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SPI 787: The Secrets of Creating (and Joining) a Podcast Network with Hala Taha

Some of my favorite success stories are ones where someone achieves their dream, only to realize their true passion lies elsewhere. Not giving up or settling, these people often redirect their skills into something greater for themselves and others. And that’s exactly what today’s guest is doing!

Hala Taha, host of Young and Profiting and CEO of YAP Media, is applying everything her successes and failures have taught her to bring people together. She now runs one of the top podcast networks and leverages her knowledge and platform to generate millions of dollars.

In today’s episode, Hala shares the ups and downs of her inspiring journey. Listen in because we get an inside look at how her network operates and dive into the pros and cons of joining forces with other creators!

How do you attract volunteers and superfans to help grow your brand? What are the things sponsors look for, and how do your podcast art and reviews affect the offers you get? What are the minimum requirements to join a network, and how do you avoid signing a bad deal?

These are just a few of the questions we explore today. Join us to learn from Hala’s incredible expertise!

Today’s Guest

Hala Taha

Hala Taha, dubbed the “The Podcast Princess,” is the Global 100 host of Young and Profiting (YAP), frequently ranked as a #1 Business and Entrepreneurship podcast across all apps. She is also the founder and CEO of YAP Media, a business podcast network with a full-service social media and podcast marketing agency for top podcasters, celebrities, and CEOs. Hala is well-known for her engaged following and influence on Linkedin.

Young and Profiting is a Top 100 podcast globally, and Hala has interviewed star-studded guests from the likes of Matthew McConaughey, Alex Hormozi, Deepak Chopra, Daymond John, Seth Godin, Robert Kiyosaki and countless others. Her show was recognized as a 2022 Webby Honoree. With the success in growing and monetizing her own show, Hala launched YAP Media Network in January 2022.

Hala is an expert on networking, marketing, social media, personal branding, side hustles, entrepreneurship, and podcasting.

You’ll Learn


SPI 787: The Secrets of Creating (and Joining) a Podcast Network with Hala Taha

Hala Taha: I’m thankful for all my failures. I’m thankful for all my experiences because it’s those skills that I learned back then that I’m now making millions of dollars off of. So even though I got rejected, and even though people hurt me, and the gatekeepers told me no, and everything like that, I still gained so much out of those experiences. Even though I didn’t make a dollar back then, I’m literally making millions of dollars a year now with those same skills that I learned back then.

Pat Flynn: Some of my favorite success stories are the ones that follow a journey to somebody’s dream. They actually reach that point of achieving their goals and then realize that maybe that wasn’t the right path for them. Either that or they get kicked out like I did in the world of architecture and then discovering a new version of themselves, a better version, and using a lot of those talents and things that were learned into something new that can help not just themselves live a better life, but several other people too.

And that’s exactly what our guest has done today. She was in the entertainment industry. She had actually been on the radio, been on television and realized that, well, that’s not the path that she was going to go down in the future.

Because she had bigger dreams, in fact, and she’s realized those dreams today. You could find her at Young And Profiting, which is another podcast hosted by Hala Taha. She is an incredible force. She has interviewed so many incredible people and she’s created one of the top podcasting networks that is out there.

We’re going to talk a little bit more about networks today. In fact, that’s what we’re going to focus on because whether you want to start a network of your own, something that combines forces inside of the space that you’re in, bringing together people, partners to reach a bigger goal to combine forces and reach bigger advertisers to quite honestly make more money together.

Either that or how might you approach becoming a part of an existing network and what qualifications do you need? What do you need to bring to the table? And how might you position yourself in a way that would get a person who owns a network or who is starting one to say, absolutely, yes, I want you to be a part of this.

There’s a lot of pros. There’s a lot of cons. Hala is going to break it down for us today. So I hope you enjoy this session. And this is session 787 of the SPI podcast. Here she is, Hala Taha from Young And Profiting.

Announcer: You’re listening to the Smart Passive Income Podcast, a proud member of the Entrepreneur Podcast Network, a show that’s all about working hard now, so you can sit back and reap the benefits later. And now your host, he thinks the name microphone isn’t a good name. Because it’s not actually that small. Pat Flynn.

Pat Flynn: Hello, welcome to the SPI podcast. Thank you so much for being here.

Hala Taha: I am so excited.

Pat Flynn: I was grateful to have been a guest on your show, and I wanted to return the favor as quickly as possible because you have so much knowledge.

You have a vast number of experiences that have led you to where you’re at today, and especially your podcast network, your successful business, your team of 40, and all the amazing things you’re doing. Plus you are a rock star on LinkedIn. I mean, we could go anywhere. Stick around because we have a very particular place we’re going to go.

But I do want to start with your story. I know you were in the entertainment business for a while. Tell me about what that was like and why you’re out of it.

Hala Taha: Sure. So I actually started my career in radio. I dropped out of college for an internship at Hot 97, which was the number one hip hop and R& B station at the time.

This was over 10 years ago. And I was actually Angie Martinez’s assistant for three years. And I didn’t get paid a dime. And I did this for three years because in the radio world, you really got to pay your dues. And my goal was to be the next Angie Martinez. And they were basically priming me for that.

So I actually dropped out of school to take this internship full time, whatever that means in terms of a free paid internship. And once a paying job opened up, I really wanted to start getting paid to be the producer. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the job at Hot 97 and I got pretty upset and I got fired from my unpaid internship.

So that was like my first like big rejection and that one really hurt because I had like really identified myself with Hot 97. My social media handles had Hot 97 and so that was super devastating. Once I got let go from Hot 97, I didn’t let failure kind of keep me down. And I decided that I was going to start this female movement called The Sorority of Hip Hop.

And I decided that I was going to launch a blog. And so I went back to school to graduate. I started recruiting girls on Twitter and Craigslist, and I started this website and I figured out how to hack Twitter where whenever we’d put out like a blog post about like a rapper or whatever it was, we would add their name and I connected all of the girls profiles, and I had 150 girls in and out of this organization over three years who blogged for me for free. And we would go viral because like Drake would see like a hundred pretty girls tweeting him and he’d retweet one of us and then we started to go viral and we were the first ones to do that. Now everybody does that, but I was the first one to do that on Twitter.

So we caught notice from MTV. They wanted to shoot a pilot with us, a reality TV show just three months into me creating this website. Like we were already one of the biggest entertainment news sites just three months into me creating this blog. So suddenly the same DJs like Angie Martinez and Funkmaster Flex and Saifah Sounds, all the same DJs that didn’t give me a job at Hot 97 started calling me up and asking me to host parties with them.

So my blog started to turn into this like event business and we were like hosting all the coolest parties in the city and getting paid for it. And like, it just like started to blow up into this whole movement. And then about three years into or two and a half years into it, MTV reached back out to us and they’re like, okay, like, we really want to do a show this time.

They signed six of the main girls. They got us a studio on Broadway and they filmed us the entire summer. So here I was thinking, finally, six years into it, basically working for free, doing odd jobs in marketing and stuff to make money in these events and whatever, but didn’t really have much security at this point or success.

I thought MTV was my golden ticket. Finally, I made it, right? They shot us all summer. I was the lead and I was so excited. And two weeks before they’re supposed to air the show, I get a call from the producer. I still remember this conversation and she was like, hola, I’m so sorry. We’re pulling the plug.

Pat Flynn: No.

Hala Taha: And I was like, Oh my God.

Pat Flynn: That was going to be your break.

Hala Taha: I know. And I also was co host on Sway in the Morning and Sirius XM. Angie got me that opportunity and Sway didn’t like me. And so like two weeks into it, I was fired. So I got rejected from terrestrial Radio, satellite Radio, and TV. So at that point, I was like, all right, this is not for me, obviously.

Like, I’m never going to make it. All my siblings were in med school. I was like the black sheep of my family, like at one point living on my brother’s couch, like trying to make it. And so I was like, okay, I’m just going to go back to school, be a normal person, go into corporate. I got my MBA, got a 4.0 that gave me my leg in the door at Hewlett Packard.

And then I just, went into corporate for four years. And when I was in corporate and I was getting bored and I was basically doing the same. I was doing really well in corporate. I was the same person, just this like intrapreneur within the corporate world. I was upset about an opportunity I didn’t get.

And then I started my podcast and that’s what set me back off. And this time around I struggled.

Pat Flynn: So, yeah, and the podcast has been incredible, Young and Profiting. Y’all got to listen to it and get on that. And it’s on YouTube as well, which is really great. And it feels like now. I mean, where you’re at now and what I know about you and your brand, you’re using a lot of the same superpowers you had back then with networking and getting your foot in the door, but you’re using that in a different space and now on your terms, tell me if you could go back and talk to your younger self, like what would you say in terms of like, Hey, maybe that’s not the path.

Cause I mean, So many people get so into Hollywood and that path, and it’s very attractive for obvious reasons. But if you can go back and tell yourself like what to avoid or what to look out for, what really means success to you, what would you say?

Hala Taha: Yeah, it’s so interesting that you ask this because I’ve been thinking a lot differently about my past lately.

I used to get on these interviews and I used to actually feel really upset from Angie Martinez. Because I’m her age now when I was her intern. And I have Interns and young employees myself. And I know I pay them so well, they have benefits and all this stuff. And I used to get really resentful. Like, man, Angie never gave me a dollar.

She fired me from a job that I quit school for. You don’t keep somebody around for three years if you don’t like them. You know what I’m saying? And so I used to feel really resentful, but then I talked to Laila Hormozi on my show and she said something to me that really opened my eyes. She was like, you know, like there’s research that goes on that like, 50 percent of what you remember of your past is like not accurate.

Like you just remember it from your perspective. Like you don’t have the full picture of what happened. Right, so I look at my past more with more like empathy towards the people who didn’t give me opportunities because I may have thought I was ready for the producer job, but looking back, I was 23 years old, like, you know, probably not ready for that opportunity.

And like, maybe I thought it was better than I was. Yeah. At the end of the day, I’m thankful for all my failures. I’m thankful for all my experiences because it’s those skills that I learned back then that I’m now making millions of dollars off of. So even though I got rejected, and even though people hurt me, and the gatekeepers told me no, and everything like that, I still gained so much out of those experiences.

Even though I didn’t make a dollar back then, I’m literally making millions of dollars a year now with those same skills that I learned back then. So, hopefully that helps answer your question in terms of like, if I was to look back and give myself advice, I wouldn’t tell myself to not do those things. I think I did the right things.

I got experiences. I explored things. I figured out what I was good at, what I wasn’t good at. And I really did lean into my strengths of like community building and being tech savvy and everything like that.

Pat Flynn: So you might say to yourself, hey, things may get rough in the future, but you’re going to find yourself wherever you need to be is where you’re going to need to be, but just keep going for it.

And versus like, don’t do that because like you said, the experiences are important and it’s like dating, right? Like you figure out what kind of person you don’t want to be around, and then you can kind of use that knowledge for the next decision or the next person that you work with. It reminds me a lot about my story as an architect.

When I got laid off, I was so upset at my boss. I was like, how could you? And like you said, looking back now years later, a little bit wiser, I go, well, he had to fire me. Like there was no way he could keep me because of the recession. And like, he probably felt bad, right? Yeah. So you’re absolutely right.

It’s all about perspective. And that’s the biggest thing here. You say now that you’re making millions of dollars. What is the business model that you are working with? And then we’ll dive into a particular component of that that I’m very, very curious about in just a moment. But millions of dollars coming from what?

Hala Taha: Yeah, so I have many different businesses. The first way that I started to monetize my brand was through my social media and podcast agency called Yap Media. So the guests who would come on my show at the time, I had a top 10 podcast two years into my podcast. The guests who would come on my show would always be like, who does your LinkedIn?

How’d you grow that? How did you create this podcast? Who does your videos? Your videos are awesome. And at the time I had a volunteer team. I had 20 people working for free for me while I was working full time at my corporate job, helping me run this top podcast.

Pat Flynn: Okay. For free?

Hala Taha: For free.

Pat Flynn: Okay. Hold up. How do you do that?

Like that’s a dream to have people do a lot of that production work for you for free. They couldn’t. Like what, what was in it for them?

Hala Taha: They learned, right? So I, I think one of my biggest superpowers, and again, why I don’t regret all these crazy experiences that I had as a younger person, is that I’m really good at motivating people and bringing people towards a common cause and working for free.

Because almost all the organizations that I had in the past, this blog, I was also like, president of my alumni association and the young employee president at Hewlett Packard. It was all recruiting people for free, so I’m very used to doing that. Okay? So it was actually the super fans on LinkedIn who would reach out to me and they’d be like, Oh my God, your show changed my life.

There’s nothing else like it. How can I help you? How can I get the word out? I just want to help. I just want to learn from you. Okay. And so I knew all the pieces to the puzzle. I could audio edit, video edit, create websites, blog, hack social media. So just teach people how to do each thing, and once they mastered it, I’d let them run with it and keep teaching them more stuff.

So as long as you keep teaching people, they’re willing to work for free. Actually it’s harder to motivate people once they start getting paid, I found. It was like very easy to motivate a volunteer team because I wasn’t getting paid. So it’s like everybody’s just doing this for the, out of the goodness of their heart, you know, and that motivated us.

Pat Flynn: Wow. It’s a little counterintuitive, but it makes sense when you understand that, okay, you are helping these people learn with you. And as you go along, there’s a common goal here that we’re working toward. I know that the audience is going to be like, like, let’s talk to them right now. The audience is thinking there’s no way, like you should pay people for that kind of work.

But what would you say to that person? Who’s thinking that, how do you share the value of the education that a person would get working with you for free? Which I know can be more valuable than money, but what do you say to a person who is a little triggered by just wait, wait, hold up, you’re like you’re, you’re taking advantage of somebody, you know?

Hala Taha: Yeah, and I knew that that might be a thought, but in my mind, I never wanted to monetize this podcast. I was putting out this podcast just to help people and that’s why everybody wanted to help me. So I actually had no goals of monetizing. Everybody just thought I was this awesome, not just thought, like I was just trying to put out good content.

I had this other job and I was a failed entrepreneur and actually pretty scarred about all my failures in the past that it took me so long to actually quit my job, even when we were making over a hundred thousand dollars a month with our agency, because I was so scared of failing again, right? Really now I would never, because my company’s making money, you’ve got to at least pay your interns a stipend. Yeah. Right? But we weren’t monetizing, so that’s why I was able to just have volunteers. Once we started monetizing, I started paying everybody. So that’s the distinction there. It’s like, if you’re already monetizing, you’ve got to at least pay a stipend.

But we were, at this point, it was just a hobby that we all had. And we were just a group that motivated each other and taught each other stuff. So I put everybody in a Slack channel and I taught everybody different aspects of how to produce a podcast. So anyways, the first way that I monetized my show was the guests at the end of the show would always ask me the same question.

How did you do this? How can you grow your LinkedIn? How did you grow your podcast? Can you do this for me? And for the longest time I was like, no, I’m so sorry. This is just a hobby. This is just a passion project. I have a volunteer team. They can’t help you. We’re busy as it is. And then finally COVID hit and I found myself with no commute, all this free time, and pretty unmotivated. I was at Disney at the time and I felt pretty unmotivated at my job. And I just said, okay, let me give this a shot. And I turned my volunteer team into my agency. That’s Yap Media. So my social media and podcast agency started there. And then I started hiring, right? So that, that’s the first way I monetize.

Once we started to grow the social agency, all of a sudden I had this money to invest in growing my show. So I started to figure out media buying, and what does that mean? I was doing a lot of trades with different podcast players like Castbox and Player FM. They were sponsoring me because I’m one of the biggest influencers on LinkedIn, and I was doing all these trades with them, leveraging my LinkedIn audience.

Then I realized that you could pay for this. And I started just leaning into paying in media buying. Then I started to grow my show. Then I started to get sponsors. Okay. Then I started to grow other shows this way. And I grew three other podcasts my size and I started to get them sponsorships. Before I knew it, I figured out how to create a podcast network.

And I started recruiting big podcasters that already had a lot of downloads and started getting them sponsorships as well. So that was the birth of the Yap Media Network about two years ago, when we’re the number one business and self improvement podcast network now.

Pat Flynn: Incredible. It’s no wonder why podcasting is always something you speak highly of.

I mean, like your start was because of the podcast and it wasn’t because you immediately had a ton of downloads, but you built these connections and relationships and literally the people you spoke to because they enjoyed the conversation so much, they wanted to work with you. I mean, that’s clear to client from the podcast right there.

And then of course it just grew and expanded from there. So let’s talk about podcast networks because this is something that we hear a lot about and it feels like it’s something that’s only available to the top 1% of 1%. It’s like, Oh, you have to be in public radio or something to be a part of a network or the New York times or whatever.

But how could a regular person podcast or some brand recruit people, first of all, like how do we attract the right people? Who do we say yes to or no to? But even before that, like what is the podcast network exactly? Like in your words, like what does that even mean?

Hala Taha: Yeah. So podcast network, basically their primary job typically is to grow and monetize.

The podcast and their network. So typically you’re reporting over podcasts to your hosting provider, like a network hosting provider, and you’re actually flighting ads and doing all the reporting and the tracking with the advertisers. You’re pitching the show to different brands, creating proposals and things like that, RFPs, and then you’re communicating the information to the podcaster, giving them talk points, doing air checks, flooding the ad, reporting the impressions and results to the brands.

So it’s basically facilitating ad flighting and booking sponsorships. And then all the podcast networks have varying degrees of this, but there’s also like growth involved. So like cross promotion on other podcasts, getting you guest interviews on other podcasts. If the podcast network is also associated with radio, getting you like radio commercials.

So there’s also growth aspects related to it.

Pat Flynn: It almost feels like you are in service to these other podcasts because, you know, you’re helping them book ads, you’re helping them with the ad reads, you’re almost sort of like a middleman, but not really, it’s like those opportunities wouldn’t come their way if they weren’t a part of this network, right?

You have the relationships, you have the connections. And in addition to that, like, do you pitch the network overall to advertisers versus the individual podcast. Cause it would make sense if you had 10 podcasts, each with a million downloads, you could easily pitch a bigger brand and say, Hey, we got 10 million downloads in our network.

For example, is that, is that kind of an advantage you have as a network as well to, to kind of attract bigger sponsors and advertisers?

Hala Taha: You can do that, but the advertisers are not really biting on that right now.

Pat Flynn: Okay.

Hala Taha: That’s not really how it works right now.

Pat Flynn: How does it work then?

Hala Taha: So typically advertisers are working with agencies.

So there’s like many different layers to this, right? So there’s lots of different agencies, like for example, Ad Results, Veritone, Wine, Gumball, Advertise Cast, right? And these agencies work with brands and many of these brands give them like a monthly budget. In terms of the shows they want, then they give them like demographic information that they’re targeting.

Any sort of criteria, like they’re looking for women, audience, like with this household income or whatever it is. Then these agencies, because they know that we’ve got podcasts en masse, now they’re not going to go to individual podcasters, to your point. They’re only going to, they want to be time efficient, so they’re going to work with networks who have a lot of podcasts.

And they’ll say like, Hey, we’ve got this brand. They’re looking for this. People send us the shows that fit. And they give us an RFP that we fill out and give them the shows that fit. Okay. So on the agency side, it’s more of like them telling us this brand has this budget looking for this. And we have to give the information that we have with podcasts that are a fit.

Pat Flynn: Okay, that makes sense.

Hala Taha: But for direct. opportunities. So there’s also like working directly with brands. These are typically people who are new to the podcast space, maybe slightly smaller companies or even super large companies that do a ton of podcast buying that have an internal team to do their podcast ads.

And so in this case, we might be more customized. Hey, you know, we’ve got these three podcasters that would be a perfect fit for your beauty brand. And we might pitch those three podcasters. So in that case, you can kind of do what you were saying before and sort of pitch in mass to a specific brand.

Pat Flynn: Got it.

When thinking about building the network, how do you determine what other shows should be a part of it? Do you have a filter system or some sort of application process? Like, how does it, how does that work exactly?

Hala Taha: Yeah. So for us, like there’s minimum download requirements and this is pretty much across the board on the industry.

Now, the Apple iOS update happened in November and most podcasters lost 30 percent of their downloads or more. Especially the older the podcast and the more frequent their episodes per week, the more downloads they lost. So some people lost 50 percent of their downloads. So these numbers, I say this because things are changing now.

The numbers don’t mean the same thing anymore because a lot of people’s downloads decreased. Right now, our minimums at Yap Media is about 80,000 downloads per month. So 20,000 downloads per week and we sell dynamic ad insertion. So that means we, we monetize new episodes and back catalog episodes with new sponsors, if that makes sense.

So about 80,000 downloads a month would be the minimum. Now, if you are somebody who has a big social following or a big email newsletter list, you might be able to get in the door at a network because of your other channels because it’s becoming more common to do these cross channel sponsorships where it’s not just about your downloads, it’s also monetizing your social and your email and your YouTube and all of that stuff.

So if you also have a big social presence, you might be able to join a network even with less numbers, but typically it’s about 80,000 downloads a month is the minimum for most of the network.

Pat Flynn: Got it. That’s super helpful. And thank you for the industry wide numbers too. That’s, that’s super valuable. So, you’re also saying that, let’s say you only get 40, 000 downloads a month, but you have an email list of over 100,000 or 80,000, like that’s going to be attractive and could lend itself to still being in a network because it’s the whole brand, not just the podcast download numbers.

Hala Taha: 100%. And I would say like, smaller networks that are not as established, not the Yap Medias and Wondereys of the world, or they might be willing to accept smaller podcasters because they’ve got more time on their hands. For a bigger network, it’s kind of like the same amount of work for a million downloads per month podcast for, you know, some, somebody that gets 50,000 downloads. So it doesn’t make sense to do that work.

Pat Flynn: If I’m a podcaster and I want to position myself in the best way possible, you know, I have decent numbers. I have decent, like everything’s kind of mid and average across the board. You know, there’s other podcasters trying to fight for the same spot. How can I best position myself, my podcast to be attractive to perhaps a network that I would love to be a part of?

Hala Taha: Great question. First of all, face on your podcast cover. What I’ve noticed with podcasters that join my network, if you don’t have your face out there on social media, on your podcast cover, even if you do get signed to a network, brands don’t want to bite on you.

They want to know what you look like. They want to know what you stand for. They’re going to associate what you look like in terms of what your audience looks like. So I do find that when you don’t have your face on your podcast cover, one of the first changes I do for people is put, I’m like, Hey, we got to put your face on your cover if you, if you want to get sponsors, because some sponsors are literally only looking at that. That and deciding if that’s, if they’re going to book your show. So you want that emotional connection with your face on your cover. The other thing I’d say is reviews. So one of the first things that I look for is I go on your Apple and if you’ve got, you haven’t had a review in a year, that’s a really bad sign.

I’m like, your audience is not engaged. You’re not doing activities to try to get your audience to engage. It’s like a real red flag, right? So proactively getting reviews and really striving to get recent reviews. That’s going to really help the social proof of your show. So making sure that you got ample amount of reviews because these things are not a publicly visible, like your downloads are not publicly visible.

If somebody lands on your Apple page, the only way they can judge your podcast size is literally by the amount of reviews that you have. And like I said, if you’ve got a bunch of old reviews, then it means that your show’s kind of stale and you don’t really have an active following. So those are two big things as well as having an established social media presence, it’s becoming more and more important.

It’s. It’s super rare for somebody to have especially a new podcast, right, to not have a social following. Some of the legacy podcasters like JLD, you know, those types of folks, he doesn’t really have much of a social presence, but he’s been doing it for 15 years, so he can get away with that.

But nowadays, you’ve got to have like, you’ve got to have your Instagram popping, you’ve got to have your LinkedIn, and at least those two. And YouTube is great, too.

Pat Flynn: Okay. That’s really exciting. Does it get to the point where you ultimately want to be on a call with the network and try to get face to face?

Would that position yourself well and give yourself a good opportunity? Is that, is that pretty, Is that pretty, Normal for a network if they’re going to have somebody in their network.

Hala Taha: Yeah, 100%. So it’s like, usually there’s like a pre vetting form and you probably have to send like screenshots of your monthly downloads to prove that you meet the minimum requirements.

You might have to give them links to your social platforms and tell them your impression counts for your posts and things like that. And then typically what would happen is that if they want you, they’re going to the podcast network is going to try to sell you. They’re going to have a discovery call with you.

Go over like the tech aspect, go over the rev share, go over the way that they work and communicate with you and they’ll give you a contract and you’ve got to review it and sign it and then you’re signed to the network. So that’s, that’s typically how it works. And something we didn’t talk about is that this is all rev share based.

You don’t pay to be a part of a network. It’s just, you get a rev share based on the sponsorships that they book. So typically it’s 70-30 is, is the industry standard. If there’s no production work involved where the network is not doing any production work, it’s a 70-30 split where the host gets 70 percent of the revenue.

Pat Flynn: Incredible insight. Thank you. What are the downsides. I mean, you have a network, you obviously believe in the, in the model, but you know, for a podcaster out there, who’s like, Ooh, this sounds interesting. I know it’s also not for everybody who is a, or what is the network not for? Who is it not for?

Hala Taha: Well, here’s the thing it’s hit or miss with these networks.

I have to say, like, I feel like we’re doing so well at Yap Media because we’re one of the only networks that has a podcaster as the CEO and I’ve been on other crappy networks, so I know what I don’t want, you know what I’m saying? So one of the things is that. You’re signing exclusively typically, which means that if they don’t sell ads, you don’t make any money and you can’t do anything about it.

So I remember I signed to a network, my first network that I signed to, I signed my whole network to it. It was like we were doing so well and we were getting all this attention and I was like, well, I’m going to sign with this big brand because they’re going to 10x everything we’re doing. They’ve got a whole sales team.

We got on their network and they did nothing. And my hands were tied and I couldn’t sell my show or the other shows and we lost all this money. I had to get out of it because they were tying my hands because they weren’t doing the work. So it’s like, first of all, you want to make sure that the network is actually going to sell because what these networks do is they get lazy and they just turn on programmatic ads.

So programmatic ads are these pre recorded canned ads that is more like automated. Whatever open inventory there is, if you’re on like Megaphone, which is a hosting provider, there’s Spotify Ad Network. Any open inventory Spotify puts it in, but it’s really low CPM. So the industry standard CPM is like $30.

Spotify Ad Network is like a $5 CPM, sometimes $2. So it’s like so bad for the podcast because it’s like hurting the listener experience. You’re getting these pre recorded ads, not making any money, and you can’t do anything about it because you’re signed to this contract. So that’s a negative right there.

So it’s like vetting the podcast network. If you can get like a test trial with them or put it in the contract that you want to have opt in or opt out of programmatic ads, that if they don’t hit a certain amount of revenue that you can leave, like put things into protect yourself so you don’t, what happened to me doesn’t happen to you where you sign and you’re doing so well.

And then suddenly you’re not getting ads because they’re not doing any selling. So that’s number one. So be careful of that. In terms of that, there’s no other cons because unless you are going to figure out the whole industry and you know, do direct selling and like go crazy with email campaigns, the other option for like independent podcasters might be to like sign up for Gumball and AdvertiseCast.

Then basically you’re working with like a middleman who works with the other agencies. That’s pretty accessible for independent podcasters. So you could do direct sponsorships and work with like a gumball or an advertised cast and you can manage it on your own, but a network is going to get you those other opportunities because typically the network is working with like all 40 agencies that are out there and getting you all those opportunities.

Pat Flynn: Got it. Biggest lesson there and I can speak from my own experience is to read the contract or have your lawyer read it, understand what the implications are, and there is room for negotiation.

I mean, we’ve had to negotiate as well because we didn’t want to be locked into something or we wanted to make sure there was a way out if it wasn’t working. That’s probably the biggest thing. So I appreciate you plus wanting that.

Hala Taha: The other thing is asking other podcasters in the net. I think this is a big one.

Ask other podcasters in the network. You can see who’s on the network and be like, how are they doing with the sales? How has it been for you? How many downloads are you getting? How much money? Just ask those questions because that’s going to be your like foolproof way of knowing if it’s a good network or not.

Pat Flynn: For sure. That is great advice. Wow. Let’s go into owning a network. I’d love to listen and learn a little bit about what it’s like to actually run a network. I know some people who have started some and failed, some who have done it, but are like a little overwhelmed with a lot of the. Ins and outs of that.

Like, what does it really take to own and create a successful network if they want it to?

Hala Taha: It’s a lot. There’s a lot going on. I would say, first of all, you need to have the right teams. So some of the teams that we have on our network is an ad operations team where they’re responsible for all the tech. So flighting the ads, porting over RSS feeds to our hosting provider, coordinating and sending out talk points, sending out financial payout information, and keeping financial trackers updates, and things like that. So ad operations is like something that you’ll need to stand up and standardize and create SOPs for when podcasts is ported over.

Also, like preparing the podcast. Most people are doing dynamic ad, so the podcasts that are coming over probably are not doing dynamic ad insertion. So that means cleaning up all the past episodes, taking out the embedded ads, inserting the insertion markers and getting that podcast ready to do dynamic ad insertion where the ad gets flighted across the entire catalog and you’ve got to like set it up.

So creating all those different processes are super important. Then you’ve got the sales side. Getting in contact with all the agencies, figuring out, like I would never give that secret away, all the different agencies that exist out there and all the different account reps and what brands they manage and getting all of that organized and making sure that you haven’t like, the biggest thing is just being top of mind for them.

So having like upfront calls and quarterly calls with them and, and checking in and sending them gifts and wining and dining them. Right, so it’s just like, Keeping those agency partner relationships super deep and fresh and understanding what brands they manage and who’s buying when super important.

Right. And making sure you’ve got all the processes for those ad relationships. Then you’ve got the direct side because podcasting is super cyclical. Okay, so a lot of the ads happen during upfront season, which is around October, November, December, where people are doing annual buys. And then there’s like a testing period throughout the year, but then there’s dead points in the year.

And so you need to be really good at doing direct reach outs where you’re reaching out to like new advertisers who have never done podcasts before who don’t align to the cyclical aspect of podcasting and the agencies, right? So making sure you’ve got email campaigns and you have different tools to find brands like that and you’re being creative.

Then you’ve got the recruitment side of everything. So you got the ads and the getting sponsors, but then you’ve also got to recruit podcasters. So what are all the processes with that? How are you going to find those podcasters? Are you going to have a niche podcast network? Or are you going to go broad?

Like who are you going to focus on and how are you going to recruit them and find that information and reach out to them? Right? So for us, actually, I think one of the best skills that we had as a team that enabled us to become a network is we did guest outreach services. As a podcast production agency.

And basically I’ve taken that skill of doing guest outreach, which is a lot of email campaigns and reaching out and finding information. We took that skill and we turned it into the network because it’s the same skill that you need to get sponsors and get podcasters.

Pat Flynn: Right. That’s super smart.

Hala Taha: Then it’s like communication, right?

Communication to the brands. We have an industry newsletter. We have an internal network letter. We have a marketing ops performance communication update every month. We have a finance update every month. So getting all your communications together to be super transparent, the payout processes, the invoice processes with the brands.

Paying out the podcasters. So there’s so many things going on. Also like the marketing materials, right? Creating a website, a catalog. So there’s lots going on. You definitely need to like think through it. But what I would say is like, do it for yourself first. I would say figure it out for yourself first, get your feet wet, sign up to Gumball, sign up to AdvertiseCast, do some direct outreach, start to get your feet wet with yourself, maybe set up your own podcast for dynamic ad insertion on Art19 or Lispin or something that’s accessible to an independent podcaster and try it out first for yourself.

Then you’ll know all the aspects it takes to do one show. And then you’ll be able to hopefully figure it out for other shows as well. I think the big thing would be agencies and getting networked with them once you actually have an established network with other shows.

Pat Flynn: That’s perfect advice. You know, doing it yourself first is always best because then you understand what works and what doesn’t and what your own style is like.

And I feel like if you’re in a super niche, part of an industry, your ability to be the one to step up, to then bring everybody together, to be the hub is something that could work really well. However, if you feel like maybe you are in an industry that is maybe pretty saturated, or there’s a lot of people out there and you want to be at the top connecting with an existing network is great because obviously you just heard all the ins and outs that go into that, and you might not have time for that.

And that’s the benefit. That’s the, that’s the relationship that’s created between network and podcaster. And I appreciate you coming on today. This was super informational. You went really quickly through a lot of stuff that I’d never heard of before. So I appreciate you. Why don’t you do a little pitch for, for Yap and what people can discover over there and where you want people to go to, to find out more info from you.

Hala Taha: Pat, thank you so much for your time today. If you guys want to check out Young and Profiting podcast, it is my baby. I’ve been doing it for six years. I interviewed the brightest minds in the world. I’ve interviewed Pat on that show. Just check out Young and Profiting. You can find it everywhere. If you want to check out information about my network or my social agency, you can go to And if you want to follow me on social media, you can get me on Instagram at @YapWithHala or LinkedIn. You can search for my name. It’s Hala Taha.

Pat Flynn: You are incredible. Thank you so much for coming on today. Appreciate you. And we’ll put all the links in the show notes for everybody and all the best of luck.

Thank you again.

Hala Taha: Thank you.

Pat Flynn: All right. That was an incredible episode. I learned so much about podcast networks. And if you want to start a network of your own, whether it’s a podcast network, a YouTube network, a blog network, a TikTok network, whatever it might be, this is an episode that can help you understand the ins and outs of that.

Or if you want to join a network, like we talked about, now, you know what it takes and what you can bring to the table. So it’s not just about your numbers that you have on the platform. It might be all the other numbers that you have combined behind that as well. So keep that in mind. And Hala, thank you so much for coming on today.

Definitely check out and subscribe to the Young and Profiting podcast. You can check out Yap media as well, and the network over there and just. Man, she’s got so many amazing things going on. I’m so grateful for her and I’m so grateful for you for listening all the way through. I appreciate you and be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss out on the next episodes coming your way soon.

Cheers. Thanks so much. And all the best to you. See you in the next episode.

Thank you so much for listening to the Smart Passive Income podcast at I’m your host, Pat Flynn. Sound editing by Duncan Brown. Our senior producer is David Grabowski, and our executive producer is Matt Gartland. The Smart Passive Income Podcast is a production of SPI Media, and a proud member of the Entrepreneur Podcast Network. Catch you next week!

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