Some thoughts, lessons learned, and advice on starting a WordPress Meetup group. How and why I started WP Bournemouth and how you can start your own.
Growing WordPress in Bournemouth
Last night I had the pleasure of hosting the second WordPress Bournemouth Meetup. Eight of us discussed all things WordPress. Six attended our inaugural event in December. So, I am pleased to see the group is growing. We now have fifty-one registered members. Hey, come and join us!
Our next Meetup is on Thursday 25th February 2016 at the Slug and Lettuce, Bournemouth.
We may not have reached the giddy heights of the WordPress London user group, yet. But I am pleased with how both events worked out. Delighted that it wasn’t just me and my lonesome.
From tiny acorns…
It took me longer than it should have to get the group going. At first, I decided to start an independent group. One, not affiliated with the WordPress Foundation. But, my cunning plan was dashed when Meetup, the service that I decided to use started charging for their services. So, I approached WordPress to see if I could start an official WordPress group, as WordPress pay the Meetup organiser fees. In hindsight, this has been the best decision I’ve made.
I had a virtual meeting arranged by Josepha Haden a Community Wrangler at Automattic. This was a lot of fun. We and several other WordPress group founders discussed the nuts and bolts of hosting group events. We got clear advice on setting up our events, a few dos and don’ts, but mostly helpful encouragement from Josepha.
She recounted that her first event was just her and her dog. I did contemplate taking my cat to my first event, just in case. But, luckily I didn’t need to.
I would also like to give a big shout out to Jenny Wong, the Community Junkie at Human Made. Her encouragement and advice helped me push past my initial procrastination. Plus she kindly put me in touch with the helpful folks at PHP Dorset who helped publicise our fledgling group.
Why start a WordPress Meetup Group?
It’s a good way of contributing to WordPress. It’s also a great way of networking, learning and sharing knowledge with your local area. Many of us in this industry work alone. For those of us that live and work in a virtual world , this chance for real human interaction is golden.
Want to form your own group?
Do it. You don’t need a fancy venue to start with. Just find a suitable pub and let it grow. I did approach some local institutions with fancy meeting rooms, projectors and all that malarkey. But as no one wanted to donate a venue for free, a pub seemed to me to be the best option. You may find a church hall, coffee house or another venue. But a quiet(ish) pub works for me.
How to start a WordPress Meetup Group
Don’t reinvent the wheel. Find out if there is an existing local group. Many towns and cities have user groups. You could volunteer to help organise one of these rather than start afresh.
But if your town is missing one, why not start your own?
A great resource for those in the UK is on the WPUK events page.
Decide if you want an independent group. Some may prefer to be free from any restrictions imposed by the WordPress Foundation.
In practice, I have not felt restricted in any way or under scrutiny. It’s nice to know I have the support too if problems or issues were to arise. Plus I got sent some WordPress swag to share out at the events.
These are the official rules:
- WordPress Meetups are for the benefit of the WordPress community as a whole, not specific businesses or individuals. All actions that I take as an organizer are with the best interest of the community in mind.
- Membership in the local meetup group is open to all who wish to join, regardless of ability, skill, financial status or any other criteria.
- Meetups are volunteer-run with volunteer speakers. In cases where a modest attendance fee might be necessary, this fee should only cover the costs of the meetup and shouldn’t be used to pay speakers or organizers.
- Meetup groups allow events to be organized by any reliable/trusted member of the community.
- Meetups are welcoming places where everyone works to foster an accepting environment which is free of discrimination, incitement to violence, promotion of hate, and general jerk-like behavior.
I hope this article will help you decide to create a WordPress Meetup group in your area. Or at least, help you find one to join. Meetups are a great way to learn, share and network with WordPressers.
I am not the most self-confident or outgoing individual. Far from it. It may be a bit of a cliché, but if I can do it, so can you. So what’s stopping you?