Why PodCamp Boston 3 asks you to sponsor it for $50

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PodCamp Boston 3 is asking all participants to be sponsors this year, to take the ultimate step up and co-sponsor the UnConference. After lengthy debate last year with Chris Brogan, PodCamp Boston 3 would become a co-sponsored event for two primary reasons:

  1. Last year, we planned for 1,000 participants based on registration of nearly 1,500. Instead, we ended up with about 775. As a result, we had 225 shirts and other materials left over. Granted, the local homeless shelters were pleased with the outcome, but that was an expenditure of sponsor resources that was unwise. We could have instead invested those resources to provide more benefits to people who actually showed up.
  2. PodCamp Boston is evolving to bring new focus to the event. Many people have commented to me over the last year that they wished PodCamp Boston 2 had been more intimate, more focused, less of a conference feel to it, which is nearly impossible with 775 people. Asking participants for a tangible, financial commitment to the event will help to bring more of the focus that participants have been asking for.

For those for whom setting aside 61 cents a day for the next 84 days would present a serious obstacle, there are still MANY, MANY free PodCamps – DC and New York City over the next two weeks are both free, and lots of other PodCamps are showing up every day on PodCamp.org.

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Why PodCamp Boston 3 asks you to sponsor it for $50 1 Why PodCamp Boston 3 asks you to sponsor it for $50 2 Why PodCamp Boston 3 asks you to sponsor it for $50 3

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Comments

32 responses to “Why PodCamp Boston 3 asks you to sponsor it for $50”

  1. […] PodCamp Boston is charging registration this year. Christopher Penn outlines the thinking here. I have to say I wish that all podcamps would remain free, but I fully understand their dilemma. […]

  2. PodCamp Boston is worth every penny of the 50 registration fee. Networking with the thought leaders in the social media field alone makes50 feel like a bargain. When you throw in the great content of the sessions, its a done deal.

  3. Regardless of my feelings on paid vs. free Podcamps, the argument that it’s OK because there are other free Podcamps elsewhere in the country doesn’t really work, because it costs a lot more than 50 to travel and stay in another city. So if you can’t afford50 to go to PCB3 and you live in/around Boston, then you certainly aren’t going to be able to afford to go to NYC or DC for a free PodCamp.

  4. […] Co-founder and friend, Christopher S. Penn states his take on it here. […]

  5. Personally for me it’s no about the “61 cents a day for the next 84 days.” It’s about the idea, for me, of ‘paying’ for attending Podcamp through your active participation. To me that was the beauty of the original concept, which personally I’m afraid might be lost by charging even $1.

    If I pay, I expect something of value be proved FOR me, not necessarily BY me.

    That said, I’m certain that anyone ponying up the dough won’t be displeased.

  6. Fair enough, Jay. That’s one of the reasons why the PodCamp model is more or less open-sourced, so that individual events are free to run PodCamps in other cities however they see fit. Free, not free, whiteboards or schedules or wikis or Google Docs – and who knows? We may find that PodCamp Boston will lack something, in which case we reserve the right to experiment with something else next year.

  7. PodCamp Boston is worth every penny of the 50 registration fee. Networking with the thought leaders in the social media field alone makes50 feel like a bargain. When you throw in the great content of the sessions, its a done deal.

  8. Regardless of my feelings on paid vs. free Podcamps, the argument that it’s OK because there are other free Podcamps elsewhere in the country doesn’t really work, because it costs a lot more than 50 to travel and stay in another city. So if you can’t afford50 to go to PCB3 and you live in/around Boston, then you certainly aren’t going to be able to afford to go to NYC or DC for a free PodCamp.

  9. Steve – option 3: Make your own for free.

  10. Exactly right. PodCamp was a spinoff of ideas from BarCamp without being BarCamp. BarCamp was a spinoff of ideas from Foo Camp without being Foo Camp. I heartily encourage others to do the same. Chris Hambly over in the UK has created his own thing called MediaCamp. Sara Streeter created NewBCamp.

  11. Personally for me it’s no about the “61 cents a day for the next 84 days.” It’s about the idea, for me, of ‘paying’ for attending Podcamp through your active participation. To me that was the beauty of the original concept, which personally I’m afraid might be lost by charging even $1.

    If I pay, I expect something of value be proved FOR me, not necessarily BY me.

    That said, I’m certain that anyone ponying up the dough won’t be displeased.

  12. Fair enough, Jay. That’s one of the reasons why the PodCamp model is more or less open-sourced, so that individual events are free to run PodCamps in other cities however they see fit. Free, not free, whiteboards or schedules or wikis or Google Docs – and who knows? We may find that PodCamp Boston will lack something, in which case we reserve the right to experiment with something else next year.

  13. […] from Penn and Brogan that the upcoming Podcamp Boston (July 19-20) will be charging attendees $50 per […]

  14. […] Brogran and Christopher S. Penn offer their takes here and here respectively as to why PodCamp Boston 3 is charging $50 this year per attendee. While that is […]

  15. Steve – option 3: Make your own for free.

  16. Exactly right. PodCamp was a spinoff of ideas from BarCamp without being BarCamp. BarCamp was a spinoff of ideas from Foo Camp without being Foo Camp. I heartily encourage others to do the same. Chris Hambly over in the UK has created his own thing called MediaCamp. Sara Streeter created NewBCamp.

  17. My largest problem with Steve’s comment is that it says “If I can’t afford to attend PCB I can’t afford to go elsewhere”
    Podcamp is not a god given right. It should be treated as a privilege. It is not sunshine. It is not a public park (that you support through your tax dollars, even if you think it’s free). If you want to learn, you pay for school through tuition or through taxes or by buying a book, or using your library card (which you pay for through your tax dollars…) Very few things beside oxygen have a zero marginal cost. For Podcamp Boston, we’re essential asking people who want to attend to pay their marginal cost. Call it an unconference tax if that makes you feel any better. 🙂

    I have never been to any other conference that was free to attend- even small education conferences around here cost at least 25-100 minimum to attend. Podcamp has never been free- we’ve all just worked really hard to get the costs underwritten by individuals and companies in the community. now we’re asking the community to bear some of that burden itself. I think that evens the playing field and makes it even more fair. I am sorry if 50 seems way too expensive- but it also tells me you don’t think the experience is worth50, and that’s fine. That’s your value set. Since it costs me about $50 (with tip) to take my family out to dinner at a moderately priced restaurant like TGI Friday’s, I really don’t think this dollar amount is too high.

    Try a chip in account. get a friend to sponsor you. If it’s important to you to go to podcamp, you’ll make it a priority in your budgetary process and you’ll mske it hsppen. It’s a strict opportunity cost, ala Adam Smith.

  18. My largest problem with Steve’s comment is that it says “If I can’t afford to attend PCB I can’t afford to go elsewhere”
    Podcamp is not a god given right. It should be treated as a privilege. It is not sunshine. It is not a public park (that you support through your tax dollars, even if you think it’s free). If you want to learn, you pay for school through tuition or through taxes or by buying a book, or using your library card (which you pay for through your tax dollars…) Very few things beside oxygen have a zero marginal cost. For Podcamp Boston, we’re essential asking people who want to attend to pay their marginal cost. Call it an unconference tax if that makes you feel any better. 🙂

    I have never been to any other conference that was free to attend- even small education conferences around here cost at least 25-100 minimum to attend. Podcamp has never been free- we’ve all just worked really hard to get the costs underwritten by individuals and companies in the community. now we’re asking the community to bear some of that burden itself. I think that evens the playing field and makes it even more fair. I am sorry if 50 seems way too expensive- but it also tells me you don’t think the experience is worth50, and that’s fine. That’s your value set. Since it costs me about $50 (with tip) to take my family out to dinner at a moderately priced restaurant like TGI Friday’s, I really don’t think this dollar amount is too high.

    Try a chip in account. get a friend to sponsor you. If it’s important to you to go to podcamp, you’ll make it a priority in your budgetary process and you’ll mske it hsppen. It’s a strict opportunity cost, ala Adam Smith.

  19. :::standing ovation:::

    Whitney, you nailed it. 50 is NOTHING for the value that can be gained from going to PodCamp. I can now count the value of those connections in the high tens of thousands of dollars from the projects we’re doing, so50? Yeah, I’m ok with that.

    I have no idea how objectors and volunteers correlate, but I, quite honestly, am delighted to pay to attend so I’m not obliged to volunteer!

    Time is money, and the time you have all put into PodCamp is invaluable. The end. 🙂

    Jennifer

  20. :::standing ovation:::

    Whitney, you nailed it. 50 is NOTHING for the value that can be gained from going to PodCamp. I can now count the value of those connections in the high tens of thousands of dollars from the projects we’re doing, so50? Yeah, I’m ok with that.

    I have no idea how objectors and volunteers correlate, but I, quite honestly, am delighted to pay to attend so I’m not obliged to volunteer!

    Time is money, and the time you have all put into PodCamp is invaluable. The end. 🙂

    Jennifer

  21. I’d also like to encourage people, if they feel strongly, to start their own conference. I’m not being facetious, either.

    Sara Streeter did it with NewBCamp in Providence, and has started something great, inspired by PodCamp but not PodCamp.

    Chris Hambly in the UK did it, with MediaCamp Bucks based on his interpretation of PodCamp but not PodCamp.

    Justin Kownacki did it with BootCamp PGH. Not PodCamp but PodCamp-like.

    Jeff Pulver created VON Camp within his own conference. Again, perhaps inspired by PodCamp but definitely not PodCamp.

    As a result, the new media community is richer, bigger, and more diverse with these new conferences than without them, and I wholeheartedly welcome others to start their own events. Frankly, I’d be thrilled if there were a PRCamp, a MarketCamp, a VideoCamp, etc. all in the Boston area. We have New England Podcasting and Boston Media Makers, but there’s not only room for more at the table, there are entirely empty tables.

  22. I’d also like to encourage people, if they feel strongly, to start their own conference. I’m not being facetious, either.

    Sara Streeter did it with NewBCamp in Providence, and has started something great, inspired by PodCamp but not PodCamp.

    Chris Hambly in the UK did it, with MediaCamp Bucks based on his interpretation of PodCamp but not PodCamp.

    Justin Kownacki did it with BootCamp PGH. Not PodCamp but PodCamp-like.

    Jeff Pulver created VON Camp within his own conference. Again, perhaps inspired by PodCamp but definitely not PodCamp.

    As a result, the new media community is richer, bigger, and more diverse with these new conferences than without them, and I wholeheartedly welcome others to start their own events. Frankly, I’d be thrilled if there were a PRCamp, a MarketCamp, a VideoCamp, etc. all in the Boston area. We have New England Podcasting and Boston Media Makers, but there’s not only room for more at the table, there are entirely empty tables.

  23. Just to reiterate what Chris said, we did PodCamp because we liked the BarCamp idea, but had our own spin. You can do it, too. Quick rundown of what’s needed:

    * Venue – we picked places that had good wifi, were indoors, etc.

    * A/V – nice to have, not necessary, but nice to have a screen projector, etc.

    * People – yep.

    That’s it. Go run events!

  24. Just to reiterate what Chris said, we did PodCamp because we liked the BarCamp idea, but had our own spin. You can do it, too. Quick rundown of what’s needed:

    * Venue – we picked places that had good wifi, were indoors, etc.

    * A/V – nice to have, not necessary, but nice to have a screen projector, etc.

    * People – yep.

    That’s it. Go run events!

  25. […] attendees with a registration fee of $50 , meant to defray the cost of the venue. I will be helping Chris Penn and Chris Brogan organize Podcamp Boston 3, just as I did with Podcamp Boston 2, even though I live […]

  26. Guys, all good, I think you know where I stand on all this. I respect and agree with all the points made here and on Brogan’s blog about the value and work behind any Podcamp, and I understand why this has been done even if I don’t agree with the choice.

    I did want to mention one more related thing that I found slightly irksome and frankly a bit confusing when I saw it — the idea that this is a “sponsorship.” People signing up for Podcamp Boston are not “sponsors” any more than I’m a sponsor of Springsteen or the Leafs when I go to see them. Sponsorship implies, among other things, that there’s a choice not to pay. There isn’t.

    Let’s call a spade a spade: it’s an admission charge.

  27. Guys, all good, I think you know where I stand on all this. I respect and agree with all the points made here and on Brogan’s blog about the value and work behind any Podcamp, and I understand why this has been done even if I don’t agree with the choice.

    I did want to mention one more related thing that I found slightly irksome and frankly a bit confusing when I saw it — the idea that this is a “sponsorship.” People signing up for Podcamp Boston are not “sponsors” any more than I’m a sponsor of Springsteen or the Leafs when I go to see them. Sponsorship implies, among other things, that there’s a choice not to pay. There isn’t.

    Let’s call a spade a spade: it’s an admission charge.

  28. Re: Whitney’s comment:

    I agree that Podcamp’s not a right, and I’m not saying it’s wrong to charge for it, or that it’s not worth the admission fee. I’m just saying that the alternative that Chris presented (go to a free PodCamp in another city if you can’t/don’t want to pay the 50 for PCB3) isn’t a reasonable one if you live locally and the50 is a hardship for you. And really, the only people for whom the 50 would be a consideration are locals, because if you’re already paying to travel to/stay in Boston, another50 isn’t that big of a deal. I wasn’t commenting on anything but the last paragraph of Chris’s post.

  29. Re: Whitney’s comment:

    I agree that Podcamp’s not a right, and I’m not saying it’s wrong to charge for it, or that it’s not worth the admission fee. I’m just saying that the alternative that Chris presented (go to a free PodCamp in another city if you can’t/don’t want to pay the 50 for PCB3) isn’t a reasonable one if you live locally and the50 is a hardship for you. And really, the only people for whom the 50 would be a consideration are locals, because if you’re already paying to travel to/stay in Boston, another50 isn’t that big of a deal. I wasn’t commenting on anything but the last paragraph of Chris’s post.

  30. If you work in the non-profit sector, you know that the biggest item on your budget is salaries; next biggest item is for space (rental+utilities, or maintenance+utilities if you own your own building). This is a basic financial fact of life in the non-profit world. Another basic fact of life is that if you’re a membership organization (i.e., most of your funding comes from member donations as opposed to grants, big donors, corporate sponsorships, etc.) is that it’s difficult to communicate to the membership just how much you have to pay for the space. It’s hard to communicate that although you might be able to run a non-profit on volunteer labor, still someone somehow has to pay for the space — for even if the office is in someone’s house, that person is paying for utilities like phone line and heating.

    From my point of view, as someone who works in a non-profit membership organization, I can see that the fifty bucks for PodCamp Boston is going towards space — the site + utilities like Internet access, power, etc. But, again speaking as someone from the non-profit world, I can also see that it’s going to be hard to convince some folks that this is reasonable. I know this because at work I hear from people who want to volunteer in lieu of paying cash, and while I’m sympathetic I’m also aware that the utilities bills have to be paid in cash, not in volunteer hours.

    The only thing I might suggest is that instead of saying that fifty bucks buys you a “sponsorship,” I would change terminology and say that fifty bucks buys you a “membership.” The membership gives you the tangible benefits of attending PodCamp Boston 3 and being first to be notified for the next PodCamp Boston, and it also gives you the intangible benefits that come with personal identification with a membership organization. This may sound a little silly, but over and over again we have seen how the personal identification with a non-profit entity is in fact a real (albeit intangible) benefit — that’s why when you fork over your money to public radio, they call you a member and suddenly you feel much better about forking over your money.

    My $.02 worth. Your mileage may vary.

  31. If you work in the non-profit sector, you know that the biggest item on your budget is salaries; next biggest item is for space (rental+utilities, or maintenance+utilities if you own your own building). This is a basic financial fact of life in the non-profit world. Another basic fact of life is that if you’re a membership organization (i.e., most of your funding comes from member donations as opposed to grants, big donors, corporate sponsorships, etc.) is that it’s difficult to communicate to the membership just how much you have to pay for the space. It’s hard to communicate that although you might be able to run a non-profit on volunteer labor, still someone somehow has to pay for the space — for even if the office is in someone’s house, that person is paying for utilities like phone line and heating.

    From my point of view, as someone who works in a non-profit membership organization, I can see that the fifty bucks for PodCamp Boston is going towards space — the site + utilities like Internet access, power, etc. But, again speaking as someone from the non-profit world, I can also see that it’s going to be hard to convince some folks that this is reasonable. I know this because at work I hear from people who want to volunteer in lieu of paying cash, and while I’m sympathetic I’m also aware that the utilities bills have to be paid in cash, not in volunteer hours.

    The only thing I might suggest is that instead of saying that fifty bucks buys you a “sponsorship,” I would change terminology and say that fifty bucks buys you a “membership.” The membership gives you the tangible benefits of attending PodCamp Boston 3 and being first to be notified for the next PodCamp Boston, and it also gives you the intangible benefits that come with personal identification with a membership organization. This may sound a little silly, but over and over again we have seen how the personal identification with a non-profit entity is in fact a real (albeit intangible) benefit — that’s why when you fork over your money to public radio, they call you a member and suddenly you feel much better about forking over your money.

    My $.02 worth. Your mileage may vary.

  32. […] Brogan and Penn, two of the founders of the original Podcamp event have announced that Podcamp Boston 3 will charge […]

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