If you’ve got something important to say, why not get paid for saying it? Public speaking can be a lucrative field, particularly if you possess strong credentials and impressive experience. While people who work in this capacity may not be able to enjoy the job security available in more traditional occupations, working in this field does allow for flexibility in scheduling and for control of your career trajectory. If you think that you have what it takes to stand up and share your expertise in exchange for a paycheck, take the necessary steps to enter this field.
Position yourself as an authority in a specific area
Select your focus. When people hire public speakers, they want someone who is an authority on the topics about which they speak. Being a jack-of-all-trades won’t serve you well. As you get started, Inc. recommends that you select a few areas about which you are knowledgeable or in which you possess credentials that prove your expertise.
Create marketing materials. No one is going to hire you to speak publicly if they can't find you. Create a website featuring information about yourself. Have some flyers and business cards printed so you have literature on hand should a potential client want more information about you, entreprenuer.com suggests.
Start speaking. You can’t command big bucks the first few times you step behind the podium. As you work to establish yourself as a bankable brand, book as many speaking engagements as you can in the largest venues possible. Start out by charging low rates or offering your services gratis. Use these speaking opportunities as chances to network, passing out your business card and flyers to interested potential clients, entrepreneur.com advises.
Prove yourself through publishing. As Nick Morgan at Forbes.com attests, one effective way to get people to pay you for your appearances is to prove your worth. Publish articles on the topics about which you speak or write a book. With these published pieces to prove your validity as a consummate professional, you will improve your chances of successfully earning money as a public speaker.
Establish reasonable rates and continually re-evaluate them. According to CNN, former President Bill Clinton earned $750,000 for a speech in November of 2011. Figures like this may leave you salivating, tempting you to set high rates. The truth is -- unless you have spent some time in the Oval Office -- you likely won’t be able to command anywhere near that much money. Start out by researching the rates that others within your area of expertise charge. Set commiserate rates. As you develop more experience, re-evaluate tour fee schedule and increase your fees periodically.
Erin Schreiner is a freelance writer and teacher who holds a bachelor's degree from Bowling Green State University. She has been actively freelancing since 2008. Schreiner previously worked for a London-based freelance firm. Her work appears on eHow, Trails.com and RedEnvelope. She currently teaches writing to middle school students in Ohio and works on her writing craft regularly.