WordCamp is a conference that focuses on everything WordPress. WordCamps happen all over the world, organized by local communities. WordCamps are informal, but priceless and put together by WordPress users. Everyone from the first time WordPress user to core developers participate, present, share ideas and get to know each other.
There is a schedule on wordpress.org or you can reach out to your local WordPress community to see when a WordCamp is happening close to you. I love stats, check these out, 1044 WordCamps in 75 Cities, 65 Countries, and 6 Continents. My next goal is to participate in a WordCamp in another country!
No Stranger to WordCamps
I have been attending WordCamps since 2012. It became a regular thing for me and even organized, volunteered, and spoken in a few. In 2019, I attended my last in person WordCamp and closed out all the local Texas WordCamps. Pandemic hit and we started going virtual with WordCamps. I have not quite made it to my twentieth WordCamp but the number is closing in.
- WordCamp Austin 2012
- WordCamp Austin 2013
- WordCamp Austin 2014
- WordCamp San Antonio 2015
- WordCamp Raleigh 2015
- WordCamp San Antonio 2017 (I had tickets and then I broke my foot)
- WordCamp Austin 2017 (Organizer woohoo)
- WordCamp US 2018
- WordCamp DFW 2019
- WordCamp San Antonio 2020 (First ever Virtual WordCamp, Speaker woohoo)
- WordCamp Austin 2020 (Organizer & Speaker wooohoo)
At the Hoover household, WordCamp is a part of life! Our Youngest WordCamper featured in 2017 and our WordPress baby enjoying some WordCamp US 2018 swag! Ryan was lead organizer for WordCamp Austin in 2017.
Survival Tips for Your First WordCamp
WordCamp Tip #1 Don’t Stress
Don’t sweat the small stuff! Don’t wear a prom dress or tux, WordCamp is informal. Bring your best geeky t-shirts and ripped jeans! WordCamp is casual and all about the community. Everyone is welcome. If you have never installed or worked with WordPress, a WordCamp is for you, if you are a core contributor to the WordPress project, WordCamp is for you!
WordCamps do not discriminate, and WordPress users, developers, designers, and other enthusiasts should all feel welcome at a WordCamp, regardless of their experience level.https://central.wordcamp.org/what-to-expect/
There is no one way to ace a WordCamp. Your experience will vary on you, the local community and the organizers. One thing for sure, there will be a lot of talk about #wordpress!
WordCamp Tip #2 Get Your Swag
For years I was called the Swag Queen at SXSW because I came home with bags and bags of free swag!! I mean who doesn’t love free stuff?! It is fun to share free t-shirts with nieces and nephews and kiddos too! The free stuff goes fast though! Make sure to get the right t-shirt size by going to registration early (if you are early you can also check out where all the sessions will be and get the lay of the land).
Sponsors may also have free t-shirts or other swag but it may go fast. Go right after registration before the opening remarks to get to know the sponsors and thank them for their support. After all, their sponsorships make WordCamps so affordable for everybody.
WordCamp Tip #3 Plan Your Day (just a little)
Get to know the schedule. Usually, WordCamps are informal and usually follow some sort of structure like this:
- Opening Remarks (everybody)
- Morning sessions (break out in various rooms)
- Lunch (everybody)
- Afternoon sessions (break out in various rooms)
- Closing Remarks (everybody)
The day will go by quickly and before you know it you will be chowing down on your free lunch! If there are any absolute must-attend sessions for your business or needs make sure to know where it will be and show up early to get a seat (I have been to many WordCamp sessions that latecomers arrived at standing room only!) Other than that one or two sessions that are musts, be open to change your schedule around. You might meet someone and want to chat with them, you might find out that another session is actually right up your alley or you might want to check out the Happiness bar or sponsors.
WordCamp sites will post a schedule ahead of time and usually have a printed schedule at the event. Just pick out the sessions you want to attend and roll with it.
WordCamp Tip #4 Leverage Social Media
Leverage social media during WordCamp. Check out the official WordCamp hashtag and follow that on social media, especially Twitter. Social Media can also be a great way for an introvert (me!!) to meet speakers and organizers. If you are too shy to go up after the session and introduce yourself, send them a message via Twitter. They will respond and you can meet up later if it works out but at least you have done the hard part of introductions beforehand.
WordCamp Tip #5 Be 100% You
Above all be yourself!! Many will say to not be shy or put yourself out there. Sometimes (especially for introverts!) this can be hard. Many times we just want to sink into the wall. Be yourself! It is ok to be an introvert! Many WordPressers are introverts! It is ok to be extraverted, too!!
Jessica even presented about how to survive a WordCamp as an introvert!
WordCamp Tip #6 Check out All things WordCamp
WordCamp talks are impressive and invaluable that is for sure but there is so much more to do during WordCamp. Check out the happiness bar, sponsors, lunch, and after-parties. Some of the best times happened to me when I skipped a session and sat at a table catching up with work and then realized I was sitting right next to one of my favorite WordPress peeps!
These moments are great ways to meet new friends, business partners, employees, or employers. If you really enjoyed a presentation and want to connect with a speaker, you might just be able to find them hanging around ready to meet you. Sometimes WordCamp speakers are limited on time for questions after their talk, so connecting with them after can allow for more time to really connect.
WordCamp Tip #7 Network
Don’t sit by yourself at lunch! Many times this isn’t even possible, but try just at lunch to chat with your neighbor. Everyone will be doing that as well! You will most likely spark up a conversation and maybe even end up learning a little more about each other. Even if that doesn’t happen, you will know you made an attempt to get to know one other person at WordCamp. If you are going with other friends or have been involved in the community for a bit, finding someone you know (or know of) will not be hard!
WordCamp Tip #8 Have Fun
Lastly, and most importantly, just have lots of fun!! I know from experience that the organizers work really really REALLY hard to make things a lot of fun! Your idea of fun may not be dressing and rocking your moves like DevMan, be yourself and have fun!! No matter what you will leave, most likely with a little more WordPress <3 and WordPress knowledge. Enjoy your time, whether that is attending all the sessions and taking it all in, skipping the sessions and catching up with old and new friends or rocking your moves and your best WordPress costume!!
As the pandemic lingers on, WordCamps have adjusted to the times and there are many virtual WordCamps so that we can still connect with each other. WordCamp Austin 2020 was a virtual WordCamp and in addition to more traditional tools like Zoom and Slack, we also used Mozilla Hubs to create a virtual world for the conference.
- Need Some Tips for Attending Your First WordCamp? Let Us Take Care of That for You
- An Introvert’s Guide to Surviving WordCamps and Making it Out Alive
- The Complete Guide to Surviving Your First WordCamp Europe – ManageWP
- How to Survive WordCamp: a Guide for n00bs
- Tips For Attending Your First WordCamp | @thetorquemag