Joe Pardo is a podcaster with a passion for hosting great events, that’s why back in December of 2014 he started setting up the Mid-Atlantic Podcast Conference. The initial idea was to bring podcasters together for meetups and through Google Hangouts, and then to eventually grow into conferences. After seeing the fervent interest in having a podcast (exclusive) conference in the northeast, Joe Pardo jumped on the opportunity to make it happen.
We had a great conversation with Joe about how both hard and exciting it is to start podcasting, and how social media and networking are fundamental to turning your podcast into a real success. Read the interview to know more about the event and how to being part of it!
The next MAPCON (that’s the acronym of the event) will be on September, 9-10 in Philadelphia, and we recommend you join the conference, attend its meetings, and take part in the Creative Podcast Competition where you can win a Spreaker Pro Plan and lots of other gadgets. Don’t worry if you can’t make it, you can easily listen in by tuning in to the MAPCON show on Spreaker: there will be a live stream from the event.
Hi Joe, first of all, we’d like to congratulate you on the great work you did organizing this event. We know it all started with a Facebook Group of podcasters living in the Mid-Atlantic States. How, after two years, did this event grow? How did things evolve in the meantime?
Hi and thank you so much for having me here! By the way, you have the best hors d’oeuvres ever! With the Mid-Atlantic Podcast Conference we started out with just a simple meetup in a park near Times Square in New York City. We had around fifteen people show up where we just hung out and talked podcasting before heading out to dinner.
From that point I knew that setting a date for a conference was definitely in the cards for the group. The Facebook group continued to grow steadily in the meantime. The first conference was held in a school gymnasium and had a real grass-roots feel to it, because it was, haha! MAPCON is not a regional event, even in our first year we had people from up and down the east coast, from Florida to Connecticut and even from Ohio. This year we are international, and have several west coasters making their way to the Philadelphia area!
This year I stepped up the conference by moving over to a hotel and expanded it with a pre-conference mixer, and an afterparty. We are looking at attendance between 100 and 150 this year over our 50 from last year. I am very impressed with the growth and support I have received with hosting this event. I am endlessly thankful for everyone who is making this conference happen.
What will a podcaster learn and discover while attending the Mid-Atlantic Podcast Conference?
MAPCON really puts the focus on creativity and community building for podcasters. There are plenty of speakers from all over the world to really help any podcaster get better at their craft. The amount of experience in the building is a prized resource for any newbie podcaster to come out and tap directly into.
Specifically, we have talks about being a better interviewer, podcasting with your kids, being a better guest on other podcasts, how to land sponsorships, promoting through Facebook ads, how to use improv to be a better host, and so much more! Having a solid lineup of speakers, with topics, is very important to me as going to conferences has taught me some of my most valued lessons.
For me, the best part about attending a conference is getting to connect with others who have the same passions as you. The issue you can run into is, the bigger the conference, the harder it is to connect with all of the attendees. By making a conscious decision to keep our conference under 400 attendees year over year, you have a much better chance of getting face-time with some of the biggest and most experienced names in podcasting. This year we are gearing up for 100 to 150 attendees with a single ballroom where all the talks will take place. It is a great way to not miss a single talk! But if you do, a virtual ticket is included so that about a month after the conference you’ll be able to watch every video in HD for free!
We’re curious, what exactly is the Creative Podcast Competition?
I really pride myself on thinking outside the box when it comes to putting on MAPCON. The Creative Podcast Competition gets attendees out of their seats and pairing up with three other podcasters to create a five minute podcast. They will have thirty minutes to take a bag with three random items, and to incorporate those items into their podcast that they will have to perform on stage. They will be judged by a few of our speakers, to see who will win an amazing prize pack from Spreaker! The prize pack includes an Audio-Technica ATR-2100 USB microphone and so much more!
This competition enables you to get into the improv mindset, work on a podcast creatively with others, and have a chance to win some wonderful prizes! Which is all really great, especially if you don’t currently have your podcast launched yet. You’ll most likely get to work with people who are already podcasting to create something original and engaging to hang your hat on!
Do you think that networking via Social Networks is still one of the best ways for podcasters to connect with each other? What and who do you suggest to follow, as a new podcaster?
Social networks have played an important part in my own personal growth in podcasting. When it comes to which social network is the best, in my opinion Facebook wins hands down. There are so many great Facebook groups out there that will get any questions you have answered in minutes. The support you can find on there is second to none. Podcasters realize that we are all in this boat together when it comes to the growth of our shows. The word “podcast” still has a ton of room for growth here in America, as a small percentage of people still haven’t even heard the word before.
Through Facebook groups you can connect with so many other podcasters that will quickly become friends. Finding other podcasters who are doing similar shows as yourself and reaching out can be absolutely amazing as you both grow together. Podcasting isn’t a competition, it’s a platform for connecting with other like-minded people.
As for who I think you should follow, there are so many great podcasting resources out there for newbies. I would suggest Dave Jackon’s SchoolofPodcasting.com, Blubrry’s PowerPressPodcast.com, Jessica Kupferman and Elsie Escobar’s ShePodcasts.com, and Daniel J Lewis’ theaudacitytopodcast.com.
Meanwhile, how important is it for a podcaster to attend niche conferences and events? How much did you learn, attending and organizing these kinds of events?
One of the best ways to learn is by making friends who “get” what you are doing and have their own set of experiences to share. The greatest part of niche conferences and events is that you already know what the person you are about to meet and talk with does. In the case of podcasting, when you meet someone new at a podcast conference you can skip the small talk and get right to the meat: “What is your podcast about?” This enables you to connect with more people in a shorter amount of time.
Another reason to embrace niche conferences is getting to meet some of the most experienced people in your niche. The best way to meet some of those niche “legends” is to go to the smaller events they’re attending. This way you have the most time to meet and connect with them.
I personally have a life long history of being around big events. My family’s business had been putting together big events for the trucking industry since the very early 1980s, so I have a background in event throwing that goes back when I was a child. As I got older and into DJing and volunteering at other, bigger, events, I have learned even more about putting on killer experiences for attendees. Giving that magical attention to detail in my events has always been something I strive for. So when it came to putting on MAPCON, it made sense that my event thought outside of the box when it came to how it felt and looked.
What do you think is the most common trouble new podcasters run into? And what do they have to do to prevent or fix it?
Not starting. The hardest part for anyone is checking your self-consciousness at the door. I wrangle with it myself at times, still! It is absolutely important for you to just hit the record button and talk, it is THE ONLY WAY you will get better. You should be passionate enough about your podcasting topic that you want to do it all of the time, at least when you first get started. Not every podcast is meant to last forever. Like everything in life, everything has an expiration date, but don’t let that hold you back. Starting today is so important because it puts you one step closer to connecting with amazing people that you would have no reason to talk to otherwise. Just like this interview, I would have no reason to be interviewed right here, right now if I didn’t start my podcasting journey nearly two and a half years ago.
You are good enough! Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Seriously, those people can go kick rocks while you are connecting with people, making others happy, and most importantly making yourself happier! Do it, now. Like right now, stop what you are doing (after you finish reading this) and just do it. You’ll thank yourself years from now.
What’s your favorite podcast?
Sadly, once I stopped working at my family’s business I no longer drove much, so my podcast listening has been very limited. But I’ll give you two:
The Original “WDW Today Podcast”: The original four hosts taught me so much over the years about what a podcast is (they started in 2005, around when I started listening), what makes it interesting, how to build a community that lives on well beyond the show, and how to do amazing week-long meetups in Disney World.
The $100 MBA: Omar Zenhom does an amazing job every single day of the week breaking down business for his listeners in 10 minutes or less. He is a great teacher, and has an amazing podcast that has been well recognized and awarded.
Well, thank you, Joe, for sharing your invaluable point of view about podcasting, networking, and social media usage. We believe you’ve given our readers enough inspiration to get started on a certainly soon-to-be successful podcast.