Four Reasons to Attend WordCamp, Even if You’re Not a Developer

WordCamp LAX wrapped up last weekend to a record attendance. For the uninitiated, WordCamps are conferences not just about WordPress design and development, but also the business of WordPress and freelancing. Even non-WordPress professionals can benefit a lot from attending. Here are three reasons I think you should attend WordCamp, even if you’re not a WordPress developer:

It’s a great place to network

This is probably the single most important reason to attend. WordCamp brings in people from various industries. If you are a business owner looking to build a website, WordCamp is a great place to find designers and developers. For WordPress professionals, it is an opportunity to find business partners, subcontractors, or potential employers. The atmosphere is friendly and welcoming, and many are actively looking to say hi and introduce themselves, without being overly aggressive and self-serving.

It’s a good time to learn

One of the strongest assets of WordCamp (and the WordPress community in general) is that it is very beginner-friendly. This year’s WordCamp LAX featured a Beginner Workshop that walked students through building a working WordPress site from scratch. If WordPress isn’t your thing, the Business Workshop made sure the focus is on growing and managing your business as opposed to debugging a plugin. The Saturday speaker sessions had something for just about everyone — from bloggers to developers to content writers. If you’re looking to learn some code or just want some inspiration, WordCamp might be for you.

It’s a chance to help other people

WordCamp can’t be beginner-friendly without people actually helping beginners. One of the features of WordCamp LAX is the Happiness Bar (run by yours truly this year). I’m not sure why it’s called the Happiness Bar (perhaps it’s a take on the Genius Bar), but no, you can’t order drinks there. Happiness Bar is a place where people can get their WordPress questions answered. This year I saw speakers giving up their prep time to help other people with their sites. No question was too small, and the Happiness bartenders really bent over backwards to make sure people got what they need. Of course, the helpful atmosphere extended beyond the Happiness Bar. Some of the most helpful advice was probably given outside of the sessions.

It’s a low-stress swag environment

Allow me to preface this by describing how hard it is to score swag at Comic Con. Gone are the days when shirts were freely available. To get a Game of Thrones T-shirt, you had to stand in line for two hours. For an opportunity to buy Marvel merchandise, you had to get to the convention center early, make a beeline to the Marvel booth and hope that you’re not too late because they cap the line. Even if you do get in the line, the wait can be up to two hours.

Comparing WordPress shirts to Game of Thrones shirts might a bit unfair. However, I can say that the WordCamp organizers and hosting sponsors really stepped up the T-shirt game. This year’s WordCamp LAX shirts were printed on Bella + Canvas blanks, the WPEngine shirts were printed on Next Level, and the Pantheon shirts were printed on American Apparel. All of these shirts were hands-down better quality than any paid shirt I’ve gotten at Comic Con. And no jostling and competition required.

Are you going to WordCamp?

Don’t take my word (ha.) for it. Check out a WordCamp near you, and if you can’t make those, try your local WordPress meetup. If you’ve been to one, let me know your thoughts!

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