You’re ready to monetize your podcast and you’ve decided to sell ads. Now you need to know how to get podcast sponsors.
Sponsorships are one of the most popular and effective ways to create revenue with your podcast. Podcast advertising is attractive to advertisers because it’s an intimate format where listeners develop strong bonds with hosts. Nearly two thirds of podcast listeners take actions based on the ads they hear during podcasts.
Image: IAB Podcast Playbook
Finding podcast sponsors is easy, but finding the right ones can be a bit challenging, which is why so many hosts don’t know how to get podcast sponsors. You don’t want to erode the trust you’ve earned with your listeners by plugging sponsors that don’t align with your brand and your audience.
Before we dive into how to get podcast sponsors, let’s discuss how sponsorship works.
How Podcast Sponsorship Works
Prices for podcast sponsorships are typically based on the number of average downloads. Sponsors pay on a cost per mille basis. (Mille is Latin for thousand.) Rates range from $18 to $50 CPM, though podcasts like This American Life or HowStuffWorks with millions of listeners can pull in a lot more.
Sponsors also like to measure their cost per acquisition to discover the real value of their ad. This is the number of sales, signups, or downloads they receive as a result of your ad spot. To measure this, sponsors may give you a special coupon code or referral link so you get credit when they get new customers or users.
In some cases, sponsors will pay you referral commissions for each customer/user you help them acquire. This is good for the sponsor because it means they only pay for results and can take chances on podcasts who have never run advertisements before. This is how most podcasts get their first advertisers.
(Pro tip: If your sponsor wants you to promote a referral link, post it anywhere on the web you like to maximize commissions.)
Ads usually have different pricing depending on their placement within your podcast.
- Pre-roll: Ads before the podcast starts.
- Mid-roll: Ads during the podcast.
- Post-roll: Ads after the podcast.
Pre-roll and post-roll ads are usually 15-30 seconds long and fairly straightforward. “This podcast is sponsored by Acme Tools. Check out their line of…”
Mid-roll ads are generally more free form. Sometimes the sponsor will give you a script they want you to read word-for-word. In other cases, they’ll give you some talking points to cover. If the sponsor gives you some flexibility, mix up the ad in each episode so you don’t train listeners to tune it out.
When you start pitching advertisers (more on this in a minute), start by asking for $15 for pre- and post-roll ads and about $20 for mid-roll ads.
Check out the Podcast Sponsorship Calculator to learn what your audience is worth.
How to Get Podcast Sponsors
“Okay, okay,” you’re thinking. “Now tell me how to get podcast sponsors!”
Step 1: Consider Your Niche
The most important part of sponsorship is finding sponsors that fit your niche. Your audience will grow bored and frustrated if your ads are totally irrelevant to them.
Besides, you want your ad to fit your audience so the sponsors do well too. This way they’ll keep advertising through your show and you can raise your rates over time.
So your first step is to think about your ideal listener. In marketing this person is referred to as your avatar or persona. Fix this person your mind; their likes, dislikes, preferences, problems, needs, etc.
When someone asks us how to get podcast sponsors, this is the first piece of advice we give because it’s that important. If you don’t know who listens to your podcast, you’ll probably end up with sponsors they hate.
It may help to write down a description of this person somewhere. Keep it close so you can add to it over time as you learn more. It will also help you craft podcast episodes.
Step 2: Search for Potential Sponsors
Now that you understand who your listeners are, what they enjoy, and what turns them off, it’s time to hunt for potential sponsors who match.
Where can you find potential sponsors?
- Browse the ads on website or blogs in your niche.
- Check out companies who advertise in industry magazines.
- Review businesses who purchase paid ads on social media.
- Look out for any brand representatives who post in your online community/group.
- Google for common phrases in your niche and check out the sponsored slots.
- Ask your listeners what kinds of products they like and buy often.
One easy way to find sponsors is to listen to other podcasts in your niche and approach the companies who sponsor them. They’re already paying to reach that demographic of listeners, so they might be receptive to your proposal. Even if those companies don’t want to advertise with you, at least you’ll have a better idea of what kinds of companies to approach.
Part of learning how to get podcast sponsors is trial and error. You’ll learn the best places to source ideas over time, especially if you hang out in any podcast communities (like our group: Podcast Hackers.)
Here are five more tips that might help you find the right sponsors.
1. Don’t Rule Out the Little Guys
Your first sponsor (or any sponsor, for that matter) doesn’t have to be a big-name company that everyone knows. There are countless small businesses and solo founders who are desperate for advertising opportunities. In fact, your listeners may appreciate you more if you make them aware of lesser known companies who sell great products.
2. Don’t Get Picky About Price
Naturally you want to earn as much as you can from your ads, but don’t use revenue as your standard to pick sponsors. Prioritize the ones that fit your audience best so more of your listeners will engage with the ads. It’s better to sacrifice a few dollars to get ads your listeners enjoy.
3. Choose Sponsors Who Don’t Bore You
If promoting a sponsor will bore you because you don’t care about the product, it will bore your listeners too. You don’t have to fall in love with your sponsor, but you should be at least a little excited about them.
4. Stick to Companies You Respect
Your listeners will know right away if you don’t whole-heartedly recommend a product or service. Before you promote something, make sure you actually approve of that thing enough to stake your reputation on it. If you aren’t sure it’s a good product/service, ask for a sample from the sponsor so you can learn more about it.
5. Keep an Open Mind
There’s no single, surefire way to find sponsors. Some sponsors have clear programs for you to follow. Others are more flexible. As you hunt for sponsors, don’t be afraid to get creative and look in unusual places. Pitch potential sponsors who haven’t advertised before.
Step 3: Create Your Sponsorship Proposal
Impress your potential sponsors with a proposal that exemplifies your personality and professionalism. For best results, fashion your pitch into a slide deck for sponsors to flip through.
Your proposal deck should include…
- Title and logo of your podcast.
- A summary of your podcast’s niche. Include episode length, subject, format, and any popular guests you’ve had on the show or interviews you’ve conducted.
- Information about you, the hosts, and anyone else involved in production (photos and bios).
- Information about your listeners, such as demographics, download statistics, and any evidence you have that your listeners really love your show.
- Proposed rates and partnership ideas. Make it clear that you’re open to their ideas too.
- Your contact information.
It’s especially important to let your brand personality show in your proposal. If you want a sponsor your fans don’t hate, it’s important to find one who aligns with your personality and vision.
Step 4: Send Your Presentation
Once your proposal is ready, it’s time to email it to your list of potential sponsors. This will be the first interaction sponsors have with you and your business, so it’s important to compose a quality email.
Summarize some of the points from your presentation, like who you are and the kind of podcast you host. It’s also a good place to drop some names of popular people who have been on your show or you know listen to your show.
Most importantly, explain why sponsoring your show is a good opportunity for them.
Step 5: Follow Up with Potential Sponsors
Just because a potential sponsor doesn’t respond to your pitch doesn’t mean you should abandon all hope. Your message could have just gotten lost in their inbox.
Send a follow up emails seven days after your original pitch. Politely ask them for an answer to your pitch, even if they intend to decline you offer.
Most people appreciate a follow up email, so don’t worry about annoying anyone. If a sponsor does grow annoyed at your persistence, well, they weren’t going to sponsor you anyway, so won’t lose anything.
End your follow up graciously. Let them know they’re welcome to contact you any time. Then move on to other opportunities.
Should You Take On Multiple Sponsors?
While it’s possible to run ads for multiple sponsors during the same episode, most podcast pros find this to be a bad idea.
Listeners can grow annoyed by multiple ads. Not only do they have to sit through boring content, but they start to question your integrity. They wonder if you really recommend all those products or if you’re just doing it for the cash.
It’s also bad for the sponsor whose message gets watered down. It’s hard enough to get your listeners to take action based on one ad. They certainly won’t follow your directions in two or more ads. This means poorer results for sponsors who may decide to seek other podcasts for their advertising dollars.
Finding the Right Podcast Sponsors Takes Time
There you have it. Now you know how to get podcast sponsors your fans won’t hate. But it’s also important to solicit feedback from your listeners to make sure your sponsorship ads don’t turn them off.
Podcasts are remarkably effective tools to create revenue, but they require work. If you put in the time to find quality sponsors (instead of just any sponsor), you’ll enjoy the rewards of content listeners and some cash in your pocket.
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