Should you do gigs for free?

It’s an age-old speaker debate.  And… honestly?  This debate infuriates me.

On one side are people who feel (strongly) you should never do anything for free. These folks feel it’s obnoxious for any event organizer to even make the suggestion.

These are speakers who say:

“This is my business.  You wouldn’t ask someone to fix your transmission for free or plant your shrubs for free.  So, why are you asking me to speak for free?!”

On the other side of the debate are people like me…

We are the few who understand that not everyone has the budget to afford speakers. Simply put… we don’t take it personally. In fact, we realize it’s smart business to take free gigs from time to time.

So, which side are you on? Before you make your decision… hear me out. Today, we’ll explore the reasons why you MUST do free gigs.

First, let me backup a bit…

Here’s How This Scenario Usually Plays Out

Typically, the whole rigamarole starts with an inbound lead or referral.  Your prospect puts a date on hold and you progress through a successful Client Theme Call.  Then, it’s time to bring up your speaker fee.

That’s when the event organizer drops the bomb.

“We actually don’t have a large budget for this event and we were hoping you would speak for free.  But, this is going to be a fun event and it’ll be GREAT exposure for you.”

The event organizer typically lays out a few carrots to entice you to take the gig for free:

  • You’ll get great exposure to a whole new audience,
  • They’ll do strong promotion for your speech before the event,
  • There will be plenty of social media buzz,
  • The event is filled with parties, in a beautiful location, and set in a luxurious hotel,
  • And you can even bring your spouse and turn it into a mini-vacation!

Basically, the event organizer throws out whatever perks they can to lure you to speak for free. When presented with this situation, you have two options to respond.

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