Artbees Takeaways from WordCamp Europe 2019

WordCamp Europe 2019 was the biggest and the best WordCamp I have ever attended. But that’s not what made it special. What WordCamp Europe 2019 successfully accomplished for the first time was holding a massive event without falling into the usual pitfalls of events this size.

In my first encounter with WordCamp Europe 2019 at the Estrel venue in Berlin on June 20, I recalled events such as Web Summit. It was a three-day event held in a huge venue packed with talks, workshops, booths, and activities with thousands of attendees. It was the largest WordPress event ever, with 3,260 tickets sold and 2,734 attendees.

The attendees came from 97 different countries, and 1,722 of them had never attended WordCamp Europe before. Events this size must be quite difficult to organize and might require months of planning, arrangements and hundreds of people involved.

How was it different from any other WordCamp?

Events on this massive of a scale might end up making them mediocre with poor organization, average talks and bad service for attendees. But this is exactly where WordCamp differed from events like WebSummit. WordCamp 2019 was an event much larger than its usual size and so wonderfully organized that its scale didn’t make it mediocre.

The other important way WordCamp sets itself far above other large-scale tech events is that it’s driven by the community, not profit. Look at an event like WebSummit or the TNW Conference, and you’ll notice an event designed to make money. At these events, celebrities are invited to a venue with a private jet to talk about your run-of-the-mill topics so more people in that crowd understand it. This is the problem in events that sell as many tickets as possible to earn more money and end up with a very disparate audience!

WordCamp Europe 2019 Estrel

An event like WordCamp is designed primarily to gather members of a community, rather than running a business to make money out of it. It’s very common to see someone who is a speaker at one WordCamp to be a volunteer at another. And yes! Volunteers aren’t volunteering for a reference letter here! WordCamp Europe 2019 didn’t just set a new standard for continental WordCamps but also set one for other tech events.

Jupiter X in WordCamp Europe 2019

Artbees attended WordCamp Europe 2019 on June 20-22 in Berlin. We had the pleasure of not just attending but also co-sponsoring the event this year. Jupiter X had one of the busiest booths in a small business hall in WCEU this year.

It was also our first WordCamp where we gave away a small but lovely prize. The Jupiter X AirPod Giveaway was so welcomed by the attendees at WordCamp this year that during the drawing session on the last day of the event, our booth was hardly able to host the massive crowd waiting for their name to be selected from the box as the winner!

Meeting with Jupiter X users, friends and partners

We had so many great guests stop by the Jupiter X booth for a visit, including some of our fantastic users, fellow authors in the Envato market, our friends in the industry and the WordPress community.

Meeting with the Envato Team & Envato Worldwide

We had various meetings with the Envato team during different WordCamp Europe 2019 events. On Envato Worldwide Day, which was one of the side events, we met with and greeted the great Envato team. Cameron Gough, James Giroux, Stephen Cronin and Aaron Rutley from the Envato team stopped by our booth during the first conference day for a nice chat and some fruitful discussions about the state of WordPress, the Envato market, trends and more.

It was also a pleasure having a special meeting with Cameron Gough – General Manager of Content at Envato – and to share some ideas and suggestions regarding ThemeForest as one of its authors. Cameron is not just a great human but also very determined to reflect the authors’ voices in Envato and to take some huge steps forward by addressing issues and possible improvements to the marketplace.

It’s also been a year in which Envato is hosting meetups of their own called Envato Worldwide in different cities around the world, including London, Amsterdam, Kyiv, Warsaw, and Saint Petersburg. As part of their worldwide tour, they held a meetup in Berlin a few days before WordCamp Europe 2019.

Envato Worldwide meetups are a great combination of keynote presentations, local author presentations, networking, Q&A sessions and a nice after party. As members of the Envato community, we were thrilled to meet and greet with some of the great authors in ThemeForest as well as the amazing members of the Envato team, discuss ideas, share experiences and learn from one another.

WordCamp Europe 2019 Contributor Day

There is no denying that one of the best parts of every WordCamp is the Contributor Day. At large WordCamps like WordCamp Europe, it’s even better! What you could see was a large hall filled with passionate community members who were helping to build or expand some aspect of WordPress.

500 contributors formed different groups such as core, review, marketing, support, polyglot, design, etc. and were led by 37 experienced lead contributors to different MakeWordPress projects. From Artbees, Gulhan joined and contributed to the “theme review” team. Rouzbeh contributed to the marketing team, and Nel joined the community team just like at WCEU 2018.

During Contributor Day at WordCamp Europe 2019, we also had an exciting encounter with the one and only Matt Mullenweg, WordPress co-founder and CEO.

WordCamp Europe 2019 Gulhan and Carolina
Gulhan with Carolina Nymark from the “theme review” team on Contributor Day
WordCamp Europe 2019 Contributor Day Matt
The Jupiter X team with Matt Mullenweg at WordCamp Europe 2019 on Contributor Day

The group photo taken at the end of Contributor Day may have been the biggest photo ever taken at a WordCamp. Check for yourself and see how many of Artbees members you can find in the crowd!

WordCamp Europe 2019 Group Photo
Photo courtesy of WordCamp Europe 2019

Talks

Unlike last year, we were running a booth at WCEU this year, so, unfortunately, we could not attend most of the talks. There were some great topics and speakers I shared in our “we’re heading Berlin” post on June 13. But one talk in particular that is most talked about at every WordCamp Europe or WordCamp US is Matt Mullenweg’s State of WordPress talks.

This year, he again went up on stage thanking and giving a round of applause to the organizing team and sponsors who made possible what he called the best WordCamp ever. He explained the latest developments of different WordPress projects, especially Project Gutenberg and its roadmap in the coming months. And, as usual, it concluded with a Q&A session.

Side events

There were several side events before and during WordCamp Europe 2019. We were invited to a side event or afterparty almost every day before WCEU and during the conference days.

Just like at WCEU 2018, we joined Elementor’s side event this year but with a brand new name called “Meet the Makers of Elementor.” This event was much more than an afterparty and included various sessions such as workshops and keynotes. I’m sure this will be a good beginning for them to make great community get-togethers in the future.

WordCamp Europe 2019 Elementor Makers

Just like WCEU 2018, the Freemius team held a lovely side event in Berlin to gather different kinds of WordPress community members. It was great to meet Vova at this WCEU and engage in some insightful discussions about their service Freemius, which is a platform for WordPress businesses to operate on.

WordCamp Europe 2019 Freemius

Afterparty

A WordCamp is never complete without its afterparty! Just like many other WordCamp Europe attendees, we were counting down the seconds for another great afterparty for WCEU 2019, and it definitely lived up to the hype! The afterparty this year was a 4-hour long chat, complete with music and dancing with a party theme I’ve always liked: the 80s!

WordCamp Europe 2019 Jupiter X Afterparty
The Jupiter X team at the WordCamp Europe 2019 afterparty!

Closing Talk

The WordCamp Europe 2019 closing talks were a holistic review of this year’s event with tons of interesting figures about its contributors, volunteers, sponsors, speakers, and attendees. Though there was a section this year celebrating those who helped make the event happen but couldn’t attend the event.

Like any other event, WordCamp Europe 2019 was not without issues. But the great thing about WordCamps is that you can see a noticeable betterment after each WordCamp from city to city. WordCamp 2019 in Berlin was definitely a better WordCamp than WordCamp Europe 2018 in Belgrade – and hopefully, WordCamp 2020 in Porto will be better as well!

Artbees’ Experience of WordCamp Milano: The Culture of Giving in WordPress

Before attending a WordCamp event in person, I always thought WordCamps were where WordPress developers and nerd coders hung out. Also, I was thinking WordCamp was where a genius came on stage to talk about technical matters related to WordPress and the audience clapped for them. This was the case until I attended the WordCamp Europe 2018 in person but the biggest change in my thinking about WordCamp was when I attended WordCamp Milano 2018.

Artbees was lucky to choose WordCamp Milano as the first WordCamp event to sponsor. Rouzbeh and I were representing Artbees at the event. We not only had the chance to showcase our Jupiter X to the Italian community of WordPress and also visit the beautiful city of Milan but also were able to manage to work hand in hand in one of the best WordCamp Contributors days we have ever attended. In this post, I will share with you the insights I’ve collected and how they changed my mind about voluntary work.

Does anyone contribute to WordPress?

Have you ever thought about how WordPress makes money? WordPress is a free platform. You can download, install and use its CMS from wordpress.org to build a website for free so how WordPress pays its bills. Well, you might s with wordpress.com subscriptions, the WordPress VIP service, its sponsors such as GoDaddy, BlueHost and SiteGround or with its plugins such as Jetpack, WooCommerce, Akismet and so on. Well that’s true, but it will surprise you to know that most of the work in WordPress behind and in front of the scene is being done by volunteers (so no bills to pay)!

As you know, WordPress is an open-source publishing platform and thousands of developers from different countries contribute to its codebase for free. All of them are working either for free or they are hired by companies that are built around WordPress. Oh, and by the way, they owe their existence to WordPress; Yoast -the leading SEO plugin for WordPress- is one of those companies that hire developers and puts them in service of WordPress core team to contribute to WordPress codebase.

In addition to the developers who contribute to the WordPress core, there are also volunteer teams called  ‘MakeWordPress Teams’. These teams are organized within different teams such as design, accessibility, mobile, support, documentation, themes, community, plugins and more; where we do lots of pro-bono works related to different parts of the WordPress software, WordPress community and everything in between!

You may have recently downloaded the hot new release of WordPress, Bebo. There is a high chance a particular feature in Gutenberg that you have liked or disliked was made by a contributor. Or for instance, if you have ever attended a WordCamp event, you should be aware that the entire team of organizers of that event are volunteers who work without getting paid. So, in fact, there are many people who contribute to WordPress, there are thousands of people who do it regularly and as part of their lives.

Is contribution to WordPress rewarding?

Yes. Actually, your voluntary work for WordPress can even be more rewarding than your full-time job. Below, I’ll have a look at our experience at WordCamp Milano contributor day and I’ll explain what ways you can get rewarded for the ‘free’ work for WordPress.

You will get a shiny badge on your WordPress.org profile

If you care about resumes, CVs and LinkedIn profiles (which you should!) you know how important it is to list certifications, degrees, achievements, awards, etc. related to your career and how effective they are to win the position you’re after. The good news is that the WordPress foundation will give you one of those shiny badges based on the kind of voluntary work you do for WordPress!

Marketing and Community MakeWordPress Teams Badges

It can be a core team contributor badge, marketing, design, accessibility, mobile or other teams badges that are issued by a prestigious software development company recognized by almost everyone in the software industry. I started my contributions to MakeWordPress Marketing team in WECU 2018, and I continued my contributions after the event as part of my regular life. And, at WordCamp Milano 2018 I was granted my Marketing Contributor badge!

There are hidden people and opportunities you want to discover!

The contributor days are not you sitting behind your laptop, writing code or anything else. It’s people who collaborate on getting things done for a software platform they like.  This is accompanied with a lot of fun, chit-chat, snacks and launch sessions. WordCamp Milano was a great example of this atmosphere. You could see people organized in different team working in maximum harmony. Among these teams, you happen to meet people you would never see outside a WordCamp; a fellow developer, a designer, a blogger, or a marketer.

With folks from Yithemes in WordCamp Milano 2018 Contributor day

At WordCamp Milano, we were lucky to catch up with folks from Yithemes– who run some of the most successful WooCommerce plugins in the market. We had a nice chat with Andrea and Giuseppe during the launch session about the state of affairs of the WordPress plugin and theme market, as well as discussing possible collaborations between Yithemes and Artbees. And you know what, that’s already in progress😉, and soon you will see that reflected in both of our products! This is the result of joining a session you know people in your area would join as well, knowing them, talking to them and expanding your networks. 

And that was not all. We happened to see some of the greatest members of the WordPress community there as well. Yes, someone you normally saw in photos next to Matt Mullenweg or wordpress.tv famous talks is sitting right next to you doing the very same job as you do. In the same place, on the same team. During the contributor session at WordCamp Milano, I got to meet Raffaella Isidori, an expert designer and passionate speaker on the marketing contribution team. She is an active part of the community team and a great leader to many on that team.

I was lucky to accidentally share the topic I was going to be speaking at WordCamp Thessaloniki a month later, ‘WordPress & Problem of Diversity’ with Raffaella and discovered she had a lot to share related to the topic. She referred me to a couple of people who have relevant experiences and stories regarding diversity. If nothing else, just the tips, ideas and people she openly shared with me made my talk a better and richer one. And to think I would have never known her outside WordCamp Milano 2018 Contributor day!

You will find your next job or missing team member

WordCamps are scenes for people from different areas and different levels of expertise and interests in their fields. There is a high possibility you can find the veteran Javascript developer you were looking for months through LinkedIn (useless!) job ads. There is also a chance you could meet someone who will employ you or connect you to your future job. Unlike many similar tech meetups or events like WebSummit, your ticket tier does not set your chances off from meeting pros and experts at the events.

WordCamps are powered by the bound of their community members to WordPress and its cause. It has a simple working economy, not to sell tickets on different tiers for the sake of more money (again like WebSummit). So chances are, that you can easily spot a legendary developer from Automattic, Yoast or WooCommerce (or Artbees! Just kidding ;)) during the contribution day, event day or after party! And, many entrepreneurs and business runners attend WordCamps to make use of this exact potential.

You learn. You learn a lot!

While working with agile development, design, marketing, community, training, and other teams on WordCamp Contribution days, you are likely to learn a lot of new things in your area. These teams are working under the supervision of leads. They are appointed based on their experience and cutting-edge skillset in their areas and can teach you what you could normally learn working in high-end tech and marketing companies or with very expensive training courses and events (i.e. Smashing Conference). Let me give an example from WordCamp Milano so you may relate better.

Marketing Team in WordCamp Milano 2018 Contributor day

Being a CMO and driving the marketing wings of my company, I have always had issues working with remote teams on Marketing. I’ve always had (and still have) doubts about how and if marketing teams can be remote? It wasn’t that it had completely changed my mind about the problem, but seeing how the MakeWordPress Marketing team is managing the remote work using a combination of Slack, Trello, protocols and weekly ceremonies started to make me think. And not to mention with dozens of contributors who have not met one another even once, was a bit of inspiration to maybe say that it is possible. At the least, I can understand that there is a still room to improve in my remote team.

How else can you support WordPress?

Simple. Support WordCamp events by sponsoring them! Look for local or continental WordCamp events in your area or where your target market lies. There are two continental WordCamps held every year: WordCamp Europe WCEU held in June in a European country, and WordCamp US WCUS held in the US in December every year. There are also dozens of local WordCamps in cities big and small on all continents. The sponsorship plans and prices can vary. You can find a sponsorship plan for as low as 500$ in a local WordCamp, but you can pay up to 100000 Euros for a top-tier sponsorship plan at a WordCamp Europe event.

Artbees was a Bronze sponsor of WordCamp Milano 2018

Artbees was a Bronze sponsor of WordCamp Milano 2018

In November 2018, we had the pleasure of supporting WordCamp Milano 2018 as Bronze-tier sponsor. We had the chance to meet and network with local WordPress businesses, meet with some of the great organizers of WordCamp in Italy and also had the opportunity to feature our brand new Jupiter X WordPress theme to WordPress lovers. This was our first WordCamp event to sponsor, but that led to a chain of interest to sponsor other WordCamps including  WordCamp Thessaloniki in Dec 2018, and WordCamp Europe in June 2019. And then who knows, maybe many others🙂. Start by checking make.wordpress.org to find the team you like to start contributing or visit WordCamp Central to find the next WordCamp event nearby to sponsor!

Hero image > Courtesy of Massimo Mormile – WordCamp Milano 2018