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DIY Sponsorship Paperwork: The Barebones Guide for Podcasters

July 11, 2024 Deciphr AI
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IN A GIST

Navigating the realm of podcast sponsorship is mind-bending, loaded with business-speak, legalese, and tons of paperwork from email outreach to contract deals. 

But hey, don't lose your nerve just yet. You have a podcast poised for launch, and I'm here to show you how to streamline the legal intricacies, manage the sponsorship deal, and even address that persistent curiosity about platforms that can shoulder your endeavor. You ready? Let's get down to business.

In this blog, you’ll learn:

  • Drafting a contract with essential clauses included
  • Advantages of running a podcasting business
  • Choosing podcast hosts with friendly financial terms
  • Unlocking more sponsorships with strategic outreach methods

MAIN ARTICLE

Contractual Wisdom is Power

First off, let's break the myth. Contrary to what many first-time podcasters believe, contracts aren't just for the big shots.

Even if your sponsor is your Aunt Sally, who runs the local bakery, you need to get a contract in place. 

However, you do need a fair amount of common sense and a few practical steps:

Draft a Contract

Even if your podcast is a small operation now, it's essential to keep everything professional from the get-go. A well-drafted contract can save you from future headaches. If the legalese gives you a migraine, consider using platforms like Rocket Lawyer or LegalZoom. These platforms offer easy-to-use templates to get you started.

Include Essential Clauses

The contract should include 5 key elements:

  • Sponsorship Type: Pre-roll, mid-roll, post-roll, native, dynamic ads; all come with their pros and cons, so choose wisely. Exclusivity and contract duration also matters here.
  • Sponsorship Fee: What's the right price? It depends on downloads, listeners, conversions, your podcast's value, and production costs. Research market rates and brace for negotiation.
  • Sponsorship Terms: Clear terms spell success. Discuss ad frequency, placement, format, approval, payment methods, termination policy, and ad rights. Establish roles and responsibilities upfront.
  • Sponsorship Metrics: How do you measure success? Set clear, relevant metrics. Quantitative (downloads, conversions) or qualitative (feedback, reviews), ensure they reflect both parties' goals.
  • Sponsorship Ethics: Keep it transparent. Comply with FTC guidelines, Podcast Advertising Measurement Guidelines, International Association of Privacy Professionals standards, and manage conflicts of interest.

Here are also the basic elements you should consider:

  • Terms of Sponsorship: Define what the sponsor is paying for. Is it a 15-second mention at the start? A shout-out in the middle? Mention these specifics.
  • Duration: Clearly state the sponsorship's length. Is it for one episode, a series, or a month?
  • Payment: How much? When is it due? Upon signing, after the podcast episode airs, or another timeframe?
  • Termination Clause: Define a process for ending the agreement. You may decide to part ways, so make it clear how that can be done
  • Review and Revise: Just because it's on paper doesn't mean it's set in stone. Contracts should be a living, breathing document that evolves with your podcast. Revisit and revise as needed.

To Be Or Not To Be…A Business Entity

Do you need to set up a business for your podcast?

You might be thinking, "I'm only aiming for $5K a year. Why the fuss?"

The simple answer is - it depends. It's like debating whether to order an extra side of fries. It may seem unnecessary, but the added layer of protection it offers might be worth the extra calories - metaphorically speaking.

Here are the why’s of setting up your podcast as a business:

  • Legitimacy: Having a registered business gives you more credibility when approaching sponsors. It sends the message: "I take my podcast seriously."
  • Financial Separation: A separate business bank account makes it easier to track income and expenses, especially during tax season.
  • Liability Protection: If, for any reason, your podcast gets into legal trouble (we're not implying you will, but it's better to be safe), a Limited Liability Company (LLC) can protect your personal assets.

Here's a simplified guide on how to set this up:

  • Decide on a Business Structure: For a small podcast, an LLC often makes sense. It provides liability protection and flexible tax options.
  • Register Your Business: The exact process varies by state but generally involves choosing a business name, submitting paperwork (usually online), and paying a fee.
  • Set Up a Business Bank Account: Once your business is registered, take your paperwork to the bank and open a business account. It can help you easily track income from sponsorships and expenses like hosting fees, equipment, or marketing costs.

Remember that establishing a business comes with its set of obligations like annual filings, potential state-specific taxes, and fees. So, weigh your options carefully.

Choose Your Podcast Hosting Platform Wisely

Selecting a podcast hosting platform is a critical step in your podcast journey.

The financial aspect is especially a crucial factor to consider when selecting your podcast hosting platform. Acast, for example, offers monetization options themselves, but they don't interfere with your private sponsorship deals. However, always check the fine print to avoid unpleasant surprises.

  • Understand the Terms: Whether you choose Acast or any other hosting platform, always read the fine print. Understand their terms regarding sponsorships and income. Some hosting platforms may have rules on the kind of sponsorships you can accept, while others may take a cut from your sponsorship income.
  • Understand Your Host's Monetization Services: Some hosting platforms offer monetization options. Know what these are and how they can complement your own sponsorship deals.
  • Explore Alternatives: Don't be afraid to shop around. There are numerous hosting platforms out there, like Libsyn, Anchor, or Podbean, each with its pros and cons. Assess them in terms of cost, features, monetization policies, and choose what best suits your podcast.

Wooing The Big Fish (And The Small) in Sponsorships

So, you've got the paperwork, the business, and the hosting platform down. Great job! But here's a question that's probably gnawing at the back of your mind: How do I attract more sponsors

Before you start sweating buckets, let's go through some unconventional, yet absurdly practical ways to get more sponsors for your podcast.

  • The Grand Approach: Launch an outreach campaign that's as subtle as a brick through a window. This is not about being obnoxious, but about being assertive and proactive.
  • Create a List: Jot down companies that align with your podcast's theme. Love talking about tech? Reach out to startups, app developers, or even local computer repair shops. Use LinkedIn and industry directories to find them.
  • Craft a Killer Pitch: You're not just selling ad space, you're offering a unique opportunity to connect with a dedicated audience. Highlight your podcast's theme, audience demographics, and engagement.
  • Follow Up: Don't fret if you don't hear back immediately. The magic often lies in the follow-up. Use tools like Boomerang for Gmail to automate follow-up emails.
  • Leverage Podcast Booking Platforms: Platforms like MatchMaker.fm, PodBooker, or PodPros connect podcast hosts with guests. But here's a secret: Many of these guests represent businesses that might be interested in sponsoring podcasts. Join these platforms, invite interesting guests, and subtly pitch your sponsorship opportunities.
  • Make the Most of Your Local Connections: Often, local businesses love to support local creators. So why not approach them? The best part about this is that you probably won't need any fancy tool – just your charm and your passionate pitch.
  • Tap Into Your Listener Base: Your listeners are your biggest cheerleaders. Use tools like SpeakPipe or PodInbox to solicit voice messages from your listeners. This engagement can be enticing for potential sponsors and you might even find sponsors within your listener base.

Wrapping Up

Tackling sponsorships doesn't have to be as challenging as it sounds. It's a process that evolves as your podcast grows. 

Remember, establish a clear contract that protects both parties involved. Establish your podcast as a formal business entity and create that separate bank account for an uncluttered financial life. Know your podcast hosting platform inside and out, understand its terms, and make sure it’s serving your best interests.

And finally, when it comes to attracting more sponsors, don't just wait for them to come knocking. Take charge, be bold, and reach out. Leverage your network, use the right tools, and shine a spotlight on the value you offer. A pinch of creativity, a dollop of persistence, and a sprinkle of strategy will help you turn your podcast into a sponsorship magnet.

You're not just a podcaster, but an entrepreneur.

Enjoy the journey and let these practical tips guide you towards a successful, profitable podcasting venture.