This weekend is the granddaddy of WordCamps, WordCamp San Francisco 2009 on May 30, 2009. Registration is closed at over 700 attendees for this one day event packed with a ton of the top blogging, social media, search engine, business, and WordPress experts. I’ll be there, so be sure and find me for a hug.
That’s part of the joy and difference between a WordPress event and other social tech events. WordPressers serve up hugs, not just hand shakes. What I hear over and over again at these events is how we all know each other, so meeting face to face is just another step in the relationship process that began a few months to a few years ago. We’re already friends!
This year so far it has been my honor to be included and speaking at a variety of WordCamp events including WordCamp Las Vegas, WordCamp Whistler, WordCamp Toronto, and WordCamp Columbus, and you will probably find me rattling around WordCamp Dallas, WordCamp Portland, WordCamp Seattle, Netherlands – WordCamp NL, WordCamp Israel, and WordCamp/Podcamp Hawaii.
According to the WordPress Meetup Groups on Meetup.com, there are 32 Meetup Groups focused specifically on WordPress, representing 3,394 Members in 5 different countries among 32 Meetup groups in 28 different cities. There are almost 2,000 people interested in a WordPress event and meetup without a group near them.
Here is a list of the most popular WordPress-specific Meetup Groups on Meetup.com from around the world. The number next to some of the group names represents the current number of registered members.
- The London Bloggers Meetup Group (592)
- The New York City WordPress Meetup Group (415)
- NY Bloggers Meetup Group (354)
- Dallas/Fort Worth WordPress Meetup (296)
- The Austin WordPress Meetup Group (172)
- South Florida WordPress Meetup Group (164)
- Atlanta WordPress Users Group (147)
- The Bay Area WordPress Meetup (138)
- The Boston WordPress Meetup Group (110)
- The Chicago WordPress Meetup Group (97)
- The Vancouver WordPress Meetup Group
- The East Bay WordPress Meetup Group
- Las Vegas WordPress Meetup Group
- The New Jersey WordPress Meetup Group
- The Southern California WordPress Meetup Group
- Greater Charlotte Area WordPress Group
- The Scottsdale WordPress Meetup Group
- The Ferndale WordPress Meetup Group
- Raleigh WordPress Meetup Group
- OKC WordPress Users Group
- Singapore Blogger Meetup Group
- Seattle WordPress 2.0
- The Bonita Springs WordPress Meetup Group
- Gulf Coast Twitter/WordPress Group
While there are WordPress meetup groups around the world, there are a lot of people are shouting out for one in their area. Copenhagen (61 interested), Philadelphia (45), Houston, London, and Denver are among the many. Some of these have had or are about to have a WordCamp event, so why aren’t there regular WordPress meetups?
WordPress Meetup Groups on Meetup.com offers a map of all the places where there are WordPress events and activities and where ones are wanted. You can browse a list of cities hosting WordPress events or go directly to your region to find out where one is or who might be interested in putting one together.
What is the Difference Between a WordPress Meetup and WordCamp?
A WordPress Meetup is a frequent meeting of WordPress fans. If you would like to start a WordPress Meetup group, find a meeting place and announce it among your friends, and add a listing to the Yahoo Upcoming events for WordPress and WordPress Meetups Upcoming Events and tag them “WordPress Events” and “WordPress”, as many track WordPress event announcements there.
A WordPress Meetup allows locals to get together and learn from each other on how to use WordPress. There are formal WordPress meetups and informal ones, covering nothing but WordPress or including WordPress as part of other topics on web publishing and social media. WordPress meetups are usually held monthly or quarterly.
A WordCamp is a day or two long event with sponsors and dozens if not hundreds of WordPress fans gathering annually. WordCamp Toronto was the first, I believe, to have a three day WordCamp event, but there are no rules. It differs from a WordPress Meetup because it is offered rarely instead of regularly.
WordCamps were originally formatted on the Barcamp structure, loosely put together, grassroots gatherings of WordPress fans in a day long unconference style. While this works for some communities familiar with the unconference style, some stick with a more traditional conference format.
While a WordPress Meetup can cover any topics of interest to their members, a WordCamp event is focused on WordPress for the majority of the programs and workshops.
Many distinguish the two events based upon the length and speakers. WordPress Meetups tend to last a few hours where WordCamps are day long events. The speakers at WordCamps can come from your region or around the world.
How Do I Start a WordCamp or WordPress Meetup?
If you would like to sponsor or host a WordCamp, check out the new official site for tracking WordCamps is WordCamp Central, which includes instructions and guidelines for running a WordCamp. There are also articles with tips and techniques for WordPress Meetups and WordCamps on The WordCamp Report, as well as on blogs by those who have run these events.
In general, you need to have a team of at least 5 active volunteers, a location and date, speakers, sponsors, and food or easy access to food. The rest of it is up to you.
Get a free blog on WordPress.com or host your own for the WordCamp, until WordCamp Central finishes setting up their WordPressMU blog network. Get a Twitter account and add a listing to the Yahoo Upcoming events for WordPress and WordPress Meetups Upcoming Events and tag them “WordPress Events” and “WordCamp. These are tracked by many WordPress fans around the world, many whom are willing to fly in to the various WordPress and WordCamp events.
How Do I Get WordPress Rock Stars to My WordPress Event?
While Matt Mullenweg, myself, and other representatives of WordPress and Automattic try to get to as many WordCamp and WordPress events as we can, look to your own neighborhood and community for your own WordPress experts and rock stars.
Many think it helps to have a “big name” to help attract attendees. In some large cities it does, but promote the event as a chance to learn about how to use WordPress in your business or personal life, and you’d be stunned at the number of people who will show up, just because they love WordPress.
To ask one of the press-o-rati, contact them through their blogs, email or Twitter accounts. To request someone officially from Automattic or WordPress, use the WordCamp Central contact form and ask. You can be vague and invite whoever is willing to come, or be specific and request someone who is an expert in WordPress Themes, Plugins, BuddyPress, bbPress, PollDaddy, Intense Debate, or any of the other WordPress and Automattic specific features and services.
I highly recommend you make your WordCamp and WordPress event about your community. WordCamp/Podcamp Hawaii brought in local social media experts, musicians, and tourist industry representatives familiar with WordPress to speak to attendees, giving them the local perspective that their community needs. WordCamp Toronto brought in members of the local art community to display interactive art work and held community competitions for the event logo, blog designs, and Plugins, involving as many people and groups as possible to make the event a social one. WordCamp San Francisco 2008 had a fund-raising event “Scavenger Hunt” for a local educational charity on the day after the WordCamp sessions.
There are a lot of ways you can involve your community and help others blog and share their voice with the world and benefit your community in general. Make your WordPress event inclusive not exclusive
To publicize your WordPress event or WordCamp, contact WordCamp Central, The WordCamp Report, Yahoo Upcoming events for WordPress, WordPress Meetups Upcoming Events, and Upcoming events tagged with “WordCamp” or “WordPress,” and contact me by email for inclusion on the Blog Herald and my site and other WordPress fan sites.
Upcoming WordPress and WordCamp Events
Upcoming WordCamp and WordPress Events include:
- Akron, Ohio – Ohio WordPress Meetup – May 28, 2009
- WordCamp San Francisco 2009 – May 30, 2009
- San Francisco Area – The East Bay WordPress May Meetup – May 31, 2009
- WordCamp Chicago – June 6-7, 2009
- North Carolina – WordCampRDU 2009 – June 13, 2009
- Los Angeles WordPress Users Group – June 14, 2009
- WordCamp Brazil – June 21, 2009
- WordCamp Dallas 2009 – Dallas, Texas – June 27-28, 2009
- Canada – WordCamp Montreal – July 11-12, 2009
- United Kingdom – WordCamp UK, Cardiff, Wales, July 18-19, 2009
- Los Angeles, California – WordCamp LA – September 12, 2009
- Portland, Oregon – WordCamp Portland – September 19-20, 2009
- WordCamp Seattle – September 26, 2009 (WordCamp Seattle Twitter)
Upcoming WordCamps not scheduled or confirmed:
- WordCamp Indy (Indianapolis)
- WordCamp Augusta
- WordCamp Argentina
- WordCamp San Diego
- WordCamp Perú
- WordCamp New Zealand
- WordCamp Israel
Copyright Lorelle VanFossen, member of the 9Rules Network, and author of Blogging Tips, What Bloggers Won't Tell You About Blogging.