Although it feels like to me that I’ve been working in this field for ages, it may come as a surprise for you to learn that I’m actually quite a newbie in the WordPress world. I began my journey 18 months ago when I started out as a freelance website builder, focusing primarily on ecommerce sites. Then, just 5 short months ago, I switched my attention to becoming a theme developer.

Over the last five months I have been working flat out to design and release my products. Unfortunately for me – and as I bet any fledgling entrepreneur can relate – I’ve simply not had the time to socialise and network, until now.

Enter WordCamp.

What Is WordCamp?

WordCamp are casual, locally organised conferences covering everything related to WordPress. Events take place all over the globe and share knowledge with attendees on things like: how to use WordPress more effectively, plugin and theme development and advanced techniques such as security.

These events are attended by a wide range of people from all backgrounds: bloggers, WordPress developers and many more. The themes of the events differ based on the local WordPress communities that run them.

Up until now, I had been so busy concentrating on getting my business up and running that I had not had the chance to attend. However, I recently prioritised my time and took part in the WordCamp Europe event that was based in Paris.

WordCamp Europe 2017

Paris holds a special place in my heart because I was born and raised there. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to attend an event held in Paris, so decided to fly over from the UK and take a long weekend.

WordCamp Europe was a three-day event; two days of talks and networking plus a contributor day.

My first impressions of the event were great; the venue was fabulous and everything was well organised throughout the day. I felt that there was plenty of space in all the conference room for the talks.

The organisers had done an excellent job to make sure the attendees had more than enough refreshments. There was so much exquisite free food in the morning and the afternoon: croissants, pain au chocolat, chocolate cake, madeleines. You name it! I felt that the lunch meal couldn’t compete with those delicious sweet treats, but it was above what I expected.

I didn’t attend all the talks but the ones I went to were of a high standard. I particularly enjoyed the lighting talk of Syed Balkhi and the talk of Joshua Strebel that was very real. And of course the announcement of Gutenberg was pretty exciting!

The Real Benefit From Attending WordCamp

The real added value for me was meeting all the other WordPress addicts. I’d like to particularly thank the organisation for introducing the tribe area. It made my whole experience so rewarding and meaningful.

Apart for my partner Chris, I’d only met a handful of people using WordPress from my local meetup in Birmingham. I was amazed to discover that a larger, awesome WordPress community exists out there and I now don’t feel so alone in my passion.

Building a WordPress Community

If you are reading this article, the chances are you are part of the WordPress community. Like me, you know that your family, your old friends and your neighbours don’t understand what you do. The people in your life probably all think they have a nephew that can build a website and do what you do.

I have found that it’s difficult to explain to non-WordPress or tech savvy people what you do. But there at WordCamp we were all on the same boat: we all got it.

My experience of WordCamp was that it wasn’t just for developers. There, I crossed paths with designers, marketers, agencies, hosting companies and more. We were all so different but at the same time united by our passion for WordPress.

I really made me feel like I belonged there.

It felt great to go past the avatar and finally meet people you have worked with through email, or meet people whose work you admire online.

I especially enjoyed meeting Charlie, Katie & Andrew, Luca, Xavier and Primosh – so a huge shout out to them!

Envato Event

The day before the WordPress Camp my partner and I decided to attend the Envato gathering.

I can tell you I don’t regret this either!

I’ve been selling on Envato for 5 months now and it had felt previously like a big, faceless corporation. Meeting James, Aaron, Jackeline, Ben and Andrew changed my mind because it allowed me to put a face – or several faces – to this huge business.

The Envato team were really open to discussion and it was great to see Envato reaching out to me – their customer – and taking the time to listen.

The Power Of Networking Within Your Niche

What I’ll take away from my recent experience in Paris is that the WordPress community is huge and incredibly welcoming.

There are so many ways to be invested in WordPress. I met great people with so many different businesses and I am eager to meet more of them in future.

WordCamp opened my eyes to how motivating it is to meet fellow entrepreneurs: I’m definitely going to more WordCamps and more networking events.

See you all next year in Belgrade!

For more information on WordCamp, jump on over to take a look at what they’re all about.

Have I inspired you to visit a WordCamp event in future? Have you ever attended and what did you think? I’d love to hear your feedback so please drop me a line in the comments or get in touch by messaging me here.

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