Dustin Meza relocated to Nashville in 2015 from Austin and quickly joined the local WordPress community. Dustin is the Director of Customer Experience Operations at WP Engine and shares his memories of WP Engine’s early days and what brought him to Nashville. Dustin also discusses what it was like to get involved early on with Nashville’s WordCamp, what visitors to the camp can expect, and how he sees Nashville’s WordPress community growing along with the city.
Randy Hicks, this year’s Workshops Lead and former WordCamp Nashville Lead Organizer, sits down at the Entrepreneur Center with Clark Buckner of Relationary Marketing to talk about all things WordCamp!
1. The origins of WordCamp Nashville; the original goal
In 2012 WordCamps were spreading like fire and John Housholder and I were essentially running most of the meetup events. At that point John had been to a handful of camps and was determined that Nashville was going to have a camp and we could do it in less than 4 months.
Over night we had assembled a team and we were off to the races. The first year was all about getting it done and just having a camp. Looking back I still think we did a great job for our first camp.
The next year we stepped it up a bit, paid for a venue, included lunch and added a third track. The 2013 camp became a template for 2014 & 2015 as the community was slowly growing. The goal was to provide a safe space for the community to connect and meet on all things WordPress. That’s pretty normal for a WordCamp, but for most it’s one of the only days in the year they get out and really give it their all!
2. What’s changing about it this year: new location, two days of programming, intensive workshops.
2016 is the next step in the natural evolution of any WordCamp. It may sound easy, but it is a huge undertaking to coordinate the event! Starting off as a one-day camp gave us exponential room to grow, and this year we took a cue from other camps and moved to the Germantown location of redpepper and Deavor.
We’ve added a fourth track that is focused on higher education and have dedicated the second day to hands-on training workshops. The higher education track is being curated by college professors around Nashville and neighboring cities. With MTSU at the helm, we expect it to be a great addition to the camp.
The Sunday trainings are my personal bonus. Sessions are great, but there is no comparison to getting your hands dirty with actual WordPress publishing. We have the following:
– WordPress 101: The Basics of Content Management
– Future Proof SEO for WordPress
– Using Forms in WordPress
– How To MeetUp
– Contributing to WordPress Core
3. Why we’ve made these changes
Anyone who has been in Nashville for 6 months will understand what is happening in our fair city. The pros and cons of change are debatable, and as far as the WordPress community is concerned, it’s been a huge pro!
We now have 1,415 total members in our MeetUp, and the statistics on growth of new members has been a tell of the growth Nashville is experiencing.
– Nov-2010 to 2011: 141
– 2012: 175 = 124.11%
– 2013: 258 = 147.43%
– 2014: 246 = 94.65%
– 2015: 442 = 179.67%
– 2016: 302 (aug-27th 325 in 2015)
– Stats sheet: http://bit.ly/2bYki8h
4. What we’re hoping for people to get out of this year
For all the reasons mentioned above we moved to larger, more open floor plan. However we also felt that moving the event into the city, proper, would give attendees that feel of Nashville pride that is harder to get from the 100 Oaks fringe.
The large part of the change is a direct reflection of a quickly growing, diverse professional community who all share the connection that the WordPress Open Source community creates. The global awareness of the WordPress community really is amazing, and we believe that Nashville has the potential to be at the forefront. On a topic for another day, we are pushing for Nashville to be the WordCamp US location, but we won’t find out for a few more weeks or months if that will be happening.