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Do you know your own value?

One of the biggest obstacles to success in any industry is not understanding your real value and undercharging for your services.

I was recently at the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers conference in Toronto. After a long day on the convention floor, I addled up to the hotel bar for a drink.

As often is the case, I met a few speakers.

None of us being shy we started chatting about our jobs. One fellow was just beginning in the industry. But his resume in education, politics and industry was so impressive that I was immediately able to pick out a niche, and could visualize specific companies that would be a great fit for his topic and expertise.

So what was he charging? $500.

No, I didn’t leave off any zeros.

After flushing out a quick business and marketing plan, I told him that he should be charging at least 10x that amount. And he’d get it too. Trust me. There was real value in his topic. And even the thickest manager would see it.

So why was he charging $500? Because he was a new speaker.

Here’s the thing, professional speaking is a meritocracy. It’s not a seniority-based business. It’s not how long you’ve done it, it’s how much value you bring to clients.

This guy could easily save a company millions of dollars, so charging $500 only demonstrated that he didn’t have confidence in his own skills.

I don’t know about you, but I prefer to have a few high value clients, so I’m not constantly looking for folks who will only pay bare minimum for what I do.

So if you value what you offer – don’t be afraid to charge for it. Trust me, you’ll feel better getting rejected 19 times at $10000, and getting a single great gig, than working your ass off for 20 cheapskates.

Are you using Facebook ads to promote your business?

Are you going broke using pay per click ads through Google?

From experience, I can tell you that it’s very easy to burn through $500 to a $1000 and not see any real return on your investment.

The main issue for me has always been the inability to narrow the audience enough to reach exactly who I’m looking for.

Over the last couple of years I’ve become a great advocate for Facebook Ads.

I’ve used them for clients and I’ve used them for myself.

In one instance I used them to help sell my own house – by targeting folks who lived within 50 miles of Toronto, between the ages of 25 and 35, who were married and “liked” Toronto.

Yes, I was able to get THAT specific. Better still, I was paying $.40 per 1000 views. So over the course of 5 days, I was able to drive 100 clicks through to my virtual tour page for less than $20.

So how can you use Facebook ads for your business?

There are few ways to do this. The first is to advertise your products and services to a specific region and demographic or you can use it to build your brand or target a specific company.

If you are a speaker, ask yourself who it is that you need to reach? The audience? Sure. But does the audience do the bookings or sign the cheques? Nope. You need to reach corporate planners, event planners, and anyone else who is likely to pick up the phone or send you an email.

So lets try a little experiment by creating an ad:

This ad is targeting folks in Canada, United States and the United Kingdom, who are older than 27, and like: event planner, corporate events, event planning or conference organizer

This ad is targeting 22860 people and it costs $.41 per thousand views.

So for $10 a day, this ad may be viewed well over 24000 times!

Building your brand and targeting specific companies

Facebook ads are also great if you want to work for a specific client or you want to reach people at a specific company.

As an example I randomly chose Research in Motion as a company someone might want to target. Using the same geographic regions of Canada, US and UK, I was given 4500 folks who work for RIM and are currently using Facebook. The cost for that ad? $.20 per 1000 views.

This can work for any company. You can also use Facebook ads to target current clients with new promotions!

So go ahead and experiment a bit. Facebook ads are an inexpensive way to get acquainted with online advertising.

Quick Tweets from the CAPS Conference

This past weekend I was at the annual CAPS Conference (Canadian Association of Professional Speakers). This year it was in Toronto – which would be awesome if I didn’t live in Toronto.

I love travelling to NSA and CAPS events. And when I have to go home at the end of the day, I know I’m missing a huge part of the experience.

As an exhibitor, it was a great opportunity to put faces to names and meet some really interesting characters.

But there was also a lot of time, when I was left at my booth for hours at a time.

My options were to see how many levels of Angry Birds I could conquer or engage with folks as they participated in sessions.

I chose the latter. And I did so with a series of tweets that I sent out over two days. Some of these I’ve talked about before. But some of them are new.

So without any further delay, here are some useful tips, doled out 164 characters at a time:

  • Turn your book into an ebook for iPad & kindle. Check out Smashwords.com #caps11
  • Try using feedburner.com to push out your blog to the world. #caps11
  • Get your book distributed internationally as POD. Look into lightningsource.com #caps11
  • Grow your Facebook fan page by exporting your contacts from LinkedIn. #caps11
  • Don’t be afraid to outsource your web development. Look into scriptlance.com #caps11
  • Connect your YouTube account to automatically update your Facebook fan page. #caps11
  • My mom doesn’t care how good of a speaker you are so I’m not going to Like your site. The most important share button for business is LinkedIn. #caps11
  • Google+ might be a pain in the ass, but it actually counts for SEO. Just build the business page and complain like the rest of us #caps11
  • If you’re using a personal Facebook page for business, you’re missing a lot of opportunities to connect with clients. Move them to a business page. #caps11
  • How does your site measure up? Get a quick and dirty snapshot @ websitegrader.com #caps11
  • Sign up for a Google Webmasters account and submit your site map. #caps11
  • Chop up all those videos you’ve got in a box beside your desk and create a YouTube channel.

Who has the best professional speaker website?

Do you have a great site?

How would you know if you did?

The problem is that most folks either think than have a terrible site or they believe theirs is the best thing to hit the web since that dancing baby 15 years ago.

The point is that most folks don’t know what makes a great website.

The flashiest site in the world may look awesome. But if it’s not scoring well on Google for relevant keywords then it really doesn’t qualify as a great site.

And a site can attract a lot of traffic, but if it’s not converting visitors to clients because it’s ugly or hard to navigate then it’s not great.

At the end of November I’ll be attending the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers (CAPS) Conference in Toronto.

As part of the run up to the big event, I’m trying to compile a list of the greatest speaker websites on the planet to showcase what every professional speaker should aspire to have.

So my challenge to every speaker reading this is to send me a list the best examples of speaker sites you’ve come across.

And the last week of November, I’ll count down the top five and explain why they are great.

What I promise not to do is publish a list of worst sites or otherwise single anyone out for public ridicule – so don’t be afraid to nominate yourself.

You can send your nominations to me via email aidan@shortcircuitmedia.com or post them in the comments section below.

Also, please retweet and share this with other speakers who might be interested in participating.

So you want to publish a book: publicity and marketing

This series was originally posted in 2008

Publicity and marketing is harder to speak about at this stage. We spent the better part of September looking at different firms to see what each had to offer.

As Jim has said to me many times, a lot of these places like to have release parties that do more for the author’s ego than for actual book sales – because attendees are more likely to be friends and family rather than actual media contacts. So in that respect, for an author on a small budget, it’s better to direct your funds toward activities that are most likely to land you in the press and generate some sales.

For Moose we decided to go with Meisner Publicity in Toronto. Headed by Susan Meisner, they seem to have no end of connections and come to the table with plenty of good ideas to get press.

This is the one area where I think if you absolutely have to cut expenses you can. But don’t delude yourself. You’ll need to be a shameless advocate of your book 24/7 if you want to succeed. You’ll have to buy some books on writing great news releases and be fearless and creative when it comes to targeting media. If you have any hesitation about going it alone – get a publicist.

For my own part, I built a little site that’s still in beta called A Writer’s Market. I like to think of it as a farmer’s market for authors. Have a quick look and see how it’s coming along. If you know an author, then send a link. I really need some folks to help test it.

I hope you found this little series useful. If you have any questions, send them along and I’ll be happy to answer them as best I can.

So you want to publish a book: audiobooks and ebooks

This series was originally posted in 2008

As I’ve stated in previous posts, the most inexpensive way to sell a book is electronically. There are no shipping costs to consider and no ongoing production costs to factor in once the audio or ebook version is ready to go.

The ebook version is the easiest to sell online. As part of our arrangement with Heidy Lawrence, when the book was ready for the printer we received a PDF of the ebook, ready for our online store. That was included on in the initial estimate.

There are also online distributors that deal exclusively with both audiobooks and e-books – such as audible.com and Overdrive.com.

In the future, I’ll talk in more detail about the benefits of ebooks and distribution methods to help you expand your market across the world.

The audiobook is a bit of a challenge. It usually involves hiring a professional voice actor and booking some studio time. It may be tempting to save money and do it yourself at home – but don’t waste your time. Your audiobook is likely to turn out like one those reno shows, where the amateur decides to do all the work themselves, blowing timelines, budgets and ending up with a substandard job.

Invest a little here and you’ll have it over and done with in a week. For Moose we used Clare Burt Studio in Toronto and hired Barrie Bailey to do the reading. Here is a short clip from the studio of Barrie reading from Chapter one.