivational speaker before going professional, the early days were very challenging to understand what fees are right and I was genuinely scared, that most of the times I’m charging either too LOW and selling myself cheap or too HIGH with the fear that I might lose business.
Trust me, most if not all speakers have been through this and this is something that will continue throughout unless you are able to stamp down your own service criteria’s and solutions.
My early days I would work hard to establish myself as well-known motivational speaker, bringing consistency to my talks and ensuring I’m able to develop some marketing tools around what I deliver to ensure I can continue to promote myself.
The first 10 or so gigs I did for free, all at local schools as initially youth and the education sector was my target audience. This allowed me to gather momentum, write about my experiences, generate materials and testimonials and gather recommendations.
First Paid Gig
I began testing the market with a fee of £500 for my first paid gig. How & Why? I asked them what their budget was and they got back to me stating that they usually pay £500 for a 30 minute talk.
I was still new, and I used this as my baseline for schools across the UK. It made sense and this ended up being the pattern for a number of years. Though I realised that private schools do have higher budgets for speakers, so as my talks broadened and my personal brand strengthened, I landed my first £1,000 gig as a motivational speaker for a private school in the UK. I was just 18.
Difference in Market
I began exploring options of my pricing strategy depending on who my audience were, for example:
- Non-Profit Organisations
- Schools vs Universities
- Corporates & International events
I wouldn’t charge a non-profit the same as I would charge a corporate. They have different budgets and requirements.
And even events abroad, that consumes more time and energy, so I take these into consideration. A great way to see it, is that a one day event abroad can take up to 3 or 4 days of your time. I.e. travelling, speaking and travelling back plus overcoming jet lag.
The point here is there is no base or fixed rate for talks you give, as all is dependent on circumstances, such as who the organisation is that has invited you to speak, how long they require you to speak for and who well established you and your message are within the sector you will be delivering your speech plus time it takes out of your diary to make this event possible for you to deliver. And I’m sure there are many other factors to consider too.
11 Years Later
Over the course of the past 11 years, my target audiences have broadened ever since becoming a professional speaker.
I became professional aged 21, when I landed my first corporate event gig where I charged £3,000 for my talk for a full day’s event.
My first fully paid event internationally, had a budget of £10,000. So, the further you grow; your brand and image grows with you. But it is crucial to diversify your message to ensure it relates to the audiences you deliver this too.
With my portfolio hitting almost 1,000 events in 30+ countries, fees I charge are consistent and in relation to the target market I deliver too.
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.
I launched a 4 year campaign delivering talks internationally to youth where all talks were free. This was simply to inspire young people to achieve their goals and follow their passion. It was something I felt I wanted to do, to give back to society.
However, once this came to an end after 4 years. I believe it’s a must and crucial you keep your integrity high and the brand ethos you develop as a speaker and not sell yourself cheap.
Free events are a thing of the past for me! You need it to establish yourself, however once know you are flying, make sure you earn what you deserve.
You offer value so don’t give it away for free. Charge for what you do and be proud of it.
Speaking is my profession and it can be yours too, however figuring out what too charge to whom, can take time. You will gain business and lose business but that’s all part and parcel of the experience.