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11.08.2022 Neil Patel

Why I Speak at Conferences for Free Now (Used to Charge $50k)

Why I speak at conferences for free now, when I used to charge over $50,000. I used to charge $50,000 for an hour speech within the United States, literally only a one-hour speech. Plus I'd make them pay for travel, like flights and hotels. Internationally I charge $100,000 for an hour speech.


On top of that, all conferences pay for my accommodations, food, travel, hotel, first class flight, sometimes even private planes. To top it off, I used to do around 25 to 30 paid speaking gigs a year before COVID, and I still get a lot of requests even today. The number actually' hasn't dropped, it's gone up recently, but can you guess how many speaking gigs I charge for today? Well, I charge here and there, but I learned that making money from being a public speaker isn't bad, but it's not the best way to make money.

See, some of the best events in the world have speakers like Elon Musk and Bill Gates. And you can bet that they really don't care for money for speaking. Sure, I may charge 50 or 100 grand. They can probably command half a million, a million dollars, but they're so rich they don't care for a half a million or a million dollars. It doesn't really move the needle for them.

But here's the thing. The events that these billionaires and these well-known entrepreneurs speak at like Elon Musk and Bill Gates, they bring in an audience that typically has a higher net worth. So I started to apply for speaking spots at these particular events. Some of them were already requesting that I speak. They just wouldn't pay me in the past and they wouldn't offer speaking fees.

Some of them would pay for travel and flights. Some of them would even pay for that, but I'm like, "Nah." Why would I speak there? "I'm getting paid at these other events." But what I learned is by speaking at these events that people like Bill Gates and Elon Musk are invited to, and of course I'm not getting a premier stage like they are, but still, when I speak at these events the amount of business that I close skyrocketed.

While before I was just focused on events that would pay me the most amount of money, the majority of the time I would walk away from those events, well, still getting some good branding, but I would rarely close revenue. And when I closed revenue, it wasn't as much.

Now I don't get as much to speak when I go to these events, and in many cases I get paid literally nothing, but the business that I'm closing from these events far exceed what I'm generating from the speaking revenue.

The big lesson I learned is don't be shortsighted. Yes, there are many ways to make money, but don't focus on what's short run. Instead, focus on what's better for you in the long run and what's more sustainable for your business.

See, I wish I'd realized this 10 plus years ago when I started speaking and I started speaking for money, but it's too late to turn back the clock. Hopefully you don't make the same mistake as I did.

And if you want to avoid other marketing mistakes, check out my ad agency, NP Digital, where we help companies like yours grow. And if you enjoyed this video, like it, share it, tell people about it. And if you have any questions, leave a comment below.

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