During the past month, I’ve been having some very casual discussions with an organization that handles the infrastructure of seminar programs for people who wish to run them. They handle things like booking locations, printing materials, planning prices, and things like that, while the person running the seminar plans out the material to be presented, and the two sides work together for promotion. They approached me because, in the past, they’ve had tremendous success with financial-related seminar programs.
So, how does it work? In general, during these seminars, an organization charges some rate for a session of some length with some financial presenter (or presenters).
The attendees get a day with this presenter and a bunch of take-home materials (usually a binder and sometimes a book, too). Once the expenses are paid (for renting the room at a hotel, printed materials, the meal, etc.), the company and the presenter split the profit according to some negotiated rate.
Some presenters have their own organizations that set up such promotions for them, so that the presenter (and his/her organization) keeps all the money.
A great example of this type of seminar is Dave Ramsey’s series of “live events”. These largely take the form of a lecture with tickets selling for various prices. There aren’t any materials provided outside of access to some websites, but the price is fairly low for a financial seminar, with the “cheap seats” coming in at about $40. (There are sometimes promotional seats available for less, but they’re usually sold out.)
If you can fill a room of 1,000 people to hear you speak at $40 a pop, that’s $40,000 for one day of speaking. Not bad at all.
Other seminars try to get a smaller number – say, 100 – at $400 each and give them supplemental materials. Again, $40,000 for one or two days of speaking. Not bad.
I could certainly use that kind of money.
The truth is a little more complicated, though. When I read about personal finance, think about it in my own life, and share it with others, one thing that keeps coming to mind is the idea of “enough.” What is “enough”?
For me, my life right now is enough. I get to spend a lot of my time doing something I enjoy, which is the pure act of writing. The thought of spending large chunks of my time doing things like sitting on conference calls to plan seminars, doing self-promotion everywhere, and gearing up for hours of presentation doesn’t sound like a lot of fun for me at this point in my life.
At the same time, I give away almost everything I write. Everything on this site is freely available. Even my books are easy to grab down at your local library. Even through that process of giving it all away, I’ve found ways to earn enough to make a comfortable living in the margins, earning enough to provide my family with the things that they need and some of the things they want.
Sure, the money I would earn from a seminar might be sweet, but it would, on the whole, reduce my quality of life. I don’t really need the extra money at this point and it would simply push me into spending my time on things I don’t want to spend my time on.
Perhaps most importantly – and this is true for almost every financial seminar – the information I would provide is already out there for free. All people pay for at such seminars is to listen to someone repeat the ideas that are already freely available in books and on the internet. My seminar would really be no different.
At the same time, I would feel somewhat hypocritical charging people in financial trouble for basic financial help. The people who could most use the help are the people who can least afford the cost of such a seminar. It feels like preying on the weak to me.
Given all that, I’ve still decided to launch my own seminar. And you’re invited! Here’s your invitation.
You are hereby invited to
The Simple Dollar’s One Day Online Seminar
The goal of this seminar is to inspire you to great success with your money, your career, and your life.
Spend some time reading the following articles and following some of the links on them.
2. Everything you ever really needed to know about personal finance on the back of five business cards
The next step to success is up to you.
Seminar cost: $40
How do I pay?
Take that $40 out of your checking account. Put it in your savings account. Designate that account as an emergency fund or, if you already have one, designate it as the start of savings for some life goal you have. If you find yourself in a better place down the road, send me an email and tell me about it.
There you go. I think this is a seminar I can feel good about – and the price is fair, too.