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Jul 1
Women's Podcasting Expo
Hot on the heels of the International Podcast Expo comes the Women's International Podcasting Expo. Same people, same place - nowhere.

This is another of these virual expos that I'm not all that fond of. I don't think there's any information the speakers will be talking about during this expo that they haven't already made available via their own channels. the true value of an expo or conference is rubbing shoulders with your peers. Not sitting around your office with a headset strapped on.

I'm also very aware that the best way to make money from podcasting is to charge people to talk about podcasting. It's brilliantly simple and sadly common.

Securing a booth costs $100, which I know sounds like a lot at first glance - but the Expo is a three day event and you get to keep your booth along with a three person audio conference room for three whole months after the event.  Plus, as an exibitor, you have the priviledge of speaking during the event.

That part cracks me up. For $100 exibitors get the privilege of speaking during an event. Now the model has progressed to not only charging people to talk about podcasting, but make the people who will form the bulk of the expos content pay to do so.

Is anyone buying this? I'm putting this under the Snake Oil category.

19 Comments/Trackbacks

You said "the true value of an expo or conference is rubbing shoulders with your peers. Not sitting around your office with a headset strapped on. "

That is a curious comment about an event that is based on podcasting which largely involves people with headsets strapped on.

I don't mind that you don't care for a virtual event - but I have to pop up and say that I love them! I received an invitation to one of the 'real' podcasting expos just last week and I nearly choked on the price of a 'real booth' ($1200-$4000). Not to mention the traveling costs of 'really going there' and rubbing elbows. Sorry, not in my budget.

I have been networking virtually almost exclusively for as long as I have been working at home and while I do agree that face to face is more valuable when it's possible - I don't think that you can brush off the well organized virtual expo as having no networking value.

Creating a podcast and attending a podcasting event are two completely different things.

A podcasting conference is about meeting like minded people and learning from each other. Creating a podcast is about making a nice sounding audio file with decent content. One requires relative isolation and the other is anathema to it.

There's nothing incongruous about my statement.

The big problem I have with this event is this:

If I pay to get a booth I get the priviledge of speaking at the event. This means that some of the speakers are not only not getting paid, but they are paying to speak. And guess who's listening to them? Paying attendees.

Honestly, what a rip off. The organizers are sitting back taking money from all directions for putting up a website.

Snake Oil.

A virtual conference can't hold a candle to a real conference, although I suppose that the jury is out on whether a virtual conference is better than no conference.

Very interesting comments, but surprising to hear from someone who has never attended a virtual expo. If you had participated and found the experience lacking, I could completely understand the criticism. However, you don't seem to have taken the time to attend and investigate in person. Nor, it appears, have you listened to or read the testimonials of the people that did attend the International Podcasting Expo, and said it was the most enjoyable and affordable event they had experienced.

Some who had attended the physical expo last year said that the online speakers and events were actually more professional. The quality of speakers and the content of the seminars received top praise. And the online networking was so well-liked that people stayed online and talked until early in the morning. Collaborations were created, mentoring relationships were formed, and new podcasters were birthed.

People from all over the world met, learned together, and some even conducted business, for less than a nice dinner out. I haven't even mentioned that ticket holders can download all of the recordings for every seminar, so no one has to miss a single session.

It seems that you find no use for learning about podcasting techniques, resources and networks, and believe networking in person is the only thing of value for an expo. But there are many newbie podcasters that are grateful for the opportunity to learn all about it for so little money.

Lastly, and most sad of all, is that you would publicly attack the integrity of the people involved with the expo without ever taking the time to speak with them in person, interview previous attendees, or attend their event. But such is the state of blogging, I gather. Should you choose to investigate this further, I offer you a cd of all of the seminars from the April Expo for your review, as well as a free ticket to attend the Women's Podcasting Expo (although it is specifically geared toward women). I hope you will take advantage of this offer by contacting me in person.

Let's keep on topic. The reason I declare your expo too be Snake Oil is because you're charging money from every angle. You're charging some of your speakers (who should rightly be paid, not paying) and then you're charging people to listen to them.

That, Penny, is a scam. You may have the best intentions, but your business model is horribly flawed. Have you seen any other expo use the "charge everyone who even looks this way a fee" model? I think you're the first.

I appreciate your comments, but I can't help but notice that you've completely avoided answering anything about the money. You've instead tried to promote the value of a virtual expo and call my views down.

It would be nice if you would make some attempt to defend your business model in your next comment.

I think you've got to be looking at this all wrong. I don't see how you can think that charging for participation is wrong.

All Expos charge vendors to participate.

If I buy space in an offline expo, I am buying the privilege of setting up a booth and talking with passerby about my thing.

An online expo provides a similar opportunity, only the vendors take their turn at the microphone to talk about their thing.

I don't think you should be comparing a vendor's turn to speak to a 'key note speaker' situation. It's two different things completely.

That's where we disagree.

I've been a speaker at many, many trade shows and I've always been paid to be there, or have been given booth space for free in exchange for being paid to speak. If I have to pay an entrance fee or pay for a booth to speak at an event, I typically wouldn't bother.

On the other hand, as Kelly has said, some trade shows do give exhibitors an opportunity to speak in exchange for their purchase of booth space.

Is this a snake oil approach? Maybe, but not for the reasons that Jon has presented. I know Penny is presenting a co-op model where those who are on the organizing committee share in money raised from the event. An admirable approach as Penny isn't pocketing 100% of the money generated from this event. Also, I know that the online tool she's using isn't cheap, so alot of the money goes to offset these costs.

However, Jon's points helped raise an issue in my mind. You see, giving people a platform at an event just because they bought booth space will do more to harm than good simply because the person's speaking abilities are not questioned. Frankly, you can't say "no" to that person because, well...they paid money for that right to speak at your event.

Overall, speaking is a commodity that must be compensated for. If content is king, speaking is majestic. Nothing can kill the reputation of your event more than a terrible speaker.

I'd recommend that event & trade show organizers focus on getting really great speakers to present at their events, pay them what they're worth or offer something in exchange for their appearance. That way, you're confident that you did your due diligence to offer attendees a selection of speakers that you're proud to stand behind of.

Look at past audience testimonials, get a copy of one of their presentations on CD or DVD, google their name to see where else they've been speaking. I put alot of time and effort into my speaking craft. I speak at 75 events per year, I'm an active member of Toastmasters and I read everything on how to present better. I'd hate to share the stage with an amateur. Frankly, if I share the stage with an awful speaker, my reputation - and your event's brand - is at stake.

At the end of the day, everyone can speak, but only a select few are actually speakers.

That's some well thought out stuff, Leesa. Thanks for that.

I did mean it when I said that Penny may have the best intentions, but I also mean it when I say that this model is horribly flawed. This is the first time I've seen this "charge everyone" model before and the best defence for it that has been raised thus far is that "everyone charges for participation" by Kelly which doesn't even directly address the specific issue of charging people to provide content.

Penny seems to have declined to come back and speak directly to that, so it appears that's the best defence that's going to be offered.

I have spoken at a few events on podcasting as well. Certainly nowhere near as many as you, Leesa, but a few here and there. To date, none of them have been paying gigs, but I've shared the stage with some very well-known Linux community members. Those were the 'paying my dues' talks and aside from a few organizations that are near and dear to my heart, I'm done with the free presentations. At no time, however, would I ever even consider paying to speak somewhere. I can't imagine what my reaction would be if an organization was to call me up and ask me pay money to speak at their event. TO say I would feel insulted would be a drastic understatement. Like you, I have to wonder about the calibre of a presenter who paid for his or her spot to present.

Editor's Note:

The original comment left in this space has been deleted. I have done so because it adds nothing to the conversation.

Robbie, if you wish to contribute to the conversation, then please do so in a constructive manner. Writing inflammatory material and stating that it's obvious I know nothing, is not only childish, but provides no credibility to you. A simple Google search on my name will provide you with enough information to know that I am indeed quite immersed in the Internet and citizen media in general. I need not take that type of crap from you.

One of the many lessons I've learned from blogging so long is how to tell when it's time to close off comments to a post. Robbie has provided the signal that this hitherto relatively intelligent and lively debate is taking the turn into a flame war.

Sadly, Movable type doesn't seem to have the ability to shut off comments (or at least this instance doesn't appear to) and I therefore cannot do so. In lieu, I am serving notice that comments without merit, such as the one I have deleted from Robbie here, will also be removed.

whats the matter hit the truth

Yeah. You got me. Good one!

Jon, the reason I didn't speak about the money issue the first time is because I wasn't bothered by what you thought about the money. I realize that you honestly don't have a clue regarding what a co-operative business model is based upon, so I can't fault you for not understanding it. I didn't respond the 2nd time because I didn't come back to your site until now. I didn't know a 2nd response was necessary.

However, I did answer that question to Kelly McCausey, and I will answer it here for you as well. I don't expect you to agree or understand, and that is completely your perogative.

1) You have never experienced an Expo where both the Exhibitor and Attendee were charged. I have - several. Among them, The National Work At Home Mom Association's Expo in Michigan. Admission was charged to roam through the booths and win prizes. Booths cost $500 and up, plus travel expenses.

I will quote from the "Podcast and Portable Media Expo" website:

# Exhibit Hall and Keynotes: Free
($25 if registering on-site - register now and avoid on-site fee)
- all keynote sessions
- exhibit hall access for two full days
- Awards Reception and other after hours events

# Full Conference: $249 ($299 after July 27th)
- attend any session in any Track
- choice of over 40 educational sessions, classes and panels
- audio and handout downloads of ALL sessions after the Expo
- high speed wireless Internet and electrical outlets in all sessions
- all keynote sessions
- exhibit hall access for two full days
- Awards Reception and other after hours events

Booths cost $1000s of dollars as well, so I am not sure why you think this business model is questionable. I don't see you criticizing that event for it's questionable practices.

2) Being a new Expo with a very new technology that people have trouble comprehending, getting large corporate sponsorships to cover expenses is not possible yet. Therefore, the Expos are a co-operative effort, with everyone pitching in, and being paid for their effort. We offer 40% commission to anyone who refers an Exhibitor, Sponros or Attendee, and we are, in that respect, the only Expo I know of that shares 40% of it's revenue.

3) Podcasting being a grassroots media, we knew from the start that events for podcasters would have to be inexpensive and easily accessible. However, we still have extensive costs in servers, design, marketing, programming, labor and training, not to mention post-production costs.

Compared to other expos (such as Ontario's $1000+ booths), we only charge $100 for a booth, which includes unlimited access to all sessions and recordings, as well as other items. And 40% of that price goes to the referrer, with the remaining 60% going to the Expo Event Site, and the Organizers.

Ontario charges $249 for access to the Full conference. We charge $25, and that includes access to all recordings and giveaways. I'm not sure how you think that is an unreasonable amount to charge. And 40% of that goes to referrers as well.

So, to summarize,
- since our Expo and Technology is new,
- we don't have large corporate sponsors, and
- our Exhibitors are mainly solopreneurs with little money, and we cannot practically charge them more,

we need to supplement our expenses with a nominal fee for attending all of the conferences. (Attending the Expo hall and 3 free keynotes is free, by the way.) This is, in every sense of the word, a co-operative event. Anyone who wants to put in sweat equity can be paid for it. And those of use who are putting together this event work long hours to establish this event and make it worthwhile for all who attend.

Regarding the Speakers comment from you and Leesa, I understand completely. However, there is a fine line that we walk. Our keynote speakers are fabulous and professional leaders in their areas. Annie Jennings, Elisabeth Lewin, Terri Levine, Jody Colvard, Nicole Simon start the list. We invited some and bartered for their participation by offering a free booth, since we don't make enough money from the Expos to pay speakers. Instead, we offer them to co-op with us and share in all of the revenue.

Yet we know that many of the Exhibitors have knowledge and expertise in their areas as well, and we offer them the opportunity to present seminars and demonstrations about their products and services. this is a very valuable opportunity for them. They are not "keynote" speakers, as such, but that does not mean that they do not have valuable information to offer.

This is not a "class separation" event, where only those who are "accepted" as national speakers are treated as valuable. We consider each of our Exhibitors as valuable contributors to the overall success of the Expo.

I don't expect you to understand and agree with me, Jon, nor do I expect you to make an effort to do so, as I had previously offered in my first post. I would hope, however, that you would personally contact those you believe are doing wrong, instead of publicly labeling them a scam without even letting them know or discussing it. If you are going to call our online Expos a scam, you will have to call the Ontario Expo a scam, and the NWAHM Expo a scam, as well as many others.

Lastly, I am offering you a public opportunity to discuss this at length with anyone who cares to attend. Please contact me to set up a time where we can record a podcast to discuss these issues. We don't have to agree on anything, but at least there will be an open, adult, real-time discussion about this, since this seems to bother you so.

Jon, you know I luvya (in the professional blogging sense that is) and I enjoy reading your blog. You and I tend to be on the same page regarding quite a number of things in the podcasting world, especially questionable podcasting products.

However, I don't find Penny's expo questionable as she's transparent, is full of integrity and her co-op model in sharing the "wealth" is admirable. Anyone who evangelizes podcasting gets my support, especially if they themselves are a podcaster with a track record.

And because of this, I'll be speaking at Penny's event. I wouldn't be involved in the online Expo as a speaker if I didn't think it would better my brand and put me in touch with my target audience. I love to teach others about podcasting and thankfully, Penny attracts some quality speakers to her online expos.

So, I'd put this expo in the essential oils category - smells good, feels good and perks you up just right ;)

Hi Penny,

Thanks for all that info, but you've once again (almost) missed the point. You've gone to great lengths to discuss why you charge for an your expo which is something that I never questioned. My issue with your expo is that you are charging some of your speakers.

Out of a startling 15 paragraphs, you've donated two sentences to the issue:

"Yet we know that many of the Exhibitors have knowledge and expertise in their areas as well, and we offer them the opportunity to present seminars and demonstrations about their products and services. this is a very valuable opportunity for them."

As for labelling your expo a scam and not telling you about it, c'mon Penny. Pingbacks and trackbacks are *the* way in the blogosphere to inform someone you're talking about them. I linked to you knowing damn well you'd see the post.

Oh, and a blog is public. You're looking for a public discussion about it. What's wrong with this one?

In the end, I do not agree with charging people to speak. As for whether or not I "even try" to agree with you, you leave me no choice. You've failed to present any compelling reasons why a business model that charges people to speak at your event in which you charge other people to listen to them, is a positive thing. This isn't about co-ops (nice smoke cloud, though) and there's no need to label the other expos you mention as scams for they do not charge their speakers. Even the P&PME quote that you painstakingly pasted into your comment shows that they don't charge their speakers.

Hi Leesa,

Yup - we tend to agree on many things, but this isn't one of them.

I'm sticking to my guns. Charging speakers to speak at a paid event is wrong. Period.

People keep bringing up the co-op model, and I'm not sure why. I have no issue with that. My issue is quite clear.

But I'm tired of saying it now.


I will be one of the speakers at the Women's International Podcasting Expo. I am by far not one of the keynote speakers. I believe you have a misunderstanding of the event. I did in no way pay to be a speaker. I paid for my exhibitor booth, which is standard for any conference. Because I have knowledge to share with the podcasting community, I will be speaking. I attended the first event in April and gained invaluable knowledge from everyone at the event both speaker and attendees. The premise of this event is to teach, learn and network with other women. Every one of the organizers of this event including and especially Penny is incredible and I applaud them all.

Hi Tracy,

Thanks for stopping by. I have no problems with paying for a booth, although everybody seems to want to defend that point. I understand thay paying for admission and for a booth is standard.

I object to the concept of having speakers pay their way up onto the stage for the reasons that I've already stated ad nauseum in my post and the comments.

Oh, and yes you did pay to become a speaker. You had to purchase your booth which comes with "the privilege" of speaking.

Have fun!

Jon, I answered your questions about the speakers in my paragraph:

Our keynote speakers are fabulous and professional leaders in their areas. Annie Jennings, Elisabeth Lewin, Terri Levine, Jody Colvard, Nicole Simon start the list. We invited some and bartered for their participation by offering a free booth, since we don't make enough money from the Expos to pay speakers. Instead, we offer them to co-op with us and share in all of the revenue.

Why you don't understand this is baffling to me. You very obviously don't want to.

And, I never saw a trackback from you, Jon - we disabled them due to all of the spam issues on the site. I don't read your blog, so I have no idea what you are saying. Someone else had to point out you even wrote about the Expo.

Penny, you're so adamant that the reason I object to your model is that I don't want to understand it. You've mentioned that in every comment you've written. I understand it perfectly well, but I plain old disagree with a model that involves paying speakers (and by that I mean speakers who are paying to speak). Insisting that I must have something wrong with me because I disagree with you isn't a credible stance.

Can't we just call it quits? You're doing something I don't agree with. I called you on it, you've rebutted (is that a word?), where else is there to go?

As for trackbacks, I can empathize with the spam issue, however that's still the standard way to initiate a conversation in the blogosphere and is acceptable to me. Writing about someone and NOT linking to them is certainly underhanded, but even without trackbacks there are enough tools out there like Technorati that anyone interested enough to see what people are saying about them can do so fairly easily.

Comments/Trackbacks are closed for maintenance.

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