fiscal reality for podcamps

Last year, as I made mention in this space, I attended Podcamp Boston 2. There was an expected attendance of 1,000 at the home of the original Podcamp (which really interested me) but many fewer than that showed up (including some no-show presenters). I spent both time and money to attend the event and came away generally disappointed from the educational and interpersonal experiences I had. Looking back now, I wish I had spent that money elsewhere on my business. Ouch.

Compare that to my experience at the first Podcamp Toronto, which was a tremendous event for me professionally and personally and another impetus for me making the Boston trip. With the birth of my son coinciding with Podcamp Toronto 2 this year, I wasn’t able to attend but was still a sponsor, so committed was I to that event.

Now, Brogan and Penn, two of the founders of the original Podcamp event have announced that Podcamp Boston 3 will charge $50 a head. While this changes part of Podcamp’s original manifesto and will likely upset somebody (big deal, even the United States Constitution has been amended) I think it’s the right call. Podcamp is growing up and I think it needs to.

A free event asks no commitment from prospective participants, so who cares if on Saturday morning, an attendee decides to sleep in and not go to Podcamp. But multiple that a few hundred times and you’ve got fewer fannies in the seats than you had promised your paid sponsors. That’s a serious business problem.

For Podcamps to truly succeed they have to attract businesses as part of their audience, it’s a financial imperative. Businesses who attend will pay to do so and businesses who go further in their commitment to Podcamps by sponsoring them want a fairly concrete audience commitment. The free model, as it ages, offers more quicksand than concrete.

A fee more strongly encourages commitment without sacrificing quality or content. Producers of Podcamp Boston 3 aren’t making any money off the fee as its plowed right back into the event. It’s a good business decision that will truly test if Podcamps have staying power and real impact on both social media and business.

I want both the idea and actual Podcamps everywhere to succeed. Having real investors in each Podcamp bodes a lot better for its future than relying on pie-in the sky hopes and walk up traffic. Charging a small fee for Podcamps is a smart move.

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2 Responses to “fiscal reality for podcamps”

  1. As an organizer of Podcamp NYC, I agree with you, and with the 2 Chris’ call.
    A small amount charged (and ability to ‘sponsor’ students or out-of-work people) will at least give organizers the ability to gauge the actual interest in the event, and better plan rooms, give-aways, and sponsor expectations.

  2. Howard:

    I have heard nothing but good things about Podcamp NYC this year so as one of the organizers, I commend your efforts and greatly appreciate your comments here.

    Best always,
    – Peter