Last updated on April 8th, 2019 at 12:49 pm
As you begin your big dream of becoming a motivational speaker, you may be wondering the number one question most new speakers ponder,
What to charge for public speaking?”
My answer to the question is simple, “It depends.”
Public speaker fees range from free to $50,000. If your speaking fee is already over $20,000 per event, then you don’t need to read this article on what to charge.
Fees 20,000 and above are usually reserved for in-demand celebrities, such as war heroes, well-known actors, famous politicians, distinguished sports figures, acclaimed best-selling authors, and renowned musicians.
The rest of the lesser-known public speakers’ fees fall somewhere between free and $ 20,000 per speech.
What Speakers Should Charge Depends Upon:
1. How accomplished you are at speaking and motivating your audiences.
2. How many years you have been a professional speaker.
3. What credibility you have accumulated over time in the form of a best-selling book, a career as a CEO, numerous top TV show appearances, known as an expert in your field, etc.
4. How well-known you are as a motivational speaker in the world or your niche market.
5. Where you live in proximity to the event. You may need to factor travel expenses.
6. The economy. And a bad economy affects every business eventually.
7. What you have to offer as a motivational speaker and how much value the booker places on your specific proficiencies.
8. Who is your market/audience and what kind of money they have available to spend on a public speaker.
9. The return on investment your skills offer the booking client.
10. Your perceived value as a public speaker in the marketplace.
11. The opinion and the budget of the person/company booking you.
12. How much your time is worth to you. (Not how much you think you’re worth, but what your time is worth to you.)
13. How badly you need the job.
14. If you can sell your products at the event or the back of the room.
15. If you are the keynote speaker or the warm-up speaker.
16. The size of the event or the crowd you are speaking to as well as the type of audience.
17. Unknown factors.
How to Decide a Speaking Fee
What you charge in the first year as a budding motivational speaker depends on how good you are. If you’ve already been speaking and putting in a lot of stage time, and you already have a well-crafted and polished speech, or you already have some credibility to your name then you might be able to charge more than speakers who are speaking for the first time.
When I started as a motivational speaker, I often spoke for free.
I did free a lot.
Was that fair to me? You bet.
In the beginning, I was not a skilled speaker. I should have paid my clients for the opportunity to speak! Those free bookings were practice-speaking for me. I searched for groups who needed speakers but couldn’t afford to pay a speaking fee.
Don’t get me wrong–I think public speakers should be paid when they speak, and to expect speakers to talk for nothing is offensive to me. But my indignation is from the fact that I am now a well-seasoned professional–a sought-after motivational speaker, so I can take offense at the idea of speaking for free.
But before I was a real pro, I was merely practicing and learning the craft of public speaking.
After I’d practiced speaking for free for a while, I set a fee of $200. I know, not much, but this low fee worked for me. Over time, I bumped my speaking fee to $500, and the price stayed there for a while. Later on, as I grew more confident in my skills, I began to charge $750, then $1500, then $3,000, then $5,000–all the while negotiating terms as I went along. Sometimes I lowered my fee in return for something the client had that I wanted or needed.
I’m not going to tell you my current fee for many reasons. But I would suggest that you search the Internet, find speakers’ bureaus (people who book speakers) and check out the speakers listed with published speaking fees. You will quickly get an idea of what speakers charge.
Keep in mind that speaker’s bureaus take a cut of the fee and there are a lot of speakers who charge less than the published speaking fees you’ll find. Usually, a speaker who is listed with a bureau has a good bit of credibility behind their name, and they are not just starting as a speaker.
Is it Time to Raise a Speaking Fee?
I’ve always heard that the time to raise your speaking fee is when you are consistently getting the price you quote.
When you’ve spent a year getting your fee almost every time, perhaps it’s time to increase what you charge. Just don’t raise your pay with too high of an increase or you might bump yourself right out of your niche market.
Some public speakers also raise their fee when they hit a certain level of publicity–like appearing on the Today Show as a subject matter expert or as a contestant or guest on a reality show like The Fashion Hero.
There is no shame in an honest day’s work.
There are a lot of big egos in the motivational speaking world, and sometimes speakers fall into the trap of believing that a particular speaker is superior because they get paid a higher fee, or you feel “less than” because your price is lower than another speaker’s fee.
Don’t fall into that comparison trap. Fees are fees.
I know plenty of uber-expensive speakers who don’t book speaking events very often, and plenty of inexpensive speakers who are booked solid with speaking events. Fees are merely a number.
And here’s the thing: you’re not gutting chickens. You are being paid to S P E A K. And chances are, you are being paid far more per hour than your audience.
So keep what you think about what you should charge for your speaking fee in perspective.
Kelly Swanson is an award-winning storyteller, motivational speaker, published author and TV personality who is passionate about helping women harness the power of their stories to connect, influence, and get the results they dream of accomplishing. Laughing the whole way, Kelly teaches women how to master the art of connection through the power of strategic storytelling. You can find her on The Fashion Hero show airing Fall of 2017 on Amazon Prime or on her website MotivationalSpeakerKellySwanson.com.
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