A question I’m often asked by speakers is whether or not to charge a fee to promoters who are booking them to speak at their events.

At this point I should point out that some of the bigger event promoters will NEVER pay a speakers fee… and in some cases will be negotiating a proportion of your sales revenue too.

CurrenciesBut… if they have a proven track record for getting quality people who are the right market for your message into their rooms… then these are extremely worthwhile gigs that can provide an excellent return for you.

However, as you become more successful as a speaker and start speaking more often, your overheads will rise… which could lead to you earning lots of money from speaking but having nothing to show for it after you’ve covered your expenses.

So today I want to talk to you about the numbers in your business. Knowing your numbers is vital if you are going to have a profitable business model and avoid having to spend your life travelling from gig to gig before you can turn a profit.

Let’s work through a financial model that will help you get your numbers right.

So… for this example;

Tree in ForestYou have been offered a $2,000 fee to speak for 90 minutes at a rural event

You intend to make $4,000 selling ypur products from stage

And you don’t have to pay a percentage of the sales revenue to the promoter.

I imagine you’re thinking “but Jo… 6,000 bucks is pretty good for 90 minutes work huh?”

But is it… really? Let me break that down for you..

You’re going to need to take 3 days out of the office; one to travel there, one to travel back and of course one for the gig itself

So, now the $6,000 has to cover 3 days of your time… $2,000 per day. Still not that bad?

What about prep time?

You’ll also need time to customise (or create) your presentation, prepare handouts and order forms, tailor Multi-Tasking Womanyour marketing message and bio towards their audience… plus any other work you need to do to prepare for the gig.

Let’s say all the prep work takes 8 hours… that’s now 4 days of your time so the daily rate decreases to $1,500

Do you have staff or need to pay your VA to help out at the gig? Will you need to stay over in a hotel? What about travel costs? That’s without adding in your fixed expenses… 4 days of contribution towards rent, heat and light, internet and telephone costs!

And… you intend to sell $4,000 of products from stage… what are the costs of fulfilling those sales? How much staff time to process all the orders and handle enquiries or support issues?

And now you’re not making very much at all… it’s better than nothing of course, but you could earn a similar daily rate as an employee without having all the responsibilities of running your own business.

Now, if you hadn’t charged the $2,000 speaker fee you’d barely have turned a profit.

What if you didn’t sell the $4,000 of products you predicted?


Can you see why I am driving home the point about why it’s essential you know your numbers? Of course… once you have clarity around your numbers and the lifestyle you wish to maintain, you are likely to be turning down a few gigs because their financial model isn’t a good fit for you.

But, that’s ok because the alternative is that you’ll run out of money or time to enjoy your life. Look to the longer term and make the choices that you won’t regret 3 or 4 years down the line.

But of course… if the gig on offer is for a charity you support and there is no budget for fees, you might choose to take it anyway. The idea is that you have the tools to make an informed decision over which gigs to accept and can recognise those that aren’t right for you.

2 Responses to “Your Speaking Gigs | To Fee Or Not To Fee”

  1. That was a really down-to-reality blog on “speaking for a loss” ……and I appreciate its’ value. How about giving us a “typical” scenario where the speaker generates a profit. I know this is like asking for the impossible and, of course, a “typical” doesn’t exist …….so let’s be fair…..let’s say “an average” or give examples of those you have done, one of the best and one of the worst.
    See http://www.independentinterviewexpert.com…... for Happiness, too !

  2. Hi Chris,
    As you say, there’s no typical. The key to my thoughts here is to consider “How much should I be charging?” and “how many sales do I need to make” to make an opportunity worthwhile.

    Lets look at a couple of examples.

    You could NEVER charge a fee.

    Let’s say you have a $1000 program to sell.

    If you had 1 gig a month where you could sell it to 100 people. You might expect a 20% conversion when you get good. Thats $20,000 a month revenue. Depending on your COST OF GOODS on that program- you can work out your profit.

    The key is KNOW YOUR NUMBERS.

    If you charge a fee for your speech with no sales. Lets say its $2000 a day. Maybe you can book (maximum) 100 days a year. THats $200,000 a year. Unless you’re wasting money you’d turn a profit on that, but you’d be working super hard, and travelling lots.

    So its all about: how many days can I speak?
    How much do I charge for my time? (knowing theres prep etc in that)
    How much can I sell?

    Hope that helps.

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