The Superstar Scoop: 3 Core Ways to Make Money As A Speaker

As a professional speaker for over a decade (12 years now!), I've used speaking to generate revenues in many different ways, and they all fall into 3 core categories. In today’s article and video, I’m going to share these 3 strategies, as well as some extra free resources to go deeper.

The first way to make money as a speaker is the most obvious: get paid to speak! And this is what people usually think of when they say, “How do I make money as a speaker?” 

In my experience, this is the most challenging of the 3 ways to make money from speaking for most people. It requires having a strong brand, a credible background, a great reputation, a clear and compelling message, a solid value proposition, consistent outreach, and dogged follow up (and, ideally, a solid administrative assistant!)

It’s not impossible though! There are a lot of resources out there that can support you in getting paid and booked as a professional speaker. My favorite resource is the National Speakers Association. 

At a very minimum, getting paid to speak involves being a thought leader in your field, industry or niche, and also having certain tools, like a great speaker website, video, one sheet, and a book — not necessary but it really helps!

Check out my “Thought Leadership” Playlist on YouTube, here

The second way to make money as a speaker is to speak to get paid, meaning you speak without getting paid up front, and then generate revenues on the BACK END – from selling products and programs.

Now a lot of professional speakers will tell you NOT to do this. However, with the right opportunity and the right audience, this can be FAR more lucrative than getting paid to speak. 

A few years ago I was in the transition period between only getting paid to speak, and speaking to get paid, a big national organization reached out to me to keynote a women’s conference – but they didn’t have a budget. 

Normally, I would have turned down this free opportunity – and probably felt resentful that they didn't’ want to pay me. But I had just created a new retreat offering, and I thought this could be a good opportunity to offer it. 

If I had gotten paid to do this engagement, I would have earned MAYBE $10,000. Instead, I generated over $25,000 in sales in the 2 months following the event, and over $100,000 over the course of 2 years (thanks to my “Big Back End,” lol, more on how to create a big back end on my Business Models & Revenue Streams Playlist).

Speaking to get paid involves delivering a presentation that is inspiring enough, educational enough, and motivating enough that audiences want MORE; they want to continue working with you or they want to buy one of your programs or products.

Of course, When you “speak to sell,” you need to have something to sell! My favorite back end offer is a retreat or a seminar. But you can sell books, workbooks, virtual programs, courses, events, coaching, consulting, and more. 

When you speak to get paid, you must have a call-to-action at the end of your presentation. I rarely make offers for my programs directly from the stage, and instead offer a “meaningful conversation” (my mentor Mark LeBlanc’s term) during which together we can decide if one of my programs is a right fit. 

I also always offer something of significant value for free, to entice people into my email list, which is a great way to nurture that brand new relationship. 

The 3rd way to make money as a speaker is to create your OWN events. 

This is my absolute FAVORITE way to drive revenues as a speaker because when you do your own events, there are so many different ways that you can monetize them.

Here’s a video that goes into more depth on how to make money with your own events, but here are a few quick ideas: ticket sales are the most obvious, and you can also sell sponsorships and stage time to speakers who want to promote themselves to your audience, and, of course offering your own products and services is the best. 

Creating your own events is also a great way to establish your credibility and work up to getting paid to speak. If you're at a stage in your business where people aren't yet offering you the chance to speak at their events, this can get you jump started. 

That's how I put myself on the map. I created the Women's Success Summit and a variety of other workshops and seminars, and eventually people would refer me to other engagements after seeing me in action. 

And while doing my own events is my absolute favorite way to make money speaking, I incorporate ALL 3 strategies. 

And that really is my ultimate advice. Do it all! Diversify your strategies and diversify the ways you make money. While you're putting yourself out there as a paid speaker, consider taking on a few free-speaking engagements where you can sell your products and services on the back end. And then every so often, why not put together your own event so that you can also make money through sponsorships, ticket sales and selling your other products and services? 


If you're ready to make more money speaking and you'd love some support and help in doing it – let's connect! Visit to learn more about what it looks like to work with me. 

About The Author: 

Michelle Villalobos, is a Business Alignment Expert. She is the Founder of Superstar Activator, Host of the Awaken Your Inner Superstar Podcast and Creator of the Superstar Business Breakthrough Program, Make Them BEG Personal Branding System, and Retreats to Riches online training course, among others.

Her mission is to activate “Superstars” – influencers, game-changers, thought leaders, and other leaders – to develop their influence, grow their impact, and “monetize their magic” in sustainable ways, while experiencing grace, ease and flow.

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