How to Make Money as a Public Speaker

Last week I was rummaging through some old photos and came across some pictures of my very first speaking engagement and those pics served as the catalyst for today’s post.  The Landlord In Stiletto’s movement is bigger than just financial freedom through real estate- it’s about leveraging all of our talents to serve and of course earn.  One of the talents that I’d like to focus on is how we can harness the power of public speaking to not only build a useful skillset but earn additional income.
We’ve all heard that for some people public speaking is their number one fear followed by death. It’s no wonder that many would shun the idea of choosing public speaking as a great way to make additional income.  From a personal perspective, public speaking has helped me in many ways: It forces me to get out of my comfort zone and take action beyond my fears.
As a child I went to a performing arts school so I became very comfortable with the idea of being on stage at an early age.  This however, did not change the fact that speaking to a large group of people almost always causes me to feel normal emotions of nervousness, insecurity and doubt. Regardless of how many times I get in front of an audience to speak, I feel the same nervous jitters in my stomach. This very dramatic mental imagery plays out in my mind where I’m constantly rehearsing what I will say and mentally timing the perfect delivery of a certain line or quote.  It’s an exhaustive process that I indulge in- only to get on the stage and completely delete those mental scenarios in my mind and just be….myself.   Its perfectly normal to experience the emotion of fear but the key is to not allow it to cripple you.  If you can push beyond the number two fear that most people have you will find that public speaking can be one of the most rewarding activities that you can experience in this lifetime.  Here are a few things to consider if this is a path that interests you:
Start small and work your way up.  My first speaking gig was to a small group of teenage girls at a recreational center for the United Way.  I was happy to do the event for free but was pleasantly surprised when I was presented with a check for $150.  Many organizations will ask you to speak for free or offer you a small fee if you are an unknown or just getting started in your speaking career.  This should not deter you!  In the beginning these small engagements will build up your resume and also give you the experience you need to command higher fees.
Word of mouth is critical. Once you begin to network and build relationships, word of mouth regarding you as a speaker will be critical to your speaking career.  Being named the Keynote Speaker for the Graduating Class of Furness High was purely based off of a great relationship that  I had with a sorority sister who was aware of my speaking skills. *tip: always hire a photographer or videographer to capture your speeches.  Post them on your website and use them as promotional tools.  If you are low on funds, ask a close friend or family member to assist.  As a result of having my pubic speeches recorded I was able to secure other speaking gigs.
Create a product and be a double-threat: If you have a product to promote like a book (also e-book, CD, pamphlet, etc.) you can leverage the opportunity to earn even more income.  The speaker fee plus back of the room (BOR) sales can add up nicely. I once spoke at a women’s conference and my total book sales ended up exceeding the $2,000 speaker fee.  Also, I think it’s easier to book speaking gigs once you’ve created a product as opposed to not having one.  I’m sure there are talented people who are able to do so otherwise, but for relatively unknowns like myself, people feel more confident when  you have a tangible product to promote.
Always ask for testimonials.  After each and every speaking engagement, ask for testimonials.  Strong testimonials from the heads of organizations or departments or even from those in the audience can go a long way in an effort to market yourself.  Plaster those testimonials on your website, blog and marketing materials.  People like to hire those who come with good referrals.  Your testimonials will serve as an immediate recommendation from someone who has hired you and was happy with the product you delivered.
So, what are you waiting for? If you still aren’t convinced……..


  1. It will build your character, confidence and sense of self worth
  2. You will positively impact the lives of others through your personal story and uplifting message
  3. Being a public speaker gives you instant credibility and you will be regarded as an “expert” in your given field
  4. You will meet amazing people from all walks of life
  5. You’ll be treated like an A-list celebrity by adoring fans…ok maybe more like c-list 🙂
  6. You’ll leave a legacy of positive messages and stories for your children and family
  7. You will create an additional income stream that is uncapped
  8. The travel is awesome! (I’m hardly an A-lister, but when travel is involved all of my expenses are paid including travel, meals, lodging etc.)
  9. It’s a great resume builder. (whether you own your own business or happen to be seeking employment, people are impressed by public speaking creds)
  10. After the nervous jitters and butterflies, you will have a blast. Trust me, some of my fondest memories come from me being on stage impacting the lives of others through public speaking.
If after reading all of this public speaking still scares the crap out of you then consider taking a course or join a group like Toast Masters. Even if you don’t have the desire to do it professionally, having the confidence to stand in front of a room and be yourself builds confidence. An increase in confidence could serve you well both personally and professionally.   Determine your end goal and see if harnessing the power of public speaking might be a good fit for you!

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