If you’re a podcast publisher, you have a lot of decisions to make in order to ensure you produce high-quality content and market it effectively. One choice you might eventually need to make is whether to join a podcast network. Podcast networks can be extremely beneficial under the right circumstances.
With that being said, it doesn’t always make sense to join one of these networks, or the timing might not be right for a podcast that’s just starting out. So should you join a network or not? The short answer is: It depends. Keep reading for the longer answer.
What’s a Podcast Network?
Before diving in, it’s good to know what exactly a podcast network is and how it operates. Podcast networks are simply networks that host multiple podcasts that match a certain niche or genre. There might be a fitness podcast network, a music podcast network, etc. By joining one of the networks, it’ll be easier to market and monetize your podcast. You’ll gain more insight into your demographic and find more advertisers to work with. So are there any downsides? There can be, but let’s look at how these networks work first.
How Does a Podcast Network Work?
Once you’ve joined a podcast network, you’ll get noticed by a lot more potential advertisers and sponsors. These advertisers will then be able to buy ad space on your podcast based on the podcast network’s pricing model. Remember, many podcast network pricing models are similar, but it’s important to thoroughly read the contract and pricing so you know exactly what to expect.
By and large, most podcast networks prefer a CPM advertising method. In podcasting, CPM refers to cost-per-mille, or cost per thousand listens. This means that for every 1,000 impressions your podcast gets, the advertiser will pay a flat rate to host their ad on your content. Typically ads are run in three different places: the pre-roll, mid-roll and post-roll. Typically pre-roll and post-roll ads are shorter and less expensive, whereas the mid-roll is a longer advertisement and is priced at a premium.
There are also advertisement-free networks, which exist mostly just to get the word out about certain topics. These networks can help you increase your visibility and podcast awareness, but if monetization is your goal, you may want to go in a different direction.
How Do I Join a Network?
So podcast networks sound like a pretty good deal, but there has to be some sort of catch, right? Correct. Obviously, these benefits don’t come without a cost. In fact, many podcast networks require you to have specific credentials before they’ll let you join.
Here are just a few things that most networks will require:
- A certain number of downloads on a weekly or monthly basis: A podcast network will want to ensure that you have a decent-sized audience. This means that they’ll expect you to have a certain number of people downloading your podcast every week. The number will depend on the individual network’s membership requirements.
- Consistent episode production: A network won’t want to include a podcast that doesn’t produce a sufficient amount of content. Most require you to produce at least one episode per week.
- Potential cross-promotion: As part of their ecosystem, the network will typically reserve the right to cross-promote other in-network shows on your podcast.
- A percentage of ad revenue: While it’s true that you’ll get exposure to a lot more potential advertisers, podcast networks will also get a cut of that revenue. The amount depends on the network’s membership policy.
Now that you have an idea of what your podcast needs to become part of a network, you’ll have to decide whether it’s worth it for your podcast to join.
Benefits and Considerations
As we mentioned, there’s a lot to consider when choosing whether to join a podcast network. There are plenty of benefits, but there are also some things you’ll need to consider. Let’s break it down.
Here are some of the biggest benefits.
More Money From Advertisers
As soon as you’re part of a podcast network, tons of advertisers will see you as a potential advertising platform for their products and services. This means they’ll buy ad space, you’ll get more ad revenue and podcast monetization is made easier for you.
Podcast networks know how to market their shows, and just by being on one of these well-known networks, you’ll get a lot more people paying attention to and listening to your podcast. If you’re looking for a quick way to scale up your audience, then a podcast network is a great way to do it.
Here are some things you’ll want to consider.
Sharing Ad Revenue
You’ll definitely get more exposure to advertisers, but keep in mind that your network will get a cut of those profits. Depending on the network, it can sometimes be a pretty hefty share of those profits. If you’re already making plenty from ad revenue on your own, a network might actually cut into your usual ad revenue. Make sure you weigh the cost-benefit relationship here before moving forward.
Contract Obligations and Conflicts of Interest
When you join a podcast network, you’re making a contract with that network. This means you’ll need to play by their rules to an extent. Some networks might ask for some creative control (though a lot won’t), so keep that in mind when looking at them. Also, you’ll likely have to end your relationships with your current sponsors if it causes a conflict of interest.
Now if you’ve weighed the pros and cons and decided you’d like to join, the next question you have to ask yourself is: when?
When to Join
Of course, your first order of business will be meeting the minimum requirements of joining. Once you’ve achieved this, consider the following questions to help you make your decision.
- Is there a good podcast network for my niche? You’ll need to make sure there’s a robust network for your podcast genre if you want to grow the audience for your target demographic.
- Are we stagnating or are we seeing steady growth? A good reason to join a podcast network might be when you’re seeing a plateau in your growth. Networks can help take your podcast to the next level, but if you’re already growing at a steady rate you might want to hold off.
- Are we having trouble monetizing? If you’re having trouble getting your podcast to make money, a network can be a good solution.
These are all good reasons to join a podcast network. Just make sure that the network you join has requirements that work for you and that don’t cause you to sacrifice things you don’t want to.
Grow Your Podcast With Backtracks
In the meantime, if you’re looking to grow your podcast organically, a tool like Backtracks can be a huge help. We have tools for publishers and advertisers, along with robust analytics that can help you optimize your podcast and reach your audience like never before. Try Backtracks and start harnessing the power of podcast analytics.