Should I work for free? Should I pay to work? When an event coordinator or a conference promoter asks me to speak fro free they’re asking me to to work for free. Worse off, if they expect me to pay for my own expenses too, they’re asling me to pay to work!
They’re asking us to share 20 to 30 years of marketing knowledge to their audience so they can make a profit on their event and expect us to either work for free, or worse, pay to work. I also agree that sometimes, not getting paid to speak is OK. My rule is if the event is non-profit, free, to raise money for a good cause, I will consider it. If the promoter is charging the audience, he’s paying the speakers of I don’t play. I also agree with the term “exposure”. It can pay off, but often doesn’t. Exposure is a by-product for us all, including the promoter for their next conference.
It’s also amazing how many desperate people there are there who jump at the chance to speak for free just to “hawk” their consulting services. There’s one group out there doing 150 conferences around the country with more than 400 speakers willing to present fro free. In nearly every case, the promoter get’s what they pay for. And when the promoter says, we have a rep from Microsoft, or Google speaking for free, I ask them if that rep “clocks-out” for the presentation and doesn’t get paid for that day or are they still on the corporate payroll. That’s not free, they’re still getting paid.
As a professional speaker and author I get paid by sharing and teaching you what it took me 30 years to learn. What I share has direct benefit to you and your business. I have to deliver good content with a great take-away value or I’m just wasting everybody’s time.
Often I hear that many of the free speakers are from within the industry. Do you want to try to learn from people who might have stumbled across something accidentally? This isn’t what they do for a living. They do what you do. Can your really learn from people who do the same thing you do? It’s like asking a third grade student to be the substitute teacher.
When you hire a speaker, you’re hiring a subject matter expert. For me to write an 850 page best selling book on social media, I HAD to know more than everyone else. It’s that knowledge and experience makes my presentation worth more than the Xerox guy who figured out how to set up a Facebook page. The bottom line, and that’s what we’re talking about is… You really do get what you pay for. So, pay for a subject matter expert if you want your audience to learn, benefit, and profit.
-Lon Safko, author of The Social Media Bible