In 2004, I embarked on a journey that, quite frankly, was filled with challenges right from the outset. My aspiration was to become a motivational speaker, but the path was anything but straightforward.
Like a sailor navigating turbulent waters without a compass, I found myself lost amidst the vast sea of public speaking. Many times, I faltered, faced failures, and often felt the sting of disappointment. But every setback was a setup for a comeback.
What hurt the most during those initial years wasn’t just the failures. It was the deafening silence and the lack of guidance.
There wasn’t a guiding hand or a mentor to show me the ropes, to point out the pitfalls, to share the secrets of the trade. Every lesson was learned the hard way, through trial and error.
Fast forward to today, I’ve distilled the essence of my journey into principles and strategies that I often share in my public speaking workshops. These aren’t just based on my personal experiences; they are tried and tested methods that many renowned motivational speakers swear by.
In this guide, I will share with you 10 awesome ways to build a thriving motivational speaking business. Each strategy has not just worked for me, but for countless others.
My hope is that, as you read, you’ll find clarity and inspiration, and perhaps a few shortcuts that I wish were available to me back in 2004.
I invite you to dive deep, consider each point, and visualize how it can reshape your journey in the world of motivational speaking. Let’s make the complex simple, the obscure clear, and the journey a rewarding one.
The Motivational Speaking Business
In the world of motivational speaking, there are different kinds of speakers. Some step up to the microphone just because they want to share what they know or light up someone’s day.
They’re happy just knowing they’ve sparked a new idea or given someone hope. And that’s a wonderful thing.
But let’s be honest: many motivational speakers also want to earn money from their craft. And that’s okay. Just like a talented singer gets paid for a concert or a writer for their book, it makes sense for speakers to be rewarded for their hard work and expertise.
Thinking of motivational speaking as a business isn’t about forgetting your passion or the real reason you started. Instead, it’s about making sure you can keep doing what you love. Here’s why this business mindset can help:
Sustainability: Speaking involves costs. There’s travel, preparing materials, and sometimes even marketing. If you earn from your talks, you can cover these costs and keep sharing your message.
Growth: With the money you make, you can invest in yourself. Maybe attend more training, get better equipment, or even hire someone to help you. This means you can offer even more to your audience.
Respect: When you charge for your talks, people see the value in what you offer. They’ll take you more seriously and listen more closely.
Focus: When you treat speaking as a real job, you put more effort into it. You’ll plan better, choose the right events, and always look for ways to be better.
There’s no harm in earning from what you’re good at. It just means you can keep doing it for longer and reach even more people.
When you love what you do and also get paid for it, it’s a win-win.
I consider my first two pieces of advice the most important. When you get them right, you’ll be able to build and scale your business.
Find and Nurture Your 1,000 True Fans
Stepping into the spotlight, it’s the echo of applause and the faces bright with anticipation that fuel a speaker’s passion. Behind every successful motivational speaker is a core group of ardent supporters, or as we like to call them, “true fans.”
They’re much more than just regular audience members; they’re your most significant champions. Imagine the power of having not just ten, not a hundred, but a whopping 1,000 of such ardent supporters. That’s not just an audience; it’s a rock-solid foundation for a sustainable speaking business.
But what makes these fans so special?
They don’t just sit and nod; they amplify your message. They’re the ones eagerly discussing your ideas at dinner tables, sharing clips of your talks on social media, and clearing their schedules just to attend your next seminar. Their dedication isn’t just heartwarming; it’s a reliable stream of encouragement and, yes, income.
Kevin Kelly might have coined the term “1,000 true fans”, but it’s luminaries like Simon Sinek who live its power. Sinek’s powerful “Start With Why” wasn’t just a message; it was a movement. It wasn’t his brilliant idea alone but the army of true fans who resonated with it, bought his books, attended his talks, and made sure the world heard about it.
So, how does one find these true fans and, more importantly, nurture them? Here are four clear steps:
It’s tempting to hide behind scheduled tweets and automated emails. But your true fans crave genuine interaction. Engage in real-time chats on social platforms, host live Q&A sessions, or even casual coffee meetups.
Your fans will often offer insights, feedback, or even constructive criticism. Instead of brushing it off, listen. Use their feedback to refine your content, adjust your delivery, or just to understand your audience better.
Everyone loves exclusive content. Share behind-the-scenes glimpses of your preparation for a talk or snippets from your personal life. This not only humanizes you but also makes your true fans feel they’re part of an inner circle.
Perhaps, early bird access to your new workshop or special discounts on your books. Making them feel valued goes a long way.
Provide Value Consistently
It’s not about churning out content daily but ensuring what you offer is valuable. If you’re releasing a video, book, or even a blog post, it should add value to your fans’ lives.
The world is ever-evolving, and so are its challenges. Ensure your content stays relevant, updated, and in sync with current events and challenges.
Stay in Touch
Newsletters are a great way to keep your fans in the loop. Share your upcoming talks, new book releases, or just thoughts on recent global events.
Encourage feedback. Send out surveys, ask for topic suggestions, and make them feel their opinion shapes your content.
Remember, while the goal might be 1,000 true fans, the journey begins with just one. With each interaction, each talk, each book, you have the opportunity to transform a casual listener into a true fan. Cherish them, value them, and watch as they become the cornerstone of your motivational speaking business.
Get Yourself Oversubscribed
Stepping onto the stage, the last thing a speaker wants is an empty hall. It’s not just about filling seats; it’s about demand, reputation, and ensuring that what you offer is sought after. Every successful speaker dreams of a day when their seminars are fully booked, with a waiting list of eager attendees.
Being oversubscribed isn’t just a measure of popularity; it’s an indicator of your value and impact in the motivational speaking circuit.
So, why aim for being oversubscribed?
It’s simple. When more people want to hear you than there are seats in the hall, it means you’ve struck a chord. It means your message resonates, and people are willing to go the extra mile to hear you live.
More than just an ego boost, being oversubscribed allows you to charge premium rates, choose the best venues, and ensures a committed audience.
Speakers like Tony Robbins exemplify the power of being oversubscribed. His seminars, often held in large arenas, sell out quickly, with many attendees returning year after year, a testament to his lasting impact and the high demand for his insights.
To achieve this coveted oversubscribed status, here’s a roadmap:
Build a Unique Offering
Every motivational speaker has a story, but what makes yours stand out? Refine your core message. Make it relatable, actionable, and memorable. It’s that unique flavor you bring that’ll have attendees choosing you over others.
Beyond just advertising your next seminar, build a brand narrative. Share testimonials, success stories, and snippets of past talks. Let potential attendees know what they can gain from your sessions.
Value Your Worth
While starting out, it might be tempting to offer free sessions or heavily discounted rates. However, value your expertise. Pricing yourself appropriately not only adds to your credibility but also attracts a more committed audience.
Maintain a Personal Touch
Even as demands grow, remember the importance of personal interaction. Reply to a few emails personally, engage with attendees post-seminar, or even hold small group interactions. This personal touch can turn a one-time attendee into a lifelong fan.
Being oversubscribed is a sweet spot. It’s where passion meets demand, and every seminar becomes an event people mark their calendars for. Aim for it, work for it, and enjoy the journey and the rewards it brings.
Gain Credibility: Certification & Associations
Walking onto the stage, every motivational speaker brings a unique blend of experiences, stories, and insights. But in a world where expertise is often gauged by qualifications, having a certification or being part of a recognized association can give you an extra edge.
While your stories and teachings come from personal experiences, a stamp of approval from a respected body adds weight to your words.
So, why should a speaker consider certifications or joining associations?
Firstly, it’s about credibility. When event organizers or attendees see recognized qualifications, they instinctively trust the speaker more.
Secondly, it’s a sign of commitment. It shows you’ve taken the time and effort to refine your skills and learn the art and science of public speaking.
Many successful speakers boast of their affiliations or certifications. While they might have been exceptional speakers even without them, these badges of honor add to their profile.
Consider speakers associated with Toastmasters International, for instance. The organization’s reputation for nurturing public speaking skills enhances the credibility of its members.
For those keen on adding this dimension to their speaking journey, here’s a blueprint:
Research Relevant Certifications
Not all certifications are created equal. Depending on your niche or area of expertise, identify certifications that are recognized and respected in the industry.
Commit and Complete
Once you’ve zeroed in on a certification, give it your all. Attend the necessary training sessions, complete the evaluations, and ensure you truly gain from the experience.
Join Speaker Associations
Beyond certifications, consider joining speaker associations. These can offer networking opportunities, training sessions, and even speaking opportunities.
Showcase Your Credentials
Once you have a certification or membership, don’t be shy to showcase it. Add it to your bio, your website, and your marketing materials. Let organizers and attendees know you’ve taken steps to enhance your skills.
The path of motivational speaking is both an art and a craft. While personal experiences and insights form the soul of your sessions, certifications, and associations act as a solid framework, giving your audience the confidence that they’re in skilled hands.
Whether you’re just starting out or are a seasoned speaker, consider these steps as a way to further hone your craft and amplify your impact.
Sell Your Expertise through Proprietary Solutions
Every time a motivational speaker stands behind the podium, they’re offering more than just words; they’re providing solutions, insights, and new ways of thinking.
But in a world overflowing with information, what makes your message stand out? The answer lies in proprietary solutions — unique, trademarked, or specialized knowledge or systems that only you offer.
Why does having something proprietary matter?
For starters, it differentiates you. In a crowded marketplace, having something uniquely yours ensures you’re not just another voice but a distinguished expert.
Secondly, it adds value. When audiences know they’re getting knowledge or solutions they can’t find elsewhere, they’re more likely to engage, invest, and advocate.
Think of how Rick Warren’s “Purpose-Driven Life” wasn’t just a book, but a proprietary approach to living. Or how Simon Sinek’s “Golden Circle” offered a unique perspective on leadership. In a speech before Toastmasters, I came up with the same idea, though mind has four concentric circle. Mine isn’t golden, it is the Why Not Circle.
These weren’t just talks; they were branded, proprietary solutions that skyrocketed their creators to fame.
For speakers keen on carving out their niche in this manner, here are some steps to consider:
Identify Your Unique Value Proposition
Before you can brand a solution, you need to identify it. What do you offer that’s different? It could be a unique method, a fresh perspective, or a system you’ve developed based on years of research.
Develop and Refine
Once you’ve identified your unique offering, work on it. This could mean writing a book, developing a workshop, or creating an online course. The idea is to package your solution in a way that’s accessible and beneficial to your audience.
Protect Your Intellectual Property
If you’ve developed something truly unique, consider getting it trademarked or copyrighted. This not only protects your hard work but also adds to its credibility and value.
A proprietary solution is only as good as the number of people who know about it. Integrate it into your talks, write articles, host webinars, and ensure it becomes synonymous with your name.
Having a proprietary solution doesn’t just add a feather to your cap; it can become the cornerstone of your speaking business. It positions you as an expert, makes your offerings more valuable, and ensures that your audience always gets something unique and impactful. So, dive deep, find that unique solution, and let it shine!
Brand Yourself Uniquely
In a hall filled with speakers, each equipped with a microphone and a story to tell, what makes you memorable?
Branding yourself the best motivational speaker in the Philippines will make you sound like an amateur. I remember, 10 years ago, there were ten amateur speakers who brand themselves as the best motivational speaker in the Philippines. None of them is as popular or as good as Francis Kong or Bo Sanchez.
Beyond the words and wisdom, it’s your brand — the unique identity, image, and impression you leave in people’s minds.
In the motivational speaking world, your brand isn’t just about a logo or a catchphrase; it’s the essence of who you are, what you stand for, and how audiences perceive you.
Why is branding crucial?
For one, it sets you apart. With a distinctive brand, you’re not just another speaker; you’re an experience, an entity. Moreover, a strong brand ensures recall. Days or even months after your talk, attendees will remember not just your words but the brand behind them.
Consider Les Brown. His brand isn’t just about motivational speaking; it’s about possibility, resilience, and the catchphrase, “It’s Possible!” His identity is so entwined with this branding that the moment you hear those words, you think of him.
For speakers aiming to establish a powerful brand, here’s a pathway:
Discover Your Core Message
Before you can brand yourself, you need to know what you stand for. Is it resilience, innovation, transformation? Pinpoint that core message that resonates through all your talks.
Design Around Your Message
This includes visual elements like logos, color schemes, and promotional materials, but also intangibles like your speaking style, presentation format, and even the way you interact with audiences.
Branding is about repetition and consistency. Whether it’s the visuals in your presentation, your social media posts, or the stories you tell, ensure there’s a consistent theme that audiences can identify with.
Engage and Evolve
Listen to feedback from your audience. Understand how they perceive your brand and be willing to evolve. As you grow and learn, ensure your brand reflects that journey.
Your brand is the lighthouse that guides audiences to you. It’s the promise of what they can expect and the experience they’ll undergo. So, invest time in it, nurture it, and watch as it transforms you from just another speaker to a memorable brand.
Leverage Social Media for Maximum Impact
Social media isn’t just for sharing holiday photos or daily thoughts anymore. It’s a powerful tool, especially for motivational speakers.
Through platforms like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter, you can reach thousands, even millions, with just a click.
But why should speakers be on social media?
First, it helps you reach a wider audience. Not everyone can attend your seminars, but they can watch a video or read a post.
Second, it helps you connect. Through comments, shares, and likes, you can directly interact with your fans, understand their views, and even get feedback.
Think about Gary Vaynerchuk. He’s not just known for his speaking gigs. His presence on social media, from inspiring tweets to insightful videos, has made him a household name in the world of motivation and entrepreneurship.
If you’re looking to harness the power of social media, here are some steps to start:
Choose Your Platforms Wisely
You don’t need to be everywhere. Depending on your message and audience, pick platforms that suit you best. For videos, YouTube might be best. For short bursts of inspiration, Twitter works well.
Share Valuable Content
It’s not just about posting often, but posting content that matters. Share snippets from your talks, write short articles, or even just inspiring quotes that align with your message.
Engage with Your Audience
Reply to comments, start discussions, and be active. The more you engage, the more people feel connected to you.
Social media is always changing. New features, new algorithms. Keep yourself updated to ensure your content reaches the maximum number of people.
Using social media effectively can amplify your voice. It’s like having a microphone that reaches every corner of the world. Use it wisely, stay active, and watch as your influence grows beyond the stage.
Host Workshops and Masterclasses
Beyond the stage, there’s a more intimate setting where speakers can truly make a mark: workshops and masterclasses.
These smaller, focused gatherings allow for deeper dives into topics and facilitate a closer connection with attendees.
But why should a speaker consider hosting workshops? For starters, it’s a more personalized experience. Instead of speaking to a large audience, you’re interacting with a smaller group, addressing specific questions, and providing tailored solutions.
Moreover, workshops can be a steady revenue stream. They’re not just about ticket sales; they can lead to further consultations, book sales, and even future speaking engagements.
Many renowned speakers, like Brene Brown with her workshops on vulnerability and leadership, have seen the dual benefit of such events – both in terms of revenue and deeper audience connection.
For speakers keen on exploring this avenue, here’s a step-by-step guide:
Identify a Niche Topic
While your broader talks can cover a range of topics, workshops should be more focused. Choose a specific subject that you’re passionate about and that resonates with your audience.
Plan an Interactive Session
Unlike one-way talks, workshops thrive on interaction. Include activities, Q&A sessions, and group discussions to keep attendees engaged.
Leverage your social media, email lists, and website to let your followers know about the workshop. Early bird discounts or special offers can also attract more participants.
After the workshop, gather feedback. Understand what worked, what didn’t, and how you can improve. This will ensure your future workshops are even more successful.
Workshops and masterclasses are not just extensions of your speaking business; they’re opportunities to connect, educate, and inspire on a more personal level. With the right planning and execution, they can become a vital part of your motivational speaking journey.
Publish Your Insights: The Power of Books
Every motivational speaker has a treasure trove of insights, stories, and wisdom. One of the most effective ways to share this knowledge, establish authority, and reach a broader audience is through publishing a book.
Why write a book?
First and foremost, a book lends credibility. Being a published author sets you apart, showcasing your expertise and dedication to your craft.
Secondly, it’s a tangible resource that fans can purchase, gift, and share, extending your influence far beyond live events.
Think about how Robin Sharma’s “The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari” or Stephen R. Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” not only bolstered their speaking careers but became benchmarks in personal development literature.
For those keen on translating their spoken words into written ones, here’s a guide:
Choose a Core Message
A book needs a central theme or message. Reflect on your talks and identify a message that resonates deeply with audiences and one that you’re passionate about delving into.
Set a Writing Routine
Writing a book is a marathon, not a sprint. Set aside dedicated time each day or week for writing. This consistent effort will slowly but surely bring your book to life.
Consider Professional Help
From editors to cover designers, consider getting professionals to polish your book. A well-edited and well-presented book reflects your professionalism.
Promote and Integrate
Once published, promote your book at your talks, on social media, and through workshops. It can be an additional revenue stream and a powerful tool for audience engagement.
A book is more than just pages filled with words. It’s an extension of your brand, a beacon of your expertise, and a tool to touch lives even when you’re not on stage. Consider writing as the next step in amplifying your impact as a motivational speaker.
Build Collaborations and Partnerships
In the journey of motivational speaking, while your unique voice and message are central, there’s undeniable power in collaboration.
By partnering with other speakers, organizations, or even brands, you can expand your reach, diversify your content, and tap into new audiences.
Why consider collaborations? Firstly, it’s about synergy. When two or more experts come together, the resulting content can be richer, offering varied perspectives and insights. Secondly, it helps in audience cross-pollination. Fans of your collaborators get introduced to your work and vice versa.
Renowned speakers often engage in collaborations. For instance, when Tony Robbins collaborated with financial expert Peter Mallouk for the book “Unshakeable”, it tapped into both their fan bases, expanding reach and offering combined expertise.
For those looking to explore the power of partnerships, here’s a roadmap:
Identify Potential Partners
Look for individuals or organizations that align with your values and have a complementary expertise or audience base.
Propose Mutually Beneficial Projects
This could be joint seminars, co-authored books, or combined online courses. Ensure the collaboration offers value to all parties involved.
Leverage both your promotional channels. Whether it’s social media, newsletters, or podcasts, joint promotion ensures maximum reach.
Stay Open and Adaptable
Collaborations mean adjustments and compromises. Be open to feedback, be adaptable, and always focus on the mutual goal.
Collaborations and partnerships aren’t just about expanding reach; they’re about enriching content, learning from peers, and offering your audience a wider spectrum of insights.
Embrace them as strategic steps to elevate your speaking career.
Offering Digital Courses and Webinars
Your influence as a motivational speaker doesn’t need to be confined to physical stages or printed pages. The online realm offers endless opportunities to reach a global audience, and one of the most effective ways to harness this potential is through digital courses and webinars.
Why go digital with courses and webinars?
Firstly, it’s about accessibility. People from all corners of the world can access your content, regardless of time zones or geographical constraints.
Secondly, it provides a scalable revenue stream. Once created, a digital course can be sold repeatedly with minimal upkeep.
Speakers like Brendon Burchard have mastered the art of digital courses, offering comprehensive training programs that reach thousands, if not millions, across the globe.
For speakers looking to venture into the digital domain, here are actionable steps:
Identify Your Course Topic
Based on feedback and popular demand, choose a topic that your audience is eager to learn about. Ensure it aligns with your core message and expertise.
Invest in Quality Production
Whether it’s video lectures, audio content, or interactive quizzes, ensure the production quality is top-notch. This adds value and enhances user experience.
Utilize your social media channels, mailing lists, and speaking engagements to spread the word about your digital offerings.
Engage and Update
Stay connected with your course subscribers. Answer queries, take feedback, and periodically update the content to keep it relevant.
Digital courses and webinars are not just supplementary offerings; they can be the backbone of a sustainable and scalable speaking business. In a world that’s increasingly online, embracing digital avenues ensures that your message, influence, and impact know no bounds.
Thank you for taking the time to journey through these insights. I genuinely hope they serve as valuable stepping stones as you carve your unique path in the world of motivational speaking.
If you’ve found these ideas enlightening, I encourage you to share them with budding speakers or anyone who harbors the dream of inspiring and motivating others. After all, knowledge shared is knowledge multiplied.
For those eager to get started or further hone their craft, remember that you’re not alone in this journey. I’m here to support, guide, and share from my reservoir of experiences.
To those in the Philippines, I offer comprehensive public speaking training programs tailored for organizations, ensuring your teams communicate with clarity, confidence, and charisma.
Every voice has the potential to create ripples of change, to inspire, and to motivate. With the right strategies, passion, and persistence, your voice can echo far and wide. Here’s to your success and the countless lives you’ll touch!