I've had sponsors on my podcast, The 5 AM Miracle, for the last four years. Sponsors enable me to continue podcasting every week and I love partnering with great brands.
This is how I choose my sponsors and the criteria I have for the companies I work with every week.
My Podcast Sponsorship Criteria
My name, face, voice, and brand are all permanently attached to the companies I promote on my podcast. Because of this, I only allow companies to sponsor my podcast whom I believe offer products or services that fit my audience. I turn down sponsors that aren't a good fit for my listeners and my brand.
I require every sponsor to provide me with access to their products so I can validate that what I promote is legitimate. I never accept money from companies without first ensuring that they are who they say they are, and that their products or services are as good as I say they are on the podcast.
I have a high bar for quality, and most companies who want to market to my audience aren't good enough. Because of this, I end up turning down potential sponsors nearly every week.
4. ETHICAL MATCH
I'm a vegan, and that aspect of my life matters a great deal to me. I do my best to work with companies who either (1) only offer products and services that are ethically viable for vegans (e.g. they do not use any animal products in their goods) OR (2) they offer a vegan option (e.g. Blue Apron's vegan meal plan). I turn down meat-based companies more often than any other potential sponsor.
5. ECLECTIC AND DIVERSE (Like My Listeners)
I do my best to mix up the types of companies I work with to appeal to a broader audience base, and because most companies prefer to be the only brand in their industry that I promote at any given time. My show is eclectic and diverse, and I prefer my sponsors to be eclectic and diverse as well.
6. CONTENT-FIRST PHILOSOPHY
Sponsors need to be OK with my "content-first" philosophy. All advertising on my podcast is placed in the middle of the episode (mid-roll), not at the beginning (pre-roll) so that listeners can get the value of the episode as quickly as possible. The only exceptions to my "no pre-roll" rule is an occasional affiliate spot or ad for one of my own products – these ads are never paid.
7. HOST-READ ADS ONLY
I read all of my own ads. I never accept pre-recorded ads from other voice actors. Reading all of my ads keeps the podcast authentic and keeps me connected to the brands I promote.
Additional Thoughts On Podcast Sponsorship
I've been working with AdvertiseCast exclusively since January 2019 and they've proven to be a great partner to help me find amazing companies to sponsor the show. I've sold my own ads in the past, and I still do on occasion, but it's a marvelous thing to partner with great people who understand your values and goals.
I offer an ad-free version of my podcast on Patreon, though not a single listener has taken me up on this offer. I'm still fascinated by the fact that 99% of all podcast listeners worldwide prefer podcasts with ads over paid subscriptions without ads. Some podcasts defy this norm, but most do not.
I always accept feedback on my sponsors, and it's great to hear when listeners have found the ads valuable because they really do get a great deal from a great company.
What It Sounds Like
BONUS: The Truth About Podcast Sponsorship
Here's a keynote presentation on podcast sponsorships I did at Podfecta Nashville. In it, I talk about the good, bad, and ugly of podcast sponsorship. How to attract sponsors, how to keep sponsors, and what happens when sponsorship goes bad...