The greatest thing about WordPress is the community. That’s what allows this free software to continue being free, to continually get better and to have an entire ecosystem of themes and plugins.
It’s pretty awesome.
But that community doesn’t have to be entirely virtual. All across the country there are WordPress groups gathering in person on a regular basis. These WordPress meetups are an opportunity to meet and connect with other WordPress fans in your area.
It’s not just for geeks either.
There are plenty of WordPress fans of all stripes, from eager beginners to hardcore developers. There are entrepreneurs, coders, designers, writers and more. You’ll find independent freelancers, small business owners, growing startups and big tech companies. You’ll find people interested in developing plugins, customizing themes, setting up websites and creating content. There might even be a few geeks.
You can learn about all things WordPress. You might see some amazing presentations that blow your mind with what WordPress can do. You might be reminded of some simple features you overlooked. You might pick up some helpful tips that can make your site better. You might learn about some new plugins or themes that offer exactly what you’ve been looking for. You might get the help you need. You might meet some incredible people and forge connections that will help in the future.
Yes, WordPress meetups are the place to be.
Of course somebody has to run one in your area first. Maybe that someone is you.
There are more than 500 WordPress meetups across the world, in varying states of activity. There might be one in your area. If so, check it out. They may not need helping starting a meetup, but they might need help keeping it going. If that’s the case we’ve got some wisdom you can glean in the posts that follow. If there’s not a WordPress meetup in your area, it’s time to start one. We can help.
In this series we’ll talk about everything you need to know to start and run a WordPress meetup.
Let’s get together.
“If someone is looking to start a WordPress meetup I would advise them to do some soul searching first,” says Tony Cecala, organizer of the Dallas/Forth Worth WordPress Meetup. “If they are looking to support the community and would like to meet like-minded people, then they should jump right in.”
Before diving into the nitty-gritty how-to of starting a meetup, you need to ask yourself some basic questions. As Tony advises, ask yourself why you’re doing this. If you have a WordPress-related business and you think it might be a good way to connect with customers and promote your company, that’s not the best reason. Your self-serving aims are going to turn people off.
Running a WordPress meetup is a long-term commitment. Can you follow through on what you’re starting? Many groups take years to get off the ground and start growing. It may be a while before all your hard work and dedication pays off. Are you ready for that?
Finally, are you the right person for the job? If giving a presentation in front of a group fills you with dread, you might want to reconsider. By default, meetup organizers often end up doing a fair amount of speaking. If organizational details aren’t your forte, you’re going to have a problem. Meetup organizers need to be organized (duh). They need to be responsible and follow through. They need to be able to plan and tackle mundane details. If that’s not you, you’re going to have a problem.
But if you’re not the right person for the job, don’t despair. You might not be the only person for the job.
Organizing a WordPress meetup is a lot of work, but you don’t have to do it alone.
“It’s good to have two people in case one can’t be there,” says Lynn Dye, co-organizer of the Oklahoma City WordPress Users Group. “The other person can pick up the slack.”
It’s wise to team up with multiple people to organize a meetup. Pool your strengths and the group will be better for it. If you don’t think you can do it on your own, find a few people willing to carry the load with you.
There’s strength in numbers. It’s always better to have a team organizing a meetup than just a lone person. Even if one person calls the shots, you need a few other co-organizers to help carry the load.
Let’s face it: Life happens. Some day something will come up and you won’t be able to make it to your own meetup. You need somebody to help you out, and, preferably, not at the last minute. If a team is running things from the start, it’s no problem if one person can’t make it.
- Team Diversity – Make sure your organizing team has some diversity. If you’re all hardcore coders, it’s likely you’ll attract nothing but hardcore coders. Get some diversity on your team so you can appeal to a wider group of users.
- Recruit New Blood – Organizing is a lot of work and eventually you’re going to have folks who move on or need a break. Recruit some new organizing members to spread the load and keep your initial group from dwindling too low.
- Right Skills – Make sure you have at least one person in your organizing team who’s good at throwing parties and organizing events. Those are skills you’re going to need, and while you can learn them, it works better if you have someone who can share their wisdom.
Running a WordPress meetup is a big job to take on. But if you get some help, you’ll do just fine.