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Transitioning from Free Speaking to Paid Speaking - Grow Your Speaking Business

Transitioning from Free Speaking to Paid Speaking

Transitioning from Free Speaking to Paid Speaking

One of my Charli Jane Speaker Club members recently asked this question:

“I’ve been speaking for free for over a year now. It seems that my free speaking attracts more free opportunities. How do I transition to paid speaking?” She said that her audience has been mostly women so far, but her message could speak to any gender. She continued to say that she has firmed up her keynote signature talk. She was very clear in her business focus: “My goal for now is to speak, get paid and find clients who want to do 1/1 coaching.”

I thought I’d share my answer with you, as it applies to so many of my readers. Here’s how I coached her:

First, women are a huge audience. Some of my best, tried-and-true advice I can give is to niche yourself and when you think you have niched yourself … dig even deeper to niche even more specifically. This targeting results in your becoming the Go-To Expert.

The specialist gets the gig.

Don’t be afraid to narrow in on your audience. This will fill your schedule. And it will grow to be a filled – and paid – schedule. Be crystal clear on your audience and message. Once you are, then the paid events and bookings really start to flow in.

As for coaching, I know everyone loves the idea of 1-1 coaching. And that has it’s place, but if you’re wanting to reach as many people as possible, while also building your business’ financial foundation on solid ground, you’ve got to rethink this strategy. I would recommend group coaching programs. 1-1 takes a huge amount of energy & time, not to mention your most precious resource – it takes a lot out of you.

Reach even more people so you can help them with a membership site for your tribe. You want to leverage your time and revenue while being able to help many people all at once. It’s okay to think in terms of being financially successful here – go ahead – you have permission to take good care of yourself, while helping others. Think of it this way – if you can sustain your business then you will fold and won’t be able to help your audience any longer. Stop feeling guilty and just build your coaching platform to the success levels you dream about, so that you can reach as many people as possible.


Having a strong speaking platform is important. This consists of many elements, but is basically a platform where you stand and say, “Hey! Yes, I am the expert you seek!” and when the hiring party looks at your platform, she will know without a doubt, yes, you’re the one.

If you want to become known for “something”, you need to get in front of your audience and deliver your most important message – You have to let them know you exist. Right? Yes, right. And the way you cement your place in their minds as their go-to person, is to help them solve their problem – whatever that problem may be. You are the one with the solution they haven’t clicked with yet. Make those connections, and the word of mouth you get will be invaluable.

Stay consistent. Show up for your people and do the work. Lead them to do their own work. Be there for them when they need you most and they’ll bring others along.

When you have started building your platform, that is the time to reach out and ask to get paid. You will say “I charge X for my keynote” and because you have built a strong platform, they will pay you and not second guess it.

Transitioning from Free Speaking to Paid Speaking

I’ve heard this more times than I can count: “Why do I have to have a strong platform? I’m the expert. I went to school for 8 years.  I have years of experience in X and I shouldn’t have to build a platform to get paid.” 


Let’s just say you needed a business coach. You found one and they charged $1200/month. You thought that’s not a bad rate and you dig further to learn more about them, but they had no information except a Bachelor’s in business. No clients, no videos, no social presence, no testimonials, no blog, no podcast, no books, no products and your Google search produced nothing … except a facebook page with posts from last year.

Would you still hire them?

I doubt it. I know I wouldn’t.

Anyone can say anything on the internet.

For over 18 years now, I have stressed the importance of building a strong speaking platform. Do this and you will get hired and paid. It’s that simple. You are working for the long haul. Things do not happen overnight. You wouldn’t build a house on a dirt floor, you’d pour a foundation and then build on that. Ground up. Solid. Weather-worthy and time-tested to last.

I do want to mention something else for you to be sure you do. You have to stay consistent and up to date as well with your platform. You don’t want to go searching for speaking opportunities thinking your 5 books from 10 years ago will hold enough weight to get you hired. They won’t. You have to be current even if your current work is building on your past, you must stay relevant and fresh.


Like I said, show up and do the work.

What is one thing you do to build your platform on a consistent basis? (ex: website is up to date, clear and consistent, podcaster, blogger, building client list, creating products, guest blogging, podcast guest, getting in the media, writing for a well-known publication, active on social every single day, building your brand, etc.)

Make a list of platform building strategies and start with one. After, do another and another until you have built a strong platform. Launch and keep building from here and you’ll see sustainable speaker success year after year.

If you liked this post you will LOVE our “Free to $10K, Getting Paid What You Deserve as a Speaker” video training. You can watch it here

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