I like consistent, predictable revenue. It’s easier to rely on and far easier to forecast.
That makes running a YouTube channel pretty challenging at times. The multiple methods available for generating revenue are, of course, very welcome indeed, but they’re so unpredictable.
Take Google Adsense, for example. It jumps all over the shop, and it’s nigh-on impossible to maintain any kind of consistency – or predict exactly when it will ebb and flow.
Sponsorship revenue is therefore rather comforting. If you strike up the right partnerships with the right sponsors, you’ll be able to secure a far more predictable source of revenue for your YouTube channel.
But how do you find that all-important first sponsor?
Wait for them!
When I started my YouTube channel, I planned out when I thought would be a good time to start looking for sponsors.
As it turns out, I didn’t need to.
Just like the steady trickle of increasingly more interesting review units, I discovered that the more my channel grew, the more I’d get noticed by brands who wanted to grab a sponsor spot.
You’re unlikely to have Squarespace come knocking during that early growth period, but you will almost certainly attract the attention of smaller brands who monitor YouTube for rising stars.
Their budgets won’t be big, and many of them may lean towards affiliate deals rather than fixed sponsorship fees, but gaining a couple of sponsors early on is a great boost for your channel, regardless.
When I hit 10,000 subscribers, the more interesting sponsors started to come forward. I never once reached out to them beforehand, either; they came sniffing for me. Your mileage may vary when it comes to the numbers you need to generate before they make an appearance, but, trust me, that hard work and effort is all worth it when they do.
Suss them out
When you start receiving sponsorship requests, it’s important to delve into the brand in question. Remember – you’re effectively advertising their services and, as an influencer, providing a recommendation your audience will rely on.
I freely admit that I’ve made a couple of questionable sponsorship choices, but that was only through inexperience. However, it has taught me to ensure that whatever product or service I’m featuring is something I truly believe in and trust.
One of the best ways to do this is to have a good hunt through the brand’s website, read online reviews, check for discussions relating to them on Reddit, and speak directly with the key stakeholders. Ask them as many questions as you need to feel comfortable that you’re making the right decision to feature their wares on your channel.
Sometimes, you won’t work directly with the brand themselves. As your channel grows, you’re more likely to hear from influencer agencies and PR firms who act on behalf of the brand in question. Regardless, it’s important to treat them as though they’re the brand, and ask just as many questions as you would the latter; it’s the agency’s job to bring you on board, and they need to earn that trust.
Work towards longer-term commitments
It takes a lot more time and effort to find new sponsors, which is why maintaining longer-term relationships is a crucial strategy for YouTubers.
This isn’t easy at the start. With your channel in the early stages of growth, your metrics will be somewhat unpredictable. Certain videos will catch the algorithm wave and sail ahead, while others will languish at the bottom of the performance charts.
Brands and influencer agencies will be acutely aware of this, which is why you’ll find yourself darting from one sponsorship to the next. But don’t be perturbed – the hard work will pay off. As your subscriber numbers and daily views grow, they’ll stabilise, and, once again, potential sponsors will recognise the fact.
If you’re confident that your analytics tell a compelling story for a longer-term sponsor relationship, make note of it right from the start – tell the brand or agency that you want to commit to the relationship beyond just one video.
Try suggesting a run of two or three videos to get started, and make sure you pick videos you’re confident will perform well. When they do, you should find it far easier to tempt the brand into a relationship that lasts.
If all else fails, keep publishing
You might think that the obvious ‘if all else fails’ tactic would be to go sniffing for sponsors yourself.
But it’s not. Far from it, in fact.
If sponsors aren’t coming to you, it’s because your channel isn’t making enough of a dent in the YouTube universe. Sorry. That’s not easy to hear, I know – particularly when you’re pouring your heart, soul, and countless hours into the channel.
But the equation is simple. The more your channel grows, the more likely you are to receive sponsorship requests. This is the case with practically everything linked to a YouTube brand; the more subscribers and views you attract, the more you’ll receive review requests, emails from viewers, and the ability to increase the size of your social media following.
If you’re stuck at 2,000 subscribers, and your views are all over the place, why would a sponsor pay you to feature their product? They want to see consistency, growth, and an engaged, active audience, and those things only come if you keep peddling away and publishing awesome content.
As Mr Costner once said, “if you build it, they will come”.
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