There are two #goals that seem to be floating around in the creative industry. The coveted “6-figure business” status (and lately, multi-6-figure business, it seems) and to be known as an educator & speaker.
First: let me start by saying a couple things:
You don’t have to have those goals on your Powersheets in order to be wonderful, talented, experienced, growing, etc. Your business should be a representation of exactly what you envision for success… not just what someone else desires or reaches for. Neither of those qualify whether or not your business is valuable or your worth as a human or creative. You can have a “successful” business only working part time & bringing home just enough money to pay for your family’s vacation each year if that is your goal! Or you can have a successful business working 40 weddings a year! The choice is yours & there is zero shame in what your version of success looks like.
However, if either of those are your goals, let me just tell you something… they take work. They don’t magically zap into existence the minute you write them down.
No more of this: “In the next 17 minutes, learn my 1-step formula to launching a multi-6-figure business in the next 3 days while drinking mojitos on the beach!” It’s so much more than that. Although, I am VERY excited about drinking mojitos again here soon. #pregnantlife
Instead, any goals in business take work, and one I’ve been asked about recently is:
“How do I become known as an educator & speaker?”
…about how to position yourself as a speaker and educator, get speaking engagements, & land collaborations… and create a stream of revenue & partnerships that build your business.
I’ll tell you, my goal hasn’t always been to be a “speaker and educator.” Instead, when I first started my business it was simply a goal of mine to “pass the torch” one day. So many people poured into me & I knew I wanted to be able to do the same for others. To share my experiences, help speed up the learning curve, and educate on topics I’m passionate about.
I’m so grateful that I have the opportunity to do that, and that it has come to fruition in a way that looks like “speaker & educator.” Some days that means from this little blog, others from the comfort of my office chair on Instagram Stories, and finally, others from a stage at conferences.
As I prep to speak as a keynote speaker at Creative at Heart later this month, I think about the ways I’ve gained speaking opportunities thus far… and it all comes back to 2 key things.
Basically actually, these two things are the mantras of my business as a whole, but that’s a different blog post. 😉
Here’s the reality: No one is going to offer you an opportunity to speak if they don’t even know what you’d educate on. Your goal: present yourself as an expert in a particular subject matter. (Reminder from this post on selling strategies, people respond to & want to buy from Authority figures!)
Be the go-to person for your topic. You may find that your industry (let’s say wedding photography, for example) is saturated. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t focus on creating high quality content on a particular subject in your industry. Perhaps you feel particularly passionate about off-camera lighting for receptions… that might be your subject matter you are the expert on!
Don’t just talk about what everyone else is talking about. Find where you thrive & create your own “niche.” Pull from your background and past experiences, your passions, and where you see a void in the industry for education.
What education is missing in your industry that you know or care about?
And how can you offer a new twist for audiences on topics you’re knowledgeable about?
You might be surprised to find that one tiny element of your business can actually become your educational platform.
Create a strategy that aligns your content around these topics & showcase your expertise often on the platforms where your ideal client consumes content, as well as on your own platforms – your blog & newsletter. Finally, live video is key in this content creation to position yourself as a speaker and educator. You don’t need to be a YouTube star to qualify as a speaker, but creating video content & showcasing your speaking abilities, is huge – think IG Stories, Facebook Lives, & Instagram Lives. You’ll increase your likelihood to get chosen as a speaker especially if you can share clearly and concisely off the cuff, without a script at your fingertips.
Be known for your expertise so when you have the opportunity to connect with conference organizers, they know what you’re all about and can determine if you’d be a good fit for their audience and needs. Your bite-sized content gives a taste of what you can offer.
And then, you should seek out the people who make the decisions. Because you want their eyes on your content. Which leads too…
Once you’ve positioned yourself as an educator and showcased what you could offer, you want eyes on your content from the people who matter – the ones making the decisions… but don’t begin with “I WANT TO SPEAK” in mind. Begin with genuine relationships. Care about what those people are doing in their businesses & organizations, and care about them as actual people, not just as a means to an end. The best 3 spots to build relationships with new people in my opinion are at other in-person events, on Instagram (and specifically IG DMs), and via email newsletters.
I mean, don’t be a stalker, of course, but actually engage with the content they create. They are creating it for a reason, and just like you want people to like, comment, & follow… so do they.
As the relationship grows, doors often open for conversations about potential for speaking, collaborations, & partnerships – and if the door isn’t open, you can always go in for the pitch (more on that to come next month)! In my experience, many of these relationships have naturally led to conversations about speaking opportunities, or I’ve been bold & drafted up a pitch email to get the convo started! In fact, I’ve even pitched (and secured!) a couple podcast interviews via IG DMs specifically!
Finally, don’t be discouraged if you aren’t gaining speaking opportunities or collaborations quickly. There are a lot of different factors that go into selection for speakers & educators. Instead, if you’re really feeling called to speak & educate & you’re ready to get started, there is nothing stopping you from “hiring yourself” and creating educational opportunities and speaking engagements for yourself. Host a workshop, speak at your local TuesdaysTogether, even start a podcast. The opportunities are endless if you only seek them out!
More than anything, remember that it’s a process (and a lifelong one, at that!) and doesn’t define your success or failure. Instead, work toward your goals with the steps here and always challenge yourself to find (or create) opportunities!
PS: If you’re looking for amazing education on how to be a speaker, Jessica Rasdall has incredible resources!