Too many WordCamps? What? I’ve been hearing from a few people that they believe there are too many WordCamps. Most of the talk was in regards to certain regional locations, like Southern California. For me, I disagree. There can never be too many WordCamps… anywhere. Like meetups, WordCamps are locally run events. A WordCamp is designed to invite your local community in to learn WordPress and celebrate it’s current community.
Now, I do get it. There are a few different reasons for people thinking there are too many WordCamps:
- Some of the WordCamps that are closer to each other, often have the same speakers.
- Competing WordCamps? – Some of the WordCamps in the same region might be scheduled during another, that is in the same region
- WordCamp burnout – speakers have a need to choose all of the WordCamps in an area and get tired
- Speakers or attendees are noticing similar crowds in a region
(There are probably other reasons, and I won’t assume to know them all, but these are some that I’ve seen come up in discussions, in several forums and conversations.)
If you have 4 different WordCamps in a 400 mile radius, that’s fine… and it’s common to see in the U.S. For example: For St. Louis, Missouri, the following are within that radius.
- WordCamp Chicago (Illinois) is 260 miles away
- WordCamp Kansas City (Missouri) is 250 miles away
- WordCamp Nashville (Tennessee) is 310 miles away
- WordCamp Peoria (Illinois) is 169 miles away
- WordCamp Milwaukee (Wisconsin) is 373 miles away
I know some of the beef about this was stemming around the Southern California WordCamps, but for the amount of WordCamps they have, and the population density, it’s barely enough. There’s enough population to make an effort to try to reach areas that they haven’t, and not just through regular social media. I know this, as I’m constantly thinking of ways to promote my local WordCamp (St. Louis), and reach new people. We pass word to surrounding universities, post on event calendars in local online news sites related to local papers, and try to get regular media and influential bloggers to help. We also have several St. Louis WordPress local meetup groups (3, in fact, plus one right across the river, in Southern Illinois), and also reach out to other meetup groups like podcasting, small business, social media, and more.
So what if you see similar speakers. That’s the fault of the organization team. They are encouraged to select local first, before inviting people outside of their region. Speakers apply from all over, just to speak at San Diego, Los Angeles, New York City, Miami, and more. On top of that, the speakers who do submit talk proposals, aren’t always great with writing enticing titles and topic descriptions. It makes it hard to choose, and often an organization team may choose well known people, rather than the newbie who just needs a chance.
You want fresh faces are your WordCamp, reach out to people. Reach out to educators, to small business owners, and anyone that can add a fresh voice to your WordCamp. In fact, don’t think about always picking that WordPress rockstar for keynote. Some WordCamps, like Chicago, haven’t had a keynote in several years!
And for WordCamp burnout – Take a short vacation. You don’t have to go to all of the WordCamps. They aren’t Pokémon. You don’t have to catch them all. Now Wapuu – that’s another story. 😉
Let’s focus on reaching out to our community, first, and putting together valuable meetups. Having a WordCamp is not mandatory, but if you can put together a WordCamp schedule that will entice and add value to your local WordPress community, AND welcome outsiders in… you’ve done a great job.
Don’t worry about the other things. Focus on adding value.