Podcast sponsorship myths: how to push through them to make more money doing what you love.
Podcasters have a lot of misconceptions when it comes to working with brands and securing podcast sponsorships. Some of that comes from the podcasting industry setting standards that mostly benefit larger shows, and the other half is mental drama and self-doubt we place upon ourselves. As a podcast marketing coach, I guide podcasters to building authority, growing their audiences, and creating sustainable income streams. Whether speaking on stage or interacting in podcasting communities, I see the same podcast sponsorship myths holding podcasters back from monetizing their shows. In this blog post, we’re clearing the air by addressing the most common falsehoods derailing your success. Get ready to push past the mental roadblocks to start monetizing your podcast through sponsorships!
1. Don’t need 10,000 downloads per episode.
As the podcasting industry has evolved, the 10,000 downloads per episode benchmark has become a widely recognized reference point among advertisers and podcasters.
I don’t know about you, but with the average podcast gaining 125 downloads per episode within the first seven days, this feels unattainable for most.
Luckily, the podcasting industry is vast, and podcast advertising agencies and marketplaces are not the only way to work with brands.
If you are interested in building relationships with brands and ultimately charging more, there’s good news.
Even if you have less than 5,000 or even 1,000 downloads per episode, you can attract brand partners by leaning into your strengths like niche topics, audience engagement, listener loyalty, show quality and creativity.
Plenty of advertisers are considering podcasts with smaller audiences, especially if the content aligns closely with their target market.
Despite having “smaller shows,” my coaching clients make up to $5,000 on their first campaign. Not too bad, right? I share this to say the outlook is great for us!
2. Your audience isn’t too small.
Many brands are interested in niche audiences with specific interests. Do not discount smaller podcasts with engaged listeners.
While some brands are looking to partner with shows with a large listenership, smaller shows with niche audiences are driving results brands want to get behind.
Downloads are one metric but, thankfully, not the only metric brands consider.
Sponsors may also consider other factors like audience demographics, engagement, and the results of past partnerships when choosing podcasts to work with.
If you don’t already have a media kit, download this free podcast media kit checklist to start working on yours today. In one fell swoop, a podcast media kit can showcase why working with you is a worthy investment.
3. Aren’t selling out
While some podcasters worry about alienating their listeners or bombarding them with ads, many studies show listeners don’t mind podcast ads or find them helpful for introducing them to brands they want to connect with.
You can integrate sponsors into your content while maintaining authenticity and transparency.
By choosing sponsors that align with your values and selecting products or services genuinely relevant to your audience, brand partnerships enhance your content rather than detract from it.
Sponsorships should not compromise the authenticity of your content.
While some brands may impose restrictions or demands on your content, maintain creative control by setting terms in an agreement, outlining the scope of work, and setting clear expectations and boundaries from the jump.
Remember, ultimately, this is your show: you get to decide who you partner with and what those partnerships look like.
Speak up. Advocating for yourself doesn’t have to compromise your professionalism.
Additionally, only partner with brands that align with your mission and values and avoid those that do not.
If a sponsorship can potentially compromise your integrity, jeopardize your reputation, or tarnish the trust you’ve built with your audience, it’s not worth it.
Secondly, believe your listeners want to see you win. They want to see you thriving, so you can keep podcasting long-term. Listeners understand you wish to, or quite frankly, need to make money.
Sustainability is a major issue in podcasting, so most shows don’t make it past the seven episodes mark or fade away after some time.
While podcasts are free to consume, they are not free to create. The tools we use cost money, the team members we hire cost money, and there’s nothing wrong with wanting to get compensated for your time.
I decided to go all in on podcast sponsorships because I did not want to ask my listeners to support me. I rather them listen to the show at no cost, and if they choose, they can support us by clicking on the sponsor links to learn more.
Thirdly, podcast sponsors can introduce listeners to new products, organizations, initiatives, or services they may not have been aware of otherwise.
If your listeners don’t like listening to ads, they can use the skip button. It’s that simple.
Bloggers monetize by running website ads, and YouTubers monetize with ads. Why can’t podcasters? Why not us?
4. CPM isn’t the only pricing model.
The CPM (cost per mille) model is only one way to price sponsorships.
I prefer to price brand deals using the flat fee sponsorship model, where I charge a fee for a specific set of negotiated deliverables.
Last year I secured five figures in podcast sponsorships, something I would not be able to do using the CPM model due to my audience size.
Additionally, the CPM model only takes into account the audio component of your brand, leaving off the table the potential to leverage your social presence, website, newsletter, and more.
On the other hand, I understand an indie podcast that isn’t making any money off their show can start making hundreds of dollars a year using CPM. So, while I’m not a fan, do what’s right for you.
Still, figuring out what your podcast sponsorship strategy should be? Watch this video where Adam McNeil and I debate between CPM vs. Flat Rate Podcast Sponsorships on Creator Debates Podcast.
5. Brand will approach you.
Maybe they will, but then again, maybe not.
While brands may approach you, if you prefer to be proactive and take income generation into your own hands, start pitching brands and nurturing those connections.
Before I mastered the art of pitching, I was super self-conscious about my pitching skills.
I spent at least two years not monetizing my podcast because I felt I sucked at it, a huge mistake and something I encourage all of my coaching clients to avoid.
Pitching is a skill. You just need practice to feel more confident doing it.
In summary, there’s a lot of potential for indie podcasters with smaller shows to get a piece of the advertising pie.
If any of these myths are holding you back, I hope you feel empowered and encouraged to pursue brand partnerships.
Wondering how to get sponsors for your podcast?
Learn the (3) essential ways to get noticed by brands with Stand Out & Secure Lucrative Podcast Sponsorships, my signature audio training. We cover creating a podcast media kit, building a portfolio, and more. This is the only intro to podcast sponsorships course you’ll ever need.