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When I tell people I run a podcast network, the response is usually “cool”. After a period of awkward silence they usually follow that up with “what is that anyway?” This is a great question.
What is a Podcast Network?
In the simplest terms, a podcast network is a network of podcasts connected by a similar theme, genre, partnership, or ownership. Each podcast will often be broadcast in coordination with each other. The idea is to spread their listener bases to each others' shows.
“What's In It For Me?”
There are some advantages to each podcast network. It is up to the individual podcaster to decide whether the advantages will work for their show. Most networks offer the following benefits.
- The ability to join a collective of podcasts
- The ability to network with other podcasters and promote each other's shows
- The chance to brand your show as part of a larger group.
These are the simplest and primary benefits of any podcast network, but is it enough? Not quite. At Yogi's Podcast Network, we add in marketing support and cross-promotion as benefits. We help with many aspects of spreading the news about your show.
We also help new podcasts launch. This normally costs $2,000 to $3,000 to do, but we do it for free for any show that joins Yogi's Podcast Network.
We also offer free websites for any show that joins our network. We host the episodes on our own site free of charge. We will also help you build a simple website specifically for your show.
The Power of Numbers
One thing to remember is that there is power in numbers. When you join a podcast network, you get to leverage the promotional capabilities of every show on that network. Cross-promotions are very valuable and tend to bring in lots of new listeners. This opportunity exists when you join a podcast network.
Many networks share the advertising revenue with the shows on their network. Yogi's Podcast Network is no different. The network acts as your agent, negotiating the advertising deals for you. Pay attention to percentage the network takes. That can make or break the deal.
This is something that is very important in the podcasting world. Don't ever let any network restrict you. Hang on to the creative freedom you have. Your network should support your freedom to be as creative as you'd like. Yogi's Podcast Network encourages individuality.
With all of the other benefits mentioned previously, the main benefit of a podcast network is visibility. A network can promote each of its shows to a larger audience. If done correctly, the network itself will have an audience that will be loyal listeners to anything on that network. This is a huge benefit to a podcast that is just starting out.
Advertisements on podcasts are unique. Unlike any other medium, people like the interruption, mid-program, to learn about other companies. Hosts tend to read the ads in the tone and style of the show.
“People really pay attention to the ads,” Slate‘s podcasting guru Andy Bowers says. That’s partly because they have to: The hosts are often right in your ear, and there’s no quick way to change the station, like on a radio. Even scrolling past an ad takes more effort than it’s worth. What if you skip ahead too far?
Listeners tend to trust the hosts of their favorite podcasts. When a trusted host reads a promotional message it tends to sound more like a friend's recommendation.
At times it can get ethically murky. Just imagine if you were reading a magazine article and the writer had written sponsored content inside of their articles. It confuses the reader (in this case the listener) and they sometimes cannot tell it is an advertisement.
A podcast network can help overcome some of this as you will have other outlets (shows) for advertising. This way you don't sound like a shill.
Overcoming the Crowd
There has been lots of discussion about how crowded the podcasting space has become. Networks help with this issue. By grouping shows together in a network format, the crowded space looks more open and manageable.
By their very nature, networks boost your download numbers quite a lot. Daniel Lewis has estimated that you can quadruple your downloads when you join the right podcast network. There is just something about the community a podcast network generates that makes your download numbers explode.
One of the things that helps SEO the most is consistently releasing content. No matter how hard you try, you will never out produce a podcast network in this area. The more shows on a network, the more content they will release on a regular basis.
Google loves to see new content updates on websites. This is one of the factors that is considered when ranking a site. By joining a bunch of other shows in a network format, your own show will get some SEO benefits. You will have several other shows posting show notes that can attract listeners. They may find one of the other shows, but then browse the network and find your show. This exposure is invaluable.
One of the benefits some podcast networks offer is inexpensive access to virtual assistants who are trained to handle the release of podcast shows. This type of help is extremely important. It is time consuming and expensive to train a VA on how to release a podcast. A network-provided VA will already be trained.
You can use the VA to work your social media accounts. You can have them create images you will need to promote your show.
Yogi's Podcast Network offers this benefit to anyone who joins the network.
Reasons Not to Join a Podcast Network
Many argue that joining a podcast network is a bad idea. They reason that you spend many hours on your show. They say that a network can be enticing.
If money is what you are after, joining a network won't make that happen for you. A network is better at growing your audience than it is at growing your bank account. At the same time, having a group to help promote your show is amazing.
Some networks require you to use the host they use. This will mean moving your content and that can be a giant pain.
When you switch hosts, all sorts of unexpected things can happen. While it is mostly a smooth experience, one never knows what will really happen when the move is executed.
Not All Networks Promote Your Show
Yes, one big advantage I've been touting has been promotion, but not all networks will promote your show for you. In fact, at times the terms involve you promoting your own show with a minimum growth requirement.
If the network won't promote your show it is probably not worth it to join. As previously mentioned, promotion is probably the number one tangible benefit of joining a network, so why waste your time on a network that won't promote you?
Ultimately, whether or not to join a podcast network lies solely with you, the podcaster. Take your time to examine the benefits being offered. Speak to other hosts on the network and see what they have to say. Are they being supported like the network claimed they would be? Are they receiving their share of advertising revenue? Does the network promote them?
Once you have answers to these questions you can easily make up your mind. Whatever you do, don't join a network on impulse. Make sure it is right for you and your show.