A few weeks ago I went WordCamp Fayetteville (AR). It was my second WordCamp to attend, and I hope to participate in more in the coming years. I live in Central Arkansas, and we have several good options within 6-8 hours including Dallas, Kansas City, Oklahoma City, and Memphis.
Further, WordCamp US is in Nashville again this year which is within that 6-8 hour window.
WordCamp is the professional conference for WordPress professionals. So, I decided to ask around on why one should attend a WordCamp from expert WordCamp attendees.
I sought answers from two WordPress online communities, a WordPress Slack Group and the WP Innovator Facebook Group.
Today we discuss seven (actually more) reasons to attend a WordCamp presented with supporting evidence from other WordPress professionals.
Networking might be the number one reason for most WordPress professionals. It is a chance to meet other developers, and it can turn into collaboration on projects. According to Mike Hale, “For me, first and foremost it is about having a chance to spend time with my friends in person, and to meet new people. It’s also important for networking with potential clients or partners. WordCamp sessions are a great launching point for learning something new or to share your experiences and what you’ve learned along the way.”
Networking, nearly free education, making the nerds be social.
Seriously, WordCamps are where the community is built.
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When you get to a WordCamp, you begin to sense the feeling of community. As one developer said, “these are your people.”
To enjoy the feeling of talking to people who think like me. To talk about working in web without worrying that people will think we are weird. To enjoy the buzz of learning from peers over a few beers. To feel like we are making a difference. To learn to be better at what we do. To get cutting edge tips from baldies and beardies – names with editor. To feel that sense of Community that only WordCamp can elicit.
“The community! I went to my first WordCamp this year and was blown away.”
“The community. And to see what kinds of problems others are working on and how they’ve solved them – the case studies.” Jasmine Andrews
Make new friends, Beat Imposter Syndrome and Isolation
At WordCamp, we can make new friends and connect with old ones. It can help with our freelancer isolation and even beat Imposter Syndrome.
I’ve been to 19 WordCamps now. As a freelancer, or an agency with a remote team, WordCamps are my favourite ways to address the isolation of working at home alone. While there are some talks that are relevant and delivered well, the reason I go is to meet the people — folks who I’ve known a while (and only meet at WordCamps) and people I’ve never chatted to before. Doesn’t matter if its other attendees, speakers, organisers, or folks working for sponsors. It’s not just the “hallway track”, but about the going for a meal, or meeting for a drink, it’s the social / post-event-day get togethers that is so appealing for me. Even local monthly meetups don’t have the same vibe as a WordCamp. Gary Jones
— WordCamp Ahmedabad (@WCAhmedabad) July 29, 2018
This may sound odd, but one of the benefits is sometimes sitting in on talks and realizing you already know everything the speaker spoke about. Not at all being a know it all, but leaving a talk and realizing you too have a lot of knowledge to offer is a huge confidence builder and can help you beat Imposter Syndrome. Mike Oliver
Meet your online friends
WordCamp is that place where you walk around with your Twitter handle on your name tag because that is how we all recognize each other. You finally get to put a face to a Twitter handle.
Most industries have continuing education. My brother has to attend CPA conferences each year to stay sharp. A friend of mine used to teach workshops for other teachers during the Summer mont.
WordCamp is that for us. Each WordCamp is loaded with breakout sessions where an expert presents a topic.
I like the education and the chance to meet new people.
“My first WordCamp was WC Kent last year. At the very beginning the lead organizer explained that everyone was really friendly and that you should feel free to go and talk to anyone. That really made all the difference for me in terms of being comfortable and actually wanting to attend future camps.
— WordCamp Dublin (@WordCampDublin) October 15, 2017
And, the education isn’t expensive at all.
Simple, “You don’t have to pay much at all to hang out with cool people for 2 days, learn stuff that might help your business or career, get fed every 2 hours, go to an epic party and leave with about $200 of merch at the end of it all. Corey Dodd
No professional conference is complete without stickers. Am I right? How many stickers have you come home with? How about shirts? WordCamps have plenty of swag to bring back.
“The swag (stickers and shirts) and meeting like-minded people.” Terri Tutich
“Sometimes the t-shirts are good (if they fit).” WordPress Developer
“The Stickers.” – Lee Jackson
— Robert Fairhead 📚🤔 (@tallandtrue) July 28, 2018
“+1 stickers, especially die cut vinyl.” Mike Oliver
“Oh yeah and like Lee said the stickers.” Michael MacGinty
WordCamp is a great place to connect with various vendors we use in our business. Companies like MainWP will become sponsors they can set up a table and share their product or service with a targeted crowd. It is a win/win. Occasionally it can pay off when needing help. Tara Claeys explains,
Here’s another reason to go to WordCamps. I just had a long, drawn out, frustrating experience with a hosting company trying to purchase an SSL on a non profit website I manage pro bono. After a couple of weeks of back and forth, I finally emailed one of the host company guys I regularly talk to at WordCamps and who knows me – at least by face if not by name. He answered within hours and the issue is already fixed at no cost. SSL activated. Tara Claeys
— WordCamp Denver (@WordCampDenver) July 29, 2018
After Party Fun – karaoke
WordCamp will conclude with an after party. After parties are a chance to be in a social setting and “let your hair down.”
James Rose, Content Snare, “The partaaayyyyy.”
“Karaoke!!” Sally Gradle
— Mike Hale (@mikehale) April 30, 2017
Sometimes we see various reasons for going to WordCamp. A couple of developers gave numerous reasons in their response including this long one from Kevin Brennan.
Cost Effective: $25/day is the max you can charge in Canada. You can’t get a tech conference ticket cheaper than that.
– Community: There’s seems to be every type user in attendance. Beginners, advanced, marketers, hobbyists, business, etc.
– Practical: It’s not a wishy-washy, thought-leader, theoretical topics conference. You’ll take away something you can use in every session.
– Great for Business: Every year I come away with plugins, software, business techniques, etc that make my business more profitable immediately.
– Opportunities to Speak: WordCamps are really accessible for beginner to advanced speakers. Everyone has something they can share and there are people looking for every level of talk. Share you experiences.
– Post WordCamp Beers: Almost as fun as the Camp itself.
Paul Oyler said this,
Best reasons for me going to WordCamps – networking, community, meeting new people, getting out of my comfort zone, which is usually just me, myself, and I. I’ve also been inspired and realized that my self-worth is actually much greater than I had imagined. Paul Oyler
Wrapping it up
What are your favorite reasons for attending a WordCamp? I think a WordCamp will also allow you to meet WordPress industry influencers as well as long new things you did not know about. A WordCamp can be helpful for WordPress Professionals giving us an infusion of enthusiasm and encouragement as we go back to our day to day work.