One big benefit of being a non-fiction author and cultivating an audience is that you can attract corporate sponsors. This essentially means that corporations will give you money to help them reach your audience.
I have personally worked with over a dozen corporate sponsors in recent years and have earned well into the six figures from those relationships. For me, it all began with my website: BusinessInfoGuide.com, which provides resources for entrepreneurs. I launched the site back in 2004 with the goal of attracting my target audience of readers by sharing useful information. As the site grew over time, and I positioned myself as an authority, offers for corporate sponsorships began showing up. It felt a bit like finding a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
The harsh reality is that most authors don’t make much money from their book sales. But authors can make substantial money using a book as a foundation for establishing authority in a field and then work to build an audience. With those key elements in place, sponsorship opportunities can bring great rewards.
Following are ways that corporate sponsors want to work with authors:
Paid Blogging – If you have established yourself as a skilled blogger, you can get paid by corporations to write blog posts on their sites or, if you have a high-traffic website, you can get paid to write blog posts on your own website that are sponsored by a large company. You might also be surprised to learn that the blog posts aren’t usually even about the sponsoring company. The sponsoring company will simply request that you write interesting content that their target audience cares about, and they will benefit from visibility as the sponsor. As a writer, this is one of my favorite arrangements.
Professional Speaking – Every author who wants to build an audience can benefit from developing skills as a professional speaker. Speaking allows you to reach your target audience in a more personal way, and keynote speakers typically earn $5,000 to $10,000 and up for a one-hour engagement, plus travel expenses. Companies can hire you to speak to their employees or at an event or seminar. One of my author friends has an ongoing contract with a major company where they sponsor free events across the country to attract new customers. He comes in as the keynote speaker for an hour, dazzles the audience, and collects his check. The sponsor benefits by hosting the event and attracting new business. It’s a win-win situation and a dream gig for an author who likes to speak.
Webinars – The popularity of webinars has continued to increase in recent years, and these events provide an efficient way for hosts to reach a global audience. You can sell your services as a webinar speaker to help a company reach its target audience.
Bulk Sales – There are many ways to sell your books in bulk to large companies. They can give away books to employees, distribute them as bonus items at trade shows, offer them as a bonus with purchase, or simply give them away to attract more clients. For example, if you authored a book on how to manage business finances, you could approach a large bank and inquire about them giving books away to their business banking clients. The key is finding the right company with needs that match what your book has to offer.
Product Licensing – Similar to how companies want to distribute books to employees and at events, they also need content to give away as a reward for new social media followers, newsletter sign-ups, contests, and other online campaigns. Consider licensing your ebook or a similar information product such as a workbook, special report, or video series. You can also offer customization, such as a chapter about the company within your ebook, and then license a specific number of copies that the company can distribute in any way they like.
Spokesperson – One of the more lucrative opportunities available to authors is the role of spokesperson, which is similar to how celebrities are hired to represent perfume or shampoo. In this role, you act as the celebrity and you may conduct media interviews on the company’s behalf or attend company-sponsored events. These roles are typically hired on a retainer basis with five- to six-figure contracts, depending on the scope of the agreement.
Advisory Board – Companies that want to better reach their target audience often seek out experts who understand their audience and look for advice. This is a hybrid consulting role where you may help company leaders brainstorm ideas or choose directions for product development, marketing, publicity, social media, and other business issues.
Advertising – If you have a high-traffic website or access to a large audience, you can absolutely get companies to pay you for exposure to your audience. Advertising can come in all kinds of forms: banner or text ads on your website, a page within your next book, an ad within your newsletter, or even a co-produced direct mail campaign. You have a lot of room to get creative here since most big companies have hefty advertising budgets to spend each year and they are looking for new ways to invest those dollars.
Event Sponsorship – If you conduct your own events, from workshops and conferences to online events, you can sell sponsorships to companies. These agreements can include logo placement, mentioning the company in your media releases and promotional materials, prominent displays at your event, and even sponsored merchandise. I recently attended the Small Business Influencer Awards event in New York where Blackberry was a top sponsor. The company name was printed on the beautiful trophies we received, and they also distributed travel bags with battery packs for charging electronics on the go. Not only did that investment get Blackberry exposure with the thousands of attendees, but it’s now getting them additional exposure here!
Sponsored Tweets – Social media is a high priority for most large companies, and it’s another place for them to invest their marketing dollars by paying influential industry leaders to share their content or talk about their products and services. In fact, in conjunction with most of the above corporate sponsorships these days, you will also be asked to share news with your social networks. Once you’ve built a substantial social media audience, you can offer to help promote the event where you are the speaker or the blog post you write for a corporate sponsor. This brings a lot of added value to your relationship. Companies also pay to host Twitter chats, events on Twitter where you set an hour aside to ask questions and communicate with your audience. Yes, you can absolutely monetize your social media presence.
Check back in the next post for more about what corporate sponsors want from you as the author, and how to go after corporate sponsors.
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