In the last segment of this 3-part series, Bryan Caplovitz of SpeakerMatch shares four more ideas for how to get paid, even when speaking for free. Huge thanks to Bryan for sharing his knowledge with us over the last few weeks!
9. Use free speaking for tax advantages*.
When making a speech to a non-profit organization, you can actually use your speaking “fee” to your advantage for tax purposes. For example, let’s say that your normal going rate is $1000 per venue. If you are speaking for an organization that the government deems to be subject to charitable contribution deductions, and this organization does not offer a speaking fee, you can “comp” the organization the $1000.
In essence you are speaking for free, but that $1000 comp you just gave the organization is now tax-deductible as a charitable contribution deduction. The deduction for the charity is capped off at a certain percentage, which is about 1 free in every 20 speeches. Additionally, you have to make sure that your going rate is consistent, and you can not make up a going rate based on where you are speaking. Claiming that your going rate is $250,000 will probably get you an audit and jail time.
* Be sure to consult with an accountant and/or tax attorney before dealing with taxes and invoicing. I’m not a lawyer or an accountant, and I won’t be held liable if you do anything that gets you into trouble.
10. Have them invite you back.
A great way to get future engagements that pay is to work out a deal with a venue that is having you speak for free. Let them know that you are more than willing to speak at their venue for free assuming that if they like you, they will invite you back and pay you for an upcoming event.
This is kind of like a money-back guarantee in reverse. You have to earn the money before they give it to you. It provides incentives for both parties to enter the agreement, and assuming you perform well, everyone should be happy in the long-run. Just make sure to iron out the details of the possible future payments in advance. The organization holds the upper hand here, but a written agreement will make your life a lot easier.
11. How about a free weekend?
Sometimes event planners are not willing to pay a speaking fee for an engagement, but are willing to fly you in, wine and dine you, and show you a good time. This is a great way to be compensated even though you are “speaking for free.” Have them pay any travel, lodging, and meal costs for you.
It can’t hurt to ask them if they are also willing to pay for your spouse’s transportation and meal costs (the lodging will not cost any extra). This is a great way to get a free trip and vacation. In addition, you can also use the vacation as a business expense in some cases. For example, if you speak at a venue on a Friday and then spend the rest of the weekend doing the touristy stuff, you can write off the whole weekend as a business expense for tax purposes.
Once again, it is important that you consult with an accountant to make sure that all laws and regulations are upheld, but if done correctly this can save you money on your tax returns while you are enjoying a wonderful vacation.
12. Get a professional photo shoot.
Here’s a tip that the pros know: get some good “3/4 shots. That’s 3/4 audience, 1/4 you. The idea is to show not only audience size, but audience reaction. Those are the images that really sell to a meeting planner, and they are extremely important to have in your promotional materials.
This one is an often overlooked opportunity that has LOTS of inherent value. You need great photos for your one-sheet, your website, your media kit, and other publicity vehicles. Don’t miss any opportunity to get professional quality shots of you in front of an audience.
Very talented photographers can be found in almost any group you can think of. It’s worth it to ask a meeting planner if they can help you to get some good shots.
Practice, Practice, Practice!
The ONLY way to build a truly successful speaking business is to get out there and do what you do best – SPEAK! Remember that even the top level professional speaker will speak for free to try out new material, market themselves, and just stay fresh. Don’t let the lack of a speaking fee be an obstacle to your building a successful business.
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BRYAN CAPLOVITZ is the founder and creator of SpeakerMatch. SpeakerMatch makes it easy to find free and low-fee speaking engagements. It is the only online source of current, available speaking opportunities for emerging professional speakers. Our proprietary software will match your unique skills with the needs of meeting planners and notify you instantly. We provide HOT leads, from organizations who are actively seeking speakers now.
For more information, visit http://www.speakermatch.com/speaker, or call us at 1-866-372-8768.
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