Creating a Fee Schedule for your Speaking Ministry

Hello everybody!

I’ve been looking at the search criteria that has landed people here, and it looks like people really want to know how much to charge when you speak.

Now, we’re all quite aware of the adage that it’s never polite to talk about politics and money. Especially money. We rarely share with others how much we make. It’s gauche.

But I want this blog to be of practical help, and so this week I’d like to start the ball rolling by sharing a sample fee schedule at several different levels. But first, a few thoughts:

1. When setting your fees, make sure that you delineate between different sorts of engagements. For instance, there’s the one time talk, usually under an hour, which you give at an evening event, or as a workshop at a day-long conference. Then there’s the one-day event, where you speak two times. The Friday/Saturday retreat usually involves speaking three times, with an overnight stay, and the full weekend usually involves speaking four times, with two overnight stays. If a Friday/Saturday event required a second overnight stay because of distance for me, I’d probably charge a little more. So keep that in mind. You need to have these different fees in your head, because you don’t want to quote a low amount when they’re really talking about a big conference!

2. Decide on an hourly rate. When I started making up my fee schedules, I asked myself, if I had to support my family on my own, what would I need to earn an hour? I came up with that figure. Then I asked, what would my expenses be over the year? I added that amount to my hourly rate.

Then I began to figure out how much I needed to charge for each type of event. For instance, let’s say you wanted to make $20 an hour at a one-time event. That requires being at the event for 3 hours, driving for 3 hours, and preparing for 3 hours. You should be charging $180 or $200 then, with mileage on top of that. Which brings us to our next point:

3. Factor in travel time to your fees. I live in a remote area, so anywhere I go I’m driving about 2-3 hours each way. That means a 6 hour drive to an engagement. I need to be paid for that time. If that makes me more expensive than more local speakers, so be it. My time is worth something.

Now, all of this talk does NOT mean that you can’t offer a discount if you feel God calling you to speak somewhere without charging, or at a reduced rate. But I find that in such circumstances, it’s good to figure out what you would have charged, and then give an invoice for that full amount, with the discount on the invoice, so that the church or organization understands what they’re getting. When they see that you’re worth a certain amount, they tend to take you more seriously.

4. Always charge travel expenses separately. (this is different than travel time; it’s simple expenses). The IRS allows $0.51/mile, and that’s a reasonable amount. You don’t have to charge that, of course, but keep in mind that that is the going rate. Mileage should not just be gas money, but it also has to take into account wear and tear on your vehicle.

That being said, here are some possible Fee Schedules. I’ll provide three different ones, and you can see where you end up:

Level 1: Just Starting, and Want Some Experience:
One day, 1 session: $75
One day retreat, 2 sessions: $150
Two day retreat, 2-3 sessions: $250
Full Weekend Retreat: $350

Level 2: Established Speaker
One day, 1 session: $350
One day retreat, 2 sessions: $500
Two day retreat, 2-3 sessions: $650
Full Weekend conference: $950

Level 3: Advanced Speaker
One day, 1 session: $600
One day retreat, 2 sessions: $850
Two day retreat, 2-3 sessions: $1,000
Full Weekend Retreat: $1,400

Now, whether or not you can ask for the higher fees depends on a lot of factors, including geography. I’m Canadian, for instance, and getting Level 3 fees would be almost impossible. But that just gives you an idea of some fee structures.

What I would recommend is that you start at a lower rate, and then, if you find yourself getting booked up, raise your fees. I tend to raise them every season by a bit.

Again, I don’t mean for these to be set in stone, but I know people want dollar amounts. So what do you think? How do you set fees? Share your thoughts!

Learn more about setting fees and treating your speaking ministry with good business principles in this audio download.

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22 Responses

  1. Thanks so much for sharing this! Wonderful!

  2. This post is very helpful. It’s even possible that referring to this post could help provide a “neutral” source for setting fees (for example, perhaps letting a church know that you are an established speaker, and providing a link to explain what that means as a suggestion). Thanks for the details and specifics.

  3. This post is really helpful! I received an email speaking request a few weeks ago with only one question- “How much do you charge?” I didn’t even know how to answer. Thank you so much!

  4. [...] Early Burnout in Your Speaking Ministry Thanks for all the wonderful responses to my post on how to set fees! I’m glad you found it [...]

  5. Thanks Shelia this is a great breakdown for speakers to consider. I appreciate your information, very helpful.

  6. [...] Top Posts Creating a Fee Schedule for your Speaking Ministry [...]

  7. Sheila, this is great, I love practical information. This at least gives a great starting point and we can work upwards or downwards as needed.
    Thank you so much for always guiding us so lovingly.
    Blessings ad a big HUG
    Heidi

  8. Thank you Sheila! Oh, did I say thank you??!! Finally some actual dollar amounts as a guideline! I have been speaking/singing/publicly praising the LORD for 5 years now. I have 2 Christian CDs and am a mother and a wife. Before I knew Jesus I made my living singing in a band that did the nightclub etc. circuit. I grew to hate it because I didn’t have the LORD in my life to show me what all this passion was meant for…HIM! I have struggled, really struggled, with having a fee guide that I could offer to organizers. Just last night I sent off 5 possible topics to a retreat organizer that had invited me and for the first time I requested a dollar amount that I feel I need. I admit it is scary when you put your financial requirement out there when you’re use to other people telling you what they think you’re worth but I had to be brave and trust that if i’m out of whack the LORD will lovingly correct me. It’s hard when you are sooo crazy about Jesus to get your mind around the financial realities of ministry but I have a precious family that God has given me and He cares as much about us as he does the darling women I am serving. Funny enough I never had a problem setting a fee when I was doing non-Christian events, and my words were so much less valuable then. I am so thankful to have come across this great site! I had to laugh when I saw it. I said “LORD, it sure would have been nice to have found this BEFORE I did my bold stepping- out -in- faith move last night” but I sure am glad to see that I’m not alone. This is the first website I’ve been to that had so many women feeling exactly as I do, YAY! P.S. I requested slightly less than the level 2 for a full weekend retreat, I am Canadian too (smile)
    May the LORD continue to draw people to an abiding in Him life through ordinary women with an extraordinary message!
    Jamie

  9. God has just revealed to my my next calling in the Kingdom. It is Christian Motivational Speaking. Therefore I am researching and praying about my new journey.

    God Bless and thank you for Sharing.

    SHaron

  10. My friend led me to your website. All I can say is Thank You, Thank You, Thank You. I have needed some criteria on fees and expenses. This is wonderful information.

  11. [...] Creating a Fee Schedule for your Speaking Ministry March 2009 11 comments 5 [...]

  12. [...] What Does Giving a Talk Entail? The Difference Between Teaching and Speaking Thinking About Your Audience First Generating Word of Mouth for Your Ministry Speaking Plan for 2011 Accepting Where You are in Your Ministry Creating a Fee Schedule for Your Ministry [...]

  13. I cannot express how thankful I am that you are willing to share in this way. I will pass on “Shelia” here in Southern NC since you will be visiting AL and TN! Have a good day!

  14. [...] Words program, I tackled this thorny issue. I’ve already written a longer blog post about deciding what to charge. That really is useful for getting into the nitty gritty! But let me sum up [...]

  15. [...] is an example of a women in ministry, Sheila Wray Gregorie,  and how she has set up her fee schedule. Also, check out marketing guru Rob Eager’s blog [...]

  16. Look I know I am a man but I am thinking of getting into this field (for men though or just people in general) and I would think this….you can give a fee and all but find a church to speak for four straight nights and charge each person $1 for admission. You get like 70 people in attendance each night that is near $280. FInd a big church and you can clean up.

    • JZ, that is certainly one alternative that many people use. The problem with it is that you’re taking a risk: if only 50 people come out you only get $50 a night. Since the average attendance at many church functions is under 100, you’d be looking at very little money for all your effort. If you can get into big churches, or charge $5 a person, then it would be worth it. But you have to be willing to take the risk!

  17. Thank you so much for your words of wisdom at a time when I really needed to hear them! I met with a Small Business Development Counselor (a gentleman) yesterday and unfortunately was met with blank stares when it came to determining my worth. Although very experienced in public speaking, I’m not however, regarding creating my Christian seminar series from scratch, I found more encouragement with your points than from a two hour meeting yesterday. You’re a wonderful, wise woman of God and I so appreciated your post! You’ve found a follower.

  18. You are full of great advice! This is a topic I have been searching for more information. I have been speaking for a couple years but haven’t felt brave enough to bring up the money topic, partially because I didn’t know what to charge and also I try booking a lot of small groups for practice.
    My next question would be, how do you bring up the topic of being paid. The talk I’m offering this year took me a lot of time, effort, and materials (for props) to put together. I want to bring up the subject of being paid but I fear it may scare coordinators away.

    • Hi Michelle,

      Honestly, I usually just say, “My usual fee for an event of this type is $x. Does that fit your budget?” Most people hiring are reluctant to talk about money, too, so it’s so much easier if we just come out and say it. It’s easier to come out and say it, though if you know what your fee is. So work out your fee schedule so that you can say it with confidence!

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