Big Book Energy does PodFest 2020

If you are interested in learning more about PodFest, you can still visit this year’s website.

The podcasters in their unnatural environment, surrounded by *strangers*

At the beginning of the month, Big Book Energy shlepped it down to Orlando to attend PodFest 2020, a podcasting conference extravaganza. How did BBE score such an opportunity? Well, it certainly wasn’t out of the depth of our pockets – we are broke as hell! Luckily for us, our podcasting host, Buzzsprout, is awesome and sprang for tickets for us and many, many other amateur podcasters so that everyone could get benefit from this event.

PodFest is relatively new as far as media conferences go, but has the distinction of being one of the few to focus almost entirely on the realm of podcasting. Like any other conference, there are talks and panels and meetups, and even an expo where vendors ply their goods and services. (For a list of cool vendors that we found interesting, see below) In fact, there was such a plethora of choice over the three days of the conference, Paige and Jennifer had to make some tough choices about what sessions to attend. What kinds of sessions you might ask? Topics ranged from using Adobe Audition and sound editing, to using your blog for marketing and increasing discoverability of your online content through improved SEO.

It was frustrating that once we arrived for the conference there were several pay walls that stood in our way of getting the most out of the experience. While Buzzsprout covered our initial tickets, there were numerous private events or even entire series of panels that required purchasing extra tickets. Again, given the depth of pockets mentioned above, those were not happening. Additionally, academic conferences we have attended before provide video or audio recordings of all sessions to attendees after the fact. PodFest offered access to recordings as well, but you had to pay dearly for the privilege, which felt distinctly….scam-my. At least most presenters got around this somewhat by offering their powerpoints and contact information for free.

Despite these small limitations, PodFest was an incredibly valuable experience. We learned that, overall, we are on the right track in our process and production. We also learned what relatively small changes we can make to improve on our quality – mainly upgrading on our equipment, meaning we can buy some pretty things, like this beautiful soundboard designed specifically for podcasting. Perhaps even more important than the previous two, we learned to limit ourselves. When producing content for an audience, the pressure to create is immense. We don’t have an audience of thousands or millions, but even so, it was easy to get sucked into feeling the need to produce even while we were traveling three weeks in a row. Having that realization and taking a step back while we got to have this amazing experience was definitely one of the most important things we did that weekend.

If you are also a small podcaster, perhaps just starting out and you’re not sure what you’re doing, welcome to the club! None of us feel like we know what we are doing! But if you want to learn more, PodFest 2021 may very well be for you. Fingers crossed BBE will be able to get back there as well.

Until next time!

Some cool companies we learned about at PodFest 2020:

  • Rode has some truly awesome audio equipment, including that soundboard we loved so much and mentioned above.
  • Podcast Music. This one is still in beta, but honestly it is just such a good idea. A subscription service, Podcast Music gives you access to thousands of songs or special effects that have all been properly licensed for podcasts. What’s more, if you are working with a musician, you can get them set up and licensed on the site as well. If you really want, you can also purchase outright licenses to any of their offerings! A one-time purchase and you are covered to use the music as you see fit.
  • Podcaster’s Toolbox. Also a newly launched service, Podcaster’s Toolbox provides a space that can keep track of alllllll the aspects of podcasting, from planning to producing to promoting. Seeing as how all our planning docs are in separate spaces right now, this is one BBE will also be looking into for ourselves.

If you are interested in learning more about the podcast, visit our About page, or give the trailer below a listen. You can also check out our social media and Patreon using the buttons below. Cheers!