Considering Sponsorship
This article is aimed to help the forum administrator find their first sponsor(s)

Before looking for a sponsor there are a few things to consider.
  • Why do i need a sponsor?

    Think about this one for a moment. Consider what you actually want from your site. If you want a Porsche, go for it, if you just want to cover hosting costs, do the same but be realistic, judge your own worth taking into account time commitment, enthusiasm, creativity, etc., nobody is a better judge of you than yourself!

    Ask yourself why somebody would want to sponsor you.

    Once you know exactly what your ambitions and capabilities are then start to think how you can sell yourself and your project to a sponsor.

    To help you build a template for a 'sponsorship contact form' here are some more considerations...
  • What do i want from my sponsor?

    Whatever you want depends on your ambitions for the site. Multiple sponsorships might appeal to you or having a dedicated sponsorship may suit you better. Again, be realistic, make an offer based on what you can give back in return.
  • What has your site got to offer your sponsor in return?

    Nobody will give something for nothing-(if you find someone who will give them my addy ;) ) and you need to consider what you have or are willing to give in return of sponsorship. This is down to the individual admin but some things to consider are;

    1. Advertising space on your site (banners, text ads, own forum, etc)
    2. Their link on your outgoing emails.
    3. Staff promoting sponsor whenever/wherever possible (product bias)
    4. Special privileges on your site. Download access etc..

    *Note - If running a remotely hosted board check the companies TOS about any ads/banners you place on your site, this could also apply to free hosting packages.
  • Selling Yourself

    In order to sell your idea and yourself you must give the sponsor as much information as possible. Tell them a little about you, your education, background etc. Tell them your ideas for the future to show your commitment. If it's only short term, make this clear.
    Communication is vital. Explain how you intend to promote the site, seo work, page ranking, link popularity, etc....
  • Finding a sponsor

    You need to find someone with a strong belief in your idea and has faith in you. Consider online references, character witness etc..

    Target companies that your members would use. This varies due to site content but here's a few examples;

    1. Entertainment site for music, books, films etc, Amazon is the number one choice then you can work your way down that sphere's hierarchy like targeting online bookshops, mp3 download sites, mobile phone companies, mobile phone accessories, dvd rental sites and online game sites.

    2. If your site is 'area' based then target offline companies that are accessible to membership base

    3. For a more general board try cosmetic companies, clothes, childrens toys, mobile phones, food, supermarkets, stores, tarot reading sites.

    4. Webmaster forums could target hardware/software online retailars.
    Use your imagination you evidently know your sites subject/content so build on that.

    What sites do you buy from/visit?

    If you're unsure of companies to contact have a browse around, see what similar sites have done. For example if a site is sponsored by Vodaphone, google it and the results will also throw up similar companies that you could approach.
  • How should you approach a sponsor?

    Always be professional, remember you are selling both yourself and your ideas. Tell the sponsor everything possible. Tell them your business plans, ambitions, targets, expectations, previous online work etc. Give the email address of a site owner who has agreed to be a character reference.

    Here's a rough template for a sponsor contact email.

    Contact sponsor form;

    Dear Sir/Madam
    Introduction & about you including references
    Reason for contact/What you want and why
    About your venture - Include the sites url, and invite them to visit.
    Aims and Goals
    How it would benefit them include how you will update them regularly on the sites progress.
    Thank them for their time and express your desire for a response either way.


    Things to consider after sponsorship.

    Tell your sponsor everything the good, the bad and the ugly....
    If you've got product reliability issues, tell your sponsor first. If your site is getting ready to stop supporting any particular revision of a product (such as a piece of software), tell your sponsor the moment you learn of the decision. In other words, never let any news about you get to the sponsor from any source other than you. They are your backbone, treat them with the respect they deserve and keep to all agreements.
    Good luck :)

Please feel free to add your tips on getting sponsorship.