Use Your Words: Networking to Build Your Women’s Speaking Ministry

'Women's Business Social 051' photo (c) 2011, Jodi Womack - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

I’m a little late getting up the recording for my Use Your Words show last week, where I talked about how to network to build speaking engagements. Sorry about that!

But here are some key thoughts that I gave:

1. Don’t Ignore People you Know in Real Life

Talk to your friends. Chances are they know people who are influential in large churches in your surrounding area–even if they don’t go there themselves. Make a list of all your friends and figure out who, among your friends and acquaintances, knows the most people. And then ask for introductions! The more you meet people in real life, the more likely it is that people will hire.

Speaking of real life, network with those who minister to the same niche you do, even if they don’t speak. If you want to speak to teenagers, for instance, get to know the people who run Youth For Christ in your area. Get to know youth pastors. Get to know the person who does the youth show on your local Christian radio station. Meet for coffee, and keep in touch. That helps keep you fresh in people’s minds.

2. Remind your Facebook Friends that you Speak

Every so often, put out an update announcing that you’re working on a new talk, or that you’ve just landed a speaking engagement, or that you’re looking for a speaking engagement in a particular town. The more those you know in real life think of you as a speaker, the more likely they are to recommend you.

3. Use LinkedIn

LinkedIn is very useful for professional contacts. If you get on LinkedIn, you can find other speakers, women’s ministry leaders, denominational leaders, Christian media personalities, and more. Those are the kinds of people it’s good to get to know. Join LinkedIn groups they’re in. Participate in conversations. Keep track of those you really want to get to know better, and when you find something online that may interest them, forward it.

There’s lots more in the actual show, so make sure to listen in!

Use Your Words: How Effective is Social Media in Getting Speaking Engagements?

'' photo (c) 2009, Alex - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Every Tuesday when I’m not away speaking I try to host my Use Your Words BlogTalkRadio show at noon EST! And today’s topic was suggested by Jamie Blahun, who commented on my Facebook Page, asking how to manage the time that you spend on social media. You can listen to the thirty minute show right here.

Here are some highlights:

1. Think About Your Goal

If your goal is to get speaking engagements, then you need to devote your time online to the things that are most likely to do that. And remember the path that people usually take when booking a speaker:

  • Someone’s name is suggested
  • They Google that person
  • They read their information and watch videos
  • Then they contact them

In other words, the vast majority of speaking engagements will be secured because someone mentioned your name, and then they checked you out online.

If you do not have a good website that explains what you speak about, and that has a lot of photos of you speaking, it is unlikely you will be hired.

Thus, your main goal is to create a website that is likely to get you speaking engagements. The best way to do that is to create a high quality one that includes video, and to keep in contact through newsletters with people that have already heard you speak (so as to get referrals).

2. Facebook and Twitter are Really Peripheral to this

Yes, everyone needs to be on Facebook. Not everyone needs to be on Twitter. But when it comes to speaking engagements, if you have a limited amount of time to devote online, the priority really should be in getting your website top-notch and then in keeping in contact with people that you have spoken to through newsletters.

The problem with both Facebook and Twitter is that they are not geographically specific, and when you are looking to get speaking engagements, geography matters, especially when you’re starting out, because few churches have the money to fly someone in. So you want to get well known in a small geographical area. That’s not really Facebook and Twitter’s forte.

Does that mean that you can ignore them? No. But I certainly wouldn’t put so much time into Twitter and getting thousands of followers that I neglected to put up good videos on my website. Honestly, videos come first, along with keeping in touch with those who already know you. Getting to know strangers is helpful, but it’s secondary.

3. When You’re On Twitter and Facebook, Remember the Purpose

If you do want to spend time on Facebook and Twitter, make sure that you do so with an eye to creating your “brand”. If you want to be known as a women’s speaker about deep spiritual issues, don’t dedicate your Twitter feed to how hard it is to housetrain your new puppy. Don’t put lots up on Facebook about your family’s move, or the trouble you’re having with your new kitchen renovation. These things may be interesting to you, but they aren’t to people who don’t know you personally, and they will cause those people to tune you out.

The key to social media is not to confuse people. People will pay more careful attention to you if they know what you tend to talk about. They start to expect, “oh, she’ll have a pithy thing to say about doing your devotions”, or, “I know she’ll say something neat about prayer.” If you come out and talk politics, you’ll throw them off.

So stick to your brand, no matter how passionate  you are about other things. And then find other people who speak about the same things, and follow them and participate in conversations. As you grow relationships, you’re more likely to get recommendations.

4. Don’t Ignore LinkedIn

As we talked about last week on the show, LinkedIn can be  useful for getting to know people who work in women’s ministry and specifically want more women’s ministry ideas. If you can find groups on LinkedIn to join that have to do with evangelism to women, women’s ministry, women’s retreats, or anything like that, and then you participate in those conversations, you’ll get better known. But if the group is huge, and only two or three people ever participate anything, then chances are that group isn’t worth your time.

5. Set Parameters

Finally, take a look at your social media efforts and decide how much time it’s reasonable for you to spend a day. Then get a kitchen timer and set it for that amount of time, and count down. When you’re done, you’re done. No more feeling guilty.

Another thing that can help are the automatic scheduling programs. Hootsuite, for instance, can schedule your Tweets and Facebook updates to appear throughout the day, so you can schedule everything in the morning and then leave it for the day. That can save you tremendous time!

Look, everyone is on Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn and Pinterest, but they’re on it for different reasons, and those reasons don’t always add up to helping you get speaking engagements. So judge what really would be the most useful, and what your goal is, and concentrate on the areas that will bring you the best rewards! Listen in the whole show here.

If you want some more help in marketing your speaking ministry, my teleseminar, Treating Speaking as a Business, helps you prioritize your efforts!

Use Your Words: Marketing Your Book

'Bookstore' photo (c) 2009, Martin Cathrae - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Every Tuesday at noon EST when I’m not speaking, I host a BlogTalkRadio show dedicated specifically to speaking! This week we went off the reservation a bit to talk not just about speaking, but also about how to market your book.

Normally I just do a condensed version of the show on the blog, so that people can catch what they missed listening to, and I’ll try to do that here, too. But I’ve got to tell you, this show was packed with really useful ideas, and so you really need to listen!

Here, though, is the nutshell version:

The key to marketing is not to create an audience for your book. It’s not even to bring the audience to you. The key to marketing is to figure out where your audience already is, and then go and stand in front of them!

You basically have two main circles of influence to do that in. You have those people that you know in person and will meet in person, and you have the online world. You can’t ignore either sphere. The people that you know personally you have a deeper relationship with, and you’re more likely to be able to sell to them. But they’re such a small proportion of the population. You also need to reach out to the masses. So you need a wide reach on one hand, and a deep reach on the other. Let’s look at how to handle both these groups:

A. Marketing to Your Personal Spheres of Influence

1. Ask your friends for help

Send out an email to your friends announcing your new book. But don’t JUST announce your new book. Figure out who the main reader of the book will be, and what their main problem is. Is it young Christian moms? Is it recovering alcoholics? Is it men who have just been through a divorce?

In your email, say this clearly, like this:

“I know single, Christian women will really appreciate this book. Can you do me a favour and forward this email to FIVE single, Christian women that you know? Thanks so much!”

Ironically, naming a number, like five, makes it far more likely that the email will be forwarded. If you just say, “forward this email to single, Christian women” people won’t do it, because they don’t have an easy way to measure how big a task that is. Specify a number, and they’ll do it!

2. Figure out Where People Meet

What is the main problem your book is addressing? Or if it isn’t addressing a problem (let’s say it’s a women’s devotional), then think about the key people in your niche, and ask what problems they have.

Here’s why: people are more likely to meet to solve a problem then just to be together. So you have support groups for everything under the sun. Figure that out, and then contact those groups.

B. The Online World

The online world works on RELATIONSHIPS, not on marketing. If you start a blog, or start a Facebook page or a Twitter account where your main goal is to sell your book, and you make this obvious, you won’t be successful.

For your presence to be felt online, you have to participate in conversations that are already occurring. So start a blog where you talk about the problems your niche group faces (again, people are more likely to go online looking for answers to problems).

Then find people on Twitter who talk about those problems. Identify two or three good influences, and look at who they follow. Chances are they will follow people similar to your niche. Follow them, too.

Then just start participating in conversations. Share great YouTube videos. Retweet people. Put up interesting content.

Yes, you can share your book, but it is actually better to develop a relationship first, so that you stand out in the crowd and you build goodwill.

For instance, I once saw a tweet from a woman who was looking for a specific knitting pattern. I knew where to find it, and I tweeted her the link. It took me about 45 seconds. Now I love to knit, but my books have nothing to do with knitting. But that woman was so grateful, and she remembered me, that now she retweets almost everything I post about marriage. I made a connection by doing something helpful.

That sounds like a lot of work, you say. Yep. It does. But that’s what online marketing is. Try to schedule a little bit of time everyday to read through people’s tweets and respond, and to post interesting stuff on Facebook. If people think of you as someone who collects information in your niche, they’re more likely to listen to you when you talk about your book!

That’s the quick synopsis of the show, but there is so much more there. So listen in to this 30 minute recording, and take notes!

And if you want to know more about how to build an online community, my download, Build Your Online Community, is invaluable!

Use Your Words: When Your Speaking Ministry Stresses You Out

'waiting.' photo (c) 2009, anna gutermuth - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/Today on Use Your Words we talked stress. Usually I give  you some pep talk about marketing, or planning a talk, but I thought it was important to touch on something all of us deal with, but rarely talk about: how draining ministry is. And speaking ministry has its own unique stresses!

Every Tuesday I host a BlogTalkRadio show for 30 minutes, and you can listen live at noon EST. But if you didn’t make it, you can always listen to the shows after the fact. This week’s is right here.

To summarize, though, what are the sources of some stress?

1. Engagements with High Costs and Few Benefits

Picture this: you’re just starting out, and you’re so happy to receive any engagement that comes your way! You want to spak. You want to build word of mouth.

So when an offer comes, you jump at it. Then you realize that it involves driving six hours, billeting at someone’s house, speaking the next day, and driving home.

You drive. You’re exhausted. You arrive at the billet’s house and you have to be nice and make small talk, even though you’d rather just sleep. When you get to the engagement, only 30 women are there, and they’re not the kind who are likely to lead to a lot of word of mouth. At the end of the night, they give  you $50 and a potted plant.

You’re discouraged. That was a lot of effort for relatively little reward. Of course, God can bring rewards out of anything, no matter how small, and so you feel guilty for being a little bit resentful. But it was awfully far to drive, and awfully draining.

Do this too much and you will burn out.

Solutions: Do free engagements certainly, but try to do them closer to home. Read about cold-calling local churches. Be strategic about doing workshops at conferences, which are likely to lead to more word of mouth. If you are going to drive far, try to combine several engagements at once. And once you do start to get more engagements, it’s okay to ask for a hotel rather than a billet!

2. You Can’t Admit Your Struggles

My husband and I have been speaking at marriage conferences for six years now, and one of the hard things is that when I’m mad at him, it’s hard to tell anyone or get counsel, because people may think that our marriage is in trouble (even when it’s not). When you’re in ministry, you have to look like you have it altogether, or you may damage your reputation.

That’s exhausting, and spiritually dangerous. Remember all the big name preachers who are caught in scandals? People don’t wake up one day and make a huge mistake out of nowhere. It starts with little things they compromise on, and then it grows. And why do those little things appear? Because they don’t have anyone to talk to about their doubts and struggles, and they don’t have proper accountability.

Churches are working together to get pastors more accountability and anonymous help, but we speakers are a lonely bunch. We don’t have anyone doing that for us.

Solution: Make one of your primary prayer requests that God will send you 3-4 women with whom you can be completely honest. They don’t even need to live in your hometown! Send email prayer requests around, and ask them to hold you accountable.

3. Overbooking Yourself

When a speaking request comes for nine months in the future, you jump at it and say yes. Later you’re asked to speak somewhere else a week later, and you say yes to that, too. But when the week comes around, life has gotten in the way. Your kids are busy. All of a sudden there’s a family wedding you didn’t know about when you took those engagements, and you’re going to be driving all over the place trying to squeeze in shopping for a gift and dress fittings, etc.

The fact is that life does intrude, and we have to be wise.

Solution: Cluster your engagements. Try to do a whole bunch at once, so you’re away from the house for an extended period, but then be home for 6-7 weeks straight. When you speak every weekend, or once a week, your mind is never completely at home. You’re never able to completely relax (or even completely unpack!).

4. Worry When No Engagements Come

You’re doing everything you’re supposed to do, but your calendar isn’t filling up. Is God really calling you to this? What about money? You’re not being paid enough and you wonder whether you should still be doing this.

Solution: Keep up to date with God. Wrestle with your calling. Ask God if it was temporary, or if it’s long term. It is okay to do something for five years, and then God may call you to move on.

I said much more in the recording for Use Your Words, which you can listen to here.

Another resource I know you’ll find helpful is my audio download, How to Get Better Bookings. If you’re sick of driving huge distances for little reward, learn how to build word of mouth to get the kind of engagements you need! It’s available here.

Use Your Words: Should You Write a Book?

Writingphoto © 2008 Ed Yourdon | more info (via: Wylio)

Every Tuesday on BlogTalkRadio I host Use Your Words, a 30 minute show where I give you speaking tips!

After asking on my Facebook page about the types of things you all wanted to hear about, I discovered that “writing a book” was right there on the top of the list. So I decided to tackle that in yesterday’s show. Listen in here.

A few thoughts from the show, in no particular order:

1. It’s very hard to get a book published today by a traditional publisher.

They’re looking for a great, compelling idea with a readily available and identifiable market. In other words, they don’t want lots of new books on “how to get closer to God”, which is basically what most of us who speak want to write. They want something very specific, that addresses a problem.

Unfortunately, if we write books for a specific niche, they’re hard to sell if we speak to general audiences. So traditional publishers aren’t likely going to help us much.

2. Self-Publishing is very expensive.

I say more about self-publishing in this post, but keep in mind that you’re looking at roughly $5000. That’s a lot of money. You can expect to sell books to about 10% of your audience, roughly, so if you speak to 300 women a month, and you publish 1000 books, you will likely sell them in three years. If you can guarantee that you can do that, self-publishing may be worth doing. If you can’t, then you should think about waiting.

3. Writing a Book Takes Time You Could Spend Elsewhere

Writing a book will take you at least six months to do well. In that six months, you could have been, instead, building up your web presence and your online community, which in turn would make it easier to sell that book (or to attract a traditional publisher). You could have been researching other speaking opportunities, or even writing magazine articles.

I’m not saying it’s not a good idea; only look at what should come first. Personally, I would concentrate on building a big online presence first, and then writing the book when you have a natural audience to sell it to. I talk more about my perspective in the radio show, so listen in!

In the meantime, if you need things to sell as you speak, a better route is to find something cheaper to produce. I have a great teleseminar that teaches you how to Create Information Products to sell, and helps you brainstorm what will work for you. 

And this summer, I’ll be doing a webinar on how to get a book published, if you’re serious and you do want to pursue this. I’ll give you all the ins and outs, and teach you how to have the best reception from publishers. You don’t want to miss it, so sign up for my speaking information here!

Use Your Words: Getting Your Ministry out of a Rut

Rotheram Dirt Rutsphoto © 2008 Paul Walker | more info (via: Wylio)
Is your speaking ministry stuck in a rut?

Maybe last year you had three paid speaking engagements, so you were hoping to have ten this year. But you’ve had three again. Or perhaps you dreamed of breaking out of speaking engagements for roughly 50 people each time, and speaking to hundreds. But that’s not happening.

Yesterday on my Use Your Words BlogTalkRadio show I talked about how to break out of a rut, and propel your ministry to the next level. You can listen to the 30 minute program here.

Let me let you in on the three principles that I shared:

1. Don’t be Boring

People underestimate how used to being bored audiences are. Most of the time that a speaker is talking, audience members are planning errands in their minds, thinking over shopping lists or to-do lists, and in general not paying attention.

It’s hard to capture an audience’s attention today.

That’s why if you come in and are actually interesting, people will tell others about you because you will stick in their minds.

And since word of mouth is really the only thing that generates speaking engagements, you absolutely MUST be interesting and engaging.

I talk about that in this blog post, 7 Ways to Bore Your Audience. Follow that advice, and they won’t be bored. They’ll be engaged. And then they will tell others about how great a speaker you are, because you will stand out from the crowd!

2. Get Strategic in Asking for Speaking Engagements

If you’re finding that your engagements have sputtered, and you aren’t getting very many requests anymore, think about speaking very strategically somewhere that you can talk to women from as many churches and areas as possible.

And the best place to do that? Conferences. Look into conferences in your area and propose 2-3 ideas of workshops that you can do. The workshops must teach a skill or address a need, so they’re not exactly the same as giving an inspirational talk. But the good thing is that you get to stand before women from a variety of churches who can then recommend you.

At that workshop, mention at the beginning and the end that you speak at churches and do retreats. At the end, say something like, “I’d love to come and share this message with your church, so please speak to me if your church is looking for speakers.” And then have some business cards on hand.

Where do you find conferences? Think about denominational conferences (even outside your own denomination), homeschooling conventions, MOPS conventions, worship conventions, or general women’s conferences. Look anywhere you’re willing to drive to, so it can be far from where you live. And then search online and make a list of all the recurring conferences in your area. Start contacting the organizers. And see where it goes!

In one year I did the main conference for the Christian Reformed Church, the Salvation Army, the North American Baptist, and two homeschooling conventions, and from those I had tons of speaking engagements. Now, I was actually keynoting at many of them, but when I was just starting, I did workshops at these types of conferences, too. And it’s amazing how those workshops can add to more things.

3. Project the Image “I’m a Professional”

Sometimes you’re stalled in small engagements because that’s the image you give off. If you want to get a larger engagement, you need to look as if you’re ready for it. I know this sounds petty, but image does matter, both in person and online.

So dress well. Invest in 2-3 outfits for speaking that are high quality, dynamic (as in not browns & blacks & beiges), and interesting to look at. Have a fashionable friend shop with you if necessary.

Get a good haircut and learn how to apply some basic makeup.

And then, make sure that your website looks like it belongs to someone who speaks frequently. Invest in a professional photograph, and put pictures of yourself speaking up on your website. Make sure your topics are easy to find, and testimonials from other people. But a high quality photo and a well-designed website will do much for giving the impression that you are professional and that you take speaking seriously.

A poorly designed website says, “I do this just for a hobby, and I haven’t invested in it.” A large church isn’t going to hire you then. So pay the money and get a graphic designer for your website, and hire someone to take a good photo!

There’s lots more in the download. Listen to the whole show here, and tell me what you think! And if you have ideas for future shows, or something you want me to cover, let me know!

This summer I’ll be starting a series of webinars that you can take to learn more about building your speaking ministry. I’ll announce those soon, and I do hope you’ll join me.

Use Your Words: What Should I Charge for Speaking?

Moneyphoto © 2008 Tyler | more info (via: Wylio)
What are the going Christian speaker fees? What do Christian speakers charge? And how in the world do I ask for it?

That’s the most common question I get from people–how do I figure out what to charge for speaking? What do other people charge? And is it selfish to ask for money?

On this week’s Use Your 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 here.

Once people start asking you to speak, as opposed to you generating the engagements, then you should definitely charge.

Some organizations pay about $50 or $75, but let’s face it: that doesn’t even cover your mileage. So you need to figure out what to ask for.

When I started out, here was my thinking:

If I had to support myself, what would I need to make? Then what is that on an hourly basis? (basically divide it in half and then divide by $1000. So $50,000 a year is $25 an hour).

If I want to make $25 an hour, then what do I charge for an event where I speak for one hour? Well, you have to look at what goes into that hour:

  • Time spent speaking
  • Time spent at the engagement
  • Average time of travel for the engagements you do
  • Time spent in preparation

But then there are also other hours that you have to account for, like:

  • Time spent building a website
  • Time spent networking
  • Time spent in training/study

Once I worked all that out, it looked like I was spending about 8 hours directly for each engagement, and then I averaged about another 3 hours that I had to add in to each engagement to cover my other time. And that gave me a figure.

  • Then, take that fee and double it for an all day Saturday engagement.
  • Take that fee and AT LEAST triple it for a weekend engagement

And remember, expenses are billed separately! So check out the blog post for more information, and listen in to the radio show for my explanation of fees.

And, if, after that, you still have questions, ask in the comments. This is such an important question, and I want to really help. So ask away, and I’ll write a follow up post trying to answer them all!

If you want to learn more about how to earn larger fees and start using business principles to grow your ministry, check out my audio download, Treating Speaking as a Business. It’s only $12, and comes with a spreadsheet that helps you prioritize your marketing ideas and figure out where to grow. I know it will help!

How to Create a Platform for Your Ministry

chubby soapboxphoto © 2008 daretoeatapeach | more info (via: Wylio)

Platform. It’s a word we hear all the time in the speaking/writing business, but what does it really mean?

Today on my Use Your Words BlogTalkRadio show I talked about platform: the best ways to build one, and what’s really important. Listen in to that show here! Tons of great information.

But let me sum up.

A platform is usually defined as:

The number of people who interact with you; it’s usually expressed as a number, and it encompasses the number of people who hear you speak each year; the number of people who visit your website every week; the number of followers you have on your Facebook account/Facebook page, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.; the number of people who watch you on TV or listen to you on the radio; and the number of people on your email list.

That sounds daunting I know, but add all those things up and you can get a number. That’s the number that publishers, for instance, want to see in any book proposal.

The problem is: if you are starting out, where do you concentrate on building your platform? Are there some that are more useful than others?

Definitely. In fact, I would prefer that people defined platform more like this:

The number of people who visit you regularly and who interact with you and who are interested in what you have to say.

I know people with thousands upon thousands of followers on Twitter, but they aren’t targeted followers. They aren’t specifically in their niche, and so they do little for them. It’s better to have people who are excited about you! So let’s look at platform building from the two different sides: Authors and Speakers.

How Authors should Build Platforms

While speaking definitely builds platform, it does it in a limited way. First, it tends to be limited by geography; we tend to start speaking closer to home because that’s where we’re known. It’s hard to get known across the country speaking when your’e just starting out.

So for authors working on a platform, the place to really concentrate is on building an online community, which can reach anyone, and building for radio and television appearances.

Online, remember that Facebook and Twitter and blogs all work together. Twitter sends people to your blog. Blogs provide the content. And people talk about that blog on Facebook! I find Twitter a good place to meet new people in my niche, but in the end, Facebook sends way more people to my blog than Twitter does. It’s much more effective. So work on getting a Facebook Page set up, and make sure to link it to your blog.

And on your blog, write quality content that is specific to your niche. If you’re writing about parenting, don’t go off on politics. Stick to your defined category, so that people know who you are and what to expect. That keeps people coming back for more!

This seems like a lot of work, and if the idea of starting a blog or a Facebook Page sounds daunting, and you don’t know what Twitter is, my audio download “Build Your Online Community” can help. I also have a much more in-depth e-course on how to Build Your Online Community, which is 4 modules long and ends with how to throw an online party for your book (mine brought in $1000 in sales in one day).

How a Speaker Builds a Platform

For speakers, online communities are not quite as important. You’re not trying to sell a book; you’re trying to get speaking engagements. For you, then, the emphasis is different.

Nevertheless, you still need a website! As we talked about last week, before anyone hires you they will look at your website. So have a place where you list your topics and post any videos.

The next best thing you can do to build your platform is simply to network. It is much easier to get hired to speak if people know who you are. So go out to the fundraisers for Christian radio or TV in your area. Get to know these people! Join community-wide committees for Christian ministries. Form a group of ministry leaders that goes out to breakfast once a month. Attend writers or speakers conferences. The best networking I have done is at our annual writers’ conference, where I met my current agent, and the guy who books my speaking engagements, and lots of TV personalities.

Whether you’re a speaker or a writer, having people who you’re engaged with on a regular basis will help you grow your ministry! So keep track of key people. Send out email newsletters. And make sure your website is top notch! That will help you get better known, and help people remember your name when they’re standing in a bookstore, or when they’re thinking of who to hire for their Christmas outreach!

If you want to hear more about this subject, don’t forget to listen in to the show, where I go much more in-depth!

And if you have other things you want me to talk about it in Use Your Words, leave some ideas in the comments! I’m here to help you!

Use Your Words: How Do Churches Find Speakers?

This week on Use Your Words I spoke with Julie Chandler about how she finds speakers for her group!

Julie knows speaking from both sides. She’s a Christian speaker herself, but she’s also responsible for finding female speakers on a monthly basis for her professional women’s group. So we talked this week about how she makes those decisions! Listen in to the recording here.

And now for some highlights:

1. You need a great website!

The first thing Julie does when she gets  a name for a potential speaker, or she gets a note or email from someone wanting to speak, is to check the website. She doesn’t call. She doesn’t email. She doesn’t ask anyone else. She Googles them or checks them out directly.

And that initial look at the website will make or break a potential speaking engagement! What does she look for?

  • Topics
  • Evidence that the person has spoken before
  • Evidence that they know what they’re talking about
  • Clues that they might be interesting/fun to listen to!

2. Post Endorsements on your Website

If you have testimonials from people you’ve spoken for, make sure they’re prominently all over your website, in standout boxes, so that people can’t miss them.

3. Post Video Clips, if  you have them

These aren’t make it or break it. Few speakers have them up yet. But that will soon change; video is becoming the norm. So get a video done!

And remember: quality isn’t too important. The main thing is to demonstrate that your delivery is interesting and easy to listen to. And ensure that you’re dressed appropriately on that video!

4. Ask Questions

When you’re asked to speak, if you want to make the best impression, ask questions! Who will be there? What are the demographics? How long should I speak for? What sort of talk is the group used to? When you ask questions, you show that you care about the event being a success–and that puts organizers at ease.

If you missed the show, listen in to it now for more tips! And don’t forget to join me every Tuesday for Use Your Words!

And if  you want more information on how to launch your ministry well and get better bookings, check out my audio downloads!

Use Your Words: Clarifying Your Goals

Every Tuesday I’m on the Christian Women Affiliate radio network on BlogTalkRadio to talk about building your speaking ministry! You can listen for FREE, so do tune in, or listen after the fact to the archives.

You can find this week’s show here.

Here’s the low-down on this week’s show!

Basically, you need to know where you’re going, or what you’re aiming for, before you launch, or it’s hard to measure how you’re going to get there.

And we can measure our goals in three areas: financial, professional, and spiritual. Let’s take them one at a time.

1. Financial Goals

There is nothing wrong with having to make money. Many of us need to contribute to the family income simply because the economy is bad. We’d love to speak, whether or not we were getting paid, and we’d love to just serve God, but we need money. And we can’t dedicate the kind of hours we need to to have an effective speaking ministry unless we’re making an income. Otherwise we’ll have to get a job elsewhere.

So understand what you do need to earn in terms of income, and then figure out how many speaking engagements this represents. And a little warning: it’s very hard to make $50,000 a year speaking, especially when you’re just starting out. If you charge $300 for an evening, and $600 for a Saturday, you’re going to have to speak every single Saturday during the year, and then 60 more evenings, to even reach that goal. Nobody can do that. It’s too much and it will burn you out.

You can make that kind of money if you’re selling a lot on your book table, and if you get good enough to raise your fees. But just be careful that you’re not launching into speaking thinking that it can deliver an income to you which is unrealistic. Some people think, “if I can charge $300 for an evening, then it’s like I’m making $300 an hour!” Don’t think of it like that. That $300 has to cover your prep, your travel, your networking, and your speaking.

Also factor in expenses, and charge them separately. If you have to pay for a hotel, or pay $150 for gas, driving four hours there and back, then $300 isn’t enough. You’ll start to wonder why you seem to be making no money at all (and that’s because you’re not!).

If income is an issue, think of easier ways to make it! Write magazine articles, or write for websites. Write for parenting magazines. Write for charities, or write on contract for non-profit organizations. It’s okay to need to make money!

2. Professional Goals

I decided early in my writing career that I wanted to write a book. But I knew that finding a publisher was going to be difficult, especially since I didn’t have any published credits to my name. So for four years I invested in writing magazine articles for some of the biggest Christian publications. Then, when I approached book publishers, I had something to share with them.

If you want to reach a certain niche, or if you want to publish a book or start speaking at a certain conference, remember that there are often several steps you need to take first in order to get there. If you want to speak for women on depression, for instance, it’s easier to speak to women in general for a few  years first, and get well-known, before you try to hit that target niche. Speaking to a niche market is hard enough; you won’t get hired until people have heard of you first.

Similarly, if you want to publish a book eventually, it’s better to take three or four years to build your platform. Get well-known on the internet. Start speaking. Invest in the kind of things that give you name-recognition.

Note that this building period may be not what you envisioned. It may feel as if you’re not pursuing your goals; but you are. Just break them down a little bit.

When I made the decision to write a book, my income actually dropped. I was making more money writing magazine articles than I ever did writing my first few books. But I wanted to go in that direction so that I could build a speaking ministry. So I sacrificed a little bit, for a few years, so that I could get where I wanted to be.

3. Spiritual Goals

Always keep in mind the REASON that you are speaking and writing. God may bless some of us to become wildly well-known; most of us will not. In the end it’s His decision. But what you don’t want to do is to spend a lot of time and energy being tremendously successful at something that doesn’t matter.

There are ways that we can speak and write that may make us more popular. We can compromise on certain issues. We can become flashier or edgier. We can become more politically correct.

Don’t water anything down. Certainly we need to be culturally relevant, but always keep in mind the main reason that God has put you in this ministry. What is the message that He wants you to share? And then keep coming back to that message. Let it resonate out of every pore of your being. When you are doing that, your ministry will be so much more effective!

If you want to listen to me dive deeper into this subject, listen in to the radio show here.

And if you want to go even deeper into how to think about goals, and how to clarify where you should be putting your efforts, my download “Treating Speaking as a Business” will help you tremendously! It comes complete with a handout that helps you clarify your goals, and assign them priority numbers (in fact, it does it for you!). It couldn’t be easier, and it will save you time and money. Find the download here.

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