Over the years I have worked with many corporate sponsors in a variety of roles, and in the past week alone I received calls from two potential sponsors. Sponsorship is one of the most under-utilized opportunities for authors, yet it’s also one of the most lucrative revenue streams you can develop.
When you position yourself an AUTHORity in your field and you build an audience, big companies that want to reach your audience will eagerly pursue mutually beneficial ways that you can work together. Here are some of the most popular options you can offer to sponsors:
- Guest posts on their company blog
- Sponsored posts placed on your blog
- Twitter chat events
- Professional speaking
- Spokesperson (just as a celebrity can endorse shampoo, an author can endorse product or service)
- Advertisements on your website
- Sponsor dollars for an event you’re hosting
- Contests and product give-aways
- Video series
- Training courses
- Logo placement on your books, products, clothes, or even your forehead!
- And the list goes on…
How Sponsorships Are Formed
Sponsorship may sound like a pie-in-the-sky dream, but I assure you that nearly every large company you can think of has budget allocated to work with industry experts on marketing campaigns. And those company insiders, along with the PR firms they work with, are on the hunt for the top authorities in the field. They are searching Amazon, Google, and social media networks to find their candidates.
Here are some examples of how sponsorships are developed:
Mammoth Office Supply is launching a back-to-school campaign. They want to connect with prominent mom-bloggers to help spread the word, and ink agreements with several bloggers to write guest blog posts, participate in a webinar series, and host gift card give-aways.
The Behemoth Granola Factory is launching a new line of gluten-free cereals. They are seeking authors who advocate gluten-free living. They sponsor blog posts on the authors’ sites, invite them to speak at the Gluten-Free World Summit, and compensate them for creating a series of educational videos about the wonders of living in gluten-less world.
Why Social Media is the Key to Sponsorship
The most important item to note about sponsors is that they want to work with AUTHORities who have a platform, which means a substantial audience. That doesn’t mean that you have to have millions of Twitter followers, but you do have to have an audience that they deem significant (depending on the niche you serve, that could be as few as 5,000 to 10,000 social media followers). Your audience can also be quantified based on the amount of website traffic that you generate, the number of subscribers to your mailing list, how often you speak at live events, the number of views on your YouTube channel, whether you contribute content to a major media outlet, and most important of all these days: the size of your social media audience.
With corporate sponsors, social media size matters, and an author with a large network can generate high dollar agreements. One big trend I’ve noticed in working with sponsors in recent years is that they care more about the social media audience than just about anything else. No matter what you sign on to do with them—whether it be guest blogging, participating in events, or hosting a teleseminar—they will want to know the size of your social media audience because they will ask you to promote the campaign to your followers.
Incidentally, there is a 99% chance that the sponsor will have investigated your social media platform before speaking with you. And there is at least a 50% chance that the sponsor finds you first via Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or another social media network. Remember, they are seeking authorities and because social media is a high priority, they often look there first.
If you are ignoring social media or not putting much effort into it, sponsorships represent just some of the opportunities you are missing (see this Forbes article on The Hidden Benefits of Social Media). Though it takes time to build a social media following, with consistent effort you should be able to develop an impressive network within a year. And don’t forget that social media should in turn increase traffic to your website, putting you in an even more compelling position to work with sponsors.
Oh, and if you commit to this strategy, there is a high likelihood that the money you make from sponsorships will far surpass the money you earn from book sales!