First 10 Ways

  1. Fee-paid keynote
  2. This one is pretty obvious — you’re a speaker, and speakers give keynote presentations for a fee. So this one isn’t a revelation, but I’m providing it for completeness.

  3. Put on a public seminar
  4. Putting on a public seminar — where you market to a broad base of prospects, and you can’t really predict who will ultimately attend — is one of the most difficult ways for a professional speaker to make money. It can also be one of the most lucrative. Consider it.

  5. Conduct bootcamps
  6. “Bootcamps” are technically public seminars, but they’re generally more expensive (with a registration fee of perhaps thousands of dollars instead of the typical hundreds of dollars for a “public seminar”) and they oftentimes extend over a period of several days.

    Bootcamps are usually rather expensive to conduct, but even a relatively small attendance can yield impressive profits.

  7. Conduct retreats
  8. A “retreat” is also a type of public seminar… but with retreats, the venue is usually an important characteristic. For example, Lisa Jimenez holds “Rich Life Retreats” in exotic locations like Paris and Prague. And like bootcamps, retreats are usually more expensive than ordinary public seminars. (And so they can be even more profitable.)

  9. Ask for donations
  10. While we’re talking about public seminars (by whatever name you choose), let’s consider another way of making money from your speaking engagement — asking your audience for donations. Churches do this all the time (although they don’t describe it in exactly these words). This approach works both for “fee” and free seminars.

    Be careful! Audiences need to feel confident that their donations will be spent for a good cause, and abusing their trust is certainly tacky... and quite possibly illegal. But if they trust your appeal for donations, they often respond generously.

  11. Network marketing
  12. Hold on there! I can already hear the boos and catcalls from some of you. Several decades ago, network marketing acquired a somewhat-sleazy reputation that it still holds in the eyes of some people.

    Granted, a lot of people have spent a lot of time and money in network marketing, and they don’t have anything to show for it. But you could say the same thing about self-publishing your own book, and yet you don’t hear people accusing the book printing industry of committing a fraud. So be fair.

    Granted, anyone who promotes network marketing as a “get rich quick” scheme is being deceptive, because network marketing may not make you rich, and it certainly won’t do it quickly. But network marketing has provided a nice residual income for some people, and it needs to be seriously considered.

    For speakers especially, network marketing can (note: can, not will) be a lucrative source of extra income.

  13. Write a book and have it published
  14. Since I just mentioned books, let’s include it in the list. Writing a book and having it published by a big-name publisher can make you money — possibly quite a lot of it. (Consider Chicken Soup for the Soul or The Secret.)

    But to be honest, those are the exceptions. It can be an excellent idea to have your book published (it’s a terrific marketing tool, for example), but it’s unlikely you’ll make much serious money this way. The problem is that there are so many people looking for their “cut” of the profits (the agent, the publisher, the distributor, the bookstore, etc.) that there is oftentimes very little left for you, the speaker.

    But it does occasionally happen, and so I need to include it on the list. Just don’t consider your published-by-somebody-else book as one of your more sure-fire sources of income.

  15. Write a book and self-publish
  16. That brings us to self-publishing. Writing a book, publishing it yourself, and selling it through bookstores (whether brick-and-mortar bookstores or on-line bookstores like can be a good source of income for speakers. (However, like network marketing, there’s a heavy emphasis on the word “can”.)

    Since you’re the publisher, you get to keep the publisher’s cut of the profits. So self-publishing is typically more profitable than being published; the downside is that getting your books into bookstores involves more work on your part.

    But bookstores aren’t the only way to sell your books….

  17. Write a Give-away Book
  18. Another way to make money from your self-published book is to sell it (in quantity) to organizations to give away to their members, employees, or customers. For example, high-level network marketers often purchase motivational books to distribute to their downlines; banks might want to give their best customers a book on developing a retirement plan; bridal shops might want to give their customers a book on planning weddings.

    With advances in POD (print on demand) technology, you can make your book even more desirable by customizing the cover — or even the contents, such as an introduction — for each organization.

    There is generally a very small profit to be made on each book this way; but since you’re selling them in bulk, a large number of small profits can add up to a tidy income rather quickly.

  19. Write a manual
  20. But you don’t have to publish your book as a “book”. There’s a big difference in the perceived value of a manual and a book — even if they both have the same content.

    Manuals are generally lousy marketing tools, but they have enormous profit potential. Speakers interested in alternate income streams should certainly consider writing and publishing their own how-to manuals.