5 Take-aways from WordCamp LA 2013

WordCamp’s are really a ton of fun. And this time I got to experience it as a speaker, which was great. I’m looking forward to more speaking and more attending next year for sure. I think because I was speaking, I had a different awareness of the environment and what was going on all the… Read more 5 Take-aways from WordCamp LA 2013

WCLA_badge-speakingWordCamp’s are really a ton of fun. And this time I got to experience it as a speaker, which was great. I’m looking forward to more speaking and more attending next year for sure.

I think because I was speaking, I had a different awareness of the environment and what was going on all the time. So I feel like I came away with more this time compared to others. So here’s my take-aways for WordCamps in general.

1. WordPress.com-ers Need to Know this Isn’t Really for Them — Or We Need to Address Them More Directly

WordPress.com is an excellent blogging platform and does really great stuff to get people up and blogging fairly painlessly in little time. But it’s an extremely limited platform. most WP Developers basically only work in the WordPress.org world. So for me, the only question that was thrown at me that I stumbled on in my presentation was “Can I do that in WordPress.com?” I wasn’t totally sure.

I think WordCamps need to be advertised more as a WordPress.org place, with the intention that WordPress.com folks will be interested if they want to take their site to the next level and go with a self-hosted .org site eventually.

2. Being a Speaker is a lot of Work

I’ve spoken on a lot of different subjects in a lot of different environments. The WordCamp environment is both a great place to “get your feet” wet as a speaker, but also a place where you can potentially get buried for your lack of understanding. Knowledge-wise, the room is full of a bunch of chiefs. But atmosphere-wise, they’re all gracious and forgiving chiefs. So on one side, I knew that my presentation skills would help plenty. But my primary purpose was to be helpful. I wanted people to come away from my presentation feeling like they at least had something to go on to feel more confident in tackling their WordPress problems. Needless to say, that balance makes the prep and tone and spirit of the presentation a careful thing to balance.

3. WordPress is a Community (or “Dear, InMotion Hosting: You’re Doing it Wrong”)

When I walked into any gathering of WordPress-ers this past weekend, there were smiles and hugs and “how ya doing?”s everywhere. It’s really like a big family reunion without all the divorce awkwardness. Granted, this was my fourth WordCamp this year, so I’ve gotten to know a few folks.

So, when there are official sponsors there that don’t get that, it reflects really badly on them. Dear InMotion Hosting: You’re doing it wrong! I don’t even remember the names of the people I met, and I’m certain they are great people, but when we first met all I walked away with was that they were available if I wanted to buy their product. There were drinks, and great food, and people smiling and hugging and catching up, and these three were selling me something… something I already had, and can Google if I need more of.

On the other hand, Austin Gunther was there from WPEngine, Suzette Franck was there with a few others from Media Temple, and they chatted and laughed and drank and hugged everyone. I like them, and I’ll happily buy their hosting and recommend them any day of the week. They “get” the WP community, because they are PART of it. They are not an outside pariah of it.

4. Dear Bluehost and WooThemes, You’re Doing it Wrong too

These guys are super generous, throw money at the WP community… and then walk away. I don’t know what’s worse, showing up and being awkward, or throwing money at us and not showing your face. Have a booth with people, sponsor a meal, make friends. Sheesh. {EDIT: Formerly I listed Dreamhost in this camp. Kind folks in the comments pointed out that I have yet to meet Mike Schroeder of Dreamhost who is apparently very helpful and ever-present at WordCamps. In cases like this I LOVE being corrected.}

5. Sharing Knowledge and Experience is Powerful

The absolute best part about WordCamp is people all getting together and sharing their experience and knowledge together without ONE concern for competition in the marketplace or copyright crap or whatever. Ya, occasionally there will be a joke about “shots in the chest” for “horking my code”, but they’re just having fun — because we’re family! Not competition.

With all that in mind, I’m looking forward to WordCamp San Diego next year for sure, and will be watching how things develop for Orange County and Los Angeles as well in 2014. Hope to see you there!

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8 thoughts on “5 Take-aways from WordCamp LA 2013

  1. I agree with all of this. I wasn’t a speaker, but the points you made about your experience as one at WCLAX are just what I’d imagine — and one of the reasons speaking to that crowd would make me weak in the knees. So many “chiefs” as you call them, and no way I can answer their questions! Ha. But that was a great point in Lema’s keynote speech…there will always be guys ahead of you, but it’s most important to look at the guys behind you and help them. I think you did that, Matt. Your presentation was thorough, thoughtful and helpful! “Shots in the chest” for “horking my code” is a joke — I’ll happily email you any theme files you’d like to hork.

  2. Matt,
    You gave a great talk! Very funny and informative at the same time. And I agree, the pressure of being informative and not wrong in front of so many experts is a little nerve-wracking.

    I was also going to mention that Mike Schroder of Dreamhost was there and seems to be at every WordCamp everywhere, as well as being a huge contributor to core. They don’t always have a booth, but definitely are in the community. 🙂

    I actually had a chance to meet Eric at inMotion as well and we had some great talks.

    1. Thanks Marty! Your presentation is first on my list of those I need to catch on wordpress.tv. I updated the article about Dreamhost, thanks for pointing that out.

    1. Thanks Adam. Having our whole team ANYWHERE would be epic!

      There was video taken, I’ve been told it’ll be available on wordpress.tv, but I don’t know for sure. I’ve also heard that the wait can be long. So maybe by Thanksgiving…

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