How to build a profitable podcast.
If you are new in the world of podcasting, the word: “podcast network” may spring up a lot of questions in your mind.
These questions are valid and essential because you must understand how the system functions to join the podcast network list.
You must know what you stand to gain and things you have to give up or endure.
In this post, I have gathered the information that you should know regarding podcast networks, along with a list of possible podcast networks that you could consider joining....
This is the first question in the mind of most podcasting newbies. It is vital to know the basic meaning and functions of a podcast network before signing up with one.
The best interpretation of this definition is by PodcastOne, a podcast network:
"A podcast network is a collection of podcasts that are produced, distributed or made available to advertisers through a single company or network."
A further explanation is... a podcast network is a company that houses a collection of individual podcast shows. These unique shows are a part of the podcast network to enjoy different benefits, one of which is getting advertisers on the show. In some cases, you will discover that some podcast networks have a particular theme of podcasts that they stick to (it could be sports or interview shows for example). In contrast, many podcast networks allow almost all types of shows.
At the start, podcast networks only functioned to promote and monetise podcast shows, but they grew and evolved over the years to do so much more.
"And there is a little back story to how podcast networks started"
It was challenging to discover podcasts during the late 90s and the start of the 2000s. This is because podcasts were yet to reach the mainstream. Podcast directory didn't exist and search engines could not pick up audio content at the time.
Then came podcast networks. The primary reason for their existence was to serve as a solution to the issue of discoverability. They had a goal - to promote podcast shows to increase listenership and create a massive pool of shows for adverts.
Most podcast networks also want to profit, so they collect a part of the revenue from ads generated from their shows. This way, the podcaster and the podcast networks have a relationship that helps both of them succeed.
Podcast networks come with several benefits. However, you should bear in mind that not all podcast networks operate in the same way. You will mostly get the listed benefits, but they might be a little different depending on your deal with your network.
Your success is their success, and this is why podcast networks want your production to be as quality as it can get. To achieve this, they offer to help with production. It might be a piece of simple advice from seasoned podcasters or provision of editing services, marketing assets, researching services, or coaching.
Podcast networks have the required tools to bring more exposure to your podcast, such that you will gain more listeners. They also provide services like cross-promotions between podcasts that are part of the network. This way, they can share listeners between different podcast audiences. This benefit is particularly great for podcasts that lack time or knowledge of ways to market the show.
This is pretty straightforward. Because podcast networks market your shows more, you will gain more listeners. It gets even better when you know that the listener's gain will always be with you if you are no longer a network member.
For another, with more listeners comes more ad revenue. As your listenership grows, so will your income, which allows you to reinvest into the show faster, thus grow even quicker.
This benefit is a great one for you if you want to monetise your show quickly. You do not have to stay for an extended period before earning your show if you are a podcast network member. This is because podcast networks pool downloads numbers for all podcasts on the network to get sponsorship. It might be minor, but it could make a difference in your production.
As your show grows and your listeners increase, your income will also increase. This way, you can reinvest more back into your show.
Podcast networks serve as an exclusive club for podcasters. This makes them an ideal place to meet up with successful and experienced podcasters. You can make use of these connections even after you are no more a part of the network.
A podcast network takes all the stress of finding sponsors. All you have to do is insert the ads audio files sent to you or read an ad copy. This way, you can focus all your energy on producing a better show and your marketing.
Because a podcast network is a pool of many shows, high quality and other quality levels, you get to associate your show with other quality podcast shows.
This way, you increase credibility and become more of an authority. People automatically rate your show as you are now part of a likeable and trusted brand.
Venture capitalists often do not like to invest in individual podcast shows as many works affect their profits.
But podcast networks usually have access to money from venture capitalists. The reason for this is because networks bring more profit.
Podcast networks take this money and, in most cases, use it to support their members in different forms, such as the provision of editing services, employing the services of a dedicated producer and paid promotions.
In some cases, podcast networks build complementary partnerships with other industries. It could be with a website or a social media platform and many other forms of collaborations. It is a long list of possible partnerships that will benefit the members.
While there are obvious and numerous benefits to being part of a podcast network, there are also some pitfalls with joining one. They are not major red flags, but you should pay attention to them as a reminder of what you are giving up.
To be part of a podcast network, you will need to sign a contract. This contract is a document prepared by the podcast network to protect themselves and the podcaster. However, you must know that these podcast details bind you for a period of validity.
In some cases, a podcast network might include in the contract that you have to publish a certain number of episodes within a month. It becomes an obligation you have to carry out no matter the frequency you planned of publishing you planned for yourself. You have to plan your episodes according to the contract requirement; otherwise, you would have violated the contract.
A podcast network can tell you to switch your preferred podcast hosting platform to their preference in some situations. There are also network events and activities you may have to partake in, likewise preparing reports about your show to submit to the network regularly.
This obligation is not necessarily a bad thing. Still, you have to remember that you must carry them out until the end of your contract.
Specific podcast networks request a level of creative control on your show. This control varies and could be anything from banning you from speaking about some topics to reducing how you criticise some personalities or shows connected to the network. You also don't have control over the type of sponsors you want, as they only present you with an audio file to insert or an ad copy to read.
Although it's your choice to do all these things, you will usually see them in your contract, which is why you must carefully read through your agreement before signing over it.
Naturally, podcast networks are businesses that want to generate profit, so they take a portion of the ad revenue you generate. As your show grows in size, this portion can become substantial. Some shows leave their podcast networks once they grow large enough to demand premium advertising dollars independently.
Podcast networks are business ventures in most cases, and they are also after profit. To gain profit, they take a part of the ad revenue that your show generates.
Besides, you will lose a more significant percentage to the network as a new podcaster than other podcasters. This is because the network doesn't trust that you can deliver on contract details at first until you prove that you can.
When you are part of a podcast network, you get access to their marketing and promotions tools. They will cross-promote you on the other podcasts in the network and assist you with your digital marketing. A network can have full-time designers, copywriters, automation specialists, and different roles in some cases.
Perhaps the most significant factor is how the podcast network will use its advertising network to get ads for your show. In most cases, networks offer a 70/30 sharing ratio.
The podcaster takes 70 percent, and the network keeps 30 percent of the ad revenue that the show generated.
The podcast networks usually utilise the CPM model to calculate ad rates, which pays per a thousand impressions.
Research has shown that mid-roll ads generate the most revenue as listeners can't skip over them easily. Pre-roll and post-roll ads generate almost a similar rate.
For instance, if you get 5,000 downloads and your rate is $10 for pre-roll ads, $20 for mid-roll, and $5 for post-roll ads. That makes $35 for ads, multiplied by 5,000 downloads, making it $175 for that episode. You will take 70 percent of the $175 while the podcast network keeps 30 percent.
You have to understand the podcast network's services to decide if losing 30 percent is worth it. It is all in the contract, and you have to understand it.
Another factor to consider is your ability to attract advertisers by yourself. If you do not mind looking for sponsors by yourself, then you have no reason to lose 30 percent to a network. However, if you don't want the stress of finding sponsors on your own, the 30 percent might be fair enough.
You should know that not every podcast network operates around ads revenue. Some networks do not run ads at all, as they serve to help podcasters grow as they cross-promote each other.
In this type of podcast networks, you still have to do still the work of finding sponsors for your show.
For most podcast networks, it is all about the show's influence. This is because they know that the most prominent shows bring in the most ad revenue, which is great for the podcast network.
In most cases, podcast networks need you to publish one episode per week at the least. You must also get a thousand downloads per week at least. Additionally, you will also have to participate in compulsory cross-promotions of other shows in the podcast network.
Although more extensive podcast networks often come with a higher requirement level. Some could require as much as 50,000 downloads for one episode before offering you a contract. These requirements vary; therefore, you must find out by reaching out to the network first.
It doesn't automatically cancel out smaller podcast shows. Still, it isn't easy to get a great deal until the show becomes popular.
There are even podcast networks that prefer smaller shows.
To give you a better idea of how podcast networks work, let's introduce you to the big ones. These are the most popular podcast networks. They only accept shows that receive about 50,000 downloads per episode.
1. Gimlet Media (Gimlet Media Podcast Networks)
Gimlet is a part of Spotify, and it was established by Alex Blumberg, the producer of This American Life. Its focus is on digital audio journalism and entertainment.
2. Wondery (Wondery Podcast Networks)
Wondery launched in 2016, it is an American podcast network, and 20th Century Fox supports it. Hernan Lopez established it, and it covers over 70 shows spanning multiple topics, like a business, crime, and entertainment.
3. Earwolf (Earwolf Podcast Networks)
Earwolf is a podcast network based in Los Angeles and established by Jeff Ulrich and Scott Akerman's duo. At the start, the network focused on comedy podcasts like Comedy Bang Bang) but later diversified into several topics.
Public Radio Exchange launched this Radiotopia in 2014 with Roman Mars, the NPR producer. They are "a network of the most innovative, listener-supported, artist-owned podcasts in the world."
Norm Pattiz established PodcastOne, and it is an advertiser-supported podcast network. Norm Pattiz also established Westwood One, a gigantic radio station. The podcast network had over 200 podcasts ranging from comedy, entertainment to politics and news.
According to the digital media company,
"Midroll was born from the recognition that great hosts thrive when they can focus on their shows, and advertisers benefit when they can work with a professional sales team."
They offer services ranging from production, monetisation and distribution for entertainers, artists and thought leaders.
They have over 300 shows that they handle.
7. National Public Radio (NPR)
NPR handles more than 900 radio stations, and they are a private and public-funded non-profit membership media organisation. They delved into podcasting in 2005. Now, they get about 70 million downloads per month on their podcasts.
WNYC Studios is the leading producer for on-demand and broadcast audio. It houses some of the most sought-after and famous podcasts like Radiolab, Nancy, On the Media, Death, Sex & Money, Here's The Thing with Alec Baldwin, and 2 Dope Queens, The New Yorker Radio Hour, Snap Judgment.
9. TWiT (TWiT Podcast Networks)
Leo Laporte, a tech broadcaster, established tWiT. The podcast network started by launching This Week in Tech (the #1 technology podcast). However, they now host more podcasts and live-streaming shows. Their shows cover news, help, commentary, how-to, and perspective on digital technology.
Audiboom is an independent podcast network, and they offer a diverse and broad stable of both owned and operated shows. They also have partnerships with hugely successful podcasts. Besides the massive amount of shows they operate, they also offer several brands' sales agencies.
11. All Things Comedy
This podcast network is unique and brings together several comedians from all genres; it is a hub that offers a robust amount of shows. They like to call themselves a source of information of all of the favourite performers; and a place to have a passionate conversation about comedy and comedians.
This is a division of Entercom. They are a strong podcast media company that creates, distributes, and monetises audio content. They have shows like Pod Save America, Side Hustle School, and The Goop Podcast. They like to call themselves the Netflix of Podcasts. They have a lot of compelling content that covers a range of categories like business, fiction, education, influencers, news and politics.
13. Carolla Digital
This podcast network is American-based. And they have a flagship show called The Adam Carolla show. The network covers several other shows such as The Adam and Drew Show, Take a Knee, and The Dr Drew Podcast.
14. Idle Thumbs
Idle Thumbs is a video game culture podcast network and website that was established in 2004.
iHeartMedia is one of the world's most extensive podcast networks. They have a mantra which is 'America's #1 Audio Company'.
You have the best answer to this question. Still, you will have to evaluate and ask yourself if a podcast network will benefit your show more than what you can achieve on your own at that point.
You should know that joining a podcast network doesn't automatically mean that your show will enjoy success. They will surely help, but it still depends on how great your content resonates with listeners. You must create good content and continue promoting your show as well.
It is advisable to work your show to be as valuable as possible before approaching a podcast network. You should grow your listeners as much as possible. You can also get some sponsors for your show to show the podcast network that people are already willing to spend money on your show. This way, you get more leverage during negotiation with the network.
Signing a contract with a network doesn't automatically mean that you have become locked in for life. If they don't make you happy, you are free to leave when your contract ends.
By now, you must have known everything there about podcast networks. While they offer great value and help grow your show and earn ad revenue, they also come with certain costs. You decide to know if a podcast network is right for your show or not.
The benefits outweigh the negatives, but you need to sign up with a well organized podcast network. The network must have your interest at heart as much as theirs.
Good luck and hit us up on email@example.com if you end up joining one :)