An interview with Grant Baldwin: How Freelancers Can Find and Book Speaking Gigs

As a freelancer, making a name for yourself is important. There are few marketing channels better at doing that than becoming a paid speaker. In today’s episode, I talk with Grant Baldwin, owner of The Speaker Lab.

Grant explains to me how freelancers can find and book speaking gigs, oftentimes for lots of money.

Show Notes:

Grant Baldwin is an engaging communicator and a leading expert at helping students prepare for life after high school. His focus lately has been on helping people become paid speakers.

Grant is the author of the book the Successful Speaker and is the owner of He has given hundreds of presentations and has spoken to over 250,000 people in 42 states through leadership conferences, conventions, school assemblies, and other student events.

While Grant does love speaking and inspiring students, he loves his wife and three daughters more. They live in Nashville, Tennessee.

1. So you teach people how to find and book speaking gigs. Is it important for lead generation for freelancers and consultants to be speakers?
2. How did you get into your line of work?
3. What’s the most common problem you see beginner speakers make?
4. What is the compensation like for speakers? Especially beginner speakers?
5. Where do you see yourself and the Speaker Lab going in the next few years?
6. How can our audience follow you online?


Be sure to check out Grants free tool at

Raw Transcript

Get ready for freelancing strategies, hacks and tactics to help you skyrocket your success brought to you by Freelancer masterclass calm. You’re listening to freelancing school with your instructor Mike Volkin.

Join me on my

master class. Today we are joined by Grant Baldwin, all when he’s an engaging communicator and a leading expert of helping students prepare for life after high school, however, now he runs the speaker lab and he has a new book coming out called the successful speaker and he’s given hundreds of presentations and spoken to over a quarter million people in 42 different states about everything from leadership conferences, I’m sorry about leadership at school assemblies, the school assemblies and conferences and conventions. Welcome to the show, Grant.

Thanks, Mike. Appreciate you. Let me hang out with you.

So you teach people how to finding books speaking gigs, right? So is it important for lead generation for our Freelancer audience and consultants and agencies to do that for lead generation?

Yeah, absolutely. So it is one of a variety of different ways that you can generate leads for a business. And so if someone is is is listening or watching and said, Hey, I enjoy speaking speakers, one of the things I want to do more of, we have a lot of speakers that we work with and speakers that we in the industry, they use speaking primarily as lead gen for whether it’s a consulting or coaching or some other type of agency business that they may run on the back end. So yes, we can can work really, really, really well for Legion.

Good. How did you get into this? Because I’m just starting to really get I’ve done talks in the past, but I never really had a structured calendar. Like if people ask me, I’ll go give a talk. I didn’t really sell involved it was become a paid speaker. How did you get involved in that and make it a regular part of your schedule?

Yeah, there’s definitely a few moving pieces to it. So to back way up in high school, I was really involved in my local church. My youth pastor had a really big impact on my life. And so I he was one of the best speakers I’ve seen as like I want to do that. That seems like a cool gig. And so I actually worked at a local church for a little while as a youth pastor, I had a lot of opportunities to speak. I felt like I was maybe similar spot to you, I felt like I was decent at it, want to do more of it had done a little bit of it, but just no idea where to begin. So yeah, I met a couple other speakers who are speakers, and they were speaking full time and I started just kind of picking their brain learning about the business and just decided to go all in on it. So it took me a little bit to go from from zero to being able to do it full time. But for the next several years, I was a full time speaker travel all over the primarily the US spoken about speaking at hundreds of different conferences and events and so not to a point where I have a lot of people who are asking, kind of like you like hey, I want to do this, I’m interested. But I don’t know what I don’t know. I don’t know where to go out here. And so that’s where we start creating a couple different training programs and resources and products to basically helps it help teach the systems that we use to be able to find and book speaking gigs. So Yeah, for some people they want to just speaking is kind of a sideline thing of, hey, I want to do it a few times on the side. And that’s fine. There’s nothing wrong with that. There’s also people who say, hey, Grant, I saw, you know what, what you’ve done and how you’ve built your business. And I want to be a full time speaker as well. I want to do you know, 50 6070 gigs. And the nice thing about speaking is there’s no right or wrong amount. There’s no one size fits all. So it’s really kind of what makes the most sense for you. Yeah, in terms of how much you want to be doing, but also who you want to be speaking to, and why you want to be speaking. So whether that’s lead gen, or, for me, primarily, for a long time speaking was just the core of what I did. It wasn’t trying to do lead gen for some other part of the business. It was just I wanted to be a speaker. So you can give me us a lot of different ways.

Yeah. And I think a big misconception is that most people think speaking is about keynote speaking, but that’s not the case. Right?

Yeah, you can absolutely do speaking in a lot of different format. So keynote is definitely one of the primary ways is probably the thing that people are most familiar with. You also do a lot of different workshops or breakouts or seminars. We haven’t members, don’t think about it. can also be done in an online context, whether that’s through, you know, podcasts interviews like this or you’re doing webinars or trainings or some type of virtual summit or Facebook Lives or there’s a lot of different ways that you can present it’s obviously a different little bit of a different context versus a live being in front of an audience. But speaking can definitely take a lot of different forms.

I think people would the introverts would rather do online since they don’t have to be in front of a stage right. So

maybe I personally, I found this I’m fairly introverted and most most speakers that I know are relatively introverted, and so we enjoy being on stage we enjoy you know, hanging out and that type of setting but at the cost me very tiring, can be very draining. And so, yeah, one of the things I’ve noticed is there’s there’s a lot of speakers that are very introverted, so it’s also kind of a misconception that you feel like, okay, in order to be a public speaker, whatever form that means that you have to be this this kind of raging extrovert, you have to be the life of the party. I’ve just found that most speakers are not that at all.

Yeah, that’s so true. I know. People like to be on stage like top comedians, they all say they’re introverts. They don’t. You know, but if you place them in a party in the middle of people, they get a little little antsy, you know, but what is the most common mistake that you see beginner speakers make or or somebody like me who’s thinking about becoming a speaker, make it a regular part of their schedule? What is a common mistake you might see?

Yeah, one of the biggest common mistakes is that speakers don’t get really clear on who they speak to. And what’s the problem that they solve? Most speakers, especially when you’re getting started, that you just enjoy speaking, speaking is fun, you want to do more of it. So you try to go from whatever opportunity that you can get. And so what that means is, we end up saying, when people ask Who do you speak to our responses kind of will? Who do you want me to speak to? Or what do you want me to talk about? I can talk about anything, I’ll talk to whoever, because we just enjoy speaking, but it’s a horrible way to build a business. So for anyone that’s a freelancer, and if someone were to say what kind of freelance work you do, and if they say, Well, I can do anything, it’s like, well, the reality is, is you can’t I mean, if you thought you could you probably suck at it. So being really clear and say I do this one very specific type of freelance work. Or I speak to this one very specific type of audience for this very specific type of problem. So one of the things that we teach teach our students we talked about in the successful speaker book is that you want to be the Steakhouse and not the buffet. You want to be the steakhouse, not the buffet, meaning, if we’re going to go to lunch, and we wanted to get a good steak, you could go to a buffet where steak is one of 100 different things that they offer, and they’re probably all fairly mediocre. Or you could go to the Steakhouse where this is all we do, we do steak, and we do it really, really well. So if you want tacos, that’s not us. If you want spaghetti, that’s not us. If you want pizza, that’s not us. But you want a really good steak. We’re the go to place. So that’s how you want to make sure that you position yourself as a speaker instead of trying to be all things for all people.

That’s a good analogy. And it’s like, actually, let’s talk about compensation first before we get to to off topic and what I was about to say but most people think that speaking is just for lead gen. They don’t get paid for it. But that’s not the case you actually get paid for speaking and in some cases very well right. What’s the what’s the compensation for a speaker whether beginner or expert

you There’s a lot of variables that go into it for sure, you can actually for some speakers, depending on the model, what it is that they speak about, there’s a lot of speakers who actually can generate more on the back end from the lead gen that they’re doing than what they could actually get paid for. But if you can get paid for it, and generate lead gen and create business on the back end, then you can kind of double dip there and it can be a big win. But there’s again, a lot of variables that go into, like, who you speak to what you speak about how long you’ve been speaking with your marketing materials look like, but it can range from, you know, a couple thousand dollars to 10s of thousands of dollars for celebrity speaker so people ask us regularly grant how much how much should I charge as a speaker? And the answer is honestly, it depends which is a horrible answer. So actually, one of the things we put together as a free tool, people can find that my speaker fee calm my speaker fee calm. It’s a free tool, answer a couple questions that will tell you what you should be charging as a speaker based on your industry based on your experience based on a variety different variables there. So yeah, check that out. My speaker

writing it down. So I’ll put it in the show notes for everybody my feed calm. So speaker lab has a bunch of resources for people who want to become a paid speaker. Is it necessarily for people who are already paid speaker looking to diversify or change their business at all?

No, absolutely. So people that are brand new to speaking and those that have been at it for a while, and everything in between. So if you are interested at all in speaking, whether that is, again, you want to be a full time speaker, or you want to use it as lead gen, and do a couple gigs on the side here there and just do stuff locally. That’s fine. You’re going to find podcast episodes and resources there for you to help you build and grow your speaking business. Very nice. And the speaker, the successful speaker book, when is that coming out? The successful speaker book is going to be out in February 2020. So it’ll be here before we know

and that’ll be paperback and ebook and on

the hardcover. Yep. Yep, yep, audio book and all all of the all of the versions that are available, it will be available.

Very cool. And my last question is in regards to Speaker lab, tell us real quick what’s on there and where you expected to be in a few Yours is that it’s not a new site though, right? It’s been around for

Yes. We’ve been in business for about four years now. And so we do we teach all the business of how to find in books speaking gigs. So we have a couple different types of training programs there some different courses. So depending on what someone is looking for people are interested in kind of learning more about that they can certainly check out the speaker lab calm if you want to talk with one of our team members about how we can help you build and grow your speaking business. You can go to the speaker lab comm slash apply the speaker lab comm slash apply, you can schedule a free consultation, call there and talk with our team about what you may be looking for and how we can help you

very cool. I’m definitely going there. Since that is my goal for the next year is to be a regular paid speaker. Tell us how our audience can follow you online. Yeah, so

the speaker lab is the best place to find me. You can also find me. Greg Walden, calm is my personal site, if you want to check that out. But the bulk of what we do is related to speaking is all going to be found at the speaker

Very cool. Thank you so much for your time and let’s keep in touch. Okay, thanks. I appreciate it. Thanks.

Thank you for joining us for freelancing school. Be sure to subscribe and get the latest updates on the show. Go to freelancing masterclass calm to become a master freelancer.

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