Photo Credit: SteveGarfield.TV

It’s been a week or so since the Blog World & New Media Expo NYC and Podcasting Pavilion and I’m barely caught up with work projects and email!  I spent all day Wednesday & Thursday on the Blog World Expo Floor talking until I lost my voice both days – which was actually a good thing.  Sadly, I only got to attend one session on Tuesday (the expo floor wasn’t open yet so I had time) and barely got a chance to visit other vendors exhibiting.  What did I do for two days straight?

  • I stood A LOT but I was smart enough by the second day to wear sneakers.  If I’m lucky enough to be asked to host a Podcasting Pavilion in Los Angeles I’ll be wearing jeans and sneakers the whole time… and requesting couches to lounge on!
  • I talked about podcasting to anyone that had questions – and there were a LOT of people that wanted to talk about podcasting.
  • I chatted with Chris Pirillo, Kris & Betsey from Croncast and Jeff from Geekazine who were all live streaming / recording both audio and video from the Podcasting Pavilion.  Steve Garfield also made an appearance and chatted with me and a good number of the Pavilion people.
  • I recommended Blue Yeti Microphones because I own one and brought it with me to Blog World Expo.  Blue SO needs to throw me a sponsorship – just sayin’ – no less than six people went right out and purchased them.
  • I recommended Libsyn / Wizzard for podcast hosting because I use the service myself for *years* (don’t know if they have an affiliate program – but I sure could use one!)
  • I talked about using social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Tumblr to help find new listeners and interact with the community.
  • I explained the difference between a ‘true’ podcast and other on-demand multimedia content (like YouTube) and also explained it doesn’t make a damn bit of difference as long as you get your content out to an audience that cares.

What worked:

  • Teaching people one-on-one.  It was really cool to be able to talk with people and get right to the heart of what they had questions with or needed to know more about.  Some people were looking for gear suggestions or troubleshooting, some had hosting questions, others were looking for ways to grow or interact with listeners.
  • Having live podcasts and streaming video stations.  One of the biggest requests I got prior to the Pavilion was for people to actually see what it takes to do a live stream or podcast recording.  A lot of folks were under the impression you needed a ton of professional-grade gear to get started.  Yes, I will not deny you can go nuts with broadcasting software, hosting plans, and equipment, but you don’t NEED to.  Seeing Chris use a few microphones and his built-in iCamera on his Mac Book laptop was brilliant.  Jeff at Geekazine also showed people that you can use a few consumer level HD webcams and produce an entire one-man video show!
  • Introducing current social media enthusiasts and professionals to a new content channel.  The idea of podcasting as a means to narrow the funnel was an interesting concept for many, especially those that thrive on SEO, ReTweets, Facebook Fans and blog page views.  It’s easy to get someone to follow you on Twitter or like you on Facebook, but do they actually seek out your information and consume it?  Podcasting offers a way to reach a very interested person in your content and message.  Yes, your ‘numbers’ may be lower than your Facebook Page, but the people that are downloading your podcast is genuinely interested and engaged in what you have to say.  There is *value* in that.
  • Podcasters meeting and learning from other podcasters.  This was *OSSUM* Want to know what they talked about?
    • Hey how do you like that mic?
    • What do you do for a listener audio comment line?
    • Can you believe that so-and-so got that killer sponsorship?!
    • What do you use for an advertising network?
    • How do you use affiliate marketing to make money with your show?
    • How is charging for your content working out?
  • The fact we weren’t selling anything. I can’t even tell you the number of times I laughed because of the people that walked up to the Podcasting Pavilion with a scary look in their eye.  Once I convinced them we weren’t pushing products or collecting email addresses, they opened up and got friendly.  It was still foreign to a lot of folks that I was there just to help educate and support podcasters.  With that said, I sure as hell would love to have some vendors help sponsor the Pavilion if I can do it in LA because there are a few companies out there I feel the community could benefit from interaction with (Blue MicrophonesLibsynWizzard, MailChimp, Audible & WordPress I’m lookin’ at you…)

What didn’t work:

  • It was hard to schedule meetups and roundtable discussions at specific times.  I was contacted a lot before Blog World saying that the topics were of interest, but no one knew exactly when or where they would be so they couldn’t commit on times.  Not for nothing – but all the talks are scheduled, and people seem to attend those just fine, I’m not sure exactly what the issue was with scheduling times for roundtable topics.  Maybe if I get it all worked out and can get more ‘facilatators’ to help out I can get the roundtables on the official schedule – that might help.
  • I personally didn’t scale very well, and not everyone that volunteered at the Pavilion has as much in-depth know-how about podcasting (not bragging here – trust me – I’ve just been around a long time & I’m a tech geek).  Everyone that helped me out was terrific, but it was hard to talk to more than a handful of people at one time. Luckily people seemed to wander in and out of the Pavilion so it was manageable.  If I’m lucky enough to do this at Blog World in LA, I’ll need more volunteers!
  • One thing I feel I completely failed on was getting podcasters to understand that bloggers are not the enemy.  There was a good handful of podcasters that felt there was – and should be – a hard dividing line between the two.  One person even went as far as to get ticked that ‘bloggers’ were using ‘podcaster’ seats in the Podcasting Pavilion to sit and take a break.  This is NOT an “US vs THEM” deal.  This above everything else broke my heart.  There were also a few old school podcasters that have seen their numbers take a dive, but either didn’t understand or want to incorporate newer tools like social networks to grow (or maintain) their listener base.  Evolve or die (I was pretty sure Hugh MacLeod had a print of this…I need one in any case).  Bloggers seemed very willing to take on a new medium to communicate on, so at least I could help them out!

All in all I think the idea was brilliant if I do say so myself.  I was told by most of the Podcasting Pavilion visitors that it was a very cool idea, and that they appreciated it and found value in what I did.  I know the Blog World Expo organizers seemed happy with the Podcasting Pavilion and stopped by more than a few times over the two days to check it out.  What I will ask though if that if you found value at all in what I / we did at the Podcasting Pavilion to let Blog World Expo know – Tweet them at @BlogWorldExpo or check out their website and send over a note.

THANKS to everyone that did come out and volunteer or chat it up at the Podcasting Pavilion.  This was a labor of love from me and really my only motivation to do it was to grow the community.  Fingers crossed I’ll see you all in LA!

EDIT: Here’s the podcast I put together about the Podcasting Pavilion – enjoy!