I kicked off the first weekend of June 2019 by delivering a talk at a WordCamp. It was my first time speaking, second time attending. This was the same WordCamp I had attended back in 2016.
I am a long-time WordPress fan and user. I have been using WordPress since 2012. I can’t speak for Squarespace because I have never used it, but I personally have not had a reason to switch over. I enjoy tweaking and customizing my site, whereas I know some people may prefer something more user-friendly.
For those of you who are not familiar with WordCamp, this is a conference for WordPress users, enthusiasts, designers and developers. Even if you haven’t started using WordPress yet, but you are interested in doing so, you should think about attending a WordCamp. When I first visited their main website a few years ago, I was amazed by the number of conferences there were. They are held in many different countries, all over the world!
Despite being quite introverted and socially awkward/anxious at times, I have been pushing myself lately to apply for more speaking opportunities to get my name out there and share my story. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that my talk was well-received and resonated with some people.
If speaking at conferences may not be on your radar just yet, I’d like to offer you some reasons to attend a WordCamp.
The WordPress community has a reputation for being supportive both online and offline. This will be a biased opinion, but I agree with this one. I’m in a few WordPress Facebook Groups and have found them to be very helpful and supportive when I have a question or concern regarding WordPress. In addition to wordpress.org, a couple of my favourite WordPress education websites are WPbuffs and WP beginner.
2. Budget Friendly
I may not blog so much about personal finance, but I’m still someone who will analyze the costs (both time and money-wise) to attend an event. Let’s be honest. Some conferences have a hefty registration rate, which can prevent some people from going.
Depending on where the conference is being held, the cost to attend a WordCamp will vary. In general, I would say they are pretty affordable (After looking at a few of them, both local and international, the costs ranged from $20-$50 CAD). I haven’t checked every single WordCamp but it seems the majority of them cover the cost of meals as well.
3. Learning Environment
While some people may hate to learn new things or find it to be too much effort/work, I absolutely love learning! In order to stay relevant, it’s important to keep yourself well informed about WordPress updates. Not only that, you can learn some tips, tricks, how parts of WordPress work, etc.
WordCamp Hamilton was divided into two tracks – one was for beginners/content creators and the other one was for advanced/developers. Even though I am not a developer, I maintain my own site/made some tweaks and have helped students and clients with their websites. Hence, depending on the topic, I fluctuated between both tracks. Logistically speaking, the conference was well set up in that there was a Q & A session after each session. Not only that, there was some time in between talks to grab a coffee, take a washroom break, etc.
Since WordCamps are independently run, no two end up being the same. Schedule permitting, I may look into attending another one later on this year as part of a “workcation.”
Perhaps you already knew, but in case you didn’t, I’m an advocate for storytelling. Everyone has a story to tell about how they got started, how they go to the point where they currently are.
I still think back to when I first started blogging in 2012. Never in a million years, would I have ever guessed that I’d be telling people my story at conferences, in workshops, in college courses, on podcasts, and in soon-to-be-published books.
I attend these events looking for inspiration from other people, sometimes forgetting the fact that people may be looking for inspiration from me.
Even though it has been a few years since my first WordCamp, I remember the environment being very friendly, casual and low-key. It didn’t seem intimidating at all.
This year’s WordCamp Hamilton felt the same, but perhaps a bit better for me in that I was a speaker. It definitely made it easier to network with others. When you’re a speaker, people will often come up to you after you’ve given a talk versus having to go up to people.
You can always get involved with the community prior to attending the conference or get a head start in learning about WordPress, by joining a WordPress Meetup Group.
If you are looking to attend a WordCamp in the near future, here are some Canadian ones that are happening this year.
I highly recommend attending a WordCamp at least once to meet your fellow WordPressers. You can check out sessions from other locations at wordpress.tv The video of me speaking will be available there soon. Just search for WordCamp Hamilton 2019.
A couple of shout-outs to Adam Wills and Shanta Nathwani for putting on such a fantastic, well-run event!