One of the biggest ways to earn money podcasting is by getting sponsors. You can pretty seamlessly incorporate sponsors into your podcast by providing context, being honest, and by adding your charm when discussing the sponsor. This is what makes podcasts really effective for selling things and in turn makes podcast sponsors a great way to make money podcasting. You may be wondering though, how do I even go about finding podcast sponsors? Well, we are going to break it all down for you in this article.
Firstly, just as a reminder, in order to get podcast sponsors, you need to make sure that you are producing the best podcast possible. Ensure that you have a good podcast set up that produces high quality audio and that you are following all of the best practices for gaining and retaining an audience. For information about creating a podcast set up, read our Podcast Equipment Guide for Beginners, and for all of the best practices for gaining and retaining an audience, check out our How to Start a Profitable Podcast article.
How Do Sponsorships Work?
With a sponsorship, the sponsor is generally looking to sell their product and/or to increase brand awareness. So, sponsors typically price and measure using CPM (cost per mille) or CPA (cost per acquisition). There are also circumstances where you may name the price and the sponsor will either agree or disagree.
CPM is how much sponsors pay per 1,000 downloads or listens of your podcast. Often times, sponsors assess the success of your ad after the fact, but there are some circumstances where the CPM is determined beforehand.
As for CPA, this is the number of sales or sign ups that businesses get as a result of your ad. Sponsors either pay you referral bonuses per sign up or use CPA to assess your ad after it runs for awhile.
If you are a niche podcast with a smaller, but dedicated audience, CPA is the best metric for you. Since you have a loyal audience, it is more likely that your listeners will engage with the ad and you do not have to worry about the amount of listeners that you are getting in order to make some cash. On the other hand, if you are a podcast with a lot of listeners and/or a less engaged audience overall, CPM is the best metric for you as you will earn money based on listens/downloads rather than on audience engagement with the ad.
Pre-Roll, Mid-Roll, & Post-Roll:
Now, typically you sell your ad spots in pre-roll, mid-roll, and post-roll. A pre-roll is when the podcast host talks about the sponsor's product or service for about 15 seconds before starting into the main portion of the podcast. A mid-roll refers to about 60 seconds that the host discusses the product or service somewhere in the middle of the podcast. Finally, a post-roll refers to a 15-30 second call to action regarding the product or service near the end of the podcast. When negotiating with your sponsor, there should be an indication about what spots you will be filling with their product or service. A good rule of thumb is to limit the advertisements in your podcast to 2 per episode. Having more than 2 per episode can be a surefire way to lose listeners. After all, caring about your listeners should be one of your biggest priorities, so ensure that you are considering them in every decision that you make regarding your podcast.
The current "Industry Standards" for podcast sponsorships are:
- 15-second Pre-Roll: $15-20 per 1000 listens
- 60-second Mid-Roll: $20-25 per 1000 listens
- 30-second Post-Roll: $10-20 per 1000 listens
- $15–30 per person that buys the product or service
Note: These are just industry standards. There is usually room for negotiation outside of these rates.
Where Do I Find Sponsors?
There are several places that you can look for podcast sponsors. They include: podcast networks, podcast hosting services, outside ad networks, searching for advertisers on your own, or waiting for advertisers to come to you.
A podcast network is a group of podcasts that are produced, distributed, and made available to advertisers through a single company. These networks often provide a lot of services including hosting, promotion, statistics, and negotiation with advertisers. So, these networks can definitely help with some of the difficult tasks of finding a sponsor, however, you lose a lot of control with these networks and they usually take a cut. Every network has different requirements and some only accept new podcasts occasionally, so if you think a podcast network is something you would like to pursue, do some research into different networks to see if the benefits outweigh the loss of independence. One example of a podcast network is PodcastOne. While this is one of the larger, more diverse ones, many networks have more specific topics, so some Google searches will provide you with some networks within your niche.
Podcast Hosting Services:
Podcast hosting services are platforms that you can begin your podcast on that provide different services related to your podcast in exchange for a subscription fee. Many of these hosting services offer an advertising program that you can apply to be in. Similar to a podcast network, the heavy lifting of getting podcast sponsors is taken off of your shoulders and the hosting service matches you with advertisers. But again, you lose some of the control and the hosting service usually takes a cut. If your podcast is already on a hosting service, check out their subscription details to see if they offer an advertising program. If you would like to consider joining a podcast hosting service or switching services, a simple Google search will provide you with a lot of options as well as guides to the best services.
Outside Advertisement Networks:
Outside ad networks are companies that match advertisers with independent podcasts based on popularity and stats. Two of the biggest ad networks are: Midroll and AdvertiseCast. Both of these networks facilitate the entire process from matching advertiser to podcast all the way to negotiation. Particularly with Advertisecast, they allow you to list your podcast for free and advertisers can shop your ad spots. The size of your podcast doesn't matter as there are niche advertisers that may be a perfect match for your podcast.
Searching on Your Own:
Searching for sponsors on your own can be difficult. However, it is not impossible. Starting with local businesses, independent creators, and small businesses is a great place to begin if you are a smaller podcast. Check out industry websites, blogs, magazines, etc. for advertisers already within your niche. Think about the companies that are directly related to your podcast niche. Consider what other podcasts your audience listens to and see if any of those podcasts have sponsors that you may be interested in or that spark other potential sponsors in your mind. Also, think about the things that your listeners might be excited about and buy and do some Google searches for companies that sell those things. Take a look at social media to look for companies and note any companies that advertise to you. Most importantly, since you will be selling the product, think of companies that you would love to work with because you genuinely love their products, services, mission, etc. The key here is for you to be excited about the product or service that you are selling because that translates to the listener. You may find a company that you would like as a sponsor that is unrelated to your podcast niche. This is totally acceptable, however, be aware of your audience and their preferences to make sure that the sponsor works for your podcast. If the product or service is too unrelated, listeners may feel that it is disruptive to the podcast. If you are struggling to come up with ideas for sponsors, ask friends, family, and maybe even some listeners about the kinds of products that they love.
Waiting for Advertisers:
Finally, you can wait for advertisers to come to you. Now, this is certainly a waiting game and depends on the popularity of your podcast. If you don't get a ton of listeners, then it is unlikely that advertisers will come to you. There may be exceptions with very niche podcasts and advertisers, however, keep in mind that it isn't a guarantee that any advertisers will come to you and it may take awhile for you to be able to finally sell your ad spots this way. If this is your desired method for getting sponsors, just be sure to promote your podcast heavily and get on as many directories as possible, perfect your podcast set up and quality to ensure your podcast is the best that it can be, and be easily accessible online and highly active on social media. The more visible you are, the more likely it will be that an advertiser will take notice. And remember, while it is absolutely important for any podcaster who is interested in getting sponsors to ensure that they are also checking all of these boxes, a podcaster who wants advertisers to come to them especially needs to ensure that they are constantly on top of all of these factors.
How Do I Communicate With Sponsors?
So, if you are communicating with sponsors on your own, meaning you do not have a podcast network, hosting service, or outside ad network facilitating the process for you, then it is important that you get familiar with pitching your podcast and ad spots.
A pitch is an email to a company that you are interested in as a sponsor that contains information on your podcast and pricing. Sending a concise, but thorough email is a great way to communicate with potential sponsors. Your email should answer the basic questions that the potential sponsor will be thinking such as, “Who is this?," "What do they want?," and "Why should I care?” If you are struggling to begin your pitch, search around on Google for some example pitches. Some ways that you can level up your pitch are by adding a slide deck, adding a podcast demo, and/or creating a media kit.
You can really improve your pitch by adding a slide deck containing some great visuals, information about your show, listener demographics, statistics, and pricing. Attach the slide deck to your email as a PDF and it may help you stand out from the crowd as marketing and sales teams especially value the visual element.
Another way to spice up your pitch is by adding your podcast demo as a mp3 attachment to the email along with a private link. Your podcast demo should be short, but contain the best parts of your podcast to give the potential sponsor a great understanding of your podcast.
The final addition that you can incorporate is a media kit. A media kit is a page that you can print out as well as include on your website and in emails that communicates what your podcast is about, stats and highlights, pricing options, contact info, social media links, your sponsor history, guidelines and policies, and any other information that is useful in promoting your podcast. Of course, with each pitch, whether you just send an email or add extra elements to improve your pitch, you want to ensure that you are personalizing it for the potential sponsor you are sending it to just as you would personalize a cover letter for each different job application.
Unfortunately, the reality is that you will likely have a low response rate to your pitches. So, be sure to send a follow-up email one week after your original email. The key with follow-up emails is to remind the potential sponsor about your podcast and that you are still very interested in them as a sponsor, whether that be now or in the future. Be sure to only send one follow-up email and make it clear that the door is open for future collaborations. The sponsor that you are interested in may also be interested in advertising on your podcast, but the timing might just be off, so making it clear that you are interested in future collaborations as well is very important.
The biggest thing to remember is that adding sponsors to your podcast can turn away listeners, so ensuring that you genuinely enjoy the sponsor's product or service is extremely important. Listeners can tell when you don't use a product or if you don't honestly recommend a company, so any dishonesty can break the trust between you and your audience. You want to be convincing and you can ensure that you are persuasive if you are authentic with your sponsors. Plus, you want to be providing your audience with something that could be truly beneficial to them. You don't want to lose any listeners because you are trying to sell the wrong products. So, take the time to get to know and understand your audience before you agree to any sponsors.
Finding sponsors for your podcast is difficult, time-consuming work. Whether you are going out on your own to find sponsors or using a network or hosting service, it takes a lot of research and patience. But, it is totally possible to find great sponsors that can elevate and maybe even help grow your podcast. So, take your time to research and make decisions about sponsors. Negotiate with sponsors and ensure that the advertisements smoothly fit into your podcast. You never want to sacrifice the quality of your podcast for a sponsor. Your goals should be to provide great content and to grow your audience, and by default, more sponsors will take greater interest. So, be picky about your sponsors. After all, any sponsor that you get means that you will be doing the selling, so you want the sponsor to make sense for you, your podcast, and your listeners. Happy podcasting!
If you are looking for other ways to make money podcasting, check out our Best Ways to Make Money Podcasting article here.
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