There is no doubt that podcasts are all the rage right now, and some podcasters may wonder whether they should join a podcast network. To make the decision, you first must understand fully the definition of a podcast network and how it could benefit your own podcast efforts. So what is a podcast network and why should you join one?
What Is a Podcast Network?
Podcast networks are collections of podcasts that are grouped together. Grouping podcasts together can be great for cross-promotion among the shows and advertising. Networks can provide a one-stop-shop for brands wanting to simplify the process by having one contact, but still provide the flexibility of working with multiple podcasts. Usually, the networks will group related podcasts together according to similar topics, such as parenting, but some networks are made up of very diverse podcast topics but are still grouped together with the same advertisers.
Why Are Podcast Networks Beneficial?
When deciding whether you should join a podcast network, you must examine the benefits you will receive from joining other podcasters in the network. Generally speaking, joining a podcat network should help your show grow faster. Below are some of the most common reasons that podcasters decide to join podcast networks:
- Networking opportunities
- Free or less-expensive podcast hosting and other services
- Revenue from podcast ads
- Audience expansion
- Marketing assistance
- Ability to promote other podcasters and be promoted by others
- Branding your podcast as one of a larger group of related shows
- Joining a team of like-minded podcast professionals
So, is it worth it? Does the strength-in-numbers theory actually pan out for most podcasters? As with most everything in life, what you get out of your podcast network depends to a large extent on the efforts that you put into it. Joining a podcast network doesn’t magically add zeros to your bank account, but many podcasters have found success when they invest their time and efforts into their networks.
Are There Any Downsides to Joining a Podcast Network?
Check the fine print. Some podcast networks will require partial or full ownership of your show- especially if you’re starting your podcast from scratch. If your podcast is very much a part of your brand, we highly recommend that you retain all rights to your show. Or perhaps the network is granted specific rights during the length of a contract, but those rights disappear when the contract is complete.
At IPN, we understand this has historically been an issue for podcasters on other podcast networks, so we do things differently. We want you to have full control over your podcast and brand, and we just want to develop a mutually beneficial relationship with you. If you have any questions about how this works with Independent Podcast Network, feel free to contact us and ask!
If the network is splitting ad revenue with you, be sure to ask what percentage you’ll be getting and what work is typically involved in their ad campaigns. Some networks take a larger split and you won’t have to do much work, and others take less of a split but more work is required.
Just keep in mind that if you feel that the network’s terms are unfair, you are always free to choose another podcast network competitor or negotiate for better percentage rates for advertising dollars. Many times, podcast networks are better poised to negotiate for more favorable rates for all their podcasters, much like a union’s collective bargaining efforts can yield a greater good for all.
What Do the Networks Require to Join?
Different podcasting networks have different requirements to join. Most networks will want a way to track your podcast traffic in order to improve their marketing efforts and better discern the results of their podcast network advertising campaigns. It is also very common for podcast networks to require you to consistently promote the network on your podcast and throughout your marketing efforts.
If joining a network with an ad revenue sharing program, you’ll also need to format your show to allow for these ad placements. The general rule of thumb is one ad spot per 15 minutes of content. Many networks >will require that you share a minimum of two ads with your audience during each podcast.
Most podcasters open their shows with one ad and have the second one air toward the end of the podcast. That breaks up the content nicely without bombarding your audience with commercial solicitations, as that can make some audience members tune out from both your message, as well as the advertisers’.
One potential problem that might emerge with podcast advertising is if a podcaster has philosophical objections to the products or services that are being advertised by the podcast network. In those situations, unless you are able to reconcile your personal beliefs with the advertising you will be promoting, it might be better to continue your quest for a network that more closely shares your viewpoint on controversial issues, e.g., political advertising for candidates running for office. You could also negotiate the ability to refuse an advertiser or elements of an advertising campaign in your contract.
Can Podcast Networks Dump Their Podcast Partners?
Certainly, as long as it doesn’t violate any contracts. At IPN, we believe these sponsored partnerships should be two-way streets in terms of return on investment (ROI). If a sponsor feels that their ROI is not panning out financially, they are free to sever ties with the podcaster who does not bring in sufficient advertising dollars and partner with other more lucrative podcasters.
Do Podcast Networks Open Media Doors?
The reality of podcasting is that most podcasters will never be able to quit their day jobs and rely solely on their podcasting revenues. For every big name in podcasting, there are a hundred other “regular joes” who produce podcasts simply because they have something to say and found the platform to say it. While these individuals may bring in some income from the ads they share on their podcasts, their efforts will likely always be only a secondary income source that allows them to share their ideas with like-minded others online.
That does not mean should discount these podcasters’ efforts or stop striving for excellence in your own podcasting. Simply being able to share your visions and opinions succinctly in an online forum viewed by others is often enough of a reward. Anything that goes above and beyond that is merely the gravy on top of the meat.
What Can You Bring to the Podcasting Network Table?
Never discount the worth of what you add to the network as an individual podcaster. Perhaps your podcast fills a certain niche within the network that had heretofore been empty. Or perhaps your willingness to network and share podcasting tips with other network podcasters is highly sought after. Both of these qualities and traits could raise your podcasting profile significantly within the network. Regarding what you seek and can contribute to the network as a whole, the sky is truly the limit.
Podcasters often seek others to collaborate on larger podcasting projects. Belonging to a network allows you to showcase your special skill-sets where others can see where and how your podcast stands head and shoulders above others. You could soon find yourself in high demand as a podcaster working on others’ projects as well as your own.
Will Joining a Podcast Network Cause You to Lose Control of Your Brand?
Curating and creating your brand took a great deal of effort, time, and investment. You may fear that you could lose control of your brand’s message by joining a network. This could be mitigated by taking the time to thoroughly research the type of advertising messages your podcast will share within the network. And only consider working with networks that promote the products and services that are in line with your brand’s public image.
Independent Podcast Network is determined to HELP you maintain control of your brand, your messaging, and grow your revenue. The rights to your podcast and content remain yours, and we just want to help you be heard and grow your following. Learn more about the benefits of joining our podcast network.
To Join or Not to Join?
At the end of the day, only you can weigh the pros and cons and determine whether it would be in your brand’s best interest to join a podcast network. As with any business decision that affects your bottom line, it’s wise to thoroughly research your options before signing any agreements with a podcast network.