When I tell people who aren’t in the speaking business how much I make per hour they’re shocked. But per hour keynote speaking fees don’t tell the whole story. There’s way too much else that goes into that one hour speech, like years of preparation and training, weeks or months of research just for that one speech, writing time, practice time, in the trenches training, weeks, months or years of “volunteer” work, and don’t forget travel time.

One of the big questions a beginning speaker asks is “How much should I charge?” I’d love to give a simple answer, but that really depends on a lot of factors, like how long you’ve been a speaker, whether you’re famous or not, if you have a best-selling book on the market, how much value you bring to the table, and how busy you are as a speaker.

I looked up a speaker/trainer’s salary and found that on the low end speakers make $40,000 a year, and on the high end $56,000. The typical salary for a public speaker was listed as $48,000.

Let’s say you’re already making a living as a speaker. So, when should you raise your speaking fees? Again, there’s no easy answer. It also depends on many factors. Some of the best advice I was given about this topic was from a freelance graphic artist. He said if he didn’t want to do the job he would charge an insane amount that he felt they would never pay. And if they did pay it, he would be making enough so he could hold his nose and do the work and still be okay with it.

If you don’t need the money, raising your speaking fees isn’t a big deal. You can confidently spout out your higher rates and not blink an eye.

If you do need the money, you should probably tread a little more carefully. Not everyone should raise their rates. If you feel the market won’t bear it, don’t raise them. People who aren’t public speakers are complaining that they haven’t gotten a raise in years, so you’ll be in good company.

Here’s my thinking on it. If you’re booked solid you might want to think about raising your rates. Sooner or later it’ll come down to how hard you want to work. And if you’re in demand, you’ll still get work, even at a higher rate.

But a lot of raising your speaking fees is really gut instinct. You’ll know it when the time is right.