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How WordCamp Miami Endeavors To Handle Sponsors

FYI: Although WordCamp Miami is still energetically seeking sponsors, this post is not meant to promote. In fact, an official version of this post is being planned to be posted on the WordCamp Miami website but I felt first was safe and proper to post on my personal blog.

Disclaimer: In case you didn’t know, i’m currently involved with WordCamp Miami organization for 2017 and have been involved in years past.


Recently, Tony Perez from Sucuri Security wrote a guest post on WPTavern about WordCamps and Sponsorships. I’m not writing now to give my feedback on the article and his points – although I highly suggest you read it. One thing I can tell you is that I was pleased he mentioned WordCamp Miami in a favorably way. I’m not an accountant or even good with math – but it seemed (at least to me) WordCamp Miami was favored positively in his published reports.

After talk with lead organizer Ptah Dunbar, I wrote a response to a question in the comments section (risky I know!) about what Miami does that might stand out to sponsors like Sucuri and Tony. Although I couldn’t answer for Tony I wanted to list the reasons WE thought of, since we do get this question in some form from time to time. This is basically what we responded with:

  • Financial – We don’t have total control over sponsorship amounts, but we even have provided in the past early bird pricing for sponsors who want to get on board early. This helps us too since the more support we have early, the better we can plan for the event.
  • Communication – We talk to sponsors as soon as they express interest, and stay in communication with enough updates as to not annoy them. At the event, we assign a sponsor coordinator and that person(s) touches base with the sponsors physically before registration and during the event. Sponsors also get a private Slack channel, and some other perks.
  • Exposure – We make it a point to accommodate sponsors that have tables/booths in our area. We include them in conference “mini-events” – like our kid’s camp, and we also make “trading cards” for them (as we do for our speakers) to increase foot traffic and interactivity.
  • Announcements – It might seem small, but we strive at WCMIA to not rattle off mentions of sponsors quickly at all announcements, esp. during the opening remarks. We try to give each top level sponsor a half-minute or two of why we respect them and why attendees should check them out. We are constantly tweaking this, and we might be trying new ways of introducing sponsors at next WCMIA. We also tend to mention sponsors at after parties and other functions, in visual (in the form of signs) or vocally.

At some point, I would like to write up a more detailed blog post. But for now, I felt the above information should be living outside WPTavern’s comment section (no disrespect to WPTavern at all, in fact the opposite). We are constantly making adjustments, correcting a mistake here or there, and doing our best. Personally, I think little details can make a difference.

As organizers, our uncompromising goal is to throw a phenomenal event for WordCamp attendees by packing in as much bang for their buck as we can.

If you would like to become part of helping make WordCamp Miami awesome, please reach out to the WordCamp Miami team.

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What Ten Years Of Refresh Miami Means To Me

refresh-miami

This Friday one of the longest running tech meetups in South Florida celebrates it’s 10th anniversary: Refresh Miami. As it should be, the celebration is going to be a fantastic event with good food, music, and networking.

I wanted to take this very brief opportunity to congratulate the past and current organizers of Refresh Miami, particularly Alex de Carvalho, Brian Breslin, and Peter Martinez – all three I know personally.

Therefore, after recently announcing the 9th WordCamp Miami (coming March 24-26… looking for speakers and sponsors btw), I wanted to also thank Refresh Miami for the inspiration for two things:

1) Inspiring me to join meetups and eventually take over operations of the local WordPress meetups, which have grown with much success and now we have two meetups in Broward and Dade/Miami. Refresh Miami was one of the first meetups I ever attended, and seeing it operate got me to follow some of their examples with my own meetups.

2) While i think WordCamp Miami would have started on it’s own, I will gladly admit that without Refresh Miami it probably would have taken longer to get it started. WordCamp Miami started w/ BarCamp Miami, that’s true – but it’s a chain reaction. Without the meetups, the WordCamp wouldn’t have followed. And again, like I said, Refresh Miami inspired me to get the WordPress meetups in shape.

Sadly I miss Refresh Lauderdale – which existed for a year or two in Broward and was easier to travel too. And I also don’t get to Refresh Miami much anymore due to my busy schedule and me living about an hour away with traffic. I’ll watch videos and live streams when they exist. I’ve seen Refresh Miami grow from a dozen or so people in a room of some business to much bigger venues with a bigger budget and national speakers. Sadly I miss the days the topics were more on tech and development – a few years ago the shift of the meeting went mostly to startups, funding, etc. But there are other meetups and conferences that I think have picked up the slack… including WordCamp Miami.

Refresh Miami has also been one of the biggest supporters of WordCamp Miami over the years.

I raise my glass to Refresh Miami and here’s to another 10 years.

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WordCamp (And BuddyCamp) Miami 2017: My Thoughts And Plans

WordCamp Miami 2017 dates were announced officially, and it’s happening on March 24th-26th.

This will be my ninth year involved in the organization of WordCamp Miami. WordCamps have been around for more than a decade, but the number of people on an organization team for a decade is rare.

In the past few years i’ve shared my personal thoughts about the upcoming organization, planning, and my general thoughts about the approaching WordCamp. I’m basing some of my thoughts on the past years, but particularly on the feedback we got from WordCamp Miami 2016 – I summarized the event from an organizer’s standpoint and the feedback we got from the event here.

We Don’t Try To Top Ourselves

While we do always wish to improve ourselves, out attitude in the last years hasn’t been to stress trying to “top ourselves” from the previous year. I hear this statement often enough from some people involved in WordCamp organization, but generally speaking it’s shouldn’t be a number one priority. Or even in your Top 5. If you had a great event before, just do another great event this year. For the most part attendees you don’t need to “top yourselves” to bring in attendees or justify your bragging about your event to others.

WordCamp Miami DOES try to do is strive to be unique and not be the exact same camp as the year before – and find a way in our budget to do that. You’ll see below what we are out to accomplish (at least this early in the planning) and if we can accomplish this, we’re happy.

WordCamp Miami 2016 brought our attendee record up to 850. I’m honestly not in a hurry to break that record – i’m expecting similar numbers for 2017

Priority On Networking

Two of top reasons people come to WordCamps are networking and education. Our thoughts that this year, we want to put more effort into making WordCamp Miami enjoyable for those wanting to meet new people.

So you might see this reflected in our schedule – more time for networking and meeting new people. Which might be different that what you’re used to seeing in previous years.

Adjustments To Speakers & Schedule

2016-02-21 10.06.21In previous years I think WCMIA tended to see how many speakers we could cram into 3 days. Last year we had more than 60 speakers. Even for a large three-day WordCamp I find that to be ALOT (and some speakers did technically speak in more than on session).

WordCamp Miami’s schedule is in flux until speaker calls are closed but I wouldn’t be surprised in 2017 we have LESS speakers than 2016 with longer or more deeply focused tracks.

Last year our “Learn JavaScript Deeply Track” was a BIG success, so we will definitely strive to bring this back with new (and old) speakers and a more planned out track that might resemble a workshop.

New Tools For Speakers And Attendees

IMG_4930Speaking of speakers, this year I hope to debut a new kind of speaker feedback tool. To my knowledge this is the first time ANYTHING like this has been offered at WordCamp. You can see an early prototype in action in the animated gif.

BuddyCamp Miami

This will be the 5th year we’ve hosted BuddyCamp Miami. There have been other BuddyCamps but thanks to support from the BuddyPress core team – in particular John James Jacoby – I personally think Miami is considered the un-official home conference for BuddyPress.

Typical track at BuddyCamp has been pretty much the same for the past years – do an intro session in the morning, then spend the rest of the day on various talks about design, development, or application of BuddyPress. There’s usually a “State of BuddyPress” talk in there too.

This coming year though I want to mix things up. It heavily depends on who is involved but here’s a possible approach:

Friday Morning – BuddyCamp “State of the Word”, then get into development talks on how to setup a simple BuddyPress application.

Friday Afternoon – Build a mobile app that communications with that BuddyPress application (via React or other technology).

This would effectively be a BuddyCamp + React (or whatever is ended up being used) Workshop. There could be a block of talks also on the weekend focused on BuddyPress application or other topics which would expose BuddyPress to a larger, weekend crowd. There’s also talk of a contributor day that could also include addressing BuddyPress tickets

If you have thoughts on this or another way BuddyCamp can be done differently please reach out to me.

Outside The WordPress Bubble

WordCamp Miami has been inviting Drupal and Joomla (among others) to our events for some time. That’s not stopping this year as we are actively inviting Drupal and Joomla groups in the Florida area to submit talks that the WordPress audience would appreciate. I would like to know what problems other communities have solved and how the WordPress community can learn from that.

Also outside of the WordPress circle are JavaScript (particularly React, Angular, and other groups) developers which we are reaching out to as well.

Contributor Day

WordCamp Miami has traditionally NOT had a contributor day, for a variety of reasons. There is more talk about it happening this year, so it should be interesting if that comes to pass.

What Else We Might Be Planning

2016-02-20 11.34.14Here’s a few things we’re thinking about:

– We are working out our workshops for this year (what rooms the venue has available plays a key part in the decisions). Every year we have a beginner’s workshop – the biggest part of the conference that’s focused on people that have never used WordPress before. However we have gotten requests for a “WordPress 102” class which would be for people that
– Two things people ask us alot before they get tickets: are you bringing back the BBQ and nitrogen frozen ice cream? I can’t see why we wouldn’t.
– In 2016 for the first time WordCamp Miami expanded it’s Kid Workshop to TWO days. There was coding and STEM/STEAM activities and we got ALOT of positive feedback… so i’m happy to report that plans are already in the works for another full workshop schedule for kids for ages as young as seven up into the teens.
– I would like to see another kids panel and make this an annual thing.
– Personally by now i’m getting bored with swag. There’s alot we did last year that was fun – Happiness Chocolate Bars, Wapuu buttons, coloring books, etc. It’s getting harder to find fun stuff… i mean, how many water bottles can you possibly own? PLUS a WordCamp Miami will happen in 2018 and there’s some ideas we are saving for the big 10th anniversary.
– I keep asking myself every year about the speaker collector cards… are these are going out of style? Should we do something new and interesting with the money spent? We’ve done them for the past five years. Maybe we should make them more like Pokémon cards instead of baseball cards?
– I think we might see the return again of the yellow Wapuu shirts. We only made them for the kids last year, but ALOT of adults were asking about them… we had a few serious offers of people wanting to BUY them. It was crazy. They were so cute – we usually retire shirts after an event, but we might make an exception for this one.

Screenshot 2016-03-06 10.32.00

Moving Forward

WordCamp Miami is just getting started, but we’ve made alot of announcements this week already. Sponsors and potential speakers are already reaching out. Our site will be updated visually in a few days. The first thing we did – even before applying a design to our site – is make the call for speakers. If you are interested please read the information already on the site… and remember EVERYONE has a story and I would love to see new and interesting speakers this year.

More updates to come!

What Would You Like For Me To Talk About Regarding Planning WCMIA?

Please leave a note in the comments!

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