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Are You Finding Yourself or Creating Yourself?

Today I was at a coworking space in Woodbridge, NJ, owned by my friend Noelle, and I saw a magnet on the refrigerator with a striking message:

Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.

Isn’t that powerful? Lord knows I’ve spent much of my life looking for the inner ‘me.’ Many of you have been doing the same — we’ve hired coaches, gone on retreats, gone to therapy. That’s all good, but maybe the answer is to choose a different verb.

Not find. Create.


Noelle + inspiring magnet

You could argue that I was ‘finding myself’ while hunting for speaking gigs on the side 7 years ago, looking for my nirvana in Ballroom A at the hotel in Seattle when at home my marriage was fizzling and my job was stagnating. Yet, that assumes there was something there to ‘find’ — an innate speaker, a
confident doppelgänger who, unlike his more introverted twin, was perfectly at ease charming audiences on stage and knew precisely what content would inspire them to record 4s and 5s for his presentation reviews.

No, that wasn’t it at all. I was creating myself! Would I have ‘discovered’ a knack for planning and delivering speeches had I not gone out and tried doing it? If there is any proof that I created this competency, it’s the fact that, in the early days, I got my share of 2s and 3s. Through the act of creation — building, testing, failing, practicing — did I find a passion for sharing ideas with others. Same goes for Speaking on the Side, a book I always knew I could write … but didn’t, until now.

I hope you get the implication. Don’t look for the speaker or writer or consultant inside of you. She is not there … yet.

Once you create her, though, it will seem as if she were simply a shell on the beach — always there, hidden, until the waves of everyday existence revealed her to you. Except you’ll know the truth.

Don’t find yourself. Create yourself.

Pretty powerful for a magnet on the fridge.

The One-Page Public Speaker Marketing Plan

I initially shared this concept during my “Get Gigs While You Sleep” teleseminar on SpeakerMatch last month. Then I received an e-mail from a reader who asked if I knew of any good marketing plan templates for public speakers. I didn’t. So it feels like the right time to put this in writing. Feel free to copy, borrow, steal, repurpose, chop, and puree. Would love to hear your ideas for improvements, too.

The One-Page Marketing Plan for Public Speakers
(Speaking on the Side edition)

The point of this plan is building a system with minimal up-front time. You’re defining your value and audience, creating a lead-gen strategy, then executing on what you wrote down. Finally, you turn the system on — and leave it on — making adjustments based on the data.

The template plan cuts to the chase and relies on lower-risk digital approaches. Excellent for those part-time speakers among us. It uses a “Mad-Libs” format, so once you fill in the questions for Steps One and Two, you’ll plug your answers right into Steps Three and Four.

Step One: Create a worksheet. Here’s what’s on the worksheet:
A) What do I speak about? (1 sentence)
B) What makes me different and valuable from other speakers? (2-3 bullets tops)
C) Based on A and B, who do I want to hire me to speak? (1 sentence; you can list 3-4 example clients too)
D) What channels are the people in C most active on? (You should know your audience: are they e-mail addicts? Do they congregate on Facebook? Read blogs? List 2 channels where you know you can find them)
E) Who are they influenced by? (4-5 media or social media influencers)

AdWords example

Step Two: Visit Google AdWords and use the Google Keyword Planner to find out what your audience is searching for. You can find it in the “Tools and Analysis” drop-down menu. Type in a few sample search terms, like I did in the example at right.

The Keyword Planner will give you a long list of what people are really searching for. Don’t worry about all the numbers. The important column is “Avg. Monthly Searches.” Write down:

F) What is your audience is searching for? (6-7 of the top-searched monthly keywords)

Step Three: Based on your answers in steps One and Two, start “prepping” your system:

  • Update your website to showcase A and B.
  • Set up a contact/opt-in form on your website.
  • Set up a low cost or free e-mail marketing platform, and connect it to the contact form.
  • Write a one-page PDF about F and have it auto-deliver to people who opt-in. Be sure it reminds them of B.
  • Write several posts and articles and content about F. If you have data from a survey you’ve done (maybe informally at a recent gig), convert it into a shareable infographic using a site like Or edit some video footage from a recent gig. Whatever the content, relate it to A.
  • Depending on D, set up a speaking profile on those sites and include A and B.
  • Bonus: Connect Google Analytics to your website, so you can track incoming traffic and leads.

Step Four: Now begin “activating” your system:

  • Break the content you created in Step Three into bite-sized pieces. Distribute that content to D on a manageable schedule. This could be on your blog, through Facebook, definitely to your e-mail list. Use your e-mail marketing platform and/or social posting tools like HootSuite to schedule the content.
  • Reach out to E and offer to customize some of this content into guest blogs or articles which link back to your website.
  • Rent a list of people who look like C and create a couple of e-mail offers, where recipients will receive some of your content in exchange for joining your opt-in list or following you on your social channels. Speaking on the Side lists some reputable e-mail list providers for speakers.
  • Run Google AdWords paid search ads targeting F and linking to your website and opt-in form.
  • Every month, look at your dashboards. Find out which keywords, messages, blogs, offer descriptions, downloads, PDFs, e-mail lists, graphics, and channels are driving the most leads.
  • Tweak your system to spend more time/money with the components that are most effective.

Step Five: Respond to inquiries! If you go through the trouble of creating a system, but then freeze up or “forget” when a prospect asks you for information about your speaking practice, you’ll have fallen prey to the Woody Allen principle:  80 percent of life is just showing up. If they fill out your form, you’re very close to landing a gig.

You can also purchase on

On the Side Blog

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