When you’re serious about becoming a paid speaker, these are the checkpoints that event planners look for — they don’t want to hire someone fresh out of the gate unless they’re really serious and carry through. If you have all of these “ducks in a row” then you’re showing that you’re really serious about becoming a paid professional speaker.
Dedication – Out of the starting gate, you have to be in for the long haul. A speaking business is like any other business. Just start and don’t stop. If you get discouraged and hit a brick wall, lift your head up and keep going. You need true dedication to make it work and succeed; you have to put the work in to get results. This is your new 9-5 and if you’re moonlighting as a speaker on top of another career, let’s say as a coach or consultant, make sure you put in your 40 hours a week for both to get the best results.
Know your niche. Tighten, tighten, tighten. After you think you’ve narrowed your niche enough, keep on drilling down because the more specialized you are, the more your schedule will be booked. Don’t be just a “motivational speaker” or a “leadership speaker” or a “sales speaker” — they are a dime a dozen. Step up and stand out. Niche tightly, be specific. There’s no conference slot or keynote opening for “generic motivational speaker.”
Brand yourself. What makes you special? How can you stand out? Be yourself. 100%. What’s your schtick? What’s your message? Forget all the other speakers on the planet. You can’t be them; they’re already taken. This is your chance to let the real you shine boldly. Don’t be afraid to be weird or quirky. Authentic. You need a schtick, a title, a clear message. Again, there’s no slot for “generic.” Create your planner-friendly website with your colors, your rhythm, your voice — find you and brand you. When you’re completely honest about who you are, you will always be consistent with your brand and create trust and maintain your integrity. Your whole job is about being yourself, boldly and loudly, all the time — so let it follow you on every platform and every venue, offline and online.
Be everywhere. The adjunct to branding yourself is making sure you get out there. It doesn’t matter how bright you shine if you stay in your bedroom. Get on social media and blast your message. At minimum be on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Event planners or decision makers will expect to find you on social platforms. Be consistent with your brand on social sites. Build and nurture relationships everywhere you go. Attend conferences and trade shows as a guest, and don’t be afraid to shake hands and introduce yourself. You never know where your next booking is looking for you.
Marketing. Guess what you’ve been doing these last few milestones? Marketing. Don’t be intimidated by the word “marketing” — marketing is not being a sleazy salesperson. Marketing is making sure that you’re visible and people who need you most can find you. The key to getting the word out there that you exist is constancy. Be dependable. Be faithful. Be ever-present. Pick how you want to show up in the eyes of the public, and keep to it. If you advertise in a magazine for your niche, don’t give up on it. It usually takes more than 6 months to get consistent results. Whatever venues you pick as your marketing activities require dedication and commitment, so pick wisely, then put in the effort required to keep it up, keep updating your message in those venues and work it. Every day, make sure you have real marketing activities that make you more visible and findable.
Material. The top two pieces of marketing materials you should always have are a onesheet and a video. Planners ask for these all the time — how else will they compare you to other potential presenters? To win over those who don’t have them, make sure you have them ready — invest in your onesheet here. If you don’t have a video, have someone record you at your next engagement, or at a free event. Take clips of the best parts: those moments where you’re really “on fire”, your interactions with and reactions of your audience, and different angles and areas of the room. Make sure the sound quality is really good — you may need to wear a wired headset and record a separate audio track on your cell phone. Put your video on your website, preferably on the home page.
It’s easy to say you want to become a paid professional speaker, but if you hit all of these checkpoints then people will get the signal that you’re really serious and on your way to success.
You can also find great support from other speakers who have been there or are in the same boat as you in our Facebook group www.SpeakingBizCommunity.com