This blog post is for all those awesome podcasters out there who have been too nervous to start reaching out to potential business sponsors. 🙋♀️
It is ok to be nervous! But don’t let that stop you from achieving your dream of developing a financially sustainable podcast!
In this blog post, we’re going to walk you through everything you need to know about getting sponsorships for your show. Ready? Let’s dive in.
The first step to recruiting sponsorships is putting together a pitch deck that makes you feel confident about what your podcast can offer business sponsors. 💪
A deck is basically like a brochure you can send to prospective sponsors. It can be one page long or a few pages long, depending on the layout. It needs to include everything a sponsor would want to know in order for them to agree to take a meeting with you… and they are probably only going to take a meeting with you if they are pretty convinced that they want to sponsor your show.
The deck should start with a description of your show, about a paragraph will do. The description should be written in a way that proves you know how to write content and you know how to entertain an audience. Boring doesn’t work here. 😬 Remember, this is a pitch, not a book report.
The deck should have bios of the podcast team. 👋
If you are the only person on your ‘team,’ that’s ok. Highlight your credentials as they pertain to podcasting. If you were on the honor roll in college, that’s super great and we are proud of you, but don’t include stuff like that. Training and experience related to podcast media production and the content of your show is what matters here. Don’t forget to include a professional headshot if you can. 🤓
Next, the deck should have a few stats about how podcast promotions are effective. 📣
Remember, advertising in podcasts is still new to a lot of people and you have to help them learn.
Here’s a great stat you can use: According to a study by Statista, 29% of listeners purchased the advertised product or service after learning about it via podcast ad and 53% researched the product, service, or brand further.
If you already have some business sponsors, include your best data about how effective the ads that aired during your podcast episodes have been. 📈
Perhaps the most important data you need to include in your deck is a breakdown of your audience demographics, how many episode downloads you have, and how often you produce a new episode. You want to paint a crystal clear picture of what niche consumer reach a business sponsor will get when they advertise with your show.
Last but not least, the deck should look great. 🎨
Its color palette and font choices should go with your show’s cover art. The layout should be intuitive and clean. The copy should be error free. Overall, you want the potential sponsor to look at it and be impressed with the quality and content.
When you know you have a strong pitch deck, you’ll feel empowered to reach out to companies for sponsorships without hesitation. That feeling is priceless and will get you far.
Where to Find Sponsors
Ok, you’ve got your pitch deck and you are ready to start making moves… 🚀 but where are you making these moves? In the podcast world, there are four main venue types where you can approach sponsors.
This is very much the old school way. 👨🦳 You do your research, you pitch the company, you make a deal with the company. Yay! It’s simple, but it certainly isn’t easy.
This approach requires a lot of research and a lot of outreach on your part. You want to find companies and brands that are likely to want to reach your specific audience demographics. You want to learn what they are currently doing in terms of advertising and media. You also want to find exactly who in the company you should be reaching out to.
After you do this research, you need to write a succinct, engaging email with your pitch deck attached. 💌 The email should be personalized for that specific company. The body of the email needs to say exactly how advertising on your podcast would benefit them– the more specific the data on your niche audience, the better. Close your email with a request to schedule a phone call to further talk over how your podcast can help their advertising efforts. If you don’t hear back in a week, send a kind follow-up email.
Remember, rejection is the norm. That’s just the life of sales. If you get one ‘yes’ to a follow-up phone call out of fifty emails sent, you’re doing good.
Pros ✅ : You get 100% of the money of an ad sale– there is no middleman. Also, you are building your network. A company might say ‘no’ initially, but down the road, they might come back to you about a partnership. You may also get more listeners- a company may say ‘no’ to advertising, but the folks you were in contact with might become loyal listeners!
Cons ❌ : This tends to be a lot of work for not a lot of money. Big-spending sponsors don’t usually make ad deals with individual podcasters. That means you have to successfully sign multiple smaller ones in order for the sponsorship money to add up… and you only have one pre-roll, two mid-roll, and one post-roll spots per episode to offer (any more than that and you’ll start losing listeners).
If pitching individual sponsors is the ‘old school’ way then joining a podcast network is the ‘new school’ way. 😎
Podcast networks today bringing in the big-spending sponsors. These sponsors place their ads across multiple podcasts in the network so that they reach a very high number of listeners.
You may have to do a kind of sales email to the podcast network itself, but you don’t have to send any sales emails to any sponsors. 😁 Your message to a network should be similar to a message to a sponsor, you can even use the same general deck! Just remember that you are focusing on how your podcast will benefit their network.
Once you are accepted into a network, they do all the work… at least in terms of finding and securing business sponsors. And boy do they get big sponsors! 💰 The only problem- that money isn’t all yours. In fact you usually have to split the ad revenue with them.
Of course you still have to do plenty of work growing and maintaining your audience. Major podcast networks want to see at least an average of 5,000 downloads per episode. The network will help you with marketing and branding, but you are still the one ultimately responsible for the continued success of your podcast.
Pros ✅ : You don’t have to spend any time and energy on finding, securing, and managing sponsors.
Cons ❌ : The network takes a big cut of the revenue and you don’t get much of a say about who your show’s business sponsors are. Sometimes the networks also get some control over your podcast’s content.
They are kind of a mix of pursuing individual sponsors and podcast networks. Ad marketplaces bring in a lot of sponsors and a lot of podcasters, providing a platform where they can match with each other. 🤜🤛
As a podcaster, that means you don’t have to start your research out cold. You know that sponsors on this marketplace today already value podcast marketing and have an understanding of how it works. There is a way for you to communicate with them– no more just sending emails to what you hope is the best email address!
This sounds like a dream come true, right? 🤩 It can be, but of course there are some things you might want to consider first. The marketplace is going to take a slice of any ad revenue deal. The marketplace may even charge you an upfront fee to use it. It also sometimes dictates what kind of ad format must be used (more on ad formats later) and what kind of payment format must be used (more on that later too).
Pros ✅ : More receptive potential sponsors- less time and energy spent on cold emails and helping brands learn what the heck podcast ads are.
Cons ❌ : You don’t get to keep all the ad revenue and you don’t get complete control over format and payment terms.
Affiliate marketing probably requires the least amount of upfront work when it comes to getting business sponsors. ✌️🍹 This kind of marketing is when you provide a link or a code on your podcast for listeners to use when buying the advertised product or service. You get paid by the sponsor every time that link or code is used to make a purchase of the advertised product or service.
Many companies are already familiar with this kind of marketing, meaning you save time trying to explain to them a new concept. In fact, many companies already have affiliate marketing programs running so all they need to do is create a unique link or code for your podcast and boom everything is good to go. 💪 They aren’t investing any money upfront and basically getting free advertising whenever you promote the link or code.
This kind of business sponsorship is essentially risk-free for everyone involved. The sponsor only pays when the ad has been proven to be effective. Because of this, the sponsor doesn’t really care who your niche audience is or if your audience is big. On the other side of the deal, the podcaster doesn’t have to spend a lot of time pitching the sponsor and is not tied into any kind of major contract.
Pros ✅ : Very flexible and low-risk for all parties involved, including podcasters with small audiences.
Cons ❌ : People actually have to purchase the product or service in order for the podcaster to get paid, which is a higher bar than them just hearing the ad.
You may be asking yourself right now, “Ok, but what exactly am I selling?” Good question. 🤔
Most podcasting sponsorships fall into three general buckets.
Host-read promotions are considered the most effective kind of podcast promotion. Data shows that listeners trust the host and are more tuned in to an ad when a host is reading it, rather than a stranger. 🙂 In fact, some podcast networks and ad marketplaces only offer host-read ads as an option. Keep this in mind, especially for podcast networks, because you may not get a say in who sponsors your show… in other words, you may not get to have a say in the products or services whose promotions you are reading.
Have you ever been to a sports event where during one of the game breaks there is some kind of race involving toddlers or small animals? Chances are that it was a sponsored segment. The announcer probably said something like “Here’s the Fun Run, sponsored by Local Car Dealership XYZ whose motto is “we’ll get you to the finish line.” 🥳
Podcast sponsored segments are similar, although far less physically involved. Let’s say your podcast is about baking and your sponsor is a comedy club. You could have a sponsored segment called “Funny Fails” where you read listeners’ stories of hilarious baking mishaps. At the beginning and end of the segment, you read a line like “Funny Fails, sponsored by Comedy Club XYZ.”
You can get creative with these! 🤩
Stand Alone Ads
These are just the typical ads like you hear on the radio or see on TV. They aren’t specific to any show. Usually they are made by outside firms. They are usually created completely separately from the podcast production, and are inserted at a later date with a dynamic ad insertion tool.
Let’s talk money. 💵💵 Sponsorships do have non-monetary benefits. They can legitimize your show. They can add value for your listeners. But let’s be honest, the money is nice.
Here are the common payment arrangements in podcast media sponsorships 👇
CPM stands for “cost per mille.” In the podcast marketing world, this means “cost per thousand downloads.” It is the amount of money a sponsor will pay a podcaster for every thousand downloads an episode gets. The idea is that the sponsor is paying based on how many people hear their ad. 🎧
The industry average for CPM rates is about $15-$30, depending on the location of the ad (pre-roll, mid-roll, post-roll) and the target audience. That means for every thousand downloaded episodes, you get somewhere between $15 and $30, although you may have to split that with the network or marketplace you have a deal with.
Especially if you are pursuing podcast sponsors independently, you may go with a flat rate. For example, a sponsor pays $50 today for a host-read ad for 5 episodes. This keeps things very simple for everyone involved. This is especially helpful if you don’t have great access to data about what kind of audience listens to your podcast. 😁
Like we talked about earlier, affiliate links are when a podcaster gets paid every time a listener uses a special link or code to purchase an advertiser product or service. This is common in individual sponsorships and in some ad marketplaces. Affiliate links in podcast marketing are usually priced around $15-$30. That price range sounds familiar, right?
That’s the same general price range for CPMs. However, general affiliate link programs, not podcast specific, may be a lot less. And remember, if you got the sponsorship through an ad marketplace, the marketplace might get a cut of the revenue.
Remember – These rates are very general and fluctuate all the time based on dozens of factors.
Every sponsorship contract is different. Read everything involved in sponsorships very carefully and never be scared to ask questions!
Podcasts are the new frontier for advertising. Companies looking to increase their brand awareness, or simply sell products and services, are turning to podcast sponsorship. Now is a great time to start monetizing your show. You can do this!