WordCamp Kansas City 2017 is about three weeks away! Do you know what to expect? You can be sure there will be a little bit of everything – other attendees, sensational speakers, networking opportunities, lunch, swag – the usual goodies you’ve come to expect from a professional conference. But WordCamp is a little different in several ways.
Each WordCamp will be different, whether WordCamp Kansas City, or WordCamp St. Louis, or WordCamp Global – this is based on the organizers, speakers and attendees of each event. But there are some general guidelines that all WordCamps follow, as well as some things you can expect at any WordCamp, no matter the home city.
It’s all about WordPress.
What makes WordCamp a WordCamp, as opposed to a BarCamp or other “open source” camp? All of the sessions focus on using, developing, and maximizing WordPress. Some sessions may also address topics such as blogging, business development, and social media related to WordPress use, but at least 80 percent of the program is specifically about WordPress. The use of the WordCamp name indicates that it is a standalone event dedicated to WordPress. To prevent confusion, any WordPress sessions (or “tracks”) within other events such as BarCamp are no longer called WordCamps.
Expect a bargain – likely the best you’ll get all year.
Big, fancy, expensive – these are NOT words that apply to WordCamps. Low-key, local, affordable gatherings…NOW we’re talking WordCamps. This core framework and philosophy allows more people to attend, connect, share, and learn.
WordCamp organizers reply on sponsorships and donations to make this possible, to keep ticket prices low, often below $50 for a two-day event. Less than $25 a day, for eight hours jam-packed with incredibly relevant and actionable information? Many WordCamp speakers are featured at expensive web industry conferences, like South by Southwest, which cost way more than $50. You really can’t beat a WordCamp for a business and professional development investment.
Glorious content, available to all, shared with the community.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a WordPress developer, designer, entrepreneur, blogger, enthusiast, newbie or veteran – all should feel welcome at a WordCamp. Sessions are offered in a variety of formats: lectures/presentations, demos, Q&A, workshops, “lightning-style” presentations, panels, and pretty much any other format you can imagine.
And bonus – WordCamp presentations are available to the the broader WordPress community – and general public after each event – via session slides/videos posted on the WordCamp channel on WordPress.tv.
Connect and collaborate.
Meeting and learning from other WordPress users in person is one of the main perks of attending a WordCamp. At many WordCamps, you’ll find an informal “genius bar” or community room staffed with experienced WordPress volunteers who make themselves freely available to help answer WordPress questions. So be sure to note any problem areas now, and bring your questions to WordCamp!
In addition to learning from each other, attendees often find new collaborators, referrals, consultants and more amongst their fellow WordCampers. Many new relationships formed at WordCamp lead to exciting WordPress projects later in the year. You may see a “community board” set aside for posting job openings, business cards, etc. You’ll also likely hear about your local WordPress meetup group, where you can continue connecting with others throughout the year.
Locally organized and focused.
Each WordCamp event is organized by local people who actually use, design, develop and implement WordPress themselves. The international WordPress organization provides guidance, but the elbow grease comes from the organizers.
WordCamps excel at showcasing local talent, including sessions with local speakers/presenters whenever possible. While It’s fun to hear from WordPress employees and other prominent WordPress personalities, WordCamps are not meant to recycle the same speakers at every event. The best WordCamps will have both local and visiting speakers.
Volunteers – they’re all around us.
Participating in WordCamps is an easy, fun way to contribute to the WordPress community. Each WordCamp is operated by tireless volunteers, from the organizers who plan it all, to the volunteers who work the event, to the speakers who donate their time to teach you new things. It takes a lot of people to make a WordCamp happen, so remember to thank the volunteers who made it possible.
Representing the WordPress project.
Attendees often see WordCamp organizers, speakers, sponsors, and volunteers as representatives of WordPress and the WordPress community. For many, it’s their first impression. Because of this, every WordCamp follows some basic guidelines to vet these personnel and ensure all communication provide accurate information that respects the positions and policies of the WordPress open source project.
It’s not about the money.
Most WordCamps use up all their sponsor and ticket money in planning the event, but when there is a surplus, it is used to benefit the community. The organizer do not gain any monetary profit from these events. In fact, WordPress-based conferences organized as money-making opportunities are not approved to use the WordCamp name.
Surplus money is used for community-focused projects like:
- funding an ongoing WordPress meetup group’s get-togethers
- seed money for future WordCamp expenses
- sponsoring a local developer to work on a contribution to WordPress.org
- donations to the WordPress Foundation
Though it’s not mandatory, some WordCamps use a portion of their budget to create commemorative t-shirts or other swag (particularly cool when there are talented designers on the organizing team) and/or to provide food and beverages to attendees at the event. These things should definitely be considered potential perks rather than anything guaranteed, as each organizing team decides for itself how to spend the money they’ve raised from sponsorships and ticket sales. Swag and other goodies are often the biggest expenses. Find out what’s included with each WordCamp KC ticket purchase.
Fun. Fun! More fun!!
We’ll close with the most obvious part of WordCamps: they’re fun! Imagine getting to geek out for a day or two with other people just as obsessed with WordPress as you are – it’s just plain full of awesome. You’ll meet people who are crazy smart, insanely inspired and inspiring, and maybe even a unsung hero or two. Most WordCamps wrap up each day with an afterparty – find details on the Schedule page. We can’t wait to meet and have all sort of WordPress-y fun with YOU!
Now that you know what to expect… INVEST IN A TICKET NOW!