A step by step guide for finding sponsors for your newsletter or podcast

I run TLDR Newsletter, a tech newsletter for the Hacker News/Slashdot/Indie Hackers crowd. I've recently had a good bit of success doing cold outreach for sponsors, and since my first post on growing my newsletter was so well received, I decided to write a second one on how to find sponsors. My experience doing this comes from my newsletter, but this is generalizable to other sorts of content businesses like podcasts.

1. Find people who sponsor newsletters similar to yours.

One of the big issues with finding sponsors for newsletters, podcasts, etc. is that only a small portion of advertisers are familiar with and interested in the medium (it's not PPC where almost every business uses it to some extent). Thus, you'll have the most success finding sponsors who might be interested by subscribing to other newsletters and seeing who their sponsors are (when you're just starting out, you can also scrape the archives of other newsletters and create a list of sponsors that way). I also have a virtual assistant who subscribes to basically all tech/developer newsletters and adds any new sponsors for a newsletter to a Google Sheet

2. Find the right person in the company to contact

Once you have a list of sponsors, you'll want to go to the company page on LinkedIn and use the search function to find the people with the right job titles. The terms you want to look for (in order of effectiveness) are "demand generation" (these are the top of funnel people looking for advertising in places like newsletters and podcasts), then "growth", and then "marketing".

3. Find the correct email

After you find the right person's name, you'll want to use a tool like hunter.io to try to find their email address. If you can't get their exact email, you can at least guess using the email format of their company. You may also want to use multiple tools to see if one has the correct email (most of them have free plans with pretty generous limits).

4. Send an email campaign

Following up is really really important when cold emailing, so instead of sending out a single email you'll want to use a tool that allows you to send an email sequence (I personally use Gmelius, but you can use any tool that has the feature to allow you to not send out any emails on weekends). One thing I've found that's really effective is mentioning current sponsors (if you don't have any yet don't worry, everybody starts somewhere) as a sort of social proof. Here is the exact sequence I send:

Subject: TLDR Newsletter <> {{ company }}
Body: Hi {{ firstName }},

My name is Dan, and I write TLDR, a daily newsletter for developers, designers, and other people who work in tech (sort of the same crowd of folks you would find on Hacker News). I have ______ subscribers, and I'm looking for sponsors who would be interested in reaching a highly technical audience. I saw you sponsored {{ newsletter }}, and since other {{ sponsortype }} like {{ example }} have been successful sponsors in the past, I was wondering if you'd be interested in a trial sponsorship for 1 issue of TLDR for ____ or 5 issues for ____? You can find more information about my audience demographics at https://www.tldrnewsletter.com/sponsor.


After 2 days if they haven't replied (as a reply to the first email):
Hi {{ firstName }},

Just wanted to follow up on this, would you be interested in possibly sponsoring an issue of my newsletter?


After 4 days if they haven't replied:
Subject: {{ company }} Partnership
Hi {{ firstName }},

Would love to see if there might be a fit for {{ company }} to sponsor TLDR Newsletter? Here is what our latest issue looks like, and here is our audience demographic information. Let me know what you think!


After 4 days if they haven't replied:
Subject: Goodbye from TLDR Newsletter
Hi {{ firstName }},

I understand you must be very busy, so I won't be following up again about sponsoring TLDR Newsletter, but if at any point in the future you are looking for sponsorship opportunities, I am more than happy to chat!


Hope this helps anyone looking for sponsors, you can take a look at my sponsorship page here for inspiration: https://www.tldrnewsletter.com/sponsor. More sophisticated operations than mine generally have full blown media kits but that isn't something I've found the need for as of yet. If you have any questions, post them in the comments and I'll do my best to answer them!

  1. 4

    I find that you can iterate on this in many ways: A few below....

    • look for companies sponsoring events
    • look for companies ad in other places
    • look for companies advertising different types of products to the same audience.

    You can change your approach as well.

    • Try getting everyone in the company as a subscriber through out reach and pepper them with sponsor opportunities.
    • find products your subscribers already use, get affiliate deals and write your own ads.
    • Find companies with content, run it, and ask for a sponsorship to run it again. knowing it does well and you want more subscribers to see it.
    1. 1

      Good idea, I was actually thinking about finding events since we've had event sponsors before, but then COVID hit so I'm tabling that for now.

      1. 1

        There are tons of online events.
        Also I'd suggest looking back at the last 5 years of sponsors of events for even more sponsor leads. You'd be surprised to find that someone who sponsored an event years ago... actually may want to try sponsoring newsletters now.

  2. 2

    Very solid advice! Recently, I've just launched my collections of Saas affiliate programs afftable.com. Therefore, I am thinking about what are the possible way for monetization. Your sponsor page is very clear. I can refer to what data I need in order to get sponsorship.

    IMO, finding sponsorship is just another way of lead generation. I guess your 4-step process can be somehow automated with a tool.

    1. 1

      Definitely possible to automate it with a tool!

  3. 1

    Great post, Dan!
    You mention scraping archives of other newsletters to find sponsors.
    How do you find newsletters for a given audience? And, you specifically mention scraping those archives - what tool do you use for scraping?

  4. 1

    Thanks for the solid advice @tldrdan. I would like to add one thing, you could also reach out to advertisers on Twitter and ask for a concerned person's email. I've tried this in the past and have found good success with it.

    1. 1

      Good idea, I'll see how that goes.

  5. 1

    great stuff dan! i am looking to do this down the road by creating native content w/ aligned brands... i currently have 6,000 email subscribers, when do you recommend starting w/ this? and any insight on how you reached 100K subs? cheers!

    1. 1

      In short, FB Ads.
      There's a lot of other places you can spend money on ads and get subscribers. Like paying for ads in other newsletters as well as trading content.

      Look for interesting partnerships too: Like companies who can send ur newsletter to all their employees. Syndicated content gets you subs as well.

      Just make sure you have a clear revenue path to make that money back.

      And I do know ppl who spend $90k to make $100k on FB ads. sure they have $10k profit. Not gonna lie, that would be nice.

      1. 1

        gotcha, yeah we profitably spent about 80k on fb ads last year but goal was new sales vs. email subs. looking for more organic channels currently

        1. 3

          got referral program? got word-of-mouth already you want to track?
          I've been very happy with Sparkloop.app
          I had been getting referrals already and now I can trace them, as well as incentivize them. Been the best new subscribers I've ever had. active engaged when their boss tells them to read it :)

          1. 1

            that's dope! not yet. i got viral loops lifetime deal which i think can do something similar... but need to get it set up ! i use activecampaign for emails and going to be doing more manychat marketing.

    2. 1

      I started getting sponsorships around 10-20k subscribers. Made a post on growing my newsletter here: https://www.indiehackers.com/product/tldrnewsletter/how-i-grew-my-newsletter-to-130k-subs-in-20-months--M5WHZz_7XZQFKIKZzxs

  6. 1

    Great article, cheers!

    1. 1

      Glad you liked it!

  7. 1

    Great stuff!

    Looking at your revenue chart here, there's a big uptick in revenue that started earlier this year. Was there any reason for that? I'm guessing that's when you've started doing serious cold outreach?

    1. 1

      Yeah, that's when I started!

  8. 1

    Excellent and actionable advice. Thank you Dan!

    I recently launched a new search engine (runnaroo.com, for anyone interested ;-) and have been experimenting with different ways to fund it that still preserve user privacy. Based on what you are doing, I think SERP sponsorship could be a valid option.

    Thanks again for sharing your experiences.

    1. 2

      So ambitious lol, glad you liked the article!

  9. 1

    Very Helpful. Great Work!

    1. 1

      Thanks, I'm glad you liked it!

  10. 1

    Thank you Dan, just in time.

    1. 1

      Glad it's helpful!

  11. 1

    Thanks for sharing. What’s your conversion rate on the cold outreach?

    1. 1

      Maybe 20-30% respond?

  12. 1

    This comment was deleted 2 years ago.

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