The podcasting industry loves to fixate on CPM, but this is only one podcast sponsorship pricing model. For those unfamiliar, CPM stands for “cost per mille,” where advertisers pay a fixed fee per 1,000 downloads within 30 days of an episode airing. With the average CPM ranging around $25 to $30, this doesn’t make sense for smaller shows with less than 10,000 downloads. So, what other options are we left with? And how much do podcasters make? Introducing a lucrative alternative, flat rate podcast sponsorships.
As a full-time podcaster with less than 10,000 downloads per episode, I’ve successfully used the flat fee pricing model. While various factors impact the equation, such as brand budget, ad type, and how much you’d like to earn, I’ve consistently made five figures as a podcaster working with big and small brands over the last two years.
In 2022, 40% of my income came from working with a handful of brands on flat-fee audio campaigns. If you’re wondering how to price podcast sponsorships, here are six reasons to consider the flat fee model vs. CPM.
At the end of this article, I want to leave you convinced it’s possible to make good money as a smaller show with flat-rate sponsorships.
Your show is wildly valuable. The effort you put into creating your show, attracting and engaging an audience, which podcast advertisers are eager to tap into, deserves a larger compensation, especially if you’re open to custom work and targeted integrations like interviews, in-depth product reviews, topical discussions, social promotion, and more.
Why Flat Fee Sponsorships Are Right For Smaller Shows
1. More flexibility
You probably became a podcaster because you enjoy the flexibility of this medium.
You get to decide what topics you discuss, the guests you feature, and the brands you partner with.
Negotiating a flat rate means uncoupling what you charge based on downloads alone and driving results based on the campaign’s objectives.
Setting your rates and customizing each campaign emphasizes the work you create, the results you can help drive, and the deep connections with your audience, making earning hundreds or thousands of dollars more feasible and justified.
You are more than your numbers; quality content outlives your current numbers and stats.
Episodes I published in 2020 still drive engagement for brands I worked with three years later. If those brands were only narrowly looking at my downloads, they might have passed up the opportunity. However, because they believed in working with me, their investment paid off and continues to work in their favor long after receiving a return on investment.
Ditch the cookie-cutter approach, set rates that cover your costs, and leave plenty of room for surplus. For smaller shows, the CPM model leaves no room for profit.
Several of my podcast coaching clients have been able to secure $5,000 flat fee sponsorships working with one brand using my framework.
I don’t know about you, but when I’m well-paid, I’m more motivated.
2. Deeper commitment from brands
Requiring an upfront investment from a brand often means they are more committed to getting in front of your audience.
Likely they are choosing to work with a handful of creators to drive results vs. hundreds. Together create something you’re both proud of, and share it on your platforms.
I believe in partnering with brands to create a win-win-win scenario – a win for the brand and my audience and a financial win for me as the creator and matchmaker.
Want to get better at pitching brands and podcast advertisers? Get access to (8) sponsorship pitch templates I’ve personally used to secure brand deals, from cold pitching a brand to following up after a successful campaign.
3. Brands are used to paying influencers a flat fee
Keeping things simple, many brands, influencer and PR agencies are more familiar with working with influencers and creators who charge a flat rate per campaign.
This is especially true if the brand has not worked with podcasters or run Facebook or Google ads.
According to Morning Brew, only 1% of travel brands and tourism boards are investing in podcast advertising as of 2020 and 2021.
Speaking their language, negotiating a flat fee rate is the path to the least resistance.
4. Leverage your entire brand
The CPM model confines you to commoditize and undervalue your podcast and only looks at the reach of your audio presence.
It doesn’t honor the bond you’ve forged with your listeners overtime or your niche expertise.
With custom sponsorships, you can charge more and tap into other areas of your brand, like your newsletter, website, or social media — all assets you can leverage to drive campaign success.
In addition to pre-roll ads, are you willing to write a 2,000-word search-friendly blog post? You can build that into your flat rate fee.
How about creating a 20-second Instagram Reel or sharing that video on TikTok or YouTube?
Brands looking for access to your audience across multiple platforms are willing to pay flat fee rates.
5. Conducive for long-term partnerships
Favoring better results, many brands abandon one-and-dones for more long-term strategic partnerships lasting six to twelve months.
Especially since podcast listeners typically take action after several prompts, custom partnerships with multiple touchpoints outperform one-time mentions for smaller shows.
Packaging various deliverables spread over several months, which address pain points and reiterate the benefits, listeners are more likely to take action, whether clicking on a link, joining a newsletter, making a purchase, or following on social.
6. Quality over quantity
While podcasters who follow the CPM model focus on quantity, I focus on the quality of partnerships.
With a flat fee sponsorship model, I am more intentional about acquiring a handful of partners willing to pay my rates rather than sell out my inventory.
You might notice podcasters who focus on CPM stressing over their advertising inventory; focusing on acquiring multiple advertising partners at once to sell out their ad slots.
As I raise my rates, I hustle less and selectively work with fewer brands to reach my goals. This year my goal is to work with one major sponsor per quarter, totaling four a year.
Final Thoughts: Flat Rate Podcast Sponsorship Pricing
A flat fee sponsorship model made going full-time more feasible because I developed a repeatable and sustainable business model for pitching, negotiating, and executing campaigns.
If you enjoy collaborating with brands and care deeply about helping them achieve their business objectives, the flat fee podcast sponsorship pricing structure is for you.
Prefer taking a custom boutique approach or don’t want to be limited by industry pricing standards, this is also for you.
If you prefer to focus on partnering with a handful of brands rather than selling out your inventory or if you are ready to monetize your show now rather than later, this pricing model will not disappoint.
Remember, as your podcast’s creative director and CEO, you decide what you charge and which pricing model works for you.
The Brand Deal Wizard course is a phenomenal resource for strategically finding and negotiating dream sponsorships. Sponsorship Coach Justin Moore walks you through his proven process for pitching, pricing, and negotiating brand deals so you can create predictable income. Read why I enrolled in the course and how it has transformed my business.
Still, trying to figure 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.
In the comments below, let me know who won this debate.