I talked to a fellow podcaster this evening, who was told by his network (the podcaster and network shall remain nameless) that in order to get sponsor deals, he needs to get his numbers up, hit certain metrics, etc. His network is missing the point because it's still on the CPM model. CPM is an old media metric that makes little sense for most podcasters, because most podcasts have niche audiences. Even if you have a broad subject, like music, your slice of the overall audience will still be relatively niche compared to the broadcast media numbers advertisers were used to seeing in the 20th century. CPM is a loser for them because they'll chew up an ad budget quickly, and it's a loser for the podcaster because the numbers won't be there to derive a huge income unless you literally have millions of listeners for every episode.
No, where podcasting shines is in audience engagement. Again, if you sell Gulfstream aircraft, you need to sell one G5 every two years or so to live well. If your podcast has 2 listeners and they both buy airplanes, you're golden. If your podcast has 2,000,000 listeners and none of them buy airplanes, then your audience is just chewing up your resources.
Action is all that matters. So where as a podcaster do you get some action? (belay the snickering in the peanut gallery) If you don't belong to a podcasting network that is managing sponsors for you, your best bet is existing affiliate network programs, like those at Linkshare, Commission Junction, etc. They pay for performance, usually per sales lead. Take a look at some of the top paying performance programs on Commission Junction:
- Loans.co.uk - $852 EPC (earnings per click)
- Capital One mortgages - $771 EPC
- HSBC credit cards - $499 EPC
Look at some of the payouts per sale:
- Gay Date.com - $40 per sale
- WebEx - $130 per sale
- AN Hosting - $100 per sale
If you have a specific niche you serve, there are products, services, and advertisers waiting for you to come help them out, and they're willing to pay. An audience of just 100 people, if 50 bought AN Hosting Packages or WebEx packages, would pay the rent for a month with money left over.
Leave CPM behind, leave raw audience numbers behind, and start actually making some money AND serving your audience with highly qualified, highly relevant sponsorships that you can get right now.
Example: consolidate your student loans with the Student Loan Network, and my podcast gets $100 per signed, returned application. All I really need to make expenses for my podcast is 1 loan application a month (to pay for Libsyn). Anything on top of that is gravy.