So you have a powerful message and a great talent for professional speaking? That’s just the beginning and no assurance of earning a healthy income as a paid professional speaker.

Here’s the good news, though. If you answered yes to the question above, you have the foundation for a great future as a speaker. The rest is cosmetic but in this industry, cosmetics are critical!

There are many paths to becoming a professional keynote speaker. Only a couple of routes, though, will get you the results you’re looking for.

That’s the reality! The path that’s right for you should be based on your strengths. Are you great at sales, super at networking or better at developing information and the written word? In the first case, you’ll focus on getting on the phone, in the second, going out and meeting people and in the third, you’ll get your info out on social media sites and in your newsletter.

There are three essentials for every speaker, though. Number 1 is understanding that you’re in the marketing/sales field; that is central to your success. If you believe that you want to have 4 speaking engagements a month, you probably need to take another look at that. The truth is that most of your time will be spent marketing and selling your speeches. Showing up at the engagement is almost the least of it. So set aside more time to market and sell than for actual speaking engagements.

What are your strengths and weaknesses? You have to balance the areas you excel in by compensating for your areas of weakness. This is where delegation is a good idea.
The second essential is twofold – build a great database and up-to-date records of your follow ups to inquiries. Your business, quite frankly, will die without diligent attention to this. The days of being successful without an online following are over. Develop a strong online presence on Linked In, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as well as other social media sites. Set up a professional group on Linked In and begin to invite other connections to join you. Make sure you post discussions often so that your group is active. And make sure that you have a system to keep excellent records of each phone call you make, when that conference is coming up and what the deadline for submitting a request for proposal is.

The third essential is to create a great business model from the start.

I rarely recommend that speakers depend only on inspirational keynote speaking as a source of income. Remember that anything that affects the travel industry – SARS, terrorist attacks, the economy and even volcanic ash – affects the keynote speaking industry as well.

I suggest you diversify and add a couple of other things to your menu of services. Retreats? Business briefings?
Mastermind groups? Training? The list goes on. If you can deliver and provide value on three different methods of delivery, you’ll do well. And you’ll have three related and sustainable sources of income. Now that’s a good plan!
Good luck!

Cathleen Fillmore

Author's Bio: 

Owner of Speakers Gold bureau and also marketing consultant to speakers who want to make more money doing what they love. Join us at our annual seminar – for more information, go to