I discovered WordPress in 2006 when I was rehabbing historic Warehouses in Atlanta. I began to use it for my own business and a personal blog. When building started slowing down I helped family and friends get their sites started. Then other people started asking me to help them with their websites, and I realized that I probably had a business on my hands. So, in 2009 in the midst of the financial crises and the worst recession on record, I started a new business.
It is one thing to do sites for friends and family and another thing altogether to do sites commercially. I had a big learning curve. I had a medical records software company in the 90’s but I was the CEO and UI designer, not a programmer. Staying up many late nights, I was able to get more knowledge under my belt and got more experience which gave me more confidence with each new site.
Four months later, I heard that there was going to be a WordCamp in New Orleans. At the time, my daughter was at Tulane so it seemed like it might be a good thing, though I had no idea what it was going to be like. I wondered if there were going to be a lot of young techie guys, and content way over my head. With some intrepidation, I went ahead and signed up.
WordCamp NOLA was held in the large conference room of the Hotel Le Cirque. There were about 100 attendees, which I understand is on the small side for a WordCamp.The participants were all ages and sexes and were from diverse backgrounds. Their was only one large conference room so there was only one track. The topics were fairly broad and definitely not too technical. Ben Huh, CEO of the FAIL Blog and I Can Has Cheezburger? Company, was one of the speakers. He was a riot and had a lot a great advice about running a business that was based on extremely popular WordPress websites.
I found that not only was it not technically over my head, I actually had more experience with WordPress than the majority of the attendees. It was very validating and I had a great time.
Since then, I have been to five WordCamps and spoke at one of them. WordCamp Birmingham 2009, WordCamp Atlanta 2010, WordCamp Savannah 2010 and I was really excited to be able to attend WordCamp SF 2011 this past September.
I’d love to hear about your first WordCamp experience!