From Free to Fee: How to get started and paid as a speaker

Source: Secrets of a Side Hustler

Have you ever wondered what it would feel like to step on stage to share your knowledge AND get paid for it?

In a recent edition of #sidehustlechat we invited award winning blogger, entrepreneur, best selling author and accomplished speaker LC Johnson to share how to create a speaking career on the side that will not only elevate your brand but elevate your income as well

Speaking Post

LC began building her professional speaking career from scratch at the age of 25 and has shared her message with thousands of individuals in the US and Canada.

Not only was she the youngest speaker ever invited to take the stage at the Black Enterprise Women of Power Summit, she is the creator of the Danger! Educated Black Girl College tour – the first college tour of its kind to explore the identities and experiences of women of color on predominantly white college campuses.

During our #sidehustlechat conversation, LC dropped several gems and what it takes to make the transition from a free Speaker to one that charge fee. Her wisdom was too fab not to share on the blog so we’ve captured her interview for you to learn how to start or amplify your speaking hustle.

Best of all make sure to read through to the end because LC also shares a free training to help you get your first paid gig!


What inspired you to start speaking?

After blogging for a year, I started playing around with the idea of speaking. I have pretty intense stage fright but I considered speaking to be one way of spreading my message even further.  When one of my blog readers reached out and asked me “Do you speak?” I immediately said yes!

At that point, I had never spoken publicly but when God opens a door, you walk through. And the rest is history!

LC - Blog quote


What are the benefits of adding public speaking to your brand?

There are a ton! First and foremost, speaking is a great way to gain credibility and visibility within your niche. Not only that but speaking is an awesome way to spread your message.

Basically, if you’re someone with something to say or to sell, then speaking is a great method for expanding your work!


If you’re a newbie or aspiring speaker, what can you do to gain experience?

Start speaking! If I’m making it sound easy, it is. One of the easiest ways to get started is find places to practice.

Google “your topic” + “your location” to find groups that might be interested in hosting you.

If you can’t find opportunities, create them! Come up with a topic, find a location, and host a talk of your own.


Do you need to have a lot of experience in order to start getting paid as a speaker?

I have a bit of an odd story because I was pitched my first speaking gig and they paid me. But this is rare!

That being said, there is no specific time frame or expertise level you “have” to have in order to start getting paid.

It sounds silly but you can get paid as soon as you can convince someone to pay you!

This isn’t so much about getting more experience as it is about learning to talk about your experience in a compelling way.

If you’ve never spoken, focus on other ways you are an expert in your niche. Examples could be your Writing. Certifications or Personal experience.

When you can talk with confidence about your experience and desire to speak, people will be willing to invest in you.

Pitching yourself for gigs is a great way to get booked. What should you include in your pitch to help you standout and get hired?

Do you research! Event planners get pitches all the time that clearly have not been well thought out.

One way you can stand out is by having in depth knowledge of the organization or event you’re pitching.

What is their history? Their mission? Who is their audience? This info helps you put together a winning pitch. #sidehustlechat


How do you know how much to charge for your speaking?

Ahh! The big pricing question! I’m about to drop some serious knowledge y’all. You ready… ?LC Johnson

There is no right answer! Lol.I know you were expecting something mad deep, right?

Seriously though, my best piece of advice is to always ask “What is the budget” before setting a price.

Once I was about to pitch a price and their budget was double that. And I’ve had the reverse happen.

So always try to figure out their budget first and then go from there.


Don’t sleep on non-paid speaking events! How can you transform free speaking gigs into profitable or beneficial opportunities for your brand?

I talk about this in my course SheSpeaks but there are more ways to “get paid” than with a paycheck!

Speaking for free is a great way to build your credibility and your visibility within your niche and to get clients.

When accepting free gigs, always think about how you can leverage them to grow your biz. Plan and be strategic! For instance, create a free offer related to your talk topic & give it away to the audience! Great way to get new leads.


Why is it important to have a niche for your speaking topics?

People often feel nervous about being too niche because they’re worried about alienating people.

But choosing a niche actually helps you identify the RIGHT people, people who are actually interested in your work!

It also helps be super clear with event planners about your niche so they know when you are the best person for the job.

My advice: Niche sooner rather than later!


And finally here are some parting words of wisdom from LC to all aspiring side hustling speakers:

You have everything you need to start speaking. If nothing else, you have your own story!

Speaking completely changed my life & exploded my income! Don’t let fear stand in the way of you doing the same.

Do you feel inspired to start sharing your story and create your own speaking income stream? Check out LC’s free training at




And to read more inspiring gems from the full conversation and chat with LC, check out the official transcript here

The post From Free to Fee: How to get started and paid as a speaker appeared first on Secrets of a Side Hustler.

* Source: Secrets of a Side Hustler

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