Monday, September 15, 2014

Determining Your Speaking Level and Fees

Thank you for all the positive feedback you’ve been sending about this series! I’m so happy it’s useful information.

One of the most difficult things to assess is our own speaking level, so it’s also hard to set fees. The fee structure below is information my friend Leah DiPascal collected for a session at She Speaks. She gave me permission to use it for Next Step, and I’m excited to share it with you.

When you are trying to determine where you fall within these guidelines, remember that you may meet most but not all the requirements for a certain level. However, I love that it’s so thorough, and it will also give you some goals to work toward as you continue to grow, because growing speakers have growing qualifications.

Just Beginning

• Going through the P.I.T. (Put In Time).
• Speaking at a lot of events for free or charging a really small fee just to get the experience.
• Payment via plant, picture frame, Starbucks gift card
• Gain Experience – Build Confidence – Get Exposure

Level 1

• Speaking 3-5 times a year.
• Basic bio sheet.
• If you don’t have a bio sheet – Examples of them on P31 website

$150 – $450 plus travel and accommodations
1 session $ 150
2-3 sessions (one night stay)* $ 300
3-4 sessions (one or two night stay)** $ 450

* An event is classified as 2-3 sessions (one night stay) when the last session ends in time for the speaker to travel home the afternoon of the second day. If the last session ends late, requiring an additional overnight stay, that would be classified as a 3-4 sessions event with two nights stay.

** Additional sessions can be added. The cost for each additional session is based on the 1 session fee for that speaker.

Love Offerings – Recommendation: Level 1 & 2 is okay. Once you’re level 3 & up, we don’t recommend this on a regular basis. It’s too nebulous as you move up into the higher levels.

Level 2

• Speaking at least 7 times a year
• Doing events with a small budget
• Usually are breakout speakers for events – not the keynote speaker
• Mostly events within driving distance
• Designed bio sheet with 1 sample message on CD

$300 – $900 plus travel and accommodations
1 session $ 300
2-3 sessions (one night stay)* $ 600
3-4 sessions (one or two night stay)** $ 900

Level 3

• Speaking around 8-12 events a year
• Garnering larger speaking fees
• Sometimes you are the main speaker and sometimes the breakout speaker but doing larger events
• Writing articles published in recognized magazines
• Doing more out of state events and flying to those
• Professionally designed and printed bio sheet with 2 messages on CD or DVD

$500 – $1600 plus travel and accommodations
1 session $ 500-$800
2-3 sessions (one night stay)* $ 1,000-$1300
3-4 sessions (one or two night stay)** $ 1,300-$1600

Level 4

• Speaking more than 12 times a year
• Larger events with larger budgets
• At most events you are the keynote speaker
• At least 1 published book or other unique exposure as a voice in the Christian world
• Doing mostly out of state events that require flying
• Professionally designed and printed bio sheet with 2 messages on CD and DVD clips you can provide the church for promo purposes

$850 – $2000 plus travel and accommodations
1 session $ 850-$1100
2-3 sessions (one night stay)* $ 1,700-$2,000
3-4 sessions (one or two night stay)** $ 2,000-$2,500

Level 5

• Speaking more than 20 times a year
• Larger events with larger budget
• Keynote speaker
• Has multiple published books
• Flying to all events with an assistant – only driving to events within 4 hours from home

$1000 – $4500 plus travel and accommodations
1 session, depending on travel $1,000 to $ 2,500
2-3 sessions (one night stay)* $ 2,500 to $4,000
3-4 sessions (one or two night stay)** $ 3,000 to $4,500

I want to add a caveat. From talking to other speakers, I think this fee structure works in most parts of the country but not all. The churches in your particular area may not be able to support these fees.

Next week I’ll write about how to talk about your fees and how to decide about requests to cut or reduce your fees. If you have any questions about this structure or feedback, I’d love to hear!



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Monday, September 8, 2014

When and Why It’s Time to Have a Fee

Last week I focused on the time period before you have formal fees. My personal progression went a little like this:

  • Step 1: I insisted on not being paid at all. I was very new and very inexperienced. This is actually a blessed time because usually event planners are appreciative, and the expectations are low. When you exceed them–bonus!
  • Step 2: I simply told planners that I would accept an honorarium. I asked them to base it on prayer and their budget.
  • Step 3: I adopted a formal fee schedule.

One of the hardest decisions is when you should move from an honorarium to a set fee. First, I want to establish why it’s good to have a standard set of fees at some point.

  • It establishes you as a professional. My first speaking event outside my own church was for a church’s women’s beach retreat. The first year I refused payment, and the leaders gave me a beautiful gift that I still use and treasure. I was invited back the next year, and the planner handed me an envelope at the end and wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. She looked me straight in the eye and said, “I’m paying you, because this is what you DO.” That check was a blessing to me on so many levels. Her comment backed up with the check gave me confidence that I had stepped into the ranks of vocational ministry. I cried a good percentage of the way home. Not only that, but I had been praying for God’s provision to attend She Speaks. Guess what? That check covered my registration! It felt like confirmation straight from God, and it helped pay for an investment in the growth of my ministry.
  • Event planners actually seem more comfortable with a fee structure. There have been a few exceptions along the way, but I believe in general event planners want to bless you with the fee. When they’re unsure what you would consider appropriate, it’s an uncomfortable dilemma for them. Having your fees allows them to consider their budget but also to feel confident of the amount they’re paying you.

How do you know when it’s time? Here are some of the indicators:


  • You’re being asked back. This doesn’t happen lots just because planners often bring in new speakers each year, but you should see it happen some.
  • You feel mostly consistent. I don’t think we can ever count on 100% consistency, but you should feel fairly confident in your ability to create a strong message that connects with your audience and your delivery. The value of a speaker’s message should exceed her fee.
  • You are getting feedback after events that indicate life transformation. Attendees are saying things like, “When you said ____________, I thought about what’s happening in my life…”
  • Event planners are asking for your fee. If they’ve come to you via word of mouth and assume you have a fee, you probably need a fee.

Next week I’ll share a fee structure with concrete measurements to let you know where you should be.

How about you? Do you have a fee schedule/structure? How did you know it was time?


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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Patience and the P.I.T.

“I’m fixin’ to quit my day job and go on the speaking circuit.”

After hearing a young single-mom’s desire to speak ending with this statement, I sat in stunned silence. How could I tell her the truth without deflating her passion? I couldn’t think of a way to sugar coat it, so I just plunged in, begging her not to quit her job that created a regular paycheck, paid the rent and kept the lights on.

Here’s the truth as I know it. There are lots and lots and LOTS of women who would love to turn their speaking dreams into a full-time gig … including me. Contrast that truth with another one I know for sure. Even though I’m on the speaker team of a nationally recognized ministry, I don’t make enough speaking to even come close to a full-time salary.

In fact, the only speaker I know who speaks enough to make it full time is Lysa TerKeurst. In case you don’t know Lysa, she’s amazing. Incredible. Everything in real life that she seems from the stage. I both love and admire her, but  realistically I know not many of us will make it to her level of notoriety in our ministries. You might be the one (truly), but not many of us will.

One last truth. There is no speaking circuit. Or if there is, I haven’t found it.

I’ve said all the hard stuff, so you can take a deep relaxing breath now. :) Encouragement follows!

This week is the first in a series during the month of September on speaker fees, and I just wanted to set a realistic but hopeful tone.

Is vocational ministry possible for Christian speakers? Yes. But there are two things you should know. It takes patience and years of building. Also, it may not look like what you thought when you started.

When Made to Crave, Lysa’s 14th (I think) book, came out 4 years ago and hit the New York Times Best Seller list, I remember hearing her say this in an interview, “People keep asking me what it feels like to be an overnight success. I tell them it feels like 17 years of very hard work, because that’s what it is!”

Seventeen years. For seventeen years Lysa served faithfully, honed her craft, showed up to speak to 5 people, wrote books that didn’t hit best seller lists, stood in line at airport security, schlepped boxes of books to resources tables…

She was patient.

She was persistent in her calling.

She worked tremendously hard. (I’ve seen this first hand, and let me tell you, she’s working harder than ever today.)

She loved God more than any acclaim, and I’m watching her get increasingly humble with increasing human fame. It’s beautiful.

That’s what patience has looked like for Lysa TerKeurst. For me, it’s a different journey with some of the same markers. My vocational calling has unfolded over time to include coaching and writing as well as speaking. Most likely I won’t ever speak in front of thousands on a Women of Faith stage, but I delight in being a tiny piece of so many speaker’s ministries through my coaching.

So if you want to do full-time vocational ministry, be open to a different look than you thought and be willing to go through the P.I.T. This is the phase my friend Leah calls “Put In the Time”. It’s the phase when you’re payed with “Thanks!” and maybe a Starbucks gift card. It’s the phase when nobody knows your name, but you serve whole-heartedly for The Name anyway. It’s a stage when you’ll probably keep your day job to pay the bills and grow the level of trust in your ministry community over time.

Patience and the P.I.T. That’s where we all start. It’s the proving ground and the holy place of shaping. It’s where we show God that He’s worth it all, and His pleasure in us is payment enough.

I’d love to hear about your first speaking opportunity! Let’s share and encourage each other no matter what stage we’re in.


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