How to Get Paid to Speak Even if Nobody Knows You | Ep. #528

In episode #528, Eric and Neil explain how you can be an event speaker without being a household name. Tune in to hear how you can eventually earn money and a following speaking at conferences.

Time-Stamped Show Notes:

  • [00:27] Today’s Topic: How to Get Paid to Speak Even if Nobody Knows You
  • [00:34] Neil shares the story about his early days of public speaking
  • [01:00] He didn’t get paid at first and had to cover his own expenses.
  • [01:26] A Harvard Football player now gets paid $25,000 for speaking gigs at financial firms regarding sales training.
  • [01:33] The football player continuously reached out to every speaker bureau and eventually, they offered him paid gigs.
  • [01:42] He also self-publishes books and then mails them out to the companies and people for whom he would like to work.
  • [02:10] When you first start out, reach out to different conferences and offer your services.
  • [02:26] The first speaking gig that Gary Vee (Gary Vaynerchuk) ever did, he asked for $5,000, because he wasn’t sure what kind of money he could get.
  • [02:41] Now, Gary gets $100,000 per event.
  • [03:11] Bryan Harris came out with a tool to help people get speaking gigs.
  • [03:30] Make a prospect list to help you set your goals.
  • [03:37] You can hire telemarketers from Upwork for about $30/hour to help you do cold calling.
  • [03:52] It would be worth speaking for free at popular conferences, because it will help you build up your speaker resume.
  • [04:34] Neil spoke about Wikipedia at the Search Engine Strategies Conference. He did not generate any revenue, nor did he gain any followers.
  • [04:54] After doing a few more events for free, he eventually began to ask for money.
  • [05:14] Go to the speaker bureau sites and see where those people are speaking, because those are the conferences that are paying.
  • [05:25] Neil charged $5,000 for his first paid gig.
  • [05:37] Eventually, he began charging more money.
  • [06:03] That’s it for today!
  • [06:05] Go to if you want to get in on a special giveaway opportunity!

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The post How to Get Paid to Speak Even if Nobody Knows You | Ep. #528 appeared first on Marketing School Podcast.

Full Transcript of The Episode

Speaker 1: Get ready for your daily dose of marketing strategies and tactics from entrepreneurs with the guile and experience to help you find success in any marketing capacity. You're listening to Marketing School with your instructors Neil Patel and Eric Sui.

Eric Sui: Welcome to another episode of Marketing School. I'm Eric Sui.

Neil Patel : And I'm Neil Patel.

Eric Sui: And today, we're going to talk about how to get paid to speak even if nobody knows you. So this applies to everyone, right? I mean, Neil, what happened to you, your very first days of speaking. How did that happen for you?

Neil Patel : Yeah, my very first days of speaking I would go out there and I just applied to a ton of conferences. My first speaking spot was at a conference called Search Engine Strategy. I applied, created a presentation, eventually they selected me, and then I spoke. I was really nervous but after that I got used to it and now speaking I just kind of do every week. And I didn't get paid at first. I paid for my own expenses, travel, hotel. But I found something that was quite interesting.
I was hanging out with a guy named Adam yesterday, who is a YouTube marketer, and he was telling me about his brother, a football player, went to Harvard, and now he specializes in sales training. So he spoke at places like Goldman Sachs and events like that. And they all pay him 15, 20, 25 grand for speaking gigs. He doesn't necessarily have a profession in speaking but the way he did it, and I thought this was really interesting is, he hits up all the speaker bureaus and they add him. And eventually some of them will hit you back up for paid speaking gigs, even if you don't have recordings.
The other strategy he does, he'll write books, self-publish them, and he mails them out to all the companies and people that he wants to be hired from for paid speaking, and that helps him get inbound inquiries. And I'm like, wait, that's a very simple strategy.

Eric Sui: That's smart. I never thought of it that way. Yeah, I think, if you get to that point, definitely if you write a book, things like that, definitely think about distributing them out. And I think it definitely adds a lot of, well again, going back to credibility.
But the same thing as Neil. When you first start out, reach out to people. Reach out to conferences that you want to speak at. But think about different levels. Sure, people are getting paid 20, 30 grand a pop to go speak out there, but you've got to start ... When I think about Gary V, he had this one video where the first speaking gig that he did, the first paid speaking gig, he wasn't even sure what he would get. So he was like, "Oh, just pay me $5,000 or something like that." And then they easily just said, "Done." And he's like, "Damn it." And then now he's collecting upwards, he can get up to six figures, right?

Neil Patel : Yeah, I think it's a hundred grand for US, $200,000 for international.

Eric Sui: But that was for his first paid speaking one and he was really surprised, right? But you've got to start somewhere. For the most part, if you're reaching out to people, you are probably going to have to cover expenses initially. And then eventually they're going to cover your expenses, and eventually you start getting paid for it. So I think it's important to start to think from that perspective of where everyone's at different chapters. But I like just making a list of places where it makes sense. I know that recently Bryan Harris, came out with a tool to help you get speaking gigs and it's free right now and there's a lot of different entrepreneurship, fitness, marketing conferences all in there, and that can help you organize kind of your targets for the next year. But I do agree that it's important to make some kind of prospect list in the beginning and just start reaching out.

Neil Patel : Yeah, you can go to Upwork. You can actually hire telemarketers for pennies on the dollar, it's like 30 bucks an hour. I know that may sound expensive but you'll only need them part-time. And you can just have them do a ton of cold outreach. It works. It's cashflow positive. The other strategy I learned, and I learned this from a speaking agent is, there's conferences out there that are really popular. Some of them it's worth speaking at for free to build up your name, and your list, and your credibility, and portfolio. Then, from there, you can then use that to pitch other people for paid speaking gigs, and it's a really simple strategy that's effective. But consider doing some for free. And they don't always have to be you giving a speech, it can be a Q and A, you can be a panel. Eric and I did a speech at Nextiva, which is a voice over IP solution, and our speech wasn't really us presenting slides, it was more so us sitting down on a couch and just talking, kind of like we do right now on this podcast.

Eric Sui: Yeah, so Neil, at your first speaking gig, I mean, how did that story go for you?

Neil Patel : I spoke about, I believe it was Wikipedia. I didn't generate any customers from it. It was at Search Engine Strategies. I didn't generate any revenue. My cost was a few thousand bucks. Ticket was for free to attend the event, but I had to pay for the flight and hotel. I did few more for the next few years for free. And then eventually, I just started hitting people up, and I'd be like, "Oh, yeah. I'll speak, but I'll cost money." And that was a really effective strategy. And it may sound weird being like, "Wait, you hit people up?" I'd be like, "Oh, I notice you have some speakers. I'll also speak, and I'll do it but I want money." It works. The thing I learned is, if you go to any speaker bureau site, you'll see a list of all their paid speakers. Go see where those people are speaking at. That means those conferences are paying for speakers. Hit them up and there's a chance that they'll also pay you as well.

Eric Sui: Great. And how much did you charge for your first speaking gig?

Neil Patel : Five thousand bucks.

Eric Sui: Five thousand bucks. Just like Gary V, right? So you've all got to start somewhere.

Neil Patel : I felt like I was rolling in the dough. I was like, "Yeah. I got five thousand bucks." And then I kept charging five thousand. And then I'm like, "Ewe." And someone's like, "Why don't you charge ten thousand?" And I just started throwing that out and I was like, "Wait, [inaudible 00:06:37]" And then from there I'm like, "Why don't I just charge twenty thousand?" Then it went up all the way to fifty.

Eric Sui: Yeah, and that's a really good lesson, not just for speaking, but for any kind of service where you are kind of trading your time at the end of the day. Just think about it. How can you increase your prices? And you'd be surprised at what happens. I think a lot of people are just resistant at doing that, especially the creative people.
So that's it for today. But if you want to check out our giveaway, just go to to learn more, and we will see you tomorrow.

Speaker 1: This session of Marketing School has come to a close. Be sure to subscribe for more daily marketing strategies and tactics to help you find the success you've always dreamed of. And don't forget to rate and review so we can continue to bring you the best daily content possible. We'll see you in class tomorrow, right here on Marketing School.

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