Sponsorship: What’s Your Podcast Worth?

If I was to put together the top ten questions I get asked, this would be one of them. You’ve been podcasting for a while and the cost of doing it needs to be covered. Maybe you’re not in it to make a million (which you shouldn’t be) but you definitely want to treat the family to a steak dinner every month.

Where do you start? Do you give everyone a flat rate and hope someone bites? Once you get a sponsor, how do you keep them?

Important Keys to Getting a Podcast Sponsor


Before You Continue – Read This Article: Create Your Own Sponsors

The article above is a guide to creating your own sponsor. Having something to promote at all times helps you understand the ideas of how to sell as a podcaster. With that said, lets continue on.

Most people think you have to put out podcasts BEFORE you get a sponsor. Actually, that could be furthest from the truth. If you’re good enough, you could get a sponsor to pay for your show even before you start it. When it comes to TV, some shows are started with at least 1-2 sponsors in tow. They might not be giving you the moon, but enough so you can proove the concept and move forward.

They might supply you with a computer, microphone or other item you need to podcast with. They might just supply you with items to show off or give away. In my first year of video podcasting the show “The 5 Tech Things You Should Know”, I got T-shirt sponsors that would send me new shirts every week. I – in turn – made them a sponsor. I got CPC (cost per click) and made a little money on that deal. I also got a lot of T-shirts.

Having a show that grows is important; having a product to sell and selling it off the bat can be just as powerful. If you sell widgets and your podcast about widgets ends up selling 100 widgets, does that make you a successful podcaster or a successful salesperson?

Or are podcasters also salespeople?

With that, here are some thoughts in getting a sponsor for your show off the bat.

  • Look Professional – Have logos ready and put them on letterhead. Get the domain and have the website built. Email DOES do better when it’s {Name}@{domainname}. You can use a gmail or yahoo account as long as it’s not {yourpodcast}[email protected]
  • Be Timely – Tell the sponsor you will be putting out a show every {insert schedule here}. Let them know what they are getting.
  • Plan Your Shows – If you can tell a sponsor what you will be talking about and the minute mark they should expect their ad, they will respond better.
  • Give them Stats – There are many ways to give your sponsor a set of statistics. From website stats to independent programs. One of my favorites is Woopra – the basic plan is free and gives you some tracking that you can send off. For your podcast – Blubrry stats are going to be the best way to track your files. It’s good enough for ESPN, why wouldn’t it be good enough for your show?
  • Talk with them – This is probably the best way to get a sponsor at ease with you. Bonus points if you can sit face-to-face with them.
Don't give it away for free

Don’t give it away for free

Never Give it Away for Free

I remember stories of people saying they gave away sponsor spots on their show for free as an ad-enticement campaign. The sponsor would take the free episodes, then back out saying they can’t justify the numbers. In the meantime, the podcaster gave away their time and effort for a sponsor that would never get on board.

Yes – sometimes sponsors do come back and sign up for more shows. It can work; In order for it to work, you have to woo the people involved. That is why radio and print advertising have sales teams. If you cannot pitch them, you might never hear from them again.

Set Your Flat Rate for a Podcast and then discount

The best advice I can give you is to set a price per podcast and don’t waiver from it. Figure out your costs to at least break even. If you spend 2-4 hours of your time and $20 a month in storage and website fees, then at least match that price in your sponsorship.

Give them discounts, not freebies – For one of my shows, I have a $75 an episode flat rate. If you buy four episodes, you get a discount. Get 8 episodes and you are basically getting one spot for free.

CPM Rates?

CPM Rates?

Should I Set a CPM Rate?

Yes, but you’ll need to track your episodes to do it. CPM – or Cost per Impression (usually per 1,000 downloads) – allows you to set a rate for how many people consume your content. If you are talking a 60 second script within your show, a podcaster can get $10-30 per 1,000 downloads. If people respond to those campaigns, you might be able to get more. If your show starts to get tens-of-thousands of downloads, you might be able to increase your CPM rate altogether.

Keep in mind a sponsor may even put a cap on a CPM campaign so they don’t get stuck having to pay for a popular episode. Think about it: If they are paying $20 per 1,000 and you end up getting 100,000 downloads, they might not be able to flip that $2,000 cost.

Get the Sponsor to be Part of Your Show for 3-6 Months

This should be your ultimate goal – especially in a CPM campaign. A 3 week campaign won’t get numbers the sponsor is looking for. A 6 month contract gives you security and gives them a good idea as to what your show can do.

I used to have a computer backup software as a sponsor. The sponsorship basically was CPC – when they used my code, I got a percentage. However, this software was an annual price of anywhere from $100 (single computer) to $1,000 or more (corporate plan). All I really needed was 6 people to choose a corporate plan and I would get revenue for the next 3 years.

The first week came back with nothing. Second week – same. It really wasn’t until the 7th week that I saw activity. By the 6th month, I had a handful of single computer plans and 1 corporate plan that used my codes.

If I would have stopped this at 3-6 weeks, I would have never seen a dime. By going the 6 months with it I saw promise. By the end of this campaign two years later I was making enough to cover my hosting, my time and a little extra to get stuff I needed.



Other Types of Sponsors

Affiliate marketing is chuck full of opportunities. Don’t expect getting free Mercedes for podcasting about it. Maybe you’ll get a Mercedes for a week to try out and give your thoughts. That might not sound like much, but you save wear-and-tear on your car and they could flip for the gas.

Don’t Take Every Type of Sponsorship

My friend Todd Cochrane is adamant about it. “Why are you trying to get a free cup of coffee”, he would ask.

You might get pitches all the time via email for things that don’t even add up to $20. If you believe in their product – by all means take the sponsorship. If you are doing it to fill a gap – its sometimes best to let it pass.

Turn a Bad Situation into a Good One

I get emails all the time saying they want to pay me for a blog post. I turn around and send them my rate card. I say they should be a sponsor on my show, which could bring more than just a paid blog post. I have a couple companies trying this out.

Ultimately, you want someone to say “Yes, I will sponsor your podcast”. Give them a solid idea, show them you are passionate about the idea and don’t put down a number that makes people cringe. Know what is a cup of coffee and what can become a good partnership. It will come together.


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