I was a member of a big ad network for almost two years. Guess how much money I received in ad rev share? Exactly zero. None. Zilch. Nada.
Mind you, according to my numbers, I probably was only due about $89, but in the early stages of a podcast, a single check for $8 from ad revenue is a motivating factor. It’s not the amount of money that matters in the early stages. It’s the simple reinforcement that what you’re doing produces something other than a lack of sleep.
That lack of validation is not dissimilar to the experience of being a business book author. With a traditional publisher, you’re paid a nice advance against your royalties, but typically you never see another dime. So you feel like you’re paid to physically write the book, but never profit from it outside of leveraging it for speaking engagements or related clients.
One day I just said, “There has to be a better way.”
The entire ethos of social media … not social media marketing, but social media itself … revolves around community. You connect there to people of like mind and interest to share, collaborate, and discuss. When you invest your time and energy into a community of like-minded people, you’re invested in their success, too. And they’re invested in yours.
I thought that was what I was signing up for with that other podcast network. The veiled promises of revenue and collaboration manifested themselves only in webinars and group discussions. No one was trying to help promote my podcast. No one was giving me ideas and advice on how to get better. And no one was sending my meager earnings from the modest CPMs I was contributing to the network.
I, on the other hand, immediately reached out to many of the other network members to invite them on my podcast. I offered up an easy cross-promotion idea to the network’s producers that would solve that problem. I suggested a few tweaks to their tagging structure that would improve each individual podcaster’s ability to optimize their episodes for better search traffic.
Crickets. No one cared, minus the 2-3 fellow hosts that were excited to be exposed to my audience by coming on my shows.
There has to be a better way.
The Birth of the Marketing Podcast Network
Frustrated, I called a sales rep at Megaphone.fm and simply asked what it would take for me to start my own version of the network I was on. I then asked if it was kosher for me to offer up podcast hosting to others as part of my network, even potentially charging them a modest fee for the privilege. Finally, I asked if I could divvy up the ad revenue however I chose.
Satisfied with the answers, MPN was born.
My small town and social media ethos-driven allergy to pure capitalism triggered a brainstorm of possibilities. We would be a community of marketing podcasters (like minded). We would all contribute our downloads to a larger pool through which to offer a unique audience target (collaboration). We would then equally divide any revenues generated from our communal effort (sharing).
I knew then and recognize now our rising tides raise all ships approach isn’t for everyone. Once a podcast reaches a certain number of downloads, the math may work out that sharing those downloads for ad availabilities is less profitable than not. For people who are money-driven, super competitive about beating out those similar to you, MPN isn’t a good fit.
For those who monetize their podcasts in many ways and don’t rely on network advertising, or who have an interest in investing in the greater marketing community knowing you often reap what you sow, MPN is a great fit.
We as a community will lift up and encourage new and smaller creators to keep creating. Even a modest revenue share will spark enthusiasm to keep creating. We will support and encourage one another, knowing that any contribution we make to helping one show on the network grow comes back to help us in the long run.
And we will build an audience of highly attractive professionals many businesses want to advertise to, so that we may take the broad network sponsorships and migrate them to MPN-exclusive direct sale opportunities. That means higher CPMs and more revenue to share.
None of us are likely to get rich with dollars. But we will be rich with relationships, encouragement and validation that what we’re doing is worthwhile.