Affiliates, Sponsors, And Partners: Find The Right Market That Drives More Listeners To Your Podcast

How can you drive more people towards your show? An easy answer would be to get any of the three: sponsors, partners, or affiliates. Tracy Hazzard rocks this episode by discussing how you can build your brand while still being in control of your show. Take control of everything but you have to be careful of the pitfalls. Also, learn how you can even be all three by yourself. Learn all of that in today’s episode.

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Affiliates, Sponsors, And Partners: Find The Right Market That Drives More Listeners To Your Podcast

Managing Partnerships

I’m going solo to talk about advertising, partners, sponsors and affiliates. How do you choose? How do you decide which is the right one? What are the differences between them because sponsors and partners sound like the same thing but very different? In this first part, I want to talk about the fact that we might be looking at them as a choice of someone else we might be working with. We might also be looking at them as a choice of whom we might be working with. Who do we want to be if we’re our sponsor or partner or affiliate? What if we’re doing it for our products and services? I want to look at it from both directions.

First things first, let’s define some of these. A partner is someone who’s going to come in with you. They might partner on the whole show altogether. They might look at it and say, “I want to be a top-level sponsor partner with you. We’re going to do a special series. We’re going to look at that series and we’re going to decide topics and guests. We’re going to have a bigger partnership in how this is going to work and how it’s going to happen.” That partner has more of an obligation than paying you money to sponsor the show. They have an obligation to promote and do things on the other side. That’s also part of the process. It means that you might not get as much upfront money but you should be getting a large boost from their audience.

FYB 142 | Podcast Affiliates Sponsors Partners
Podcast Affiliates Sponsors Partners: A partner has more of an obligation than just paying you money to sponsor the show.


We have a couple of clients who fall into that realm where they have sponsors who are not only subsidizing the cost of the show but they’re pushing them out to their much larger community, a much larger audience. Usually, that’s in the form of large email groups or large email lists or larger Facebook groups or other things like that. That is an ideal way to work. We did that with Hewlett-Packard. It works out well. Hewlett-Packard’s on their pushout. We did our job. We pushed out to 25 episodes.

We produced the series. We did all of that work there and now, it’s on HP. They’ve been doing an advertising program. They’re doing LinkedIn advertising. They’re doing these cool sketch videos that they’re doing in Germany for promoting the show itself. It’s an interesting strategy about how they’re pushing it out to their community and how that’s working for them. We’re going to be able to see some of the results of that.

That’s an interesting way to go about it. We have other clients who do it where the show is completely partnered and sponsored. I interviewed someone on a show called Women of YouTube and her sponsor is TubeBuddy, which is a program that helps you optimize your YouTube listing, which may be of interest to some of you, so you should go check out TubeBuddy. Women of YouTube started with the sponsor from the beginning. It started as a panel discussion, then they said, “Let’s make this a show. Let’s do this again.”

They feature women who are YouTubers and they have TubeBuddy as the ongoing sponsor of it. TubeBuddy sends guests in to be submitted and the host has the final say and you always do. It’s your content. It’s your quality. You need to say when this isn’t good for the brand. You need to be a part of that process and that’s where the partnership comes in. They do submit lots of guest ideas and people that make suggestions. They bring them up to be featured on the show but the host decides at the end which ones are good and which ones aren’t and which ones are fit and going to have the most interesting stories to tell and be the best to the community.

You’re the keeper of the community. Remember that. You’re the curator there. You want partners that you feel are in alignment with your mission. That’s the part that I want you to be clear on. You don’t want to get into a longer-term partnership and that’s what you want in this case. It’s not them sponsoring you for one month. It’s a 25-episode series. It’s for a year. It’s a long period of time where you have this partnership with them. They’re in it with you understanding that this is a marathon and not a sprint.

Your missions both need to be aligned in that process. We want to make sure that we bring in partners that we feel comfortable with, that our view and their view have a similarity. Also, that our audiences are well-matched, this is easier when you’re doing a much more niche show for you to be able to actively get these types of partners. Now, this is the exception to the rule where I say, “You really can as long as you have outside authority.” As long as you’ve been a speaker or you have good authority, you’ve got a lot of media. You’ve got a good platform underneath you.

This is where a partner can come into a show from the very beginning. It’s not always as easy to get sponsors and affiliates to come into a show that hasn’t proven itself yet but because the discussion isn’t on how many downloads, how many plays do you have, it’s on what is the value of the show overall and what is it bringing to your brand and my brand in partnership together? It’s a different conversation and you can utilize that from the beginning.

You want partners who are aligned with your mission. Share on X

Here’s the thing. They’re not going to randomly find you and say, “Let’s start a show together.” It did happen to us with Hewlett-Packard, but remember, we had five years of shows. We had 600 episodes. It’s a different place when you’re in that. If you’re starting your show, don’t expect them to randomly find you because you made New and Noteworthy that week or you made the Top 15 and you’re like, “That’s where I am.” No, you have to work hard to get these partners. You have to go out and seek them. Find those that make sense and then talk to them.

Have that partnership conversation saying, “I’m starting the show. Here’s what I need with the show. I need a little more broader audience. I could use some growth. I think our missions are aligned. Let’s discuss that and our audiences are aligned. I’m going to help you grow your audience and you’re going to help me grow mine in terms of the listenership. In the partnership, we’re going to sell a lot more products, services and goods together.” This is a win-win for all. They don’t have to create content.

Maintaining Control Of Partnerships

Sometimes, you have to give up the authority of your show. Meaning it won’t be on its own separate website. That’s decision-making when you’re in the process in the early stage of something when you haven’t started it yet. If you’ve already started it and you have your own website, then they’re likely to create a feed-forward on theirs and you’ll have a page on their website. That works great with a partnership situation.

FYB 142 | Podcast Affiliates Sponsors Partners
Podcast Affiliates Sponsors Partners: Partners aren’t just going to randomly find you and say, let’s start a show together. You have to work hard to get these partners. You have to go out and seek them, find those that really make sense.


I strongly recommend if you have a choice if you can hold your ground to keep it owned by you. Otherwise, remember all that blog power, all of the content is their power and you’ve let that go to them. That makes that separation later, if the partnership doesn’t work out, a whole lot harder and you won’t have all of those great back episodes anymore that are yours. They would belong on their site and you’d be starting from scratch again. Although you still have the feed, hopefully.

When you’re striking a partnership deal, I recommend you have the main location being on an independent website if they don’t want it on your business site. An independent website that’s for the show itself that you also keep and make sure that you own and have full access to the feed and they do not. They are your partner. They are not you. At the end of the day, we need main core ownership of the feed itself belonging to you. This is where our radio shows get into trouble and the people who do that where the radio controls your feed.

When someone else is paying for your show, sometimes they think, “I’ll have my producers control it for you.” At the end of the day, that’s a bad way to go if things go wrong, so you want your feed and the website to be in your control, if at all possible in your partnership. That will make for a better partner and a better separation should it have to come to that in the future. Remember again, though and this is an issue. In our particular system in Podetize, we have drop-in ads. We get to add ad spots and mentions.


If we were doing it from that perspective, I don’t recommend you talk about your sponsor throughout it unless you’re doing as we did with Hewlett-Packard, where it’s a series. We talked about Hewlett Packard in the process of the series. We mentioned that’s what the series is because it was named for them but it wasn’t our entire show. We weren’t worried about it taking over it. It was a limited-edition series that was sponsored. You don’t want to do that for your whole entire show. You want to be able to put your ads in and your sponsor mentions and all of those things in a separate way.

Now, you can still do it in an intro or outro but I highly recommend you take a look at it using pre-roll and post-roll. You have a little regular little intro with music and then you say, “Today’s episode is sponsored by our sponsor’s name. Give them a little love because they make the show possible.” You can say something like that or you make a little one-line mention about why they’re so great and applicable to your audience. Do that at the beginning and at the end, you ask them to show some love to your sponsor and thank them for making the show possible.

You can do both of those mentions. If you put them in an ad spot in a pre-roll and post-roll, one day, if it all ends in a year, you can take it out of your entire show catalog and be able to take in a brand-new sponsor and capitalize on the back catalog and the new episodes and you should be able to command a lot more. It’s going to be muddy water if one day you have to switch from one partner to the next. Now, you’ve got the old partner ads, new partner ads and it mentions throughout your show. You don’t want to edit all of those out if you have a bad divorce in terms of a partnership.

Let’s be looking at that from a pre-planning standpoint and make them separated mentions and do them after the fact and record your show in its entirety remembering that you’re partnering up. The content should be exactly what they want to hear anyway and the sponsorship or that sponsored ad portion of the partnership is secondary. It’s happening in the second place.

Getting Sponsors

Let’s talk about that difference in sponsorship versus partnership. Partnership is a little more depth and involved. Sponsorship is, “I’m putting my name on the show. I’m saying I’m sponsoring the show from a brand. I want my brand to be aligned with your audience or be visible to your audience, heard, seen or whatever it is that you’re doing. This is why I’m going to sponsor your show.” This is the mindset of that type of advertiser.

The things most advertisers, most sponsors style advertisers, have a bigger campaign plan than your little show because a lot of you don’t have the types of audience they’re looking for. Your average sponsors are looking for and this is average and not top sponsors and not low-level like, “Let’s try this out the type of sponsor.” Your average sponsors are looking at about 20,000 downloads per episode. This is why most don’t qualify. There’s less than 2% of the marketplace that qualifies at a 20,000 per episode plan.

On our system, you could do 20,000 per month and you would still be able to accommodate one of those types of sponsors but you’re running the show. You’re running across all your episodes in order to capture that 20,000 number. You have to remember, they’re looking at 20,000 per episode, so their expectation is that’s a minimum of four per month. Their expectation is close between 80,000 and 100,000 audience per month are the ears that they’re expecting to get to. This is an average sponsor. That’s their expectation.

Again, most shows don’t rise to that level and that’s where sponsorship becomes harder to come by. Now, some sponsors are getting smart and they say, “I don’t care if there are only a thousand audience, if they’re exactly the most perfect right audience for me. They’re in the tech industry, in the health and wellness world. They’re looking for anti-aging and over the age of 50. The show is completely focused on that. I don’t care about the number of an audience there are because that conversion rate should be high on that listenership.”

Your partner is not you. You still need the main core ownership of your product. Share on X

There are some sponsors that are starting to get smart with that but you have to remember that they don’t know your show. Even though they may be more savvy about how podcasting advertisement works and how sponsorship conversion can work, they may not be familiar with you. A lot of them don’t trust your numbers, especially because most podcasters refuse to do anything but put out one sheet that has their latest numbers on it. They refuse to prove it. They won’t open up their stats and share their stats directly. That is a decision in your process. Do you want to do that with a random sponsor who isn’t a partner, who isn’t in it with you or hasn’t signed with you for a long term?

I understand that hesitation as a podcaster but that lack of transparency is still holding back the sponsorship community. The lack of trust on that is, now I want to dip my toe in the water and say, “Let’s see how it goes the first couple of months in terms of conversion.” That in and of itself is a red flag for me. That’s because most sponsorships, listenership and the way that people listen to shows and it takes them some time and we have back catalog listening and binge listening going on.

Especially if you’re not utilizing a system like ours, where you’re putting ads across the entire catalog but you’re only putting ads on your most recent, you need to have a program with a sponsor that’s at a minimum of three months. I highly recommend six months, if you can get it but a minimum of three months because you won’t see enough return on investment for them to get them to commit to the next month.

You also probably won’t have enough significant growth month over month in your show unless you had some great random spike, all of a sudden because of some marketing that you were doing on your end. Keeping that in mind, the sponsorship is also, you want to push into getting them to understand more. Pushing them a little bit to that partnership level in trying and testing the waters to see if they’d be a great partner. If they’re not willing to have that conversation, they want to do this blanket advertising thing, then they’re probably well fit to go to one of those advertising service companies.

Those podcast advertising service companies where they write out one $10,000 check a month and it goes on. Each of the podcasters within that network gets $100 or $50 or some of them I hear make $500 but that’s about the high that I usually hear from any of those ad agencies because remember they’re paying on plays per a thousand. They’re paying on for every thousand plays of the show or downloads of the show that they pay you. Usually, it’s $20 that is paid to the agency and you get a cut of that, so $10. It’s usually 50/50 and so we see about $10 to $12 as the average amount you make.

Again, you got to be up there at 10,000 audiences. Most of those advertising companies force you to work into their hosting company and they don’t do run-of-show ads. They can’t do your entire show catalog. They’re only capturing your most recent episodes. Keeping that in mind, sponsorship may not be the right thing for you.

Affiliate Programs

Now, the last one in the group is called affiliates. Affiliates are clearly representing someone’s product. You signed up for maybe their affiliate program. For every product you sell, maybe you get $10 or $100. Maybe you get a lot more than that if you go for the high-end. That’s what I’m hearing is working better. You should know the conversion rate, the activity level and your audience before you attempt to do affiliates. Otherwise, your audience starts to feel oversold. They start to feel that you’ll hawk anything. It should be something you’re proud to use and sell. You’ve clearly vetted it because if it goes wrong in the of that affiliate, it comes back to you.

For the $10 or $100 you received on something, it would be a shame if it wasn’t worth it to your audience. Make sure that you’ve vetted them. I like to affiliate my products first. You can test the conversion rate. Affiliate webinar and treat it like as you would an affiliate mentioned. Do it as a separate ad, bring it in, make it its own special thing and make sure that you see that conversion rate.

You’re tracking it and share that as a case study, as numbers, as, “Here was the audience I expected it to go to. Here was the outcome I wanted. Here are the results of that. Here is the ad that I put in and the results of how many people showed up on the webinar, how many people paid, what happened in this process. I feel like we could model this too because your product is great. I use it myself. I think that my audience will respond in the same way that they respond to me and my product.”

That would be a great way for you to go and reach out and start an affiliate relationship. I was talking to a podcaster and interviewed her. She’s got a great show. She’s got over 200 episodes. She’s been on the Ron Burgundy show herself. She’s got a big profile. She said she was starting to feel that affiliates weren’t worth it in the beginning. Over time, she held back. There was a couple of key few that she felt were relevant to her audience and she left them in overtime. All of a sudden, she hit a tipping point and started making thousands of dollars off of those affiliates.

What she discovered happened was she had done a topic that was highly related to the use of that product. She helped them learn how to use it essentially. It was easier when she had mentioned it on the show as one of the tools. That particular show was the one that was tracking. Now, she made the mistake of not using different affiliate links for different shows. In the beginning, she couldn’t attribute it to that one particular show. If you’re going to do that thing where you’re going to make specific mentions where a whole show is focused on highlighting the use of that resource or that tool, software, whatever it might be that you’re affiliating with, make sure that you use a special link in that particular one.

Partnering With Yourself

You can track the difference between casual mentions of it as affiliate ads and a specific episode focused on how to use a particular tool. You may find there’s a different attraction. Don’t do it everywhere because there are lots of URLs to remember and everything but doing it in that one particular case may make a lot of sense for you. This is the difference between, as we talked about partners, sponsors and affiliates. Now let’s talk about what happens when you’re the partner, the sponsor, the affiliate like you’re all of the above. Here’s where I see it go right and wrong. A lot of people will put their corporation or their business, their company as the sponsor-partner of the show. It’s on the cover art. It’s mentioned as it and they talk about it like it’s a separate entity.

FYB 142 | Podcast Affiliates Sponsors Partners
Podcast Affiliates Sponsors Partners: Sponsorship is about putting your name on the show. Sponsoring the show from your brand. You want your brand to be aligned with your audience.


The reality is that at the end of the day, people aren’t stupid. They’re smart enough to know that when they go to their website and they see you as the CEO or the founder of the company or related to the company, they’re like, “Are you’re your own sponsor and you’re your own partner?” That’s a little sneaky and it’s not upfront about it. I like the more concerted mention. You don’t see Podetize mentioned on Feed Your Brand as the sponsor of it. What you will hear on occasion is an ad for a program that we’re running or a special, a webinar, a mini-workshop, anything like that. You’ll hear that.

We mentioned it as I did now saying, “If you’re using our ad mixing system, this is how you use it and this is what you would do.” We’re talking about it but we’re integrating it in a natural way that says, “Yes, this is what it is.” You don’t have to be one of our clients to benefit from the information I’m providing here. If you are, I’m giving you a little bit of special insight and information. What it does is it invites the audience to come and say, “I want to know more about that Podetize thing.” It is a different way of being transparent about it. “This is who we are. This is what Feeds Your Brand is about. This is what the company is.” We’re not Le labeling it on and saying, “Sponsored by Podetize.” As if it’s a third party sponsoring us.

I think that at the end of the day, it has served us extremely well. I’ve seen it done with other people in that same way, where they’re talking about their product and services and the name of their company comes up in conversation or the name of their website comes up in conversation. For many people, their podcasts and their website are the same things. Ours is not in this particular case but for many of them that are, so that makes a very clear mention even though the name of my show might be something different.

The website URL that I’m sending you to would be and that’s how you find the podcast. There are many people who do it that way. At the end of the day, they clearly know the two different things. They know your show name because they’re subscribed and they know your website name because that’s where you’re telling them to go. Clearly, the partnership is already clear to your audience over time.

If you’re not clear about it, you’re being fuzzy and not telling people that you have a company, a business, clients and that these are some of the good case studies that you’re doing. You may not be doing a good job of being clear to your audience that you have a business that they could utilize. You’re failing to tell them about the opportunity of working with you. That’s a problem in and of itself. I’m not saying you shouldn’t mention your company and I’m not saying it should be all about your company. There’s this happy middle ground between the two where the reason your company has value is for the same reason you’re sharing all these values with your audience.

Those two things are integrally mixed. That’s giving you great content to give to people, a value that you’re adding to people but also opportunities for getting more and accelerating. That’s how we like to look at it from that sense. That’s a better way to make your business, your sponsor and your partner. Now affiliation in that sense is that you’re selling a program and you’re checking the conversion rate against it.

You’re treating that program as an affiliate because you’re treating it that way, so you can track how it’s doing. Because if you then sent everybody to the main website and didn’t send them to a specific link like or something and you didn’t send them there. You wouldn’t be able to track the results of the mentions on the show or the show that was about that topic. You wouldn’t be able to track that and be able to utilize that clearly should you want to affiliate something later.

There are clear things. Our business is clear. We do a lot of business ourselves, but we have some plugins that we use. We have some equipment that we use and every so often, we will utilize them, mention them. They become relevant in an episode and we do get affiliate kickbacks on those but it is not for our purposes. It’s not because we get thousands of dollars and it matters to us. For our purposes, it’s tracking the usage of it. Are people getting value from that and should we find a new tool? Should we find a new piece of equipment? Should we find something new or is it a value? That’s why we use the affiliate link.

We don’t use it because we care about the revenue from that. Some people do. It’s a large revenue driver. If you look at some of the big podcasters out there, you’ll see about 10% to 20% of their revenue will come from affiliations. They’d be low to take that away for those selves. I feel that unless it’s integral to what you do as a core business, you can run into trouble of doing affiliates from an outside company and from an outside brand because what if their brand integrity isn’t the same as yours? Their delivery system isn’t the same quality as yours.

We’ve already run into trouble running webinars with some people that don’t have an integrity level that matches ours. Why would I want to do that with an ongoing sale of a product that isn’t mine that I’m not in control of? Unless, I’m absolutely certain because I’m using it every day, that it is a value, that it is working for people. Think about all of those things and start to look at this alternative monetization idea that a promo, a sponsor, an ad, how we look at them does not have to follow an influencer or a straight old school ad model.

We can look at it from a standpoint on creating deeper relationships and partnerships. Getting broader reach within an industry. Creating a sponsor-rich environment by how we mix ads on our show, by how we utilize ads on our show and always keeping ourselves open to the future of it not working out and us needing to remove those things. Of it is an experiment that isn’t right for our brand. That isn’t right for our show.

The reason your company has value is you're sharing all this value with your audience. Share on X

I always liked the model of being able to keep us open to opportunities. How we add in our sponsorships and how we add that in, please think about adding it in later. Don’t think about the excitement of it and constantly mentioning it on your show and bringing it in. You may regret that one day. I can say most times. You will regret that. Me, thinking about that in pre-planning in that process.

That’s all I had on this advertising model and looking at advertising from a different perspective and maybe a tighter relationship and community building perspective. Always with our audience first mindset. Thanks to everyone for reading. I’ll be back next time with another Feed Your Brand topic for advanced podcasting. I look forward to talking with you soon.

For those of you who are new to this, this is the spot. This is for new podcasters, existing podcasters. You can come back here any time because we hit different stages in our show. Sometimes we’re launching, transitioning to utilizing the ad model. Sometimes we’re transitioning, maybe we’re moving our show from all interviews to topics and we need some help with that.

This is the place where you can get help from me, from Tom, from the community as a whole and get some of your questions answered and some of your concerns. Podcasting can feel alone. It can feel like a solo journey sometimes but there are so many of us and there are so many models out there of different ways to try things that work and don’t work. There are lots of different choices and things that you can do to apply and make it work for you.

FYB 142 | Podcast Affiliates Sponsors Partners
Podcast Affiliates Sponsors Partners: If you are an affiliate, you are representing someone’s product. You should know the conversion rate, the activity level, and your audience before you attempt to do affiliates.


As always, if you guys have any topics that you like to suggest if you have any questions that you have and you’re not able to be on the call live. I know sometimes Wednesdays are hard. It’s hard for some people because it’s right in the middle of the week. You’re always welcome to message, or message us right in the Brandcasters! Facebook group and do that right there. If it’s Wednesday morning, tag one of us, so we notice it, and so we’ll be able to bring that question up on the air that day for you. I’ve got nothing else. That’s it for me. I don’t have much more to share. Things are going well here.

We’re moving everyone over to the portal. People are starting to get transitioned. It’s taking a little bit longer than we expected but that’s because we’re manually checking you and reviewing you and making sure that you’re getting in. There are videos. It’s super easy to use. I’ve been transitioning myself for a while and I’m finding it. There are a few little old-school things I was doing in the old platform, a little new languaging that I needed to use. Once I realize how much easier and faster, it is to do it, you’re going to love it.

We’re going to keep rolling out upgrades month over month, so new stat upgrades, new feature upgrades, things that we wanted to add that were nice to have. We’re already working on the coding side of it while the team is transitioning everyone. You’re going to find lots of fun and new things as we go forward in it. Anyway, thanks to everyone for reading. I appreciate it. If you have any questions, again, reach out to us. Tracy Hazzard, signing off for Podetize.


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Tracy Hazzard

Tracy Hazzard is a former Authority Magazine and Inc. Magazine Columnist on disruptive innovation, and host of 5 top-ranked podcasts including: The Binge Factor and Feed Your Brand–one of CIO’s Top 26 Entrepreneur Podcasts. She is the co-founder of Podetize, the largest podcast post-production company in the U.S. As a content, product, and influence strategist for networks, corporations, marketing agencies, entrepreneurs, publications, speakers, authors & experts, Tracy influences and casts branded content with $2 Billion worth of innovation around the world. Her marketing methods and AI-integrated platform, provides businesses of all sizes a system to spread their authentic voices from video to podcast to blog, growing an engaged audience and growing valuable digital authority.
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