Sponsorship is one of the most popular ways to monetize your podcast. A good sponsorship deal can make you money, raise your industry profile and allow you to provide your subscribers with free, consistent content. Everyone wins!
I want to arm you with the confidence and the know-how to approach that dream sponsor and land a sweet deal that not only works for you and your show but for your listeners, too.
In this article, I’ve invited some of our podcast industry expert advisors to share their experiences of sponsorship, lend advice and tell you exactly what NOT to do when securing sponsors for your podcast.
Who Are Our Expert Advisors?
Jordan Harbinger, Host of The Jordan Harbinger Show
Jordan’s podcast was awarded Apple’s ‘Best of 2018’ and continues to be one of the most popular podcasts in the world, with over 6 million downloads per month.
Daniel J. Lewis, Podcast industry expert and creator of The Audacity To Podcast
Daniel is the creator of award-winning tools and resources for podcasters. As a world-renowned podcasting expert, Daniel is known for his deep-dive approach and conscientious additions to the industry.
Evo has been podcasting for over 15 years and has literally written the book (several, actually) on it. He also hosts Podcast Pontifications, a short-form daily podcast committed to advancing podcasting.
Chris Ducker, founder of Youpreneur
Chris is an entrepreneur, author and 10-year podcaster, hosting Youpreneur FM from his home in the UK. His expertise lies in helping entrepreneurs build, market and monetize their businesses.
How to Get Your Podcast Sponsored: 5 Do’s and Don’ts From Our Experts
1. Do… Think About If Podcast Sponsorship Is Right For You
Working with podcast sponsors and running ads isn’t for everyone.
Maybe your show is simply a fun hobby that you publish from time to time and you don’t want to feel accountable to a paying partner.
Maybe you don’t feel right running ads, or simply can’t find a sponsor that feels appropriate for your listeners. Stick to your guns – there are loads of ways (15, in fact) to monetize your podcast.
“Is advertising right for your podcast? More to the point, is your podcast right for advertising? Podcast ads are typically sold on a “cost per thousand” (CPM) basis, meaning that the podcast is paid a set amount of money for every 1,000 downloads of an episode with an ad. That rate can vary, but $20 CPM is quite common.
Most podcasts only see a hundred or so downloads per episode. If your show is slightly above average, one of your episodes with ads might get 150 downloads in a month. That’s a long way from a thousand, so your payment for those downloads would be $3.
Before you get too excited about the possibility of making $3 per episode per month (yes, it could likely pay for some of your hosting costs), consider the effort required. On your part and the part of the potential advertisers. It’s just not worth it for most advertisers to find ways to spend $3 on thousands of podcasts. Instead, they’re looking for ways to spend thousands or more dollars on a small number of podcasts.” – Evo Terra
Of course, fixed-price sponsorship could be a much stronger route for you, if you’re worried about what Evo says, in-fact fixed rate agreements are usually a much better option for small or niche podcasts. But before diving in, it’s worth going deep on whether sponsorships are right for your show in the first place.
2. Don’t… Forget About Your Listeners
The respect and trust of your listenership is the thing you’ve worked hardest to win as a podcaster. When you’re looking for a sponsor to support your show, maintaining and continuing to build on the relationship you have with your audience is your main priority – not selling your hard-earned, trusting audience to the first sponsor that comes knocking!
You can do that by reaching out to specific brands and businesses within your industry or niche that you know your audience will find useful. It might not be big or glamorous, but seeking out products and services that feel appropriate and resonate with your audience guarantees that you’ll keep you, your listeners and your sponsors happy.
By connecting these niche brands with their target market, you’ll be able to raise your profile as a trustworthy and influential person to work with.
3. Do… Use Social Proof
“[When you create your podcast], make sure you include well known guests in the field, because people might go “oh, that looks like a big show” or “it doesn’t look like a big show” but they will notice that you had a big author on and want to do the show too. It’s called social proof and it works really well.” – Jordan Harbinger
What is social proof and how will it help you get your podcast sponsored?
Social proof is a phenomenon where people copy the actions of others, e.g. buying a book recommended by an influential author or a set of weights you saw on Instagram. It takes the form of expert endorsements, recommendations, testimonials and FOMO, and is the cornerstone of things like influencer marketing and… podcast advertising.
“Most sponsors want big numbers—at least 5,000 downloads per episode. But the best sponsors value the niche more than the numbers. Like a fly-fishing product-maker sponsoring a fly-fishing podcast.” – Daniel J Lewis
As a long term strategy it’s powerful, because it opens you up to greater podcast sponsorship opportunities.
How? The social proof ‘technique’ overlaps with having an awesome guest strategy, because it shares a common goal: raising the profile and influence of your podcast. Getting influential personalities and brands onto your show is a massive endorsement of you and your content.
Inviting these figures on as guest interviews or hosts shows that you’re engaged in and passionate about your niche. By seeing that you had an influential figure or celebrity on your podcast, you increase your chances of attracting sponsors simply through the power of social proof.
4. Don’t… Be Afraid To Ask!
We’ve spoken before about navigating fixed rate and CPM sponsorships when you have a small or niche podcast.
“Only” having a hundred or so listeners doesn’t mean you should be put off pitching to sponsors: in fact, it can give you a massive advantage.
Ad companies are aware of the power that podcasts have when it comes to marketing to hyper-targeted, hyper-engaged audiences that they’d otherwise be unable to reach effectively or at all. As an indie podcaster and a trusted host, you have the ability to leverage that relationship and reach your listeners directly in a way that businesses just can’t.
Think of it this way: on TV, one big ad reaches a huge swathe of the population but might only resonate with a small portion of those watching.
A few hundred people might listen to a podcast episode, but if it relates well to that audience and is supported by personal recommendations and real life product experiences, the likelihood of a purchase is far greater.
Ad companies and marketers love targeting, remember!
When it comes to ‘showing up’ for your sponsor, there’s a number of ways that you can utilize the assets you have – and not just to land deals, but also to delight and excite your sponsors, too. Remember, at the end of the day they are basically a ‘customer’, and therefore you need to show up for them!
First up, you have the pre-roll, mid-roll and post-roll of your show, itself. Secondly, offering them the chance to have their logo and a link to their website / promotion, from your show-notes page (if you create them) is also an add-on for most sponsors. Especially as that page doubles-up as another tool to drive traffic. Then you’ve got the option to promote them, as a sponsor for the episode in question via social media, whenever you’re posting about the show, to gain organic traffic.
The two strategies that have worked incredibly well for us in the past have been to a) offer to promote the episode directly via paid advertising (you’ll need to work your ad spend budget into your sponsorship fee, obviously), and b) a mention in our weekly digest email that goes to out thousands of subscribers each week – this one is HUGE for most sponsors, as once again, it acts as yet another way to funnel people into their offer (even without listening to the show!).
Whatever you intend to do, the focus should be on value-add, all the way. Sponsors are just like any other customers, in my eyes. And they deserve to be ‘wined and dined’, in order to get the deal, yes. But, they also deserve to be delighted thereafter. – Chris Ducker
Long story short: have the courage to reach out to brands that you can really add value to!
Connect your audience with products and services you know they’ll love, use and find genuinely useful. Remember, you have an incredibly powerful bargaining chip that comes with the territory of running a small podcast, so don’t be afraid to use it.
5. Do… Prepare Your Podcast Sponsorship Pitch
“When you pitch sponsors, don’t beat around the bush. Give them the amount of downloads per episode and the demographic information if you have that for your show. But most of the time, you’re not going to have that because you didn’t do a $20,000 Edison research survey. So, since you don’t necessarily know your audience, you should instead use your YouTube demographics and assume that they’re somewhat similar, or you can also just be really candid and say you don’t know (and they’re probably not expecting you to.)” – Jordan Harbinger
A great way to display important information to sponsors about your podcast is through a media kit (or a sponsor kit). This is an easy-to-read breakdown of:
- Your demographic data – who are your listeners and what do they care about?
- An introduction to your show, who you are and what you are about
- Your engagement data – downloads, unique listeners, Patreon numbers
- Where to listen – include your trailer, your 3 most recent episodes or your most listened-to episode
- Where to find you – your contact information plus any links to social media
It should also answer all the questions potential sponsors might have, like why they should sponsor your podcast and why they should invest in your community as well as the benefits to them as a business.
If this all sounds a bit too much like hard work, we’ve got you covered.
Captivate’s one-click podcast sponsor kit is an essential tool that is available free to all users from day one. Just head to your dashboard and click ‘Marketing’, where you’ll find the Sponsor Kit tab.
Add your listener avatar and boom! You’ll have a ready-made, personalised PDF to send out to potential advertisers which is pre-populated with:
- Your cover art, social media links and contact details
- A snapshot of your last three episodes
- A breakdown of your download numbers
- Your target audience profile
Sounds easy doesn’t it? It is!
As well as sending your sponsor kit to potential sponsors, we also strongly recommend that you keep it updated regularly, share it widely and have it freely available on your website for potential sponsors to access – for example, we love Jordan Harbiner’s bright, colourful infographic style pitch deck which is open for everyone to read.
Putting It All Together: How to Find Podcast Sponsors
So, you’ve read the expert takes and are armed with the whats, whys and hows of podcast sponsorship. Now it’s time to take the first steps and Actually Do It!
If there’s just one thing to take away, it’s this: your podcast, however big, small or niche, has huge potential for growth and reward.
Getting there is simple: keep it relevant, keep it entertaining, and most of all: be confident that your podcast and audience is valuable. Play about and try out different angles, pitches and opportunities – have the courage and conviction to own your podcast and its success.
As always, we’re here to help you every step of the way with a ton of practical advice, tools and resources you can access for free right now. Take a look at the links below to find out more.
Where to go next
This article is part of a wider series on podcast monetization that you can dive into right now!