I spent the last several months on the organizing team for WordCamp DFW as the PR and social media organizer. It was a long and, at times, stressful process, but this past weekend we reaped the rewards of our labor.
WordCamp DFW 2017 went about as smoothly as anyone of us could have hoped. Sure, there were a couple of audio/video flubs, but those were corrected and every one had an amazing time. Don't believe me? Check out the recap video I created below. Every single person left the MET Building at the UNT Health Science Center with a smile.
And with this being the first time I've help plan a conference like this and the first time being so involved with the community, I learned a couple of things during my time of being one of the organizers for WordCamp DFW.
It takes a village
No one person can organize and run a WordCamp. There's just no way it could be successful with one person running the show.
Instead, it takes an entire team combining their talents and working together to make it all happen. And on the day of, it takes a small army of volunteers to help the event run smoothly.
This year at WordCamp DFW we were fortunate to have both. I was blessed to work with six other friends on the organizing team. And all of our wonderful volunteers on Saturday and Sunday did a great job helping out wherever they were needed.
So the next time you go to a conference, be it a WordCamp or some other conference, be thankful for the people who helped plan and run it. Because it certainly takes a lot to make it happen and run smoothly.
WordCamps are a vital part of the WordPress community
The best part about WordPress is the community. Because it's an open source content management system, there has to be a sizable community to help make it something that powers over a quarter of the internet. And WordCamps play a vital part in sustaining and growing the WordPress community.
WordCamps are a great way to sustain the love for WordPress . Here you can find new ways of trying things and inspiration to keep going. You can learn from the best and make connections with others to grow your own learning or business.
But maybe most importantly, they're a great entry point for people to join the community. While I don't have exact numbers off hand, I know I heard from more than a few attendees that this was their first time interacting with the WordPress community, and that's great. It's the perfect place to dive right in, meet new people and join an awesome group. And I heard a number of those folks say they would be back, either at WordCamp DFW 2018 or at one of the WordPress meetups in the DFW area.
It's all worth it in the end
I'm not going to lie. My body hated me after the conference. I arrived home Saturday night barely able to move and barely awake after arriving at the WordCamp at 6:30 in the morning. I never knew one could walk so far in such a fairly confined space.
But was it worth. Every. Single. Bit. And I would do it over again in a heartbeat (with some rest in between though).
Because of everything I saw and the inspiration I found. I saw old friends connect again as though they had just seen each other yesterday. I saw new friendships form from people across the country. I saw WordPress veterans willing to teach. And I saw WordPress newbies come eager to learn more.
And that's what makes these events great. It doesn't matter who you are as long as you come with an open mind. Everyone is open and accessible. And while I know it can be intimidating at first (like I was at WordCamp DFW last year), once you dive in, "no" is a word that's rarely spoken.
The WordPress community is an amazing place where amazing things happen. I couldn't be happier to play a part in it no matter what.
Finally, there are a number of thank you's that are in order. First, thank you to Marc Gratch, Mike and Sheryle Gillihan, Stephanie Newton, Christopher Harris and Kay Kinser for allowing me to come along for the ride on the organizing team. All of you did an amazing job and help make the WordPress community in the area so enjoyable.
Thank you to all of the speakers who put on so many great talks. I would put this speaker lineup against any other lineup at any other conference. And a special thanks to Carrie Dils and Sheryle for giving such amazing keynote talks. If you missed them, you'll have to check them out when/if they make it up on WordPress.tv.
Thank you to the UNT Health Science Center and specifically to Johnny Thompson, who went above and beyond to make sure things ran as smooth as they could. That place is an absolutely amazing place to hold a conference and I can't remember how many compliments we got on the venue.
Thank you to the many volunteers who came out to help us run this event. It would have been a much more difficult task without y'all.
And thank you to everyone else who came out to make WordCamp DFW such an amazing event. It wouldn't be nearly as successful without y'all.
Find a WordCamp or WordPress meetup near you
As I said in a post last month, I highly recommend that if you use WordPress you should find a WordCamp or WordPress meet up near you. These are great places to find help (I actually got some help from Todd McKee over the REST API) and to meet people who are doing cool things with WordPress.
While the majority of the WordCamps, outside of WordCamp US, are over for this year, you can find information about the ones announced for 2018 at WordCamp Central. And to find a local WordPress meetup, you can use the News & Events widget in the dashboard or go to meetup.com and search for "WordPress".