When I speak at conferences or events, I love to ask audiences,” How many different ways are you monetizing your brand?” Most people in the audience have one or two ways they’re currently monetizing their brands, and a few rare individuals have found three or more ways.
Whether you’re just starting out as an entrepreneur or have spent years building and promoting your personal brand, it’s never too late to find new ways to generate revenue. Today, I’m going to be discussing four great ways that you can monetize your brand and grow your audience and exposure at the same time. By following these steps you’ll prepare yourself to speak in front of crowds and the television camera, which will not only increase your reach and credibility, but also afford you the ability to hire and maintain a staff to help you produce more content, as well as give you the boost in income you need as you grow into new business opportunities.
In this article, I’m not just going to tell you what the different ways are, I’m going to break them down step-by-step so you can actually start making money and getting to work. Let’s do this!
1. Public speaking
Public speaking helps your brand in a number of ways. For one, it gets you out in front of captive audiences and allows you to connect with individuals you otherwise wouldn’t be able to connect with. For another, it can be a great revenue stream as you grow your experience as a speaker, as well as grow your brand.
There are some things to keep in mind when considering public speaking as an additional revenue generator. Unless you have a deep experience in your craft or niche that you’re able to share with audiences, it will be hard to get booked for events. As well, if you lack extensive, quality experience with public speaking or are unwilling to commit the time it takes to go through courses and learn the tricks of the trade, you’re not going to be able to make much money doing it. Finally, in order to make the most money speaking at events and conferences you need to have a certain level of exposure or recognizability as an expert in your field.
Let’s say you have no experience speaking whatsoever—I would suggest a trial by fire. The only way to start building your reputation and get people to recognize you as a speaker is to start doing it! Thankfully, there are plenty of places where you can start speaking for free to gain the experience and exposure you need to make it work. Look into speaking at community organizations, economic development groups, charities events, religious groups, schools, and community centers like libraries. Do it for free to start, until you’ve gained the experience and comfort level to move on to the next step.
But if you’re struggling with nervousness in front of crowds or don’t think you have what it takes to speak publicly, then you’re going to need to sign up for some classes or seminars to get comfortable. One organization I love is called Toastmasters International, a non-profit that has local chapters all over the world and is designed to help you with your speaking by helping you start small, working in small groups in a supportive environment.
Once you’ve started doing speaking engagements for free the next step is to produce a video that shows off your abilities. Have one of your public speaking engagements filmed, and then pay someone to edit it down to just the highlights that show off your best moments as a speaker. This video, called your “reel,” can now be sent to organizers and used to get bigger and possibly paid speaking gigs. Make sure you also place this video alongside any testimonials from people who have seen you speak are visiting your website too.
I’d strongly suggest that you don’t waste time thinking that getting a speaking agent is going to help in a big way. I’m personally listed with a half dozen agents, and from that I’ve gotten a mere two bookings over the last four years.
So how do I get booked? Worth of mouth plays a huge role. The more speaking events I do, and the more videos of me speaking get out there, the more people know who I am and what subjects they can hire me to speak on.
One last tip I’ll offer is that as you grow your public speaking side of your business, be sure to grow the rate you’re charging as well. Once you’ve started to establish yourself you shouldn’t be afraid to make sure that all of the time you’re putting into speaking engagements, not just the time you’re actually at a conference or event, but the time you spend preparing your talk as well as the time you spend in transit, are all calculated into the fee you’re asking for. Remember, while speaking can help to grow your visibility and your audience, it also needs to boost your bottom line. As you grow, you should quickly consider having someone else negotiate your fee for gigs and give them a commission. You can obtain a much higher rate when someone else handles the negotiation for you.
2. Books (eBooks and paperback)
On their own, I don’t necessarily recommend entrepreneurs and brands go to the trouble of putting out books. For one, books require a huge investment of time that you could spend focusing on your core business. Also, books are hard to make a significant profit with. If you’re lucky, you’ll get an advance plus a low royalty rate on sales. Or you could go the self-publishing route, which is more work but you keep more of the money from each copy sold.
However, if you’re already following step #1 and doing lots of public speaking, the organization that’s hosting will often buy your books in lieu of or in addition to a fee. Attendees, especially if they want more from you than they’d otherwise get out of an hour talk, are already interested in what you have to say and will be receptive to buying your book.
At a certain level of public speaking, it’s almost taken for granted that you’ll have a book to sell or sign at events, and this can be an additional revenue stream that makes the speaking route an even more lucrative one.
3. Get paid to be on TV
Television, like public speaking, is a great way to get exposure and generate revenue. To start off, you’ll be pitching yourself to television networks as a guest expert that can talk about certain topics. The easiest way to do this is to open your checkbook and hire a publicist to do the heavy lifting for you. Once you’ve identified what areas of expertise you have that would be a good fit for television, a good publicist will open their Rolodex and start reaching out to producers they have connections with to see where you’d be a good fit. Since you’ll primarily be hiring a publicist for the connections they have, be sure you hire someone who has a proven track record placing guests on the shows you’re interested in.
If money is tight, or you can’t find someone with the expertise you’re looking for, don’t despair—you don’t actually need a publicist to get on the air. What you need to do is connect with producers and executive producers in your area. In order to make these connections, you’ve got to use absolutely everything you’ve got. Take advantage of your social networks and search deep on LinkedIn to see if you’ve got existing connections or friends-of-friends you can leverage. Do some digging with Facebook’s graph search to find out what producers are at what stations and if you have any mutual friends. Hit up Twitter and let your followers know what you’re trying to do—you never know what connections might turn up there.
But don’t just go online, go out into the world to make these connections as well. At almost every conference or event, there will be TV talent on panels or speaking. Use my 12-step guide to human networking and make those connections! TV talent and producers won’t come to you, you’ve got to go to them directly and ask for help. There are even media-specific conferences where industry folks meet-up, which can be the perfect place to make your impression and walk away with the connections you need to get on the air.
When you’re just starting out, you’re going to want to target guest appearance opportunities on broadcast stations in your local market. You won’t be able to appear on a nationally syndicated program like the TODAY show without some solid on-air experience. This is a good thing, since breaking into local markets is significantly easier than national programming. Whether you’ve called up a producer or simply driven yourself over to the local news broadcasting station and introduced yourself to one, you want to impress upon that producer how you’re an expert in the community and provide him or her with a list of specific subjects that you would be able to discuss on-air.
When you’re actually on the air, be spectacular and put all of your best public speaking talents to work, but be absolutely sure to avoid the temptation to promote your product! That’s the quickest way to make sure you’ve filmed your last segment. Just remember, you may be appearing as an unpaid expert, but your goal in being a guest on television isn’t making some sales, it’s about boosting your recognition and exposure to a wider audience, which will lead to an increase in sales.
After the segment has aired, you absolutely must get a copy of your appearance. Don’t rely on the network to give you a copy–certainly ask, but don’t expect it. To ensure you obtain a copy, pay a video clipping service live TV Video Clips to get a copy of the segment. After that, be sure to upload your clip to YouTube and to your site, with a rich description and tags that provide relevant information about not only who you are but also the areas in which you have expertise. Believe it or not, producers find and vet talent on YouTube! A good video can prove your on-air talent and it’s great to have a video to show off when you meet people who can make connections to get you on television.
After you’ve built up enough credibility and experience as an unpaid guest on television programs, you can transition into becoming a paid contributor so that you can start making money every time you appear on air. While being a guest provides you with tons of exposure, being a paid contributor means not only exposure and money, but increased credibility from the fact that the network is now acknowledging that you’re a strong enough brand to be compensated for your appearances.
4. Satellite media tours
A Satellite Media Tour, commonly referred to as an SMT in the industry, is an all-day event where you go to a studio and film back-to-back appearances on television, radio and the Internet all in the name of promoting a brand. SMTs leverage your talent and expertise as a spokesperson, and have you present a particular product or multiple products on-air. In one setting, on one day, typically in about six hours, you’ll be interviewed by dozens of stations all across the country. And while a lot of work goes into putting an SMT together and making sure it’s a success, you shouldn’t be afraid to charge between $5-10,000 to do one.
Brands typically pick up the tab for SMTs as they’re the ones having their products promoted on-air, so if you have relationships with brands and the experience speaking on-air under your belt, you can start going to companies and pitching yourself as an ideal candidate to host an SMT for them.
But I have a secret tip that will help you land SMTs more frequently and with better results. Instead of pitching the brands, go straight to the production companies who create SMTs and let them know what your talent expertise is and what brand relationships you have. Sometimes they’re looking for new talent in certain areas or niches, so even with no experience you can get your foot in the door. Then the production compnay can do the hard work of figuring out how to pitch you to brands and networks.
It’s not too hard to find out what companies produce SMTs and you should be able to turn up some names by doing a search on the web to find the ones near you. Especially if you’re just starting out, going straight to the production companies is a great way to get your foot in the door.
I have experience with a wide variety of techniques to build and monetize brands, and am here to help. Struggling with any aspect of how you can get speaking gigs, put a book out, appear on TV or do an SMT? Leave me a question in the comments below, and I’ll get back to you!
Mario Armstrong, Digital Lifestyle Expert, is an Emmy Award winning, tech commentator for the TODAY show, CNN, HLN and Fuse. An entrepreneur by nature, Mario made his passion his career by quitting his day job and founding Mario Armstrong Media. Follow Mario at @MarioArmstrong. AT&T has sponsored this blog post.