WordCamps are community organised events that are created for WordPress users. There are WordCamp events occurring every week in all corners of the globe.
Despite working with WordPress since it was launched and writing about WordPress regularly since 2007, I had never attended a WordCamp event. However, when I heard that this year’s European WordCamp event was going to be in Seville in Spain, I booked a ticket. There are WordCamp events in every country in Europe, but WordCamp Europe is the biggest event by far. It moves around to different countries every year and people involved with WordPress from all over Europe attend.
Unfortunately, I was badly organised and never booked my flights or hotel until the week before the event. I therefore did not have time to plan out what I would do at WordCamp.
However, this was not such a bad thing. I went with WordCamp with an open mind. The only promise I made to myself was to soak in the whole event and enjoy myself.
What Happens at a WordCamp
Since I have published thousands of articles about WordPress over the years and worked with many WordPress companies, I was lucky enough to know people who were going to event.
I arrived to Seville the day before the event began. Due to me flying super early, I only slept for one hour the night before; therefore I went to sleep for a few hours when I arrived. When I woke up at 9pm, I went to the Irish bar across the street and grabbed myself a veggy burger and a beer.
When I was sitting there relaxing, Jean Galea from WP Mayor messaged me and asked me to join him and his friends. I soon joined Jean, Jean’s wife Alyona, the guys from ThemeIsle, and Pere from the hosting company Cloudways. It was good to meet new people and relax in the warm city of Seville.
The next morning I walked to the event, which was being held at a nice hotel just outside of the main part of town.
When you walk into the event, you need to walk up to the desk and advise them you have arrived. They will give you a name tag which you hang around your neck. Inside the card is a note of all the scheduled talks and details of when lunch and breaks are.
There were two main rooms in which talks were held. If you did not like the look of one talk, you could could go into the other one. As you would expect, there were times when two talks you wanted to hear were being held at the same time; however, I appreciate it is difficult for them to balance so many talks and please everyone.
Outside the lobby there are lots of booths from sponsors. Companies such as Godaddy, Automattic, and SiteGround, would use these booths to speak to customers and give out free swag such as notepads, bags, stickers, and even yo yos. Food and drink was available in this area too.
I was only there a few minutes when I bumped into Pere again. After chatting about the beers we shared the night before, we proceeded into the main hall to listen to the introductory talk. We were soon joined by Colm from CommerceGurus.
Talks lasted around 40 minutes. There were usually two talks in a row before there was a 30 minute break or a 90 minute break for lunch.
The breaks gave everyone an opportunity to meet new people. It gave you a chance to tell people what you did online, asked what they did with WordPress, and speak about the talks you just heard.
People Make WordCamp
As I noted earlier, I went to WordCamp with an open mind. I did not want to get angry at myself for spending too much time in talks and not networking, or get annoyed at myself for chatting to people too much and not learning anything. I just wanted to enjoy myself.
However, it did not take long for me to learn what WordCamps are all about: Meeting people.
WordCamps are about meeting other people who work with WordPress. In a world where we all work on computers from multiple locations around the world, WordCamps allow you to meet fellow WordPress enthusiasts face to face.
I found most of the talks at the event too basic, which was strange as everyone at the event were experienced WordPress users who use WordPress every day. On the second day, I only attended one talk and instead spent my time chatting to people. I met lots of people I have worked with in the past and new people I had never met. I enjoyed myself even more on the second day because of this.
In hindsight, I should have made more of an effort to network and meet new people, however the people I did meet I got to know very well. I have made friendships that will last a long time. Some of these friendships may evolve into business relationships, some may not, but I am happy to have met these great people regardless as I really enjoyed their company.
After the second day, there was an after party at a cool bar downtown by the river. We all had a great time hanging out and enjoying some drinks in the beautiful city of Seville.
Was WordCamp Europe perfect? No. Of course not. The talks were good, but a little too basic. I also found contributor day frustrating.
I was lucky enough to know many people, but I can understand that people who do not know anyone may have found it lonely if they did not have any friends at the event.
The organisers could have perhaps helped people make friends in this regard. However, you will be pleased to know that it is easy to make friends at WordCamp. All you have to do is introduce yourself to a few people. I found everyone at the event to be nice and there were many people sending tweets via Twitter inviting anyone who was alone to join them for dinner and drinks. You just have to get yourself out there and introduce yourself.
My advice to all of you is to make an effort and attend your first WordCamp. You will have a lot of fun, meet lots of great friends, and make a lot of great business contacts in the process.