Do I need to niche? Tony Robbins doesn't niche...
Yes he does. He just has something to offer everybody.
For his conferences, his niche is people who need a catalyst for change. For his investment insight, his niche is people who have $10-250K (+$35 for the book) to actually invest. And for Netflix, his niche is people like myself who aren't to pay to go see him live, are skeptical of his advice, but want to know what's up so we can say, "yeah, I watched it. It was pretty cool."
Bottom Line: Tony Robbin's niches and the reason we all know who he is is because his original niche, teaching down-on-their-luck people how to use neuro-linguistic programming, was so good that we now trust his past results enough to let him advise us on how to invest our money and overcome marital problems. But starting out, he was an "expert" in the success mindset, and he wasn't going after "everyone" as an audience.
Everything else came in time, built on the success of his original positioning and his original niche. Experts in their field get paid and the smaller the "field", the easier it is to be the expert.
Should I write my book first?
Not really, unless you just want to be an author or the iron is hot for your topic. How many $25 dollar books you gotta sell to make $3,000? If the end goal is to make money speaking, the book can wait. Yes, it can help boost business once your biz is rolling, but until then, focus up on the main goal.
I have the experience, but I still can't get booked
It's time to look at your value proposition. What's in it for the event planner/company? This is the first (and most common) symptom of lacking a specific and compelling value proposition.
Why am I not getting more bookings?
Are you asking for them? What are you doing to proactively go out and seek speaking engagements? If you don't have a plan in place to generate bookings, consider reaching out to us, we can help.
Do I need to build up a social media presence?
It doesn't hurt, but your audience is rarely the person who decides whether or not to bring you on stage. We suggest you set up social media accounts—be present—but building a serious following is something that takes time and won't immediately result in business.
I'm not sure how much I should charge
There are a few solutions here. There are fee calculators, but also, what are people who are speaking at events you'd like to speak at also charging? Do a little work, find that out.
You certainly can—it won't pay the bills, but you can. The most important consideration when considering a free talk is, "WHY?"
If there is a clearly defined why, and you feel comfortable and self-assured in doing it, that's fine (ex. passion project, testing new content, want the video, etc.). But, an event planner trying to coerce you into speaking for free is a bit of a red flag. Often they will say, "but the people in the room have the power to change your life."
Take that kind of statement with a grain of salt. In some cases it's true, but verify who is going to be in the room before letting that be your "why".
In short, no, you don't need an agent. Agents provide two things 1) they handle the minutia of outreach, bookings, scheduling, etc. and 2) they have connections within the industry.
That said, in 2019, #2 is less relevant than ever before given that we can pretty much contact and connect with whomever we like thanks to the internet. There are certainly cases to be made for the value of an agents connections, but in most cases their biggest value is that you don't have to "deal with it".
A common trend in the speaking industry today is to bring those administrative roles in-house via a personal assistant, or even as DIY early on in a career to reduce overhead.
Possibly. The largest consideration to make here is when it comes to their exclusivity policy. If they are exclusive or semi-exclusive, that means they will take a cut (usually 25% of the net) from every gig (exclusive) or every gig in a particular industry/segment (semi-exclusive) that you do. Back to top ^
This is also going to apply to any business that's a result of the event they booked for you, like if Company A refers you to Company B after the bureau got you booked with Company A.
The benefits, however, are similar to an agent in that most of the organizing, negotiating, and scheduling is handled by the bureau. The dichotomy of bureaus is that early in your career bureaus don't really need you and don't make much money from you, whereas later in your career when you are more successful you don't really "need" bureaus.