You’ve heard the stories. Seasoned speakers will tell you about how they used to do one canned keynote speech and make insane amounts of money on the “circuit”.

I know one well known speaker who was in the $10-15,000 range who got that amount consistently with no problem. But that was years ago. This same speaker has been asked to speak for free and has never recovered those glory days. Sure, she gets some paid jobs now and then, but things are quite different.

She, like many other speakers, are learning new ways to cope with a changing industry. Now she does free seminars and upsells a paid seminar, plus she sells her books and other services. She can still make $10,000 in a weekend, but it takes much more work, and she has to hustle for every penny.

Several other things have affected the speaking business, like the enormous amount of competition that’s entered the field. Every day I talk to former CEOs and celebrities who have sold businesses or simply want to try something different in their life. These are people who have name recognition.

That doesn’t even count the number of people who have been laid off from their corporate jobs or people who want to buy a lottery ticket into the business. Just like Hollywood, the field is extremely crowded with few good paying jobs. Certainly not enough good paid jobs for every speaker.

Okay, so that is the bad news. The good news is that with every disruption in an industry, there are opportunities to make money.

Since half of the speaking jobs out there are free ones, I realized I couldn’t work for free, so I decided to use my background in sponsorship to monetize those jobs. I started in the sponsorship business about 20 years ago when I was working on a TV pilot. My boss came in and asked me to find sponsors for the show, and then left.

I had no idea what to do. I had to figure it out on my own. I ended up going door to door pitching small businesses, and my naiveté worked in my favor because I funded the whole show with those sponsors.

This is why I’ve never spoken for free as a speaker. From day one I always had a sponsor paying the bills if a meeting planner didn’t have a budget to pay. The really good news is that there are tons of free speaking jobs everywhere. And meeting planners need good speakers, even if they can’t pay them. So most will allow you to have your own sponsor as long as it’s not selling from the stage, which this isn’t.

The reason I do small business sponsorship is because it’s much easier than contacting big corporations. Also, there are roughly 18,000 big corporations and over 25 million small businesses just in the US alone.

My first small business sponsor came from Europe and I got a $60,000 sponsorship from them. That was years ago, so that would be worth even more today. Most people think small businesses don’t have enough money to pay speakers, but you would be surprised. It all depends on the value you’re bringing them and how much they’re willing to spend.

The sponsorship business itself has changed in the past few years too. It’s become much more of a customized industry, and the players are changing. This is good for speakers since you have a lot of choices out there. And small business sponsorship is still in its infancy.

There are 2 ways to get sponsorship. You can either get a free job and find a sponsor for it or create your own speaking opportunities and find sponsors for them.

Either way, you won’t be waiting around for a meeting planner or anyone else to give you a job. You create your own speaking career. But there is a lot to learn. I am willing to share my knowledge to help you along the way!

Julie Austin is an award-winning author, speaker, and CEO of Speaker Sponsor, the only online directory for speakers seeking small business sponsorship. She’s been a keynote speaker for corporations such as Procter & Gamble, Novartis Pharmaceuticals, Northrop Grumman, and Cognizant Technology Solutions.

Her patented product, Swiggies, wrist water bottles, have been a NASDAQ product of the year semi finalist and are currently sold in 24 countries. Julie and her products have appeared on The Today Show, The Queen Latifa Show, HGTV, Lifetime, ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX News, Inc. magazine, Fast Company, and the Wall Street Journal, along with dozens of TV shows, magazines and radio shows around the world.

Her new book “The Money Garden: How to Plant the Seeds for a Lifetime of Income” is currently available on Amazon.  To learn more and find out how Julie can help you with sponsorships; call 888-766-3155 today.

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