Top podcast networks like Gimlet Media and Earwolf bring together shows in a certain genre under one umbrella, making it easier for advertisers and podcasters to find each other and for listeners to find podcasts they love.
But have you ever thought of starting your own podcast network? What would be involved, what are the pros and cons, and how do you know if it’s right for you?
In this blog, we’ll break down the advantages and disadvantages of creating a podcast network, including navigating through the key stages of research, content creation, team building, distribution, and monetization so you can decide if it’s your next right move.
Research and Planning: Setting the foundation
Podcast networks require a lot of upfront research and strategic planning. Before you get going, it’s important to understand the podcasting landscape, identify your target niche, and assess the needs of your potential audience; a well-researched plan will serve as the blueprint for your network's success.
Asking yourself the following questions can be helpful:
- What is the unique vision and purpose of the podcast network?
- Clarify the overarching mission to guide the network's development.
- How will the network stand out in a competitive landscape?
- Define strategies for differentiation to capture and retain audience attention.
- What is the long-term growth plan and monetization strategy?
- Outline clear goals for expansion and identify revenue streams for sustained success.
Answering these questions can give you valuable insights into what works and what pitfalls to avoid. Now that you know a little about if you want to start a network, let’s look into different ways of approaching it.
Creating and Producing Content: To niche or not to niche?
One of the significant advantages of starting a podcast network is the ability to curate a diverse range of great content under one umbrella. This diversity not only attracts a broader audience but also enhances the overall quality of the network. Collaborate with creators who bring unique perspectives and expertise to the table.
But how do you weigh the benefits of diversity against the advantages of niching to attract a specific, engaged audience? Let’s break down the pros and cons of each approach.
Themed podcast networks:
- Targeted audience: A themed network appeals to a specific niche or interest group. This can attract a highly targeted audience that is passionate about the topic.
- Cohesive branding: A network around a certain category allows for cohesive branding and a clear identity on social media, etc. It's easier to market and promote the network when there's a specific focus.
- Niche limitations: If you go the route of a niche network, you might have a smaller potential audience compared to a diverse one. This could work the other way, though, too, and often does. A podcast niche can open doors for you as a podcaster that a general, wide-ranging topic doesn’t necessarily.
Diverse podcast networks:
- Broad audience appeal: A diverse network can attract a broader audience since it offers content on various topics. This flexibility can result in a more significant overall reach.
- Adaptability: A diverse network allows for flexibility and adaptability to changing trends or audience preferences.
- Brand cohesion & monetization challenges: Managing a diverse network can present more of a challenge in maintaining a cohesive brand identity. This could make it more difficult to find sponsors willing to place paid advertisements in your podcast episodes, because they might perceive your audience as not targeted enough.
However, even if your topic isn’t niche, you can always create content for a specific demographic, which can be a niche in itself and help you appeal to brands. The key to sponsorship is to make it as mutually as beneficial as possible, which often requires some kind of niching.
Building a Team: Strength in numbers
Building a podcast network is a collaborative effort. Assembling a team of passionate individuals who share your vision is crucial. This team can include podcast hosts, producers, marketing experts, and technical support. Each member plays a vital role in the success of the network.
The advantage of a shared team is the ability to share resources, skills, and insights. However, it's essential to communicate effectively and establish clear roles and responsibilities to avoid potential challenges.
Content Publishing and Distribution: Streamlining processes
A podcast network streamlines the content publishing and distribution process, making it easier to manage multiple podcasts efficiently. This ensures consistency in release schedules and branding across all podcasts within the network.
The ability to cross-promote with other creators is a natural advantage of a podcast network. Podcasts within the network can promote each other's episodes, expanding the reach of each show. This collaborative approach fosters a sense of community among podcasters and their audiences.
Growing and Monetizing Your Network: Maximizing opportunities
One of the primary advantages of starting a podcast network is the increased potential for growth and monetization. Advertisers and sponsors are often more attracted to networks with a diverse range of podcasts and a larger collective audience. This opens up new revenue streams for both the network and individual podcasters.
However, it's crucial to navigate monetization ethically and ensure that partnerships align with the values of the network and its creators. Balancing the interests of all parties involved is key to maintaining a healthy and thriving network.
How do you split profits from advertisers and brands?
When it comes to splitting profits from advertisers in a podcast network, there are several ways to go about it.
Strategy #1. Divide the profits based on the number of downloads or views each podcast receives. This would be a fair approach as it takes into account the individual success of each show within the network. A lot of networks split profits so that podcasters keep 70% and the network keeps 30%.
Strategy #2. Split profits equally among all podcasts in the network. This promotes unity among the creators, as everyone benefits equally regardless of their individual success. However, this method may not be ideal for all podcasters as some shows may have a larger audience and bring in more revenue.
Ultimately, the decision on how to split profits from advertisers within a podcast network depends on the agreement between the creators and the network.
Key points + takeaways
In conclusion, starting a podcast network can be a game-changer for podcasters looking to amplify their impact and reach a broader audience. Podcast hosting can be isolating, and being part of a network can be helpful.
While starting or joining a podcast network isn't a fast-track to grow your podcast, the advantages of it, including diverse content, streamlined processes, and collaborative growth, could outweigh the disadvantages to some creators.
But before you start or join a network, it's important to go in with all the information and an understanding of how podcast networks work so you don't end up burned in a bad deal, with less creative freedom, a big cut into your profits, etc.
But when done right, a network can become a powerful platform for collective podcasting success.