3 Ways to Cash In on Public Speaking

“Wealth may be an excellent thing, for it means power, and it means leisure, it means liberty.” – James Russell Lowell

In March, I spent four hours giving two seminars at the Learning Annex in Los Angeles – and I walked away with about $2,000 in my pocket. Since I needed to be in Los Angeles anyway for other business, that money is what I would call “gravy.”

It’s “gravy,” because it was extra money that I picked up by speaking about subjects I’m very knowledgeable about and actually like discussing – so it only took me about an hour to prepare for both seminars. And, frankly, if I hadn’t been presenting those seminars, I would’ve just been trying to find some way to kill time before my meetings the next day. So, it was like found money.

Though I “only” made about $500 an hour for that gig at the Learning Annex, I’ve personally seen top speakers earn as much as $10,000 an hour when you combine their speaking fees with their profits from “back-end” sales – products or services they sell to people attending their presentations.

And speaking offers an additional income opportunity. In fact, as a direct result of my two Learning Annex seminars, I expect to earn an additional $15,000 this year (half of which I’ve already pocketed). This amount of money certainly isn’t a fortune, but it’s a nice piece of change that I’m picking up with little effort.

Here’s how…

One of the seminars I gave was on the art of direct-mail copywriting. This is a craft that I’ve been fortunate enough to become well schooled in as a result of completing AWAI’s basic copywriting program and masters program.  Since completing these programs, I’ve had the chance to earn a nice six-figure income in the direct-mail business over the last few years.

At the end of my seminar on copywriting, two attendees approached me and asked if they could possibly hire me for some copywriting projects for their businesses. While they both felt they had learned a lot from my presentation, they realized they weren’t going to be able to get the results they needed for their respective businesses just from what they learned by listening to me for a couple of hours. I gave them my contact information and invited them to get in touch whenever they were ready to do business.

Since then, both have contacted me to procure my services as a copywriter. And one of them has become a steady repeat client.

This is not the first time I’ve spoken on a subject and had people want to hire me after the presentation. After a seminar I did on screenwriting, for example, an attendee asked me to help him with his scripts. I picked up a quick $5,000 from this gentleman – something I did not expect to happen when I agreed to do the presentation.

Aside from all the money you can make, there some other really attractive reasons to get into speaking as a business:

  • You can speak about a subject you love – turning just about any type of expertise into a business.
  • You can start the business with virtually no capital.
  • You can easily do it part-time.

To start a business that can help you find new clients in addition to earning speaking fees and profits from back-end sales, take the following steps:

1. Determine a skill you have that is in high demand in the marketplace – one that people in your audience might be interested in hiring you for in the future.

Some subjects make perfect topics for seminars or other speaking engagements – and can earn you income via speaking fees and back-end sales – but might not generate much income from people who want to hire you afterward.

For example, if you are an expert at preparing very economical and delicious family dinners, there’s an excellent chance that you could attract an audience of people who want to learn how to prepare those meals. And there is the potential for back-end sales to them with such products as recipe books or instructional videos. But it’s unlikely that people who are interested in creating economical meals would want to hire you to cook for them.

On the other hand, if you were giving a lecture on how to catch more bass in the Everglades, you could likely attract a good paying audience and also sell them various back-end products … fishing lures, videos, and maps, for example. Plus, it’s likely that some of the attendees would want to hire you to guide them on a fishing expedition. And it’s just as likely that they would be willing to pay you a lucrative fee for providing such a service.

2. Create a curriculum that will sound attractive to potential attendees and provide them with a valuable learning experience.

To market your seminar, you need to spell out exactly what the attendees will learn. And to get your attendees to want to hire you after the event, you must prove to them that you are a knowledgeable expert and have solid skills that would benefit them. So you want to make sure you provide high-quality information with real value during every speech you give.

3. Market your speaking business to people who will be interested in hiring you.

Your speaking business can go one of two ways: A third party can hire you to do the presentation or you can produce the event yourself.

Which third parties should you approach? That depends on your subject matter. A place like the Learning Annex, for example, offers hundreds of courses on business and all sorts of lifestyle subjects. So if you are an expert in something like Internet marketing or Zen meditation, the Learning Annex could be one third party you’d want to market your presentation to. But if you are an expert in urban planning and engineering, the Learning Annex won’t be for you. You might be better off contacting industry organizations or large engineering firms.

If you want to produce your own speaking events, you’ll need to get your message to prospective attendees directly. Again, the nature of your subject will determine how you’ll go about promoting it. If you want to give a seminar on how small-business owners can save on taxes, a direct mailing to a list of small-business owners in your area could be very effective. If you want to give a seminar on improving back pain through yoga, you might advertise in local general-interest publications or consider partnering with another business that has a client/customer list of likely attendees – like a chiropractor – instead.

A speaking business can be a full-time business that can generate an income as high as six or seven figures… or it can be a side business you run on weekends that brings in extra cash and additional clients for your primary business. Either way, if you have a skill or knowledge that others would be willing to pay to learn, a great new business awaits you.

[Ed. Note: Paul Lawrence is a produced screenwriter, direct-mail copywriter, and business author. He is also the creator of the Quick and Easy Microbusiness System, ETR’s program for starting a business for under $100. Learn how to make as much as $500 to $5,000 an hour just by talking about a subject you love by clicking here.]