One of the perks of being married to emagine’s President, Bill Gadless, is that I get to be his “sidekick.” And that means I get to accompany him when he speaks at Wordcamps all over the United States! WordCamp is a conference about everything WordPress. The events are informal and on weekends where WordPress users can come together to network and learn about all of the different, unique things about WordPress.
I have had the pleasure of attending several WordCamps in the past year, having been Bill’s sidekick while he spoke in Asheville, Baltimore, Los Angeles, and Jacksonville. I’ve also volunteered in Miami, and organized a company-wide trip to Wordcamp US in Philadelphia where emagineers from all over the East Coast attended. I won’t keep bragging, but I got this WordCamp thing down!
From my own WordCamp experience, you can see that I am qualified to share a few tips for surviving these information-packed events! To help you survive your next WordCamp, I’ve narrowed down five things to help your plan of attack.
Since I’ve attend many Wordcamp conferences all over the United States with Bill and other emagine team members, I’ve learned it is imperative to stay organized. Because each WordCamp is organized by a local volunteer, no two Wordcamp conferences are the same. From check-in location, where the tracks are held, and even the assigned parking varies from each WordCamp. To help stay on top of important information, I created a “WordCamp” email folder with subfolders under it for each one. The emails contain tickets, directions, parking information, etc.
Also, when I attend a WordCamp with multiple emagine team members, we create a Slack channel so that we can all keep in touch with each other using our cellphones.
Snag Your Swag
Who doesn’t love free stuff? But free stuff goes fast! The key to getting the good size t-shirts is to get them early. The volunteers helping with registration usually know your size from when you purchase your ticket, but some WordCamps have different colored t-shirts, so you want to get to registration right on time to choose. Sponsors that give away t-shirts and other swag might run out, so right after registration is a great time to go check out the t-shirts and swag from the sponsors.
Know the Schedule and Tracks
Because a majority of the content presented at WordCamp is focused on using and developing on WordPress, there is always a “developer” track during each time slot. However, there are also many Design, User, Blogging, SEO, Social Media and Business tracks that appeal to a wider audience. Some WordCamps only have 2 sessions on the schedule during a given time slot, but others may have up to four. Knowing the schedule ahead of time and highlighting the tracks you are most interested in are important so that you don’t miss out on anything you planned on attending.
Leverage Social Media
From my experience, Twitter is the most effective social media platform to leverage during WordCamp. Because every WordCamp has its own unique hashtag, you can easily follow it to see what’s going on in other tracks or who else is in attendance. When you attend a track, it’s common to tweet some insights from the presentation speaker – they’ll really appreciate the shout out – or simply let the speaker know you enjoyed their track and think they did a good job. This is also a great way to let others at the event know what your interested in and may encourage them to connect with you.
Another social media tactic that is becoming increasingly popular is live video. Facebook Live is a fun way to connect with your Facebook audience and give them a behind-the-scenes look at what’s going on. We recently tried using this feature at WordCamp Jacksonville in April. It turned out to be great! Our viewers really enjoyed it and we enjoyed doing it.
The happiness bar, lunch, and after parties are all great ways to meet new friends, business partners, employees, or employers. They are also great places to try and connect with speakers. 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.
If you are a WordPress user and are interested in attending any upcoming WordCamps in the future, you can find the schedule here. You can find me at WordCamp Asheville this weekend where emagine’s President, Bill Gadless, will be speaking: Should I Freelance or Build an Agency? Also, I will be attending WordCamp Boston with Bill and some of the emagine North team members July 23rd and 24th . Hope to see you there!