New WordCamps pop up occasionally in various areas around the world. And, for any new conference, it’s important to get an interesting and diverse speaker lineup.
I’m not saying I’m one of the “great speakers,” but I do like to share what I know best. So, this past weekend, I spoke at the very first WordCamp Boise. It was the second time I’ve chosen a first time Camp to apply to speak and I’m starting to notice a few things.
First, when I mention I’m applying to speak at a first time Camp, I usually hear, “Why?” It’s not a surprising question, but it got me wondering, “Why not?”
A lot of people won’t put energy and time into speaking at an event where they don’t feel they’ll get anything out of it. I personally feel that’s the wrong mindset to have about speaking at a WordCamp, or any event.
So, when many sponsors and speakers hear about a new WordCamp, they say, “Let’s see how this one goes. Maybe next year.” They might even choose Camps based on the attendance level. Which, makes sense for people who invest a lot when they go to WordCamps, especially sponsors.
However, (in my humble opinion) if you think this way, you’re missing a huge opportunity.
New WordCamps are extremely valuable. A first time Camp is the perfect place to:
- Make a bigger impact: You’re at a smaller Camp with a big future ahead of it. You not only have the opportunity to help ensure it goes really well, but you can also help shape its future. Think about it. If you help the first Camp go well, the next ones will attract more people, etc. You might even decide to help organize in the future.
- Create deeper connections: With fewer people at a WordCamp, you get much more face time with everyone. It’s an opportunity you don’t get at larger WordCamps where there are more people than you have time to speak to.
- Give back to the community: Why not go simply to give your time and your knowledge? Helping others feels great and it’s good for you, BBC said so.
My Experience at WordCamp Boise
I’m from California. So, why would I go to Boise? First, I saw the Camp and figured I’d just check out the website. But then I noticed that it was the first ever Camp in the area.
So, I applied to speak immediately for all the reasons I just listed. Plus, I actually have a lot of friends and family in the Boise area, though only one who was part of WordPress. And, ironically he wasn’t there this weekend.
Arriving to a Warm Welcome
I had no idea what to expect from this crowd. Every WordCamp I’ve been to has all been different. And also, yet similar. The entire organizer team was amazing. They worked really hard to make sure everyone felt welcome and the Camp went smoothly. (So, thank you if you read this!)
Getting to know those folks was the highlight of my weekend. The connections I made were just incredible! When I go back again next year (because I will totally apply to speak again – if I don’t speak, I’ll attend!), I’m excited to see them all again.
Reconnecting with Old Friends
Surprisingly, I was not the only west-coaster out there either! I got to see some other people that I’ve met at past WordCamps. Because those camps were so busy, I didn’t really get to talk to them as much as I’d have liked. So, this time I did! It was great. We even had office chair races at the after party.
Learning and Sharing
Of course, the sessions were also amazing. There were so many sessions with such great speakers that I couldn’t go to all the ones I wanted to. (Plus, I failed to go to any on day 2 because my back fought me about it.)
Every WordCamp seems to have very different topics and this one made me super happy. There were some great developer and security talks I’m sure, but my interest was purely in the content and SEO talks. Of which, there were plenty. And, none made my talk obsolete either, which was awesome. They all went hand in hand.
Apply to Speak at a New WordCamp
Take a page out of my book. If you see a new Camp, use it to see a new area and meet new people. You might find that it’s even more valuable than you imagined.
WordPress is growing. That means so are the number of WordCamps. If you see a new WordCamp pop up. Don’t hesitate to apply! If you don’t have a WordCamp in your area, think about starting one.