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If an event organizer is considering two different people to speak on a certain topic and one of those people is a bestselling author, that person is going to get the gig. But it is not as simple as writing a book and waiting for these speaking offers to come in. You have to get very, very proactive.
In another episode, Jessica Lahey, who's a New York Times best-selling author and has a law degree and is an educator and a teacher, walked me through what her process is.
Basically, she wrote thousands of letters to heads of schools, to principals, to superintendents with a passage from her book way before it was coming out and explained why it would be a really great book to show for their community and offered to come in and speak.
Then she said, "This is what the speech would look like. I could talk to your students as well as your teachers. And by the way, did you know that this is this could be part of your professional development budget that could pay for it? By the way, a parent association budget can pay for it."
So she went in there and really did the whole job for them, made the decision for them and broke down how they could do it.
So it should be no surprise that she speaks all over now if you want to speak.
Brainstorm a list of organizations that are related to your topic and start making a list—maybe an Excel spreadsheet—and start figuring out who to contact there.
You may need to contact somebody who's going to send you to the right person, but just stay on it.
This is what my friend Ryan Hampton did and it worked beautifully. He had a book about addiction and recovery and the opiate crisis. So he reached out to rehabs all over the country and said, "You do not have to pay me. I will fly myself there. All you have to do is buy books." And he set it up so that the organization, the rehab in this case, would buy books through a site called BookPal, which does bulk orders at a discount. It also reports to the bestseller lists.
Then he would figure out how to make his speaking event at said rehab into a local media event, and he would then reach out to local press there. Therefore, it's not just something that the rehab is getting for free but you are bringing press to this rehab or organization.
And he sold there was an organization that bought 1000 copies of his book that way.
Previous podcast guest Cameron Herold talked about how he used to take 10 copies of his book with him, sell it to the first ten people that came up to him for twenty bucks, make two hundred dollars and then go get a massage or do whatever you do with two hundred dollars when you're visiting.
Then he met the former VP of marketing for Kodak and saw that that guy handed out his book for free to everyone in the audience—like 200 people. And that seemed counterintuitive: he thought why would he do that?
Then he realized if he was getting one client from that, it was so worth it, especially if, for bulk orders, he could be getting paperback copies for three or four dollars a book.
So he started to do that and he started to realize that he would get more speaking offers, more coaching clients, more of everything. And so now what he does is every time he's booked as a speaker, he reaches out, he does the deal, he does the contract, and he reaches out afterward and says, "Oh, I forgot to ask you about books. How many people will be there? I can send books for everybody for ten dollars, including shipping."
And he said usually they come back and go, "That's great. There are 300 people." And he sends an invoice for three thousand dollars. And if they don't, then he covers the three thousand dollars. And even though that is expensive, it is more than worth it for what comes in as a result.
I used to do more speaking really just at colleges and I would get $2-3 thousand dollars and while I never went anywhere glamorous, I went to these tiny towns all over the country that I never would see otherwise.
Malcolm Gladwell and Tim Ferriss get fifty thousand dollars and Simon Sinek gets 200 thousand dollars. So it is definitely a way to make extra income.
Make yourself available as a speaker by creating a speaking page for your site. Put reviews—try to get a testimonial from the person who booked you. Put together a reel. I sometimes will just trot out my phone and ask people who come up to me after I speak to thank me, "Hey, could I get you to say this on video?"
On your speaking page on your site, have your reel, have testimonials, have lists of places you've spoken, have paragraph-long summaries of the keynotes that you can give, have pictures of you speaking, have everything that you can so that somebody can just click on that and know that you'll kill it.
And why not buy your name plus speaking as a domain? (I used to have annadavidspeaking.com but I let it go.)
Some venues and events are very open to you, quote, selling from the stage, while others are not. I did three TED talks. You are not allowed to sell from the stage and selling can mean your services as a coach, whatever it is. But many of us do use that opportunity to get people on our email list.
And you can offer to send anybody in the audience the slide deck or anything else. Sometimes people will actually have a number that you can text and they'll say, "Text me right now and we'll get you a copy of the slide deck" or "We'll get you this one sheet cheat sheet"—just come up with some way to keep in touch with these people afterward.
"If an event organizer is considering two different people to speak on a certain topic and one of those people has a book and is a bestselling author, that person is going to get the gig. But it is not as simple as writing a book and waiting for these speaking offers to come in. You have to get very, very proactive."
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