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Will Speaking for Free Hurt Your Reputation as a Speaker?

That all depends on what you think about speaking for free. If you grew up believing the saying that “you get what you paid for,” then it might be a struggle to believe that people who speak for free are worth listening to. After all, if what they were speaking about did have value, why wouldn’t it have a monetary value as well?

Would it surprise you to know that there are highly successful and sought after speakers who still speak for free? There are even millionaire speakers who still speak for free!

Speaking for free is not going to fit into every speaker’s comfort zone. Most of us grew up wired to think that we should be compensated for what we do. We work…we get paid. That means that if we speak, we need to get paid because if we don’t, we don’t have food to eat or a safe place to rest our heads at night.

There’s also the idea that only “beginners” speak for free. And yes, it’s true that most speakers start by speaking for free to get some experience, but often times they continue to speak for free because they realize they can reach more people that way—people who might not have ever thought of doing business with them otherwise.

The only type of speaker who absolutely needs to think about charging a speaking fee is a speaker who has absolutely nothing to offer off the stage. That means no books, coaching/training programs, products, or services at all. Of course the irony is that if a speaker doesn’t have any of those things, it’s unlikely they can charge a large enough fee to support themselves.

The choice really comes down to the way each speaker evaluates the possibilities of the speaking opportunity. It’s not like there’s a blanket right or wrong decision to make either. In fact, I’d really like to know what you think about the issue of speaking for free or fee. It’s an issue all speakers, both professional and aspiring, have to deal with, and your insights will be valuable to all of us. So please feel free to share them HERE. Your comments are always welcome and appreciated!