When I tell people that I’m a part of a podcast network, the typical response is “oh cool” followed by an awkward pause, then immediately followed by “What is that?”
The term “podcast network” has been thrown around a lot in the two years I’ve been podcasting and probably long before then. The phrase can have a variety of different meanings to different people, but at its core a “podcast network” has a universal meaning: a group of shows housed in one place.
Now, being housed in the same arena may be the common denominator but what makes a network better than others? When answering this question, I like to refer to the “WIIFM” or the…
“What’s In It For Me?”
There are essential values and advantages to each podcast network, but it is up to you to make the call on whether those advantages will work with your show. Most networks will offer the following “benefits”
- The ability to join a collective of podcasts
- The opportunity to network with one another and promote each other’s shows
- The chance to brand your show as a part of a bigger group
These are the simplest and primary systems of a podcast network, but is that enough? Not quite. When our podcast Film Roast was looking at joining a podcast network, we considered a number of options. We were approached by 6-7 groups, all with their own unique teams, but it was up to us to determine which group best met our needs.
Orbital Jigsaw was a name that we’d heard thrown around, and to be honest, we didn’t think we had a chance. They were growing rapidly, they had a great collection of shows, and the head of the network was a guy with 20+ years in the tech industry. This caught our interest, but our fascination grew when we were told the benefits of joining.
Keep in mind, these are benefits that were offered specifically by Orbital Jigsaw and may not be altered/not offered based on the networks you chat with:
This is kind of awesome as a podcaster. Hosting your show or shows can cost hundreds of dollars a year. This should be the simplest benefit to joining a network. Avoid networks that ask you to pay to be a part of their group. This is going to cause you a lot of headache and frustration. Speaking from personal experience, I have ZERO knowledge in RSS feeds, posting to apple podcasts, and technical work. Google only took me so far. It was a huge advantage to us to have Orbital Jigsaw helping us with everything on the back end making sure that all of our episodes were up and running smoothly.
Our network is hosted on Blubrry, who not only give us great statistics on downloads per episode and demographics of where our listeners are, but also an easy to create website. Film Roast has our own page customized specifically for our show which you can see on our brilliant new website here at Orbital Jigsaw. It’s great to have a centralized landing page for your show, but be sure to ask the networks you’re approaching about their process. Will they transfer all of your show over to their site? Will they let you run and post your own blogs and episodes? Know before you go!
Small Fish in a Big Pond
Our show isn’t brand new, but we’re not all-stars either. We’re not pulling Joe Rogan numbers or touring all over the country with My Favorite Murder. We’re an average pop culture podcast who is on track to grow slowly and efficiently on our own. This was amplified when we joined Orbital Jigsaw because we were working side by side with shows that had bigger audiences, better downloads, and more promotional power! Before joining a network, consider what the power of that group will do for you. Can you cross promote on other shows? Will they let you guest? Do you see value in having any of them on your show?
Many podcast networks like to dangle the shiny phrase “ad revenue” in front of hopeful independent podcasters. The truth is, many of them don’t know where to start in this department. The Orbital Jigsaw marketing team is dedicated to reaching out to both affiliate programs (“use the code ____ to get 10% off your next order”) and flat-fee advertisers (Company X will pay you _____ to run 10 of their advertisements) that are good fits for shows on the network. Orbital Jigsaw acts as our agent, negotiating deals as a larger group that has better bargaining and buying power, so we get better rates on just about everything as opposed to what we would be able to get on our own. In addition, the opportunity is presented for advertisers to have more than one audience to advertise to, which they love. Of course, the big red flag to watch out for is the %’age cut that a network takes from each ad you run on your show. For example, there are some out there now that are taking 60-80%, or even flat-out keeping all of it. Make the best choice for you.
A CRUCIAL piece of podcasting. From the beginning, our show was an improv, off-the-cuff movie podcast with two over-caffeinated and under-qualified hosts. It was so important to us that no one, including a network, change that. Orbital Jigsaw not only endorses our individuality, but helps us improve our show. Since starting with the network, we’ve tweaked our format and made an even better listening experience. If a network is hindering your creative process or limiting the things you say/do, that’s something to consider.
A Team That Cares
This was one of the top reasons we chose Orbital Jigsaw as our network. The group acted like a family. They truly cared about the rise and fall of the group and believed growing individually meant growing the team. Make sure the network you join is dedicated to helping you … but don’t stop there. Make sure YOU are dedicated to helping THEM. Think of joining a network as a job interview.
- What are you going to bring to the table for the benefit of the group?
- What are they going to bring you in return?
Before joining a network, I advise anyone to sit down and think about what you want as a show. What do you want in a network? In a business partner? Can you do it all yourself? What are your long and short-term goals in podcasting? Then, begin to ask questions and see if a network is the right fit for you.
There are plenty of fantastic, individual shows that never joined a network. There are also lots of incredible podcasts that are thriving as a part of one.
Asking the right questions can help you decide the right path.
Orbital Jigsaw launched from Los Angeles in 2017 as a production company, encompassing a boutique hand-picked network of some of the top people in podcasting, their brands, and some amazing content across a myriad of genres. From TV & Film to History to True Crime and more, we’ve got at least one show you’re going to absolutely adore listening to on a regular basis! If you’re interested in joining in-depth discussion, request access to our Facebook Group: The Podience
If you’re interested in services Orbital Jigsaw offers including but not limited to vocal coaching, marketing consulting, or technical & audio equipment training please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you think your podcast will be a great fit with Orbital Jigsaw, please visit our contact page!