Though states have been slowly reopening after weeks of closure due to COVID-19, conferences are a different story. Many conferences and events continue to be canceled, postponed, or moved online to prevent opportunities for the virus to spread — even events scheduled for 2021. For thought leaders and other experts who supplement their income through speaking engagements and conference slots, cancellations due to the coronavirus have no doubt halted revenue streams and slowed business growth. If that includes you, here are a few ways to continue to monetize your expertise, even while social distancing.
Build or better leverage your website
As events and other traditionally in-person offerings shift online, be sure to follow suit. If you don’t have a website, now is the time to build one. Obviously many speakers already have websites, but if you're among those who use social profiles as your primary online presence, take this opportunity to create your own online hub instead. Remember, you don’t have to have a company to have a website; you just have to have something to say. Site builders like Squarespace and Wix make it easy to create a basic website in just a few hours with no web design experience.
If you already have a website, be sure to update it with your most recent speaking engagements as well as any ongoing offerings — including your virtual and in-person availability for speaking or consulting work now and in the future. Think of it as a living, breathing extension of your resume. Additionally, if you produce ongoing content in the form of a blog, newsletter, video channel, etc. — which is crucial for establishing yourself as a thought leader — consider putting together a media kit! A media kit helps you monetize your content by showing potential sponsors how to partner with you and reach your audience.
Leveraging or beefing up your site could also include hosting your own online speaking sessions or even livestreamed interviews with other experts. To monetize these sessions, consider gating them behind a paywall or using the videos as mid-funnel marketing content to inform viewers about your consulting services.
Write about your area of expertise — and get published
We’re in an unprecedented, once-in-a-lifetime situation, and thought leadership may be in higher demand than ever — the key is finding the right opportunities. Many news outlets and blogs are actively seeking guest writers to cover a number of different topics, such as how the pandemic has affected specific industries. By leveraging these outlets or blogs to find writing opportunities, you’re able to still lend your expertise, while also introducing yourself to new audiences.
If you’ve never written a query letter before, let now be the time when you try it. Come up with a list of publications or outlets you’d like to write for. Then write and submit your article pitches. Writing gigs are a natural complement to speaking gigs, allowing you to share the same information in a different format. Plus, having a few published pieces under your belt can add cred to your resume when you’re looking for in-person speaking opportunities in the future. Many speakers also have book ideas floating around in their heads, and getting short-form content published is a great way to dip your toes in the water of long-form publishing.
Don’t just say it, stream it
Many conferences and events have gone virtual, offering livestreamed sessions with speakers. If an event where you were scheduled to speak has been canceled, check with organizers to see if they plan to offer a virtual alternative and if you can book a spot. Likewise, if there was an event on your radar at which you wanted to speak but couldn’t, reach out! (As a general rule, apply to everything that interests you.) You never know if one of their committed speakers had to back out.
Don’t limit yourself to events put on by others, however. Try livestreaming your own virtual event. Use your network to your advantage — collaborate with other speakers to host a series of livestreamed sessions. Through collaboration, you extend your reach and capitalize on each other’s audiences. For instance, you and your fellow speakers could all send invites to your own email lists. A tool like Switcher Studio makes it easy to turn an entire speaking engagement into a livestreamed session. It’s simple to roll in prerecorded videos or screenshare a presentation. You can even invite remote panelists to join your stream in real time.
Adaptability has always been a crucial skill to have as you build your career, and COVID-19 has proven that to be true more than ever. The opportunities are out there — it’s just up to us to find them.
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