Last week I focused on the time period before you have formal fees. My personal progression went a little like this:
- Step 1: I insisted on not being paid at all. I was very new and very inexperienced. This is actually a blessed time because usually event planners are appreciative, and the expectations are low. When you exceed them–bonus!
- Step 2: I simply told planners that I would accept an honorarium. I asked them to base it on prayer and their budget.
- Step 3: I adopted a formal fee schedule.
One of the hardest decisions is when you should move from an honorarium to a set fee. First, I want to establish why it’s good to have a standard set of fees at some point.
- It establishes you as a professional. My first speaking event outside my own church was for a church’s women’s beach retreat. The first year I refused payment, and the leaders gave me a beautiful gift that I still use and treasure. I was invited back the next year, and the planner handed me an envelope at the end and wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. She looked me straight in the eye and said, “I’m paying you, because this is what you DO.” That check was a blessing to me on so many levels. Her comment backed up with the check gave me confidence that I had stepped into the ranks of vocational ministry. I cried a good percentage of the way home. Not only that, but I had been praying for God’s provision to attend She Speaks. Guess what? That check covered my registration! It felt like confirmation straight from God, and it helped pay for an investment in the growth of my ministry.
- Event planners actually seem more comfortable with a fee structure. There have been a few exceptions along the way, but I believe in general event planners want to bless you with the fee. When they’re unsure what you would consider appropriate, it’s an uncomfortable dilemma for them. Having your fees allows them to consider their budget but also to feel confident of the amount they’re paying you.
How do you know when it’s time? Here are some of the indicators:
- You’re being asked back. This doesn’t happen lots just because planners often bring in new speakers each year, but you should see it happen some.
- You feel mostly consistent. I don’t think we can ever count on 100% consistency, but you should feel fairly confident in your ability to create a strong message that connects with your audience and your delivery. The value of a speaker’s message should exceed her fee.
- You are getting feedback after events that indicate life transformation. Attendees are saying things like, “When you said ____________, I thought about what’s happening in my life…”
- Event planners are asking for your fee. If they’ve come to you via word of mouth and assume you have a fee, you probably need a fee.
Next week I’ll share a fee structure with concrete measurements to let you know where you should be.
How about you? Do you have a fee schedule/structure? How did you know it was time?