When you are just starting your podcast or are a seasoned podcaster that chases more popularity and listenership, other players of the podcasting community can help you reach your goals faster.
Instead of leaving you alone in the struggle for more downloads, podcast networks take you under their wings and help you find your way to new listeners more quickly. You can compare podcast networks with music labels. When a musician contracts with the label, they become free of many hassles of self-promotion. In exchange, artists share their profit with a label, as the earned money results from the mutual effort. Podcast networks work pretty much, but not exactly the same as music labels. To provide you with enough base to decide whether you need some podcast networks to join, we have dug a bit deeper into this topic.
What is a podcast network?
A podcast network is an umbrella company that usually takes all the marketing and monetization legwork on its shoulders. Those networks engage in the production and distribution of the podcasts that are a part of them.
The specific activities that a podcast network carries for its member podcast largely depend on the type of network. To understand this better, you should familiarize yourself with podcast networks that sell ads and ads-free podcast networks.
Podcast networks to join which work with ads
This is the most popular type of podcasting network, as it helps podcasters to easier monetize their show. Basically, what the network does in this case, is collect the downloads of all the shows within its community and present them to the advertisers in bulk. As the high number of downloads is appealing for advertisers, networks acquire many sponsorship deals.
This, as a result, benefits shows with a small listenership base, as it would be significantly more difficult for them to attract advertisers alone. In exchange for this service, podcast networks take some cut on the ads revenue, which is usually the following:
- Pre-roll ads - $6-20 CPM
- Mid-roll ads - $11-25 CPM
- Post-roll ads - $4-15 CPM
CPM stands for Cost Per Mile, or cost per 1,000 downloads, and if you want to determine your podcast rates, read our special guide on that.
Ads-free podcast networks to join
Advertising-free networks chase the goals of non-commercial organizations, and they mainly assist you in reaching more listeners. Joining a well-established podcast network means appearing to the public under the positive shelve of your network’s image. This means listeners will accept you easier, as your podcast’s networks brand will awaken trust in them.
What to look at when choosing a network?
As you already know the two main types of networks, it’s easier to decide for you. If you need some quick fundings, join advertising networks, and go for ad-free ones if you want to make your way to a larger audience.
However, we all know there is no free lunch, is there?
Therefore, one of the critical things you should consider before joining the podcast network is what they will take from you in return. Say YES to a podcast network only after you understand the potential tradeoffs listed below.
It would be hard for you to join the large networks from the beginning
The most popular podcast networks usually accept podcasts with an already established reputation and more or less solid listenership base. So, you will most probably join smaller networks at the very start of your podcasting journey. This, in turn, means you might not have the results you expected to have instantly.
How much ad revenue you will share with the network
In most cases, this number is fixed to 30%. However, it’s also a subject of individual negotiation. So, if you negotiate the terms in advance, you might have better deals on that.
However, here comes the point you should consider. If your listeners are not many yet, it would be harder for you to negotiate a better deal at first.
Creativity restrictions a network can put on you
Sometimes, a network can require you to correspond to certain criteria, including changing your style, avoiding some author techniques, rebranding your podcast, etc. From one point of view, a professional consultancy can significantly improve your show’s quality. However, you might also be reluctant to change something if you feel your show starts losing authenticity. Therefore, before you step into an agreement, clarify this point as well.
Opportunity to continue cooperation with your existing sponsorships
Can you continue the sponsorships you acquired before joining the network? That’s an important question to ask, as you don’t want to lose your hard-earned relationship and income source. If you can negotiate this part in your favor, that would be great. However, networks usually require you to cooperate with advertisers only by intermediary services.
Control over ads placed on your show
Last but not least, if you join a network that sells ads, you should agree with all the sponsorships your network partners with. This is unavoidable, as networks can’t negotiate each and every podcast’s interests with the advertisers. So, most probably, you will have no control over the advertisements placed during your show. That’s not always bad, and it depends on the selection criteria of your network. However, we recommend you clarify this aspect of cooperation with your network in advance.
So what do we have? Do you need a podcast network to join?
You might have a vague feeling that podcast networks take too much from you. However, the coin has two sides. They also help you grow and accelerate your progress compared to managing all your marketing and promotion alone. So, considering all the pros and cons of podcast networks, it would be fair to state that podcast networks are suitable for your show as long as they can give you more than you could achieve alone. In this case, contracting with a network is worths the effort. However, even if you find a dream podcast network that assists you in every possible aspect, don’t quit on the plans to do it alone in the future. This will motivate you never to stop improving and be your plan B if things go wrong with your podcast network someday.