Here are two important steps that you need to take when starting out as a paid speaker:
1) Define Your Expertise And Establish Your Speaking Topics
As you start your speaking business, it’s crucial that you start thinking about market positioning. What will you speak about, and equally (if not more) importantly, who will you speak to? The question is more easily answered than you might think. Ask yourself:
• What are you passionate about?
• What are you experienced in?
• What are you knowledgeable about?
• What have you gone through that is unique or unusual?
• Have you undergone a unique challenge and prevailed?
• What major life failings have you endured, and what did you learn?
• What career success did you achieve? What was special or unique about your career trajectory?
• What valuable insights can you relate to others about your personal life experiences?
• Have you ever overcome life-threatening illness, or triumphed over a life threatening circumstance?
We could ask you questions like this all day long, but the point is that you have to discover your speaking topics on your own. It has to be something that you have a deep desire to express and relate to others. You need to become very clear about what you want to be presenting on as a professional speaker.
2) Seek Out And Discover Your Niche Market And ‘Desperate Buyer Only’ Audience
The other question is, who will you speak to? You need to think about developing your services for ‘desperate buyers’ – those who need, want and – most importantly – will hire you to receive your message. Ask yourself these questions:
• What specific groups or associations need to hear your message?
• Who is the main audience for your information? Is it most pertinent to corporations, philanthropies, colleges and universities, or youth groups? What other types of groups?
• Where do those that need to hear your message congregate – offline and online?
• Do they have the available budget to pay you to speak to them? Specifically, are funds allocated for speakers in their meetings and events?
• Are there multiple similarly-minded groups around the country (or even in another country) that you could continually be hired to speak to?
• What opportunities exist to develop products and other informational materials to sell within your chosen market niche?
• Is your chosen market ‘evergreen’? That is, will the issue or information that you are addressing with them still be valid, relevant, and in demand for many years to come?
• Who could currently be seen as a speaker competitor in your niche market? Does the market seem saturated with other speakers who present on your topic?
• Is your chosen market finding other means of addressing or fulfilling their need for your information in ways other than hiring professional speakers?
• Is your niche market growing and expanding, or is it in decline? What are future prospects? If it is a business, is the industry it is apart of financially stable? If it is an association or philanthropy, are they growing or shrinking?
As you can see, many of these questions require some extensive research on your part. Get online, ask questions, make phone calls, and don’t be afraid to test the waters. You can ask personnel whether they have ever hired professional speakers, or if they have a budget for such things. Don’t hesitate to find out how they have been handling the issues that you wish to address, or even if they are aware of their importance in the first place.
Nobody can do this business-building legwork for you! You have to do this research by yourself, and I suggest that you take this early task very seriously. This is a major aspect of the ‘foundation laying’ stage!
Many great speakers provide a speaking service that fills the holes in for markets that didn’t even realize they had holes that needed to be filled. Nothing is preventing you from becoming this same kind of trendsetting professional, and it’s often easier than you think.
So start working on whittling your message down to a very tightly focused niche. Conducting solid, extensive research is invaluable, and if done thoroughly, it will pay your speaking business huge dividends for years to come!