For many podcasters, the ultimate goal is monetization. But before sponsors come calling, there are things you can do to prepare for that day (hopefully soon!) that your episodes are sponsored? Following these steps will guarantee that your show will not be passed over when an advertiser reviews your show.
You must consider the following.
Long before you’re considering pursuing sponsorships – or before sponsors knock on your virtual door – you should be running “practice” ads – even if it’s just promoting your own show or an affiliate deal that fits your show content, says Blubrry CEO, Todd Cochrane.
The reasons are as follows:
- Running ads early and often is good practice. “If you’re not already practicing or doing ads, you aren’t going to be good out of the gate,” when paying advertisers are interested in working with you, explains Cochrane. “We want podcasters to get in the mindset of running ads and perfecting their ad delivery.”
- It gets your listeners accustomed to hearing ads on your show. Imagine you’ve been running a sponsor-free podcast for two years, and have accumulated a moderate but loyal and growing audience. One day an advertiser that’s a perfect fit approaches you about working together, and you say “yes.” Not only will it feel awkward to you to suddenly have to deliver a sponsor spot where there never was one before, but it’ll also be jarring for your listeners to hear an ad for the first time on episode 100. The earlier and more consistently you start driving home the idea that advertising supports the sponsors that make the show possible, the more likely that your listeners will accept and even embrace your ads.
- It gives you an inventory of sample ads. The best way to show a potential sponsor that you can deliver effective ad copy or the creative genius you are is to provide them with ad samples you’ve delivered in the past, and one great way to do that is by having a reel of sponsored spots you’ve done. The best way to save those is to save the clips with 30 seconds of lead-in, the ad spot and 30 seconds of post ad content. This will give advertisers a sense of how you lead in, deliver and roll out of an ad spot. Doing ads, even if they are affiliate deals or promotions of your own show or your colleague’s shows, automatically gives you a selection of sample build a reel when you need to “wow” an advertiser.
- Preparing for a changing advertising landscape. Start keeping track on every single episode where an ad could be injected into your content. If you’re doing your show and find a natural transition spot record that time hack. HH:MM:SS.sss to the best of your ability. More on this later.
So you’re convinced that it’s time to start running ads on your podcast? Great! Now you might be wondering how to get started, and the best way to go about it. Follow these tips:
- Just start. Even before you have a paying advertiser, there are plenty of things you can promote. Some ideas:
- CJ.com or Share A Sale are great places to get access to affiliate deals with low barriers to entry and often attractive commission rates and promotion codes.
- If there’s a product you use often and love, Google the name of the brand + “affiliate” to see if they run their own affiliate program and apply for it.
- You may be connected with influencers and thought leaders who sell courses and information products online. Often these gurus will offer affiliate partnerships when they launch new products and services.
- What about your own product or service? An ebook or e-course can be a great way to get people to visit your site, and it gives you something to promote on your show.
- Ask other podcasters if they would consider doing a promotion swap: you advertise their show during a sponsor segment, and in exchange, they advertise yours.
- You can simply sign up as an Amazon Associate, and use your ad spots to direct people to links in your show notes.
- When you’re left without anything to promote, just promote yourself! Talk about an event you’ll be attending or a blog post you recently wrote, or just talk about other episodes that might interest your listeners. The trick is to structure it like a sponsored segment and place it in a spot where you’d like to run ads. The closer your promotional segments are to “real” sponsored spots, the better the practice will be.
- Keep the ads relevant. While it might be tempting to run the same affiliate ads as all the big podcasters seem to, consider whether a potential affiliate is really a good fit for your particular show and your particular audience. You might be better off promoting a friend’s podcast for free if your audience will love it and they’ll return the favor, than plugging a brand that your listeners aren’t likely to be interested in.
- Deliver. Every time. “Treat every ad, even one you’re running as a test as if you were getting a multi-thousand-dollar check for the ad spot and deliver accordingly,” suggests Cochrane. “It’ll make it easier for prospective advertisers to want to sign on with your show.” It’ll also make your show’s quality that much better.
- Be consistent. When you’re putting your show outline together, plan out your ad spots just the same as you would any other regular feature. Remember, you always want your ad to feel like a well-thought-out, planned part of the show – never an afterthought or a throwaway. “Run an ad in every single episode, even if you don’t have an advertiser signed on for that episode,” says Cochrane. “You only get good at running ads when you’re really running ads…so always run an ad.”
- Prepare for ads to be dynamically inserted in the future. “Dynamic insertion” refers to a type of ad inserted at a pre-determined time in the episode (Step 4). As your show continues to grow and as the podcasting advertising space evolves, you will have more and more opportunities to monetize through what we expect to be brand advertising and hybrid host endorsement with ad spots that are dynamically-inserted that have targeted delivery and then are removed or replaced day to day, week to week, month to month. You won’t be able to take advantage of these future opportunities unless you plan now and for dynamic insertion as you’re recording and editing. “For example, if you pay attention while you’re editing and at a certain timestamp find a place that sounds like it would be a good place to transition and insert an ad, you can insert a two-second pause, record the time hack for the middle of the pause where the ad can be inserted at a later date,” says Cochrane. Podcasters need to plan for dynamic insertion of ads and consciously planning their episodes and notating those sweet spots so that in the near future, if a sponsorship deal comes up that you are ready to capitalize, so we can drop an ad in that spot.
Ready to start looking for paying advertisers and making money from your podcast? Consider joining Blubrry’s advertising network.