Recently I wrote a post on how to handle gaps in your schedule. We all have them, because speaking is an insecure existence. You will find you are busy at times and very light at times, and that’s just the way the flow goes. I told you that I’m to the point that I accept when I’m going to be not busy. If there are no bookings, I just get grateful for the time to rest, because I know a busy season will always come down the road.
That being said, I now want to share with you a different strategy for planning a speaking tour, one that makes us more the active participant rather than the recipient, waiting by the phone or, more commonly, checking our inboxes for potential engagements.
Up to this point I have spoken mostly in Canada. I’m Canadian, after all, and I just don’t like to travel more than I have to because I have my kids at home. They’re teenagers now, and I know I only have a few more years with them in the house, so I want to take advantage of that. I live about 3 hours from about 90% of the major population centres in Ontario (I’m sort of in the middle), the most populous province, so I can get by without really having to venture too far from home most of the time. I tend to do retreats around the country that would require a plane trip maybe 3 or 4 times a year, but I’ve said no to many events because as soon as you get on a plane, you add a day to your schedule on either side. And I didn’t want to do that.
However, I have some new books coming out soon (more on that later), and it’s time for me to become better known south of the border (which to me means the United States, though when most of you hear that phrase, you think Mexico!). I partner with a ministry that’s taking me on a Pacific Northwest tour in October, probably to Washington and Oregon, but I’d like to plan another trip for the spring. I figure that if I can spend a week and a half speaking, with two weekends on either side, then I can do a bunch of speaking engagements and be gone from home in one large chunk, but then I’ll avoid some of the smaller engagements that take up a ton of time, and stay home the rest of the month. So I’m going to shake things up a little!
This is new for me, because I’ve never deliberately planned a speaking tour. I’ve only ever accepted engagements that came my way ad hoc, because it’s worked up until now. But what I want to do right now is plan a tour, where I know which weekends I want to book, which weekdays I want to book, and then I have to decide where I want to go.
That sounds a little pie-in-the-sky when you think about it, doesn’t it? I want to be busy for 10 days, speaking two weekends with three evening engagements, and I’m going to find people to hire me for that. And I’m going to do it somewhere that I’m not widely known. Sounds like a nightmare to plan!
Well, we’re going to see! Over the next few months I’ll report on my progress. But let me tell you the steps I plan to take, because I’m sure you can use these steps to plan your own “speaking tour”!
1. Advertise to everyone you know in the target area that you’re looking for speaking engagements. I’m going to put up several announcements on Facebook, for instance, that I’m looking to do some women’s retreats in April of 2011. I’ll advertise this on Twitter and Facebook, and ask people if their church plans women’s events, to let me know a contact so I can send a package there! I’ve already done this just once and I already have a few leads! (by the way, if you live in the U.S. and you’d like to book me, email me!)
2. Make a YouTube video introducing yourself and explaining what it is you’re trying to do and what you can speak on. People are always more willing to hire people that they have seen, and so video is a great way to do this! I recently created a video to help me sell a book proposal, showing potential publishers what I do. Here it is:
But this video doesn’t work as well for speaking engagements. So over the next few weeks I’m going to put one up where I’m speaking directly to the camera, and telling people what it is that I can speak on and what I would like.
3. Follow up any leads you get from Facebook, email, etc. using the methods in this post on cold calling churches. Send them a link to your YouTube video so they can “meet” you!
4. Try to book one retreat first. Try to nail down the biggest thing before you accept the smaller engagements. Once you book the one retreat, you now have a date and a place. Now you can narrow your search and start booking around that.
Let’s say, for instance, that I book myself for the weekend of April 8 and 9 in Texas. Now I know that I also want to book myself for the weekend of April 1 and 2, or the weekend of April 15 and 16. That’s the next big thing to book. And then I can start filling in smaller engagements around it.
5. Once you know WHERE you’re going for one event, advertise again on Facebook or Twitter or through an email/newsletter blast that you’re looking for engagements in April in Texas. The more specific you can get, the better, because when people are browsing their Facebook/Twitter updates, they tend to pay attention to those that mention the area where they live.
Repeat the above steps until you have both weekends booked.
6. How do you fill up the week? You can try the same thing, contacting churches and asking about women’s events. But there is another option.
Several big groups have affiliates that meet across the nation, and you can search for their meeting times and places on the internet. Stonecroft, for instance, which operates Christian Women’s Clubs throughout the world, has chapters in almost every city. MOPS, or Mothers of Preschoolers, does too. If you can get known as a speaker for both of these organizations in your own area, then you are now a speaker for MOPS or Stonecroft. Whenever you go to a different area, you can approach the group leaders in that area and say, “I’m a speaker with MOPS, or with Stonecroft, and I’d love to be considered for your group for this meeting date.”
Neither MOPS nor Stonecroft pay very well, but the advantage with Stonecroft is that the meetings often have women from a variety of different churches, so you get great visibility, in case you want to do a return tour next year! Those women who heard you at a Christian Women’s Club luncheon may then turn around and hire you to do their women’s retreat at church next year.
Also, their events tend to be during the day, so they don’t take you away from the prime speaking time in the evenings where you can perhaps get bigger engagements. Plus, it’s wonderful to be able to share your testimony the way you can at Stonecroft!
To find their meetings, just go to www.mops.org or www.stonecroft.org, and follow the links to search for a group “near you”. Type in the area where you’re planning on speaking, and see if any of their meeting dates correspond.
7. Do an internet search for the largest churches in the area. Another way to find engagements is to look for the large churches in the area which are more likely to organize women’s events. Spend some time looking for churches near where you’re speaking, and peruse their websites. What do they offer for ministry? Do they have women’s Bible studies during the day? Do they have frequent women’s events?
Once you’ve identified a list of churches that look like good potentials, use the methods here to contact them.
There you have it. That’s my plan to book up for April! You can use the same plan to book yourself for a local tour or for a tour far from where you live, to enlarge your target market. If your’e planning on trying it, or if you’ve done something like this in the past, let me know in the comments how it worked out for you!
If you’re just getting started on speaking, my audio download: Launch Your Speaking Ministry, is a great blessing! It will save you tons of money by telling you what NOT to do, and how to get free publicity. Find out more here.
Filed under: Marketing Your Speaking Ministry, Speaking as a Business | Tagged: christian speaker, Christian speaking | 5 Comments »