Podfest 2016 was held last week (Wednesday, February 24, 2016 — Saturday, February 27, 2016) in beautiful Tampa, Florida. Being thrilled that an event like this was taking place in my home state, I hopped on 95 South, caught I-4 West and didn’t stop till the sun was dipping into the deep blue Tampa Bay and I could taste the salt air.
I was at Podfest last year and remembered the crowd being fun. Podcasters by nature are a pretty outgoing group, but a big benefit of these smaller events is they allow you to pick out familiar faces pretty quickly. Within minutes of my arrival I spotted a few people I met last year and reconnected. This particular group is pretty tight. They very much look out for and take care of each other, but not at the expense of making others feel unwelcome. I’m no longer a Tampa resident, but I was welcomed like an old friend.
This year I’m estimating about 150–200 attendees. It felt a little larger than last year, with a lot of new faces. A few of the speakers took some informal (raise you hand) polls asking how many people were actively podcasting. It seemed as though 1/3 of the people were active podcasters with the remaining 2/3 looking to launch sometime soon.
This is an easy group to talk with. As I mentioned earlier, the people are fun and most of them are outgoing and extroverted by nature. If you can muster the chutzpa to say “hi” they will take it from there. Podcasters are skilled interviewers. A perfect compliment to someone like me who dreads small talk. They don’t comment on the weather (although it was unseasonably cold), they dig deep. Real conversations and story sharing.
My personal favorite presentation was by Glenn the Geek of Horse Radio Network and Niel Guilarte of Wildstyle Media Group. Their talk was titled “Finding Advertisers.” Glenn had the most practical advice on the topic that I’ve heard (and I thought I had heard it all). Glenn sold podcast sponsorships before he even launched his show and to this day has advertisers that don’t ask about download numbers. He’s a down-to-earth guy selling his own ads. It’s not a story you hear every day. Enlightening and engaging.
Sponsors & Vendors
I spent some time talking with Corey at Podfly. I find their services very compelling and, as we’re on the cusp of launching our own podcast, I wanted to get more information.
Podfly is a production company that focuses on simplifying the technical hurtles and streamlining the production process of podcasting. Though they also offer services for established podcasts, I was most interested in their Zero to Hero — Setup and Launch package. Zero to Hero is designed to take a podcast from an idea to launching your first episode. It includes services like pre-production coaching, equipment recommendations and setup, training materials (including videos), professionally voiced intro and outro with music, pre-show audio equipment testing, and one fully-produced episode.
We’re going to be using them for our Create Buzz podcast and will report back with a full review.
The Next Podfest and Should You Go?
Next years Podfest will be held in St. Petersburg, Florida. They announced the dates but someone forgot to write them down. :| If you’re not familiar with the area, Tampa is nice — but St. Pete is where it’s at.
If you live in or around Florida and have an interest in podcasting you should plan on attending Podfest next year. It’s a low cost, high value event that I will continue to look forward to.
Ultimately, attending events like this usually comes down to a question of affordability, but I think the value of Podfest is hard to deny.
I’ll be there. Buzzsprout will be there. Will you be there?
Kevin Finn (@kfinn) is a co-founder at Higher Pixels — makers of Buzzsprout Podcast Hosting, Tick Time Tracking, Donor Tools Donor Management, and StreamCare Physician Dispensing Solutions.