“How do I get advertisers on my podcast?” As a podcast representation and advertising business owner, this is the most common question I get from podcasters, though it may not be the right question to ask.
Based on my experience, here’s the question they should be asking: “Is my podcast ready for advertisers?” Without a clear answer, you may risk putting the cart before the horse.
The reason is simple: If you prepare your show for advertisers, you'll have more success not only securing but keeping them. How will you know if your podcast has what it takes? What aspects need to be in place before you approach potential partners with confidence?
Instead of asking how to get advertisers, instead ask yourself these five questions. Dig deep: The answers will provide you with a realistic roadmap toward your monetization goals.
First Thing First: Are you consistently publishing quality content?
Advertisers need to know that you’ll be dependable. They pay for their ads to appear in your podcast, so it’s essential to publish episodes when you say you will. Publishing consistent content doesn't mean you have to upload an episode every week. It simply means you have to create a set schedule. It could be monthly, bi-weekly, weekly, or even seasonally. Create a plan and stick with it! We use Airtable to keep everything organized, but a Google Sheet or Excel spreadsheet is just as good.
Things to include in your schedule sheet:
- Podcast Episode Number
- Guest Name and company (if you are doing interviews)
- Episode Title
- Episode Description
- Record Date
- Publish Date
- Ad Placement (yes/no)
- Published (yes/no)
- Published Episode Link
Create a plan and stick with it! We use Airtable to keep everything organized, but a Google Sheet or Excel spreadsheet is just as good.
Your content needs to be reflective of the brand partnerships you hope to create. Poorly executed podcasts with sound issues, dead spots, lousy editing, and cover art that is more reminiscent of a grammar school project (and less of a professional content creator) will make brands question the value of your endorsement.
Most podcast ads are host-read endorsements, and advertisers are looking for a positive representation of their brand. That doesn't mean your show shouldn't be a reflection of you and your creation; it simply needs to be executed well.
Answer 2: How well do you know your audience?
It is vitally important that you know who listens to your show. Here’s why: Companies know who purchases their products, and they’re looking to partner with podcasts that can deliver that audience.
My experience has been that it is common for hosts to guess about their audience. Companies need real data to make business decisions, and a host’s guess doesn’t quite cut it. Being handed your listener demographics would be helpful, but as you likely already know, it’s not that simple.
Gather this information by running a listener survey. Use an online survey tool, like Google Forms, and ask your audience to complete it.
Companies need real data to make business decisions, and a host’s guess doesn’t quite cut it.
An incentive for completing the survey may help increase your response rate. Make sure to include questions such as gender identity, age, income, and level of education. These are the building blocks of demographic research.
Answer 3: Are you prepared to connect with advertisers?
I'm regularly shocked about the number of podcasts that don't have clear contact information or even a website! If you want advertisers to reach you (and take you seriously), make it as easy as possible. Several resources like Podpage are available to create affordable websites that give your show a professional presentation. Here is my podcast’s website as an example:
Basic pages to include:
- Episodes page (home page)
- About us
- Media kit/‘For Advertisers’
Answer 4: Is your podcast a business or a hobby?
If you want to make money as a podcaster, your show is a business. That doesn't mean that your podcast can't still be a hobby and be a ton of fun; it just means you need to approach it with consistent, calculated professionalism.
There are thousands of online resources available to help you think and act like a business owner. The first and most important action is to be responsive to the requests and inquiries from listeners, industry professionals, and potential advertisers.
Answer 5: How will you price and package your ads?
I hear this a lot: Your audience’s size doesn't impact your ability to get advertisers. If I may, I'd like to politely disagree with that statement. If your audience isn’t large enough, sponsors and advertisers will not see a return on their investment. The size of your audience will also dictate how much you can charge for ads.
The amount of downloads you need depends on the type of audience you have. The more niche your podcast is, the more desirable the audience is to advertisers. So, you can charge more. For example, a general comedy show reaches a broad group of listeners. Therefore, you will need a larger audience than a show which specifically caters to female athletes.
When you have a smaller audience, consider packaging your podcast with other mediums such as social media, newsletter, or banner ads.
If you sell ads yourself, usually 1,000 downloads per episode in 30 days is an excellent place to start. If you want to partner with a representation company like mine, True Native Media, to sell ads for you, you'll need 5-10k+ downloads per episode in 30 days.
When you have a smaller audience, consider packaging your podcast with other mediums such as social media, newsletter, or banner ads. Develop a flat-rate package that will make sense for both you and the advertiser. If your audience is large, you may consider CPM (cost per thousand) pricing.
Have you ever wondered why it’s CPM and not CPT? The “M” in stands for “mille,” the Latin word for “thousand.” Current industry rates range from $15-$50 CPM depending on the type of audience you reach.
Once you have clear answers to all five of these, you’ll be much more prepared to take that next step into monetization. “Is my podcast ready for advertisers?” is a question that may take some time to answer, but it will do the opposite of hold you back. Even if you find that your show may not yet be ready, you now have defined objectives to help you get there.
Stay tuned for the second article in my three-part series: Sponsor Outreach. From years of experience in the space, I will share exactly how to go about connecting with advertisers, what to prepare, and how to look professional as you close deals.