John Lee Dumas made a deal with the recently launched HubSpot Podcast Network

He let the marketing software company feature his popular Entrepreneurs on Fire podcast for two years in exchange for a seven-figure deal. John retains the rights and continues to publish it on his own channels too.

While the eye-catching news may be the terms of the deal, there’s a more subtle and more important takeaway for content entrepreneurs: Podcast networks are increasingly attractive business opportunities for both podcasters and network creators. 

New @HubSpot Podcast Network may indicate growth expected in new niche #podcast networks. #contententrepreneur Share on X

Podcast networks bring together listeners with similar interests for a win-win business situation. It’s a potential boon for the podcast’s listenership and revenue. It’s also a bigger audience for the network, allowing it to expand its advertising or sponsorship revenue opportunities or to use it as a content marketing tool to access a bigger audience for their business (like HubSpot did).

Podcast networks are nothing new. The most popular encompass traditional media businesses such as The New York Times and NPR, niche networks like Barstool Sports and All Things Comedy. You also have general podcast networks like Gimlet Media, Wondery, and Earwolf. And don’t forget the podcast platforms like Apple, Spotify, and others.

But given the explosive growth of podcast listeners – 61% growth in less than three years with 80M Americans listen to a podcast at least weekly – we expect an increase in smaller entities, like HubSpot, to take on the podcast network business. And that expands the business opportunities for podcast creators.

Over 80M Americans listen to a podcast at least weekly via @EdisonResearch. Great growth options for #podcast #creators. #creatoreconomy Share on X

Tilt Advice

Don’t expect to get a deal like John Lee Dumas unless you, too, have over 1M downloads a month. But you should think about the kind of deal – if any – you might want to make. It can affect how you build and grow your podcast.

Frankly, the best thing you can do is to create a great podcast within a niche with an interested listening audience. Explore existing podcast networks with shows in your niche. Think about how to make your podcast still relevant to their audiences but different from the other shows on the platform. You want your podcast to stand out, from topic and format to brand graphics and descriptions.

#Podcasters: Find podcast networks that fit your niche. Then make your podcast stand out from rest, from format to graphics. #creatoreconomy Share on X

Research the criteria to join the networks that seem most relevant to what you create. That will help you better understand what they’re looking for in podcasts. Some have a simple inquiry form to complete, while others won’t even entertain a request until you have at least 50K downloads. It’s important to understand the process even if you’re not ready to start it. 

Deal options

Podcast networks use a host of options in doing deals with podcasters. In some cases, the exchange is simply promotional – the podcaster agrees to post to the network, and the network agrees to market the podcast along with the others. These deals might make sense for podcasters eager to grow their audiences. 

Podcasters with established audiences usually have more options. With some networks, you might receive a share of paid subscriber revenue based on actual downloads. Or the network might sell advertising or sponsorships for your show and give you a cut. On some networks, you might sell downloads through the platform, retaining all or some of the earnings minus processing fees. And some networks might do a combination of those revenue-sharing options.

What you’re selling

How do you pick the best option for your podcast business? Look at the goals of your content business plan. Then, do your due diligence to evaluate the specific network. Ask questions to learn more about how the network operates, its goals, how it works with its podcasters, how it markets the network, etc.

When it comes to signing a contract, scrutinize the details closely. Know what you’re really agreeing to. Will the network own your podcast? Or is the network acquiring an exclusive license? Or is it simply becoming an additional platform where listeners can go to access the podcast? 

Before signing a contract with a podcast network, know the details, from ownership rights to advertising plans. #podcast #creatoreconomy Share on X

Will the podcast accept advertising? What about sponsorships? Can you make those deals or is it the sole responsibility of the network? If download or subscriber fees are charged, who determines those rates? How long do the contract terms apply?

Drilling into the details enables you to craft a podcast deal that works for your content business. By doing your research and asking questions upfront, you can better chart a course for short- and long-term success.

About the author

Ann regularly combines words and strategy for B2B, B2C, and nonprofits, continuing to live up to her high school nickname, Editor Ann. An IABC Communicator of the Year and founder of G Force Communication, Ann coaches and trains professionals in all things content. Connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter.