If you’re new to WordPress, chances are you haven’t heard of WordCamps. Even if you have heard of them, there is a chance that you haven’t attended one yet, because you aren’t sure what they are and if it’s something of value to you. Whether you’re a new site owner, or a highly-skilled developer,WordCamps offer a not to be missed opportunity to learn, network and just meet some new people who share the same interest as you do. Below are ten reasons why you should attend a WordCamp, but before we get to them we should give you a brief sketch of what a WordCamp is.
So What is a WordCamp?
A WordCamp is a 1-3 day conference dedicated to all things WordPress. It typically contains a number of different tracks you can follow, but you aren’t pigeon-holed into attending just one track. You can attend sessions that appeal to you in any track. The speakers at a WordCamp are usually very knowledgeable in at least the topic they are speaking about and are there to help you learn whatever you want to when it comes to WordPress.They are organized by a group of volunteers from the local community, and tend to happen once a year.
So now that we have a brief overview of what a WordCamp is, let’s give you ten reasons to attend shall we?
Meet like-minded people
WordCamps offer you the opportunity to meet all kinds of people, who just like you, have an interest in WordPress. One of the exceptional things about WordCamps is that for the most part, the people who attend are genuinely nice and willing to help, whether its pointing you to the right session or making sure you get the help you need.
Expand your knowledge of WordPress
This is kind of a no-brainer. For most people this is the primary reason for attending, but it’s important to mention that regardless of what your skill level is when it comes to WordPress, you will walk away knowing more then when you arrived. How much more is dependent on you and what you are looking to achieve for the conference. But whether you attend one session or cram as many as you can into your schedule, your knowledge will definitely increase.
Whether you’re a freelancer looking for new clients or someone who prefers working for a company, lots of times at WordCamps there are job boards available where people looking for work and those looking to hire can post to the job board, usually found in a common area of the venue. The opportunities come in all shapes and sizes and who knows, your next gig could be on that board.
Attend Sessions That Help With Actual Issues
Whether you’re having an issue with organizing your content, or learning how to develop killer sites, the sessions that are presented at WordCamps typically help attendees with actual issues they may be having with their project(s). If the sessions don’t address your specific issues, there are other options available to get help.
The Happiness Bar
While the sessions can’t address every single aspect of WordPress ( just not enough time), you can get help with your specific problems with your site by attending the Happiness Bar. What is a Happiness Bar? Its an area set aside at WordCamps that is staffed by various WordPress employees and volunteers from the community that are there to help you one-on-one with any hurdles you may be facing with your site. While they won’t help you design a site from scratch, they can certainly help with almost any issue that you may have.
Build Your Network
Attending a WordCamp is a terrific way to help build your network of people, whether its a professional you’re looking to hire or, if you’re that professional, getting yourself in front of potential clients. I’ve seen it happen many times, that people looking for assistance with their projects tend to ask people that they have seen in a session, either as a speaker or as a person who simply just asked the right questions. WordCamps typically have an after-party where you can mingle and meet people as well.
Learn From Local,National and International Speakers
Lots of times the speakers at a WordCamp come from a wide array of locales to attend and speak. It isn’t unusual for there to be a contingent of speakers from outside the country mixed in with a healthy dose of local and national speakers. Many WordPress communities also help foster and train new speakers from within their own communities to speak at their local WordCamp. These speakers are all volunteers and have traveled to your local WordCamp in order to speak at their own cost, so they can help you learn more about WordPress.
Talk to the Vendors
WordCamps are run,in part,through the generous support of Sponsors. Lots of times these sponsors will set up a table or small booth at the actual event in an effort to speak to the attendees directly and showcase their products and services. These booths are typically manned by company representatives who are there to talk to you and your fellow attendees,so don’t be afraid to approach them and ask them questions regarding their products. You will likely walk away from the conversation with at least some new knowledge that could come in handy one day.
Become A Part Of Your Local WordPress Community
Attending a WordCamp allows you the opportunity to become a part of your WordPress Community. Most WordCamps are organized by the same people who run the WordPress Meetup group in your area. Your local Meetup group is comprised of a lot of the same people who attend WordCamps. Meetup groups tend to meet once a month to discuss WordPress and is a great way to continue networking, ask questions and expand your knowledge of WordPress.
It’s The Cheapest Conference You Will Find
At an average cost of $40 for two days, you will be hard pressed to find a conference as affordable as a WordCamp that offers as much value for your money. Along with the actual conference itself, many times you’ll receive attendee swag ( t shirt, water bottle etc), along with lunch on at least one of the days. Attending a WordCamp is a true value for your money.
Attending a WordCamp can be very valuable for just about anyone. Have another reason why people should attend a WordCamp? Please let me know in the comments below.