Joining a podcast network seems enticing – right? It makes you feel like your podcast is being noticed and the thought of working with like-minded individuals is exciting!
That, along with its benefits, makes joining a podcast network seem like an easy decision.
Before jumping in head first, though, you’ll want to ensure two important things:
- First, joining a network makes sense for your business or brand
- Second, that the network you’re joining is right for you
Podcast networks have their fair share of limitations, and there are things to consider before joining. With this in mind, if you’re on the fence about joining a podcast network, you’ve come to the right place.
In this article, we’ll discuss what a podcast network is, the benefits of joining one, and five important things to consider before joining one.
What is a Podcast Network?
Before discussing the benefits and considerations of joining a podcast network, it’s important to know exactly what a podcast network is.
If you’re just thinking about starting a podcast, are new to the podcast game, or if you’re wanting to expand your show, knowing the function of a podcast network can be incredibly important.
A podcast network is a group or organization that hosts, produces, and/or promotes multiple shows.
Typically, the shows within a podcast network are centered around the same topic or niche, but this isn’t always the case.
For example, if your podcast is related to music or the music industry, a music podcast network could be the right fit for you. Or if you’re podcasting about movies or entertainment, joining an entertainment podcast network might make the most sense.
What are the Benefits of Joining a Podcast Network?
Joining a podcast network certainly comes with a wide variety of benefits.
Just one of the pros is the increased promotion for your show. When you join a network, they will advertise your show for you, which also benefits them.
Especially for new and small podcast hosts, this can be incredibly enticing as it can increase your listener count.
Advertisement is huge in the podcast industry, so the more resources and money spent promoting your show, the better.
Speaking of money, another reason people want to join podcast networks is that they can often help monetize your show by utilizing sponsorships to include advertisements within your show.
Finding sponsors can be challenging, so this is a great benefit. Networks often have access to the bigger advertisers that smaller shows wouldn’t be able to work with on their own.
Being a part of a podcast network also increases your show’s visibility. An individual show has a higher chance of being overlooked than a network, as networks hold more listeners.
Finally, joining a podcast network also increases your ability to network. You’ll be in the same proverbial room as many of the larger names in the industry, which can open you up to a new realm of possibilities for money, fame, and other opportunities.
Cons of Joining Podcast Networks
For all of the benefits we just shared, it might surprise you to learn there are some significant downsides you need to think about before signing on the dotted line. Just a few of them include, but aren’t limited to:
- You may no longer have creative control over your brand.
- Getting your advertisers may come with more red tape.
- Even your content may come under scrutiny and need to be approved.
- There is a chance you will make less money and spend more time.
Let’s explore these ideas a little more in-depth.
5 Things to Consider Before Joining a Podcast Network
Joining a podcast network can be one of the most exciting things for a podcaster. This is especially true for the independent podcaster that feels like a little fish in a huge pond overrun with celebrity podcasts and large brand names.
So what else do you need to consider before jumping in with both feet?
1. Are you “big” enough to join a network?
Podcast networks often require a certain number of listeners before allowing you to join their network.
Before joining one, you should ensure that your numbers meet the requirements. Different networks have different requirements, so you must research the specific network you have in mind.
If you don’t yet meet the requirements for the network, don’t get discouraged. Continue working on your show and helping it grow!
2. Will you relinquish rights to your show?
Before joining a network, you want to ensure that you will still own the rights to your show. Not owning the rights to your show means that if you choose to leave the network, all content created during the partnership is theirs – not yours.
Just because it was your show when you came on board doesn’t mean you get to take it with you if you leave the podcast network. Of course, this is where reading and understanding your contract will come into play.
It’s best to have everything in writing and protect yourself to the best of your ability. Then again, unwillingness to relinquish some, if not all, rights could prevent you from being able to join the podcast network in question.
It is your show, after all, so you might want to keep the rights to it. However, you’ll want to weigh the pros and cons of relinquishing rights.
For example, you could ask yourself things like:
- If you lost ownership, is there an exclusivity clause that will prevent you from starting another podcast in a similar niche?
- Will you make more money by joining a network?
- Can you earn the same amount of money on your own?
- What are you willing to give up to join the network?
- What will you gain by joining?
The clearer you get on the answers to these kinds of questions, the better!
3. What will the cut of monetization look like for you?
Many podcasters start their shows to make money through sponsorships, dynamic ad insertion, etc. Like any other business deal, talking money is important before joining a podcast network.
You don’t want to sign contracts before reviewing your pay cut details in writing. Having this conversation before signing on ensures that you know exactly what you’re getting into and how much money you will make.
Different networks have different payment options, so discussing details ahead of time is key.
Questions to think about include:
- If you will be part of a revenue share based on how much the network makes as a whole, how big is your slice?
- If your show starts enjoying larger download numbers, is there room for negotiation for a bigger slice of the network earnings later?
- How long is the contract for?
- How long will you get paid?
- What happens to the money if you leave the network?
4. What does the production schedule look like?
When you join a podcast network, you will likely have to follow a production schedule. This means that the network will expect you to produce a given amount of content within a time frame.
Odds are, as an independent podcaster, you’re used to being able to release episodes on a whim. You don’t have to ask permission and you can drop additional episodes or take breaks whenever you see fit. You’re in charge of your podcast workflow.
This isn’t necessarily the case when you’re part of a podcast network. You’re no longer calling all the shots, most likely.
You need to discuss production expectations with the network before signing on to ensure you can commit to their requirements. When we wear ourselves too thin and don’t have enough time to meet our deadlines, our work quality decreases. Assuming you love your podcast as its owner, you want to make sure you have the time to produce quality episodes.
5. What happens when you want to leave the network?
We have already alluded to this question a couple of times, but it’s so important it needed its own section.
As the owner of the podcast, it’s important to know if you can leave the network at any given time, and what the repercussions are of leaving – if there are any.
Networks operate similarly to any other business practice – meaning all parties involved should be reaping its benefits. If a network isn’t benefiting you, then it may be smart to walk away. However, having what happens upon your departure in writing is critical.
Having a discussion ahead of time with the network about requirements and guidelines upon leaving is important and shouldn’t be overlooked. You don’t want to end up in a situation where you are “stuck” in a network or lose money, your brand identity, or your reputation if you quit.
Is a Podcast Network Right For You?
This post may have helped you make the decision, or it might have given you a lot more to think about. Joining a podcast network is not going to be the best choice for all podcasters, but there’s not denying that it can be a fun and profitable venture.
We hope this inspired you to at least consider all of the possibilities, and do some more research if you’re thinking about joining one. To close things out, we’ll recap these important words of wisdom:
Read all contracts before signing. Know the expectations ahead of time. Never stop growing your email list and promoting your show. And finally, if you are considering joining a podcast network, have your exit strategy saved for a rainy day just in case you decide to sell your podcast at some point.