It would be great if I could tell you just one way to get paid speaking opportunities. However, there are a lot of different markets for speakers and this means there are a lot of ways to generate speaking engagements for yourself.
The first thing you need to do is commit to the long term. This rarely happens over night. It is a continuous improvement effort that includes always improving your speaker marketing materials, your speaker website and the speeches themselves.
Often the best source of speaking engagements are the people that have just seen you speak or hired you in the past. If someone in the audience really likes it and they are involved in putting on other events, this can result in great speaking opportunities. Also, if your presentation gets good results then you have a good chance to be invited back in the future.
It is also not very difficult to build a speaker lead generation website that will rank high in search engines when meeting planners are out doing research for the meetings they are preparing to do. While these are easy to set up, they do take regular writing and a commitment to improvement over time.
Another good source is to work with other speakers that compliment your topic. Then when there is a bigger event that you get to speak at, you can close the opportunity and then ask the planner if they need any suggestions on other speakers. When you share these kinds of speaking opportunities with a small group of professional speakers you will all increase your business.
You will find that the web and referrals from past audience members and event planners is the best source of speaking opportunities for Small Business Speakers that I get. Speaking engagement opportunities for Marketing Speakers are surprisingly easy to come by with a good speaker lead generation engine, for example.
The ultimate key is that a paid speaking business is a slow growth effort unless you manage to get incredible PR and exposure. You need to be comfortable promoting yourself or have a great speaking agent to quickly make money speaking. For many people, slow growth with referrals and targeted web efforts will provide a steady supply to work with. Then continue to grow from there.