With Ever Gonzalez from Outlier Podcast Festival
The Ticketbud Tidbits Episode 16 Podcast is with Ever Gonzalez, the Founder of OutlierHQ and organizer of the Outlier Podcast Festival. Hosted by Lisa Carson, Ticketbud Content Marketing Manager.
Ticketbud catches up with Ever to chat about the Outlier Podcast Festival coming up in Austin in May and Denver in June. We talk about what makes this festival different and the ingredients for a great event. Ever shares what goes into coordinating a traveling festival and engaging with local markets. As well as tips for new podcasters and how a podcast can be a great vehicle for you brand.
- Event sponsorships and leveraging smaller events to grow your business
- Creating a great event
- Event planning
- What was Outlier looking for in a ticketing partner?
- Podcasting for your brand
- Tips for new podcasters
- Career advice – where to focus your efforts
Event: Outlier Podcast Festival
The Outlier Podcast Festival is an event where podcasters and digital influencers gather to learn, network, and connect in real life. It’s a festival full of speakers, workshops, breakout sessions, live shows and more. If you’re interested in podcasting or looking to grow as a digital influencer then you won’t want to miss this.
This event is for outliers. People who are doing things a bit differently or people who are underrepresented in podcasting. It’s about highlighting and celebrate what the outliers are doing.
Get tickets now for Outlier Podcast Festival
Austin – May 17 & 18
Denver – July 12 & 13
Ever Gonzalez is the Founder of OutlierHQ, a media and events company that helps entrepreneurs start, grow, and scale their business. Ever is the host of Outlier On Air, a weekly podcast with over 400 episodes, interviewing Founders, Disrupters, and Mavens. Ever and his company have organized over 200 events including entrepreneur and business networking events. Ever created and organizes the Outlier Podcast Festival which is in its second year, traveling across the US. Ever and the OutlierHQ team are excited to visit cities with unique podcasting communities.
Lisa: Welcome to Ticketbud Tidbits! We’re here to bring you tips, advice and insights from fellow event organizers across the wide range of events that we work with. My name is Lisa Carson, and I’m the Content Marketing Manager, here at Ticketbud.
I’m here today with Ever Gonzalez, the founder of OutlierHQ, a media and events company that helps entrepreneurs start, grow and scale their businesses.
Ever is the host of Outlier On Air, a weekly podcast that interviews founders, disrupters and mavens, like us! Ever is also the organizer of the Outlier Podcast Festival, coming up in Austin, in May. That’s May 17 and 18, in Austin, and then in Denver, July 12 and 13.
I will definitely be at the Austin event. Welcome to the podcast, Ever!
Ever: Lisa, thank you for having me. I’m really excited about this!
Lisa: Thank you for joining us. I’m very excited to have you on, so it’s going to be great!
We’re going to start on a personal note, by asking you something about a favorite event that you’ve attended, and what you loved about it.
Ever: Good question. A favorite event that I didn’t organize, that I attended, it was called Founders Retreats. We would go up into the mountains, and there was just 12 of us, 12 to 15 founders, entrepreneurs and CEOs. We would go up into the mountains here in southern Utah, where I’m from, just for three days.
There was no agenda, really. We played a little bit, we skied a little bit. But it was just these 15 amazing men and women, getting together and talking about our businesses, about life, about kind of helping each other, mentoring each other.
It was fantastic! I got so much out of it. We didn’t have keynote speakers. We didn’t have any other things that a typical conference or event would have, but it was definitely one of the best ones that I’ve attended. I received so much information from the people that were there.
They didn’t have any agenda. They weren’t there to help me because they wanted my business, and vice versa. We were just there, trying to help each other. I think those three days really meant a lot, and I learned quite a bit from it.
Lisa: So, it was really organic. It was just who was there, and what they got out of it.
Ever: That’s exactly right. Yeah.
Lisa: Alright! That sounds awesome. Can you tell our listeners a little bit about your background, and what you do?
Ever: Yeah. Originally, I’m from southern California. I’ve lived here in Utah for the last 11-12 years. My background, career-wise, has been in logistics, in supply chain management for the last 15-16 years. So, I thought that was going to be my career, until I retired.
About ten years back, I started my own freight management company, in logistics and freight management. I sold that in 2013. Then, I was sitting there thinking “I’m 34, 35. What am I going to do with my life now? I still have a little bit of energy, and still a little bit of fire in my belly.”
As I was trying to figure out what my next big move was, I was like “What am I going to do in the meantime?” So, I decided to start a podcast, because I enjoy business and I enjoy talking to people. So, we kind of started this podcast. Because of the podcast and the success that we had early on with it, we decided to kind of put more time and resources into it, so we started this media company, really.
We’ve hosted a lot of events, 200-plus events to date. We’ve had 400-plus episodes on our podcast. And we had a co-working space here in St George, Utah, where we’re from, and it just kind of blossomed from there.
A year into it, I was like “There’s actually something special about this, so we’re going to continue to do it.” And that’s what I’ve been doing, since 2013.
When we first started, I knew nothing about podcasting, nothing about hosting events, about running a co-working space. But we just kind of put our heads down, and learned how to do it.
Lisa: Learned on the go.
Ever: That’s right. And it was the best thing, right? Because if I would have waited until I knew exactly what I was doing, I never would have got started. People wait until it’s perfect. It’s never going to be perfect. You’re never going to have all of the knowledge that you need, but we have enough. We went and we started, and we made some mistakes.
We had some failures, but we learned from them. And now, five years later, it’s been a wild ride, and we’re still going strong.
Lisa: Awesome! That’s definitely some advice that someone else gave me, because I’m someone who wants things to be just right and perfect, before you go. And I was like “There’s so much experience you miss out on, by delaying starting something.” So, I definitely think that’s really good advice.
“Okay, just get started, and learn on the go,” which is what I’m doing, in podcasting.
Ever: And you’re doing a great job. It’s funny, because I think ideas and opportunities, I think they have a season. And I think if you miss the season, you’re not going to get it back. Right? So, I think especially when we’re young, it’s nice to be young and stupid or naïve, thinking that we can conquer the world.
We can’t, but I’m glad that we throw ourselves into it, because sometimes, we can achieve some pretty amazing things because of it.
Lisa: Some of the really good opportunities do come in a window. And if you wait, to be like “Oh, wait until we know all of this, or get this all right,” other people have jumped in, and you’ve missed the boat.
Ever: That’s true. That’s true.
Lisa: You talked about, you’ve got a lot of experience doing events, now. So, how can you sort of leverage events, to grow a business? How can businesses and brands use events, to achieve their business goals?
Ever: Great question. If you’re a big company, a big brand, it’s all about market share and getting it out there, and getting the name on, you know, in these conferences, whether they’re some of the bigger conferences out there. It’s just a branding play. They’re not necessarily in there, trying to get sign-ups or customers from that exact venue. But it’s an awareness type of a play.
With the events that we do, I try to limit the attendees. We cap it at about 250 attendees, because we want smaller, more intimate settings – our speakers and attendees to be able to kind of mingle, and things like that.
That goes right along with our sponsors. All of our sponsors that come and attend our events, they’re shaking hands and meeting people, and not just handing out business cards, or whatever they’re handing out. They’re there for almost two days, and they’re truly meeting their clients, their potential clients. And they’re kind of hearing the good, the bad and the ugly of their products and services.
If you’re a brand, and you want to continue to grow, and there are a ton of these smaller events, right? I would say go and sponsor a small event, boots on the ground. Hear what your customers and potential customers are saying about the industry, about your brand, about their competitors, all of that good stuff.
It goes a long way. Really, putting a face to a brand is, I think, where the magic happens. That’s why we host the things that we do.
Like Ticketbud, right? I’ve been using you guys for most of my events, and it’s been great. We haven’t had any issues. But now, putting a face to it, now it makes me a little bit more, like loyal to you, and more human, for sure.
I think that’s where brands can really excel, in the face to face.
Lisa: I’m so glad to be the human face at Ticketbud! What do you think is like the key ingredient to a great event?
Ever: We try to build a community, with all of our events. We’re a traveling event, with a podcast vessel. So, we go to different cities, like you mentioned; Austin, Denver, L.A. We go to these different cities. We find the community leaders, the – in our case – the podcasting leaders that are there, doing amazing things.
We kind of connect with them. We ask them “You obviously know the community better, the podcasters, the scene here. Who should we be talking to? What should we be doing?” We literally sit down and listen to them, and try to put a show on, that is going to benefit that specific community.
So, our show in L.A. was different than our show in Utah. And it’s going to be different than our show in Denver and Austin. I think what we’re trying to put together – our whole brand is outlier. Outliers are doing different things. They’re the mavericks, the misfits. They’re kind of doing their own thing.
That’s great! We applaud them, and we feel like we’re part of it. But even those loners and those people that are doing amazing things on their own, they still need a sense of community. So, that’s what we’re trying to do with our events.
We bring these amazing individuals together; young, ambitious entrepreneurs and founders and podcasters. And when they get together, we just kind of step back. We let the magic happen on its own.
We do put speakers up there. We do put panels and workshops and different activities. But we just kind of make sure that everybody that’s there is comfortable, in order to be able to share, and make the true lasting connections that make an event interesting. Not just interesting, but beneficial.
We take this seriously. We don’t want to waste peoples’ time. We don’t want to waste peoples’ money, attending our shows, our events, our festivals. If they can find a potential client, a potential business partner, whatever, friend, mentor, mentee, we’ve done our job. So, that’s what we focus on, when we put these festivals together.
Lisa: I definitely think that, even though so many things are online and things like that, now, I still think that events have so much value, for that reason. It’s still that personal exchange, that has a lot of value.
Ever: Yeah. It’s funny. With our social media accounts, with our large email newsletters and things like that, we can reach a lot of people. And it’s great. We do business that way. But it’s the events. It’s the face to face, the personal connection, that goes a long way. I think that’s where our bread and butter is, and that’s what we’re going to continue to focus on, moving forward.
Lisa: Tell us a little bit about the Outlier podcast, actually. Who is it for? Why is it different? What can people expect?
Ever: So we, again, we’re capping it at 250, and we’re looking for outlier podcasters. We’re looking for, in these different communities, who are the people that are doing some cool things, that aren’t necessarily the big names, the big podcasts, the big podcast companies? We’re looking to highlight amazing people, and those in the margins.
People of color, different religions, just people that aren’t necessarily represented in podcasting right now. Not that there’s anything wrong with it, but it’s dominated by middle-aged white guys, right? For the most part.
And we have those, and a lot of them are our speakers and our friends, and things like that. But we want to be able to kind of highlight the outliers that are out there. That’s what we do with our events, and that’s how I think that we’re trying to differentiate ourselves a little bit, from some of these other podcasting events.
Which by the way, all of them are our friends, anyway, and they’re coming and supporting – doing amazing things, the podcast movement, Podfest. But keeping it small, keeping it intimate, inviting those that are normally in their basements or in their closets, recording their shows, to kind of come out and mingle with industry leaders and outliers, and everything in between.
That’s what we’ve been doing for the last year or so, and it’s worked well, so far. I love seeing somebody talking or connecting, that normally have nothing in common, or would even know to connect with or reach out to. When that happens at our events, it’s a big deal to us.
Lisa: Why did you decide to organize the podcast festival? What were you trying to achieve? What were your goals with it?
Ever: We’ve hosted a lot of entrepreneur events, and that’s part of our 200-plus events that we’ve done; a lot of pitch competitions, a lot of business and networking conferences, and things like that, and we’re good at it. I’d like to think that it’s a well-oiled machine, now.
As I was looking at all of the different podcasting conferences and events throughout the city, a lot of the ones that I wanted to attend were ones where I was like vacationing with my family, or had other commitments, and I couldn’t attend.
So, I was like “Wait a minute. We host our own events. Let’s put on a podcasting event. Not only that, but let’s do it here in my hometown.” So, we did. May of last year, we had our first Outlier Podcast Festival.
We reached out to a lot of our friends, and a lot of people that we didn’t know, that we admired in the industry, and we invited them to come to beautiful southern Utah for our very first event. It was a complete success. It was amazing!
The atmosphere and the podcasters and the podcast community in general are very open. It doesn’t feel like we’re competing with each other for downloads or for an audience base, or anything like that. So, everybody was very helpful and very open, and saying “Hey, I know this guy. You should have them on the show or up on your stage.”
I was blown away by how generous a lot of the speakers, and a lot of these high profile speakers and podcasters treated us and everybody around them. So, we were like “Let’s kind of double down, and have more of these.”
So, we had another one in L.A., that same year, in September, so we had two last year. Now this year, we’re having the three that we mentioned; Austin, Denver, and we’re going back to L.A.
Because it was such a great experience, and personally, I just had a ton of fun meeting a lot of these cool people, and people that I’ve been listening to for a couple of years now, we’re going to continue to push forward with it. And everywhere we go, we’re going to pick different cities with cool podcasting communities, to go to and explore, and meet new people, and put on these different events.
But I think every fall, we’re going to go back to L.A. I think that’s going to be our flagship location, L.A., every fall. But spring and summer of 2020, we’re still kind of like the Olympics. We’re looking around at different cities, seeing where we’re going to go.
Lisa: We’re looking forward to having you in Austin. I think it’s going to be great. Where do you start, when planning an event like this? What are the key pieces of the puzzle in the planning process, that you need to think about?
Ever: Great question. I start with the big picture; what I want my attendees to walk away with. Right? For the most part, I want them to walk away, again, with a sense of community, being able to hear from individuals that they normally wouldn’t have been able to hear from. So, I want them to be able to walk away with a sense of community, with networking.
From there, I just pick people that I admire or that I think would be great on our stage, and I start with the speakers. That’s the number one thing. We pick a theme, a little bit, and then we have all of these speakers that I’ll reach out to. 90% of the time, they come. On their own dime, a lot of them come and speak. They’re not being sponsored by their companies, or anything like that.
And we’re not paying our speakers right now, to come and speak. They do it, and they fly out on their own dime, because they feel a sense of what we’re trying to build; this community of outliers and podcasting network.
So yeah, we start with the speakers. I think everything else falls into place. For the most part, we know how much a venue is going to cost. For the most part, we know how much the food and drinks, and things like that. But I think it’s the speakers, connected with the audience, that makes it a good event.
Do we have the most comfy seats? I don’t know. Do we have the best audio equipment? I don’t know. That stuff doesn’t matter. Is the content on the stage good enough to be able to inspire you, or help you learn something? That’s what I care about.
We don’t have banners. We don’t have a lot of these bells and whistles. All I do is, I have an Outlier flag, a burgundy Outlier flag with our logo, and I put that up at every event. And that’s it.
Our sponsorships go with banners and things like that, and it works fine. But I’m trying to keep it not as corporate-y, or not as normal type of a festival, other than the Outlier flag flying in the background. We find different ways to benefit our sponsors, that way.
Lisa: It also keeps it that more community feel, like everyone’s coming in.
Lisa: What were you looking for, when you were choosing a ticketing partner? Why Ticketbud? What do you like about us?
Ever: Well, two things. I’ll be honest. In the beginning, we were looking for – you know, we have the normal EventBrite and those type of -.
Lisa: We’re the outlier. We’re a bit different.
Ever: That’s right! That’s exactly right, and that’s why I picked you, because I was looking for, again, our whole brand is outliers and startups and cool people like that. We could have went with a Eventbrite or somebody else like that, and it would have been fine. It would have been great.
But we wanted to kind of partner up and work with somebody that was doing something a little bit different. I think on top of that, there might be others. I just don’t know. But you guys pay up front, too. You don’t wait until after the event is done.
Lisa: Early payout, yeah.
Ever: Yeah. And that was like “Wait! You do what? Yes! Sign me up!” Not only are you guys outliers, but you guys pay up front. I think it’s the next day, for us, now that we’ve done so many. Somebody buys a ticket today, I think you guys start wiring it the next day.
Lisa: Daily, weekly or monthly payouts. We don’t hold the money hostage. It blows my mind. There are so many expenses that will come up before an event, things that you have to pay for. So, to free up that money early on would be such a big deal.
Ever: Especially for smaller events. Again, we cap it at 250, so it’s not one of these huge events. A lot of that revenue coming in from ticket sales helps us pay for a lot of the things that we need to pay for. So, that was very appealing, the early payouts.
And then, the fact that you guys were doing it a little bit different was very attractive to me.
Lisa: Awesome! We like to have a more personal note, and a big thing for us is the customer service. So, you’re not talking to a computer. You can get on the phone to one of us really quickly and easily. That’s sort of what we like to have. We are a startup, so that’s what we do.
Ever: Yeah. When I was trying to set up my account, I think I had issues trying to figure out, on my end, with the banking stuff. And I hopped on the phone, and you guys were able to help me right away. So, yeah. So, it was, again, it was the human touch that I enjoy.
Lisa: This is an event you’ve run before. What happens on the event day, from your perspective? Like what are you doing, to make sure the event runs smoothly? What are you thinking about?
Ever: For me, once the event starts, I feel like that’s where I get to kind of relax a little bit more.
Lisa: Oh, really?
Ever: All of the build-up is before. Like right now, we’re four weeks away. We’re a month away. This is the most intense it’s getting, because the lineup is set, but we’re just tweaking a few things. A lot of the sponsors are in place, we’re just tweaking a few things. This is the most stressful part of it, right now.
Then, we always worry about ticket sales, even though they always come. We worry about everything. But then, once it’s go time, my staff and our partners are so good at running the show and making sure everybody has what they need, and all of the speakers are taken care of.
Now, at that point, as the face of Outlier, my company, now it’s just doing what I do best, I think, is hanging out with people and talking to them about their businesses, and just doing that type of thing. So, being a people person, I think that’s the easiest part for me, day of the events; hanging out with people and making sure that they’re comfortable.
But my staff makes sure that all of the details are taken care of. I enjoy that quite a bit. Logistics, my background, making sure everything is taken care of, all of the details up until that point, is easy-ish but stressful.
But once I wake up that morning, when it’s go time, I’m like light and happy and free.
Lisa: Nice! That’s good. I like that. You mentioned before about in each of the cities, you want to work with local podcasters to host events. I understand why that was important, but how did you go about choosing who they would be? Did you already have relationships, or did you just start working out who?
Ever: Once we put the word out that we were going to these different cities, they kind of came to me. I mean, we have friends in a lot of different cities, because we’ve been doing this, our podcast show, for a long time. So, we have connections all over the U.S., for the most part.
So, some of them came from there. But a lot of them were recommendations from other people that we know, saying “Hey, if you’re going to L.A., you should really talk to this person.” So, that’s what we do. We kind of get the feel of who they are, and the culture and the vibe needs to kind of match.
We’ve been lucky to have great partners. In L.A., we’ve connected with EarBuds Podcast Collective. Arielle Nissenblatt, she’s amazing. So amazing, in fact, that she’s part of the team now, and she’s going to every city with us.
Austin, we’ve connected with MediaTech Ventures out there. They’re big on startups and podcasting. Denver is House of Pod, with Cat out there. They’re a great organization, doing some cool things in podcasting, in Denver.
So, those are the people that we’re really looking for.
Ever: And we have other cities that we’re talking to next year. So, now it’s a matter of do they have the right podcasting community, that can support this type of show? And is the host there? Our partners in the city, are they the right type of company? The right type of feel? The right type of individuals?
So right now, we’re just kind of exploring a lot of different partnerships.
Lisa: Nice. As someone who is new to podcasting myself, I need to ask some podcasting questions.
Lisa: There definitely are going to be listeners who are either new to podcasting, or they want to sort of take their podcast to the next level.
For people thinking about starting a podcast, how can a podcast be a great vehicle for your brand? And why do you think it’s a good way to engage with an audience?
Ever: I think, aside from worrying about downloads and things like that, which is horrible. Don’t worry about downloads. Don’t worry about “Am I getting enough listeners?” and all of that stuff. Worry about putting out good content first, and then you can worry about those things, if ever.
But to answer your question, to be able to help your brand or your company, for us, it’s a whole lot easier for me to call a CEO for a potential client that I want to work with, or a partner, and say “Hey, I’m calling because I’d love to have you on my show. We have 400-plus episodes. We get so many downloads. We’re a global brand, at this point.”
That’s easier for me to do than to be able to call a potential client, and try to sell them on the first call. Or to even have them take my call. For the most part, most founder/CEOs are like “Oh! 400 episodes is a pretty big deal.” Our distribution is a good size, as well. So, that has been able to grow not only my personal network, but partnerships and clients for Outlier.
Again, a lot of the speakers that come to speak at our events have been past guests on our show. And because they had such a great experience on the show, and they got some pretty good exposure from it, when I call them and say “Hey, would you come speak at my show? By the way, I’m not paying you, and you have to pay your own way,” it’s a whole lot easier for them to be like “Yeah. I’ve had a good experience with you, Ever, and with Outlier. So, now I’m going to come on my own dime, and do it again, in person.”
So, it’s helped us tremendously. If you do it right, it can go a long way. Just do it. Don’t wait for the perfect equipment. Don’t worry about the perfect script, the perfect guest. Just get out there and record it.
Luckily, right now, podcasting is – the barrier of entry is so low. All you need is a laptop and some earbuds, and that’s it. Eventually, you can upgrade to the nice fancy microphones and the nice fancy interfaces. But literally, a laptop, your earbuds, and Audacity, free editing software.
There’s no excuse for anybody that’s thinking about doing it, to not already do it. So, the advice is, if you’re not embarrassed, a year from when you started, from your first or second episode, then you’re not doing it right. You need to be embarrassed of your first early episodes. And that’s okay, because you’re getting better and better and better.
If you have a loyal following, they’re going to go on that journey with you. That’s the fun part of it. I get emails and people that I talk to at events, they’re like “I remember the first episode you did, the first few episodes. It wasn’t great!” And I’m like “I know!”
But here we are now, and it’s so much better, hopefully. In my mind, anyway. It’s so much better, and it’s a lot easier for me to just talk to people, as opposed to interviewing them, like we talked about before. Now, we just have great conversations. That’s why people are tuning in, to have these great conversations.
Lisa: I went to an event this week that Moby, the host of Outlier in Austin, he was saying “Often, we compare ourselves to really top podcasters that we’re listening to.” And he was just like “Go back and listen to their first episode. Not great!”
Ever: For sure! So, there’s hope!
Lisa: I was just like, there’s no point in listening to someone who’s been doing it for years, and comparing yourself to that. Listen to when they started.
Ever: I think that we all do that. It’s tough to not want to be at that level right away. But again, if you wait too long, that season might pass you up, and you won’t ever get it off the ground.
Lisa: I’ll finish up by asking you a couple of quick questions. What advice do you wish you had been given, at the beginning of your career, or the beginning of this new version of your career?
Ever: To play to my strengths. Because I think in the beginning I had, obviously, big dreams and certain ambitions that I wanted to do. So, I think I got distracted by a lot of things that Outlier could have become. I think the first couple years, we tried a lot of different things. Some of them worked, some of them didn’t.
So, we were kind of doing things that weren’t true to the brand, weren’t true to my own personal skillset. You should go out and try to learn different skills and try different things. But at the end of the day, you should kind of stay true to who you are and what your skillsets are, and I think, double down. Try to be as niche as possible.
In the beginning, we were trying to be everything to everybody. This entrepreneurial organization, what does that mean? We try to help entrepreneurs start, grow and scale their businesses. Truly, what does that mean?
But as time has gone on, we’ve kind of brought it down closer and closer and tighter and tighter. So, we have a tiny little niche now. Ever since we’ve done that, it’s been fantastic.
So, my advice is figure out who you are, what you like, what you’re good at. And then, only focus on that, until you grow either personally or as a brand, so that you are known for whatever you want to be known for. You’re known for being that podcaster or known for being that coder, or whatever it is.
I think focusing on that, and being as niche as you possibly can, is the way to go. I wish that I had known that at 22, 23.
Lisa: I think that’s really good advice, actually. That’s the end of my questions, so I think we’ll probably finish there. I was just going to do a quick plug, saying don’t forget to get your tickets for the Outlier Podcast Festival. It’s here in Austin, May 17 and 18. Then, in Denver, July 12 and 13.
Ever: This was fantastic! You did a great job. I had a lot of fun doing it!
Lisa: Awesome! Thanks so much. This is my first solo podcast.
Ever: Yeah, yeah. The first of many. Right?
Lisa: First of many, that’s it. It’s happening. Each week, you’ll hear it here. The Aussie accent will be back more.
Thanks to Ever Gonzalez, from Outlier Podcast Festival, talking to us on Ticketbud Tidbits episode 16. Tune in next time for more, guys! I’ll see you then.
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