TL;DR You don’t need thousands of listeners to get sponsors for your podcast.
The Voiceover Social is one of those podcasts who’ve secured that hallowed sponsorship. They’re the UK’s number one voiceover industry podcast. In each episode, voiceover artists Leah Marks and Nic Redman speak to people from in and around the industry on subjects such as accents, getting work and the industry’s future. The podcast is released monthly and for the last year they’ve been working with other businesses to sponsor the podcast.
We invited Nic and Leah to April’s edition of MIC’s Podcast Club to tell us and the community how they got sponsors for their podcast. Here’s a round up of that glorious meetup, and how you can get sponsors for your podcast…
How many downloads do you need to get a sponsor?
The Voiceover Social is a niche podcast. It’s aimed at people who work, or want to work in the voiceover industry.
The podcast gets around 500 listens per episode (on average).
Add to that the podcast’s social media followers and mailing list subscribers and, allowing for plenty of crossover, you still get nowhere near the usually touted 10,000 downloads per episode figure that we’re often told we need for sponsorship
Yet The Voiceover Social attracts sponsors.
Who sponsors small-scale podcasts?
While the size of The Voiceover Social’s audience may not be mega huge, it is full of people who interact with the podcast. It has a dedicated community of listeners. They sign up to their newsletters, share messages on social media, meet up with each other in person at regular, organised events. All of these things make the audience valuable to sponsors. Let’s think quality over quantity of audience when it comes to getting sponsors for your podcast.
It’s reasonable to assume that the majority of The Voiceover Social’s audience are either voiceover artists themselves, or work in the audio industry in some way. The people to target as potential sponsors, therefore, are businesses who provide products or services for people in the voiceover industry. Makes sense, no?
So a great example of how the VO Social have put this into practice is by looking at the sponsors that they’ve attracted for their podcast. One of their sponsors is Source Connect is an online, remote recording solution similar to Zencastr etc… It is well known in the voiceover industry and used to connect voiceover artists with directors and producers during recording sessions. Another is VocalMist, a portable tool for getting rid of a dry throat. Perfect for voiceover artists who need to stay hydrated to perform their job.
Both of these companies are hugely relevant to the people who will be listening to The Voiceover Social and both of them sponsor the podcast.
Why Do People Sponsor Podcasts?
A business won’t sponsor you out of the kindness of their heart, you need to give them a reason to sponsor your podcast.
As above, this could be that your audience matches the target audience of the company you want to sponsor your podcast. If you can find a product or service that you know will benefit your audience or that they will at least be interested in, you can be confident in making a sponsorship partnership with that company a success.
According to the 2019 Nielsen Report, “the majority of podcast ads… outperform even video pre-roll”.
Podcasts are intimate. Listeners feel like they know their favourite hosts and trust what they have to say. This makes podcasts valuable. When you’ve found a product or service that you think your audience will like, make sure you like it too. That way you will remain true to your audience and not sell them something you don’t believe in.
In 2019 Spotify revealed that 81% of podcast listeners have taken action as a result of listening to ads during a podcast. That percentage is significantly higher than for any other medium. Why wouldn’t businesses want to tap into that? Make it a no brainer for your potential sponsor, include stats in your pitch about how podcast advertising actually works.!
How To Woo Your Sponsor
After you’ve found out who you need to speak to at the company you want to sponsor your podcast. You need to impress them.
When you first contact a business you’ll want to make sure that you are talking to the right person. Leah told us that she will find out the name of the person, get their email address and send them a copy of The Voiceover Social’s sponsor deck.
A sponsor deck is a document that shows off your podcast to potential sponsors. It should include information about your podcast, your audience and most importantly, your available sponsor packages. It is also handy to include a testimonial from a previous sponsor or favourable review of your podcast. This initial approach is usually with a brief sponsor deck, just 1-2 pages.
Once this initial contact has been made, Leah says to not leave it for them to come back to you, “While you shouldn’t harass them, do go back to them and check-in. They may have missed your email or been away from work.”
The next stage will be to present a more formal proposal of what the sponsorship will look like. Leah and Nic will work on two or three different advert ideas for the sponsor to consider and create a document in Canva (other graphic design programs are available!) to present to the sponsor.
It’s worth mentioning here that VO Social create bespoke adverts for their sponsors, depending on your skill level this might not be something you offer. So it is worth considering what you can ‘offer’ your sponsor, for example, if a live host ‘read’ endorsement, mailing list mentions, social shoutouts etc…
From here, VO Social works with the sponsor to iron out the details and agreements – before creating their content and adding it into their podcast for their audience to hear.
Leah’s Top Tips for Finding a Sponsor
- Engage with your audience so they trust you
- Find out who you need to speak to at the company
- Pick up the phone
- Use Canva to make a sponsor deck
- Get testimonials from previous sponsors to show it works
So there we have it, how to get sponsors for your podcast – without millions of listeners. A big thanks for Leah and Nic from the VO Social for being so generous with their advice.
Now this is just a small snippet of what was discussed at MIC’s Podcast Club, to get the full-fat version you have to be there!
Next month at MIC’s Podcast Club
Mother of god! We’re thrilled to ribbons to welcome the team behind the UK’s Number 1 podcast Obsessed with…Line of Duty.
Lily Ames the podcast’s Supervising Producer and Obsessed With producer Weyland McKenzie-Witter are popping along to the club to chat all things companion podcasts, making stuff for the BBC, being absolute chart-toppers and much more!
Join us from 6pm on Wednesday 12 May. Sign up here.
Blog post by MIC’s Podcast Club’s Community Builder, Charles Commins