This is a repurposed episode of The Podcast Reporter, where the original podcast episode was published on 4May2020. The reason we submit this for repurposing is that the subject is very heated now in conversation and action in the podosphere, with the Chinese virus-crisis now simmering down in the US — and with people now interested in both podcast networks and membership sites.
Repurposed episode 407:
In this episode of podcastreporter.com, we focus on the question of whether to join or even start your own Podcast Network. This theme came to me from a couple of recent episodes from Evo Terra in his Podcast Pontifications show, as well as Daniel J Lewis in his show, The Audacity to Podcast.
If your passion for podcasting has grown such that you want to join or even create your own podcast network, perhaps you should listen to the questions asked by Evo Terra, as well as listen to the experiences (the good, the bad and the ugly) from Daniel J Lewis (who did shut down his own podcast network that he started years ago).
My own experiences with podcast networks
Now, I have had experiences with the thought of joining a podcast network. In 2006 and 2007, I dipped my toes into the waters of joining what looked like a growing podcast network at Podango (this was the podcast company that had acquired Gigavox, the firm that created the Levelator in 2006). I wanted to be a part of what was called a “podcast station” (which was the category or genres of podcasts) called the Business Station. I wanted to include my flagship podcast at the time, Struggling Entrepreneur. And the sharing, the community and the financial benefits all seemed like a great beginning. However, I did have second thoughts about letting someone else run my show and own my RSS feed and content. So I decided NOT to join and just kept being on my own. And, by the way, I do not regret that decision, as Podango later went out of business in another year or two.
Then, in 2007, the podcast network bug bit me again. This time, I wanted to start a podcast network which I had temporarily called the “Content Creator and podcaster network.” This was going to be basically a membership site with 4 founders — one for the technical side of podcasting; another for the financial side of startups and podcasting; another for the marketing side of podcasting and its promotion; and my contribution, the personal productivity side of creating content and podcasts.
For this membership site, we even had a meeting which I had called. And I used the prior method of getting buy-in and commitment and dialog used by Tim Bourquin when he had founded the Podcast and Portable Media Expo in 2005. That is, I invited everyone to join me personally (at my expense for travel, lodging and meals) for a couple of days in Austin, Texas, so that we could discuss all day the creation of this membership site which would then create the network shortly after launch. In fact, we even had an attorney, who was himself a podcaster, join us via Skype to get the details of the contract which he would create for all of us to agree and sign as a commitment. Well, that meeting gave me an indication of how much CONTROL and OWNERSHIP and FINANCIAL EXPECTATION that podcasters desired. As a result, I saw that this arrangement would not suit all the parties involved — what seemed like an exciting discussion and proposal went down in flames when “the devil is in the details.” So we never gave the green light to create the contract (with legal fees of $1300 in those days), and we disbanded the idea. And the survivors were only two of us who started another podcast based on Finance for Startups (which has since podfaded).
What was obvious to me at that time, after some pre-investment expenses and time, was that podcasters were too much desirous of control and ownership of the direction. And this is only natural, since podcasting at that time was individually run, owned and managed by the solo podcaster. And these people were not used to SHARING any intellectual property or revenue with others, especially under contract.
So the notion of a podcast network or membership site was erased from my mind as a creator — and maybe one day I might join one already in session.
The 2 recent episodes about podcast networks
In a recent episode by Evo Terra in his show called Podcast Pontifications, the title of his script and audio episode was “Should you join or form a podcast network?”
In this audio episode, Evo asks the most important questions: (1) What is it that you want to get out of the network?; and (2) what is it that you will be willing to sacrifice to belong in it?
He not only goes over what his own backstory was in creating his own network back “in the day” of 2004 and following, but also how a loose confederation of podcasters can be just a social club rather than a really serious podcast network (and he describes what should be in a podcast network from his point of view).
So the benefits vs. the contributions is a matrix that you should put together to evaluate an existing podcast network that you may feel compelled to join. Also, if you wish to start one, you should examine deep in yourself what you really want to get out of managing this type of organization and see if you have the talent and skills to do so effectively, without having the passion of podcasting be lost due to frustrations because of your potential lack of skills.
And Evo relates what, in his opinion, is really needed for a good podcast network today.
Now, the other example with some lessons learned comes from Daniel J Lewis of The Audacity to Podcast show. He describes how he put together his network shortly after he joined podcasting in full force — and also the end of his network, along with the reasons why he ended it.
In his recent episode called “Why we retired our podcast network,” Daniel mentions that he had clear-cut goals when he created his podcast network: “My goal was to bring together like-minded podcasters with high-quality shows to grow together through synergy, community, support, cross-promotion, and sponsorship.”
However, what seemed to me to be more or less a society of like-minded individuals with different podcast shows from different genres and possibly some unrelated themes soon grew into a long list of participating shows in the network, like the following:
- The Ramen Noodle
- Are You Just Watching
- The Audacity to Podcast
- Beyond the To-Do List
- The Productive Woman
- Christian Meets World
- The Sci-Phi Show
- Welcome to Level Seven
- Under the Dome Radio
- Resurrection Revealed
- Podcasting Videos by The Audacity to Podcast
- Inside the Podcasting Business
- As you can see, this could appear to be a community of disjointed themes and topics, with possibly the intent to generate sponsorship, financial rewards from downloads and advertising, as well as cross-promotion. And Daniel then explains what things he did well in the network and what things that were done poorly:
- Audience-relevant common theme
- Full and consistent community
- and you can listen to his audio podcast episode to get the details. Then he states why he retired the network, including the ability for him to focus on fewer things, as well as giving each podcaster more room to expand.
So Daniel’s experiences deliver some lessons learned about starting a podcast network, and I would suggest that you take these into account if you get the passion to go beyond your own podcast shows and want to start your own network.
Considerations for the podcaster about Podcast Network
As a podcaster, what passion can be driving you toward wanting to start a great podcast network? Will you have the time? Will the additional workload and timetables and schedules and management of the network be something you will embrace, as well as have time for? Will you have the necessary skills to manage your network? Will you have the right temperment for being in the network? And will the podcasts in the network be the right ones, or will they be a hodge-podge collection of your favorite podcasters and additional genres and other topics that might not relate well to some audiences? Will the network be governed by contract or by word-of-mouth agreements?
So, whatever your decision may be concerning podcast networks may be (i.e., either joining one or starting one of your own), we hope that these two audio episodes can give you enough food for thought to know what to expect both from the contribution side and the giving side to the network.
So we hope that your podcast show will be successful, whether it be a part of a podcast network or not.
Thank you for your attention
Copyright (c) 2021, Matrix Solutions Corporation and Daniel J Lewis of Theaudacitytopodcast.com and Evo Terra of Podcastpontifications.com and michaelandmike.com. All rights reserved.