How Do I Know When To Start Charging?

A while back I received an email from a woman who has been taking my e-course on launching your speaking ministry. She wrote this:

I am still struggling with how do I present to friends what I do and the cost of doing it. Locally seems to be an issue because there isn’t a lot of travel time and I usually receive a nice gift of some sort, picture frames, candles, corsages. None of which I mind and have enjoyed having the opportunity to speak. But now I would like to take it to the next level. I have a friend in ministry in MN. 633 miles away, about 11 hours if I were to drive straight through. They offered $200 for gasoline money plus travel meals. When I get there food and lodging will be provided. I’m having a hard time justifying financially this event. I want to do it because of our long time relationship, I feel so torn.
I would welcome anything you have to say.

Can you relate to that? As soon as you start traveling, speaking actually costs YOU money. And if people aren’t willing to pay, is it worth it for you? Especially since it takes so much time away from home?

I know when I speak, I often have to drive at least 3 hours to the engagement. That means if the engagement is from 7-9 p.m., and I have to beat rush hour traffic, I have to leave at 1 in the afternoon and I’m not back until midnight. That’s a long time to be gone!

So when do you start charging for your time and expenses so that it more accurately reflects a fee that you could run a ministry on? At what point do you stop doing things for free (or just for expenses?). Here’s what I said to her:

I know what you’re saying about having trouble justifying the expense. Many of us, when we start speaking, join the “Sisterhood of the Potted Plant”. Are you part of that yet? That’s when you go speak, and afterwards the hostess asks you to the front to thank you, and she gives you a hug, and presents you with a plant. Probably a pansy, if it’s spring. Now I love plants, but your ministry can’t survive on plants!

Here’s what I would say: It is not a bad idea to invest say a year into building your reputation. Speak as much as you can, as long as you don’t LOSE too much money. Record yourself every time you speak. Create some videos to put up on YouTube of short little clips of you being either funny or really profound. Create that great website so you’ve got everything going for you. Collect email addresses every where you go through contests (I have some of this up on my blog and in the course).

And think of that first year as building relationships and connections so that you can start really charging. Also think of it as a time of preparation for you, when you get comfortable with your talks and can start to deliver them without relying too much on notes.

At the same time, there does come a time when you want to start charging enough to make it worth your while-let’s say $250 for a one-time engagement, plus mileage. I think that’s a pretty good starting point that pays for your time and for your preparation. I would say to start charging once you have several engagements lined up. In other words, once you’re not the one seeking the engagements, but others are coming to you, it’s time to start charging. They’ve heard of you from somewhere, so you have a reputation now. That’s worth something.

If each engagement can’t pay, then you can take it to the Lord and ask if He still wants you to go (because He might! I’ve done some engagements for free just because they’ve been such great opportunities to share the gospel). But you also have to be careful with your time and your finances.

The other time I might consider doing something free is if I have the opportunity to sell my books/CDs. If you have CDs of your talks that you can sell, and they’re designed with a nice graphic, you can often charge $10-$15 each, and then that can make you some money. If you’re talking to 200 women, and 10% of the audience buys, you’re making $200-$300 just in sales for something that doesn’t cost you very much.

So I guess what I would say is this: decide where you are on the ministry road. Are you still in the building phase, or have you left that behind? Are you receiving calls to speak, or are you still seeking them out? Once you’re receiving calls, it’s time to set a fee and tell people what that fee is.

That’s what I told her. What do you think?

If you want to go more in-depth into this topic, my audio download, Launch Your Speaking Ministry, tells you how to get your speaking ministry off of the ground!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *