Episode 201

Discovering the WordPress Community, Leading Events, and the Power of Contributing with LifterLMS Co-founder Thomas Levy

Discovering the WordPress community, leading events, and the power of contributing with LifterLMS co-founder Thomas Levy and Chris Badgett in this episode of the LMScast podcast. Chris and Thomas recap about WordCamp Los Angeles 2018 and dive into the WordPress community as a whole and what makes it strong.

WordCamp is usually $40 for a two-day event where the WordPress community comes together all across the world to learn about new developments in the space and to socialize. The admission pays for the food, and there are sponsors that cover the price of the venue. There are typically three 45-minute presentations happening at the same time during the day, so you can learn about topics that interest you.

Discovering the WordPress community, leading events, and the power of contributing with LifterLMS co-founder Thomas LevyThomas was the lead organizer for WordCamp LA 2018. He has been involved with WordCamp LA since 2015 when he volunteered at his first WordCamp ever. Thomas shares insights he has gained from his experiences with WordCamps and engagement with the WordPress community in person.

With most tech conferences Thomas has attended before 2015, he would find a seat in the back of the room close to a power outlet and work on his computer, only halfway paying attention to what was going on. Once Thomas volunteered at his first WordCamp in 2015, he became much more engaged with the community.

The core idea of WordPress is accessibility. WordPress is open source software that anyone can use, and anyone can build on top of it. Contributing is the core philosophy of the WP community. That is why Thomas tries to speak or volunteer at every WordCamp he attends.

If you’re on the fence about WordCamps and other local Meetups, just try them out. You can find talks from previous WordCamps at WordPress.tv.

The WordPress community is comprised of much more than just developers. At WordCamps you will find bloggers, artists, marketing experts, and everyone in between. We encourage you to find where and when your local WordCamp gatherings are, and get involved with the awesome community of WordPress users.

Chris is one of the lead organizers for WordCamp Portland, Maine, and Thomas will also be there. They have some LifterLMS swag stickers you can pick up at our booth there and the LifterLMS space helmet and rocket cutout you can take your picture with as well.

Go to LifterLMS.com to find out more about how you can use LifterLMS to build your own online courses and membership sites. If you like this episode of LMScast, you can browse more episodes here. Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter for updates, developments, and future episodes of LMScast. Thank you for joining us!

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Chris Badgett: You’ve come to the right place if you’re a course creator looking to build more impact, income, and freedom. LMScast is the number one podcast for course creators just like you. I’m your guide Chris Badgett. I’m the co-founder of the most powerful tool for building, selling and protecting engaging online courses called LifterLMS. Enjoy the show.
Chris Badgett: Hello, and welcome back to another episode of LMScast. I’m Chris Badgett, and I’m joined by a special guest, LifterLMS co-founder, Thomas Levy. How are you doing?
Thomas Levy: Hello, hello, I’m good, Chris, thanks.
Chris Badgett: It’s good to have you on the airwaves. Today we’re doing a recap about WordCamp Los Angeles, which just finished here in 2018, and just talk about the WordPress and the community as a whole. So, how’d it go. Like how did WordCamp Los Angeles go? You were the lead organizer.
Thomas Levy: I was the lead organizer, yes. It went really well. I think we put on a really incredible event. Feedback I’ve received since concluding the event and while at the event were general positive and favorable. A few negative comments here and there, but you can’t please everyone all the time. So, I think that’s to be expected.
Chris Badgett: And how long have you been doing the WordCamp thing?
Thomas Levy: I’ve been involved in WordCamp Los Angeles since about 2015 I volunteered or I went to my first WordCamp ever and I was a volunteer. Adam silver was, I think he was the volunteer wrangler that year. Chris and I met him at CaboPress. It’s an event put on by Chris Lema that we went to. That was our first year going to the event in 2015. So, I met Adam Silver there. Working at Los Angeles was the weekend after CaboPress. And I knew my-
Chris Badgett: So, did CaboPress inspire you to go to your first WordCamp?
Thomas Levy: I mean I think you’re maybe digging to give some promotion to Chris Lema there. CaboPress it’s-
Chris Badgett: I’m just trying to get the timeline.
Thomas Levy: Yeah, yeah, I know. CaboPress itself was just the location. And I wouldn’t call it inspired really, Adam … for anybody who knows Adam Silver, I love Adam Silver, he’s a great friend. We’ve done work with him over the years and I don’t see him as much as I used to, but he’s a great friend. I do like to talk shit a little bit though, but he’s the kinda guy who [inaudible 00:02:30]. I think we’ve referred to him as a super connector. He’s an extrovert. He’s very outgoing, he talks to people a lot and when I met him at CaboPress, I was telling him, please shut up. That was essentially my reaction to Adam. But anyway, I believe he was the volunteer wrangler. I might be wrong about that, but he convinced me to come volunteer [inaudible 00:02:47]and it was the weekend after CaboPress.
Thomas Levy: So, I met him at CaboPress. He talked my ear off. And I guess I just went to … I don’t know, I don’t really have a good reason why I went, ’cause I wasn’t really interested in it. I don’t go to meetups at the time. I hadn’t ever been to a meetup. I don’t think I’ve really ever even heard of a WordCamp.
Chris Badgett: But your business … our business is dependent on WordPress. I mean it’s a big part of-
Thomas Levy: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. So, I guess I just felt well, this wouldn’t hurt and then I knew it was gonna be two days and I figured I’d be useful. Adam sounded like he could use the help at WordCamp and we could use an extra set of hands. It was free. He said, “Come volunteer and the ticket will be free.” Although tickets are $40. So, that’s like generally free anyway. And yeah, so, I don’t know. So, it wasn’t exactly inspired by CaboPress, but I met Adam there and that was the relationship I made.
Chris Badgett: And you made a few contacts there that you introduced to me and for example Jasmine Powers that you continued to have conversation with across social media. Here we are three years later and I wasn’t even there.
Thomas Levy: Yeah, yeah, so, I didn’t meet her in 2015, I met her … so, after I volunteered in 2015, it was kind of a cool experience for me. I didn’t realize how. I guess, warm the WordPress community is. I believe this is probably generally true of WordPress in general, but definitely like the Southern California WordPress. There’s like San Diego, Los Angeles, Orange County. There’s now a group starting up in Riverside. There’s a meetup starting up in Palmdale Santa Clarita. Lancaster area north of Los Angeles. So, that whole southern California area. Like it’s all really intertwined. It’s really, really warm. So, I met a lot of people in 2015 that I’m still friends with today. Just as a result of being a volunteer. And I also realized then in 2015 that being a volunteer at events like this is a really great way to get out of your shell. Generally at WordCamps they’ll give you like a different colored T-shirt and you have a set of roles and responsibilities.
Thomas Levy: And I think that’s really cool, ’cause I don’t … I’ve been at a lot of conferences before, WordPress and otherwise. And my tendency as an attendee is to find a seat in the back of the room closest to a power outlet, have my work laptop open and work while I’m half paying attention to what’s going on, on stage. And I get nothing out of it. I don’t feel fulfilled. I’m not great at networking, ’cause then I go into the networking things and I just eat by myself or eat with people who i already know. And I don’t like climbing out of my shell, but as soon as you put that volunteer T-shirt on, people start asking you questions and I also personally feel empowered to … like it’s not weird for me to talk to people as a volunteer or just out of the blue start a conversation, because that’s what I’m there to do.
Thomas Levy: And somehow I feel like more insecure when I just there as an extendee and I don’t do anything. [inaudible 00:05:36]. For me the important part is making connections and talking to people. So, that’s what I learned in 2015. So, since then, I mentioned those couple different WordCamps in southern California. I try to speak or volunteer at every WordCamp that I go to. I don’t think I’ve gone to a single WordCamp … no, that’s not true. We went up to Sacramento last year and we just went as … well, actually I guess we went as sponsors. And nothing to knock work out in Sacramento, but I didn’t get much out of that, because I just went there and did what I normally do as an attendee. I didn’t have any … we met people, we have friends up there and thing like that, but for me I get the most out of contributing in some way. Well, yeah, so, man, I don’t … I guess this is my podcast so I can say what I want. I’ll just ramble and you customers me off when I’m going too long winded. But anyway, so, that’s the story.
Chris Badgett: Just a quick question for the person watching or listening right now who doesn’t know what a WordCamp is. Like what is it. It’s related to WordPress, but what is it? Like why did these come into existence?
Thomas Levy: Yeah, so, the way like to describe it and I think the way WordCamp itself would describe it, they’re large meetups. So, the WordCamps grow out of the meetups and maybe you have a meetup every week or very other week or once a month or something like that. And that’s like you’re a hyper local community, like the Pasadena WordPress or the I don’t know, there’s a Santa Clarita one. There used to be a San Gabriel Valley one. There’s a Riverside one. But the WordCamps are larger more regional. Like if you think the city levels, those WordCamp Los Angeles. And then the Long Beach, the Hollywood, the Downtown LA, the Pasadena, they all come together and combine to build this larger two day event. So, most WordCamps are two days, although, a lot of them are one day WordCamps too. Som of them add like a day on tail end or beginning like the Friday or the Sunday and do like a half day contributor or beginner day. So, it’ll be like a two and a half or three day event.
Thomas Levy: And it’s like any conference, there usually two or three tracks worth presentations that are 45-ish minutes long with discussion Q and A at the end. So, of them will implement longer workshop sessions where it’s like an hour and a half or two hours where you get your hands dirty and actually write code or build a website or something like that. But it’s all somehow centered around WordPress. And for WordPress users by WordPress users. So, every speaker you’ll see there is a WordPress user from self in some way. Maybe they have a WordPress agency, maybe they’re a freelancer. Maybe they’re a blogger, maybe they’re an artist.
Thomas Levy: We’ve got one guy in the LA area who teaches art in universities, but he uses WordPress. So, he’ll always come talk about that kinda stuff. Like his teaching experience or how he uses WordPress as an artist or a writer. So, there’s all kinds of stuff for all different skill levels, all different walks of life, no matter what your involvement is. Not a developer thing. You don’t have to be a developer nerd who writes code all day to get something out of WordCamp.
Chris Badgett: I just wanna say, I think one of the interesting things about it is the technology or business conference, it’s affordable. It’s designed to be accessible, but a lot of conferences are a couple 100 bucks, 500 bucks, a 1000 bucks, whatever. This is like 50 bucks, 40 bucks.
Thomas Levy: Yeah, yeah. So, they’re talking right now about raising the minimum price for WordCamps. Sorry, raising the maximum acceptable price for WordCamps. Right now the maximum you’re allowed to charge for a WordCamp is $20 per day. You have to provide lunch. So, as a WordCamp organizer you can’t charge anymore than $20 a day per ticket, you have to provide lunch if you have a whole day event.
Chris Badgett: And the big part of how it’s able to pull that off is through sponsorships.
Thomas Levy: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Chris Badgett: [crosstalk 00:09:27] example of LifterLMS has sponsored different WordCamps. Just sponsored WordCamp Los Angeles, sponsoring WordCamp Portland Maine. We sponsored Sacramento, we sponsored Riverside, right?
Thomas Levy: Yes. We’re tentatively sponsoring Riverside. [inaudible 00:09:41] if you’re listening to this, like let me know man, I’ll write you a check, I submitted the form. But yeah, yeah, so, having been on the team like the inside of a WordCamp now and doing like I did all the budgeting and paid all of [inaudible 00:09:56] and stuff like that. Like I didn’t personally, but I managed all that budgeting and yeah almost all of the money was money we raised. We have one person on our organizing team raise this … we call him the sponsor wrangler, interacted with all the sponsors, reached out to sponsors and raised all that money. And they’re not cheap. I don’t know if I’m supposed to publicly disclose how much money we spend, so, I won’t.
Thomas Levy: But we raised a lot of money. You could go to our website, you could actually look at the sponsor levels and then you can look at the amount the sponsors gave per level. And you can see all our sponsors. You could do the math pretty quickly and see. And we spent almost all of the money that we raised. And then the really cool thing about WordCamps is that any excess … so, since all the money goes to the general WordCamp fund, it’s not like they’re writing a WordCamp Los Angeles check. They’re writing the WordCamp foundation a check. And then when we wanna pay somebody, we tell WordCamp foundation we’re gonna pay the venue X amount of dollars for catering or whatever.
Thomas Levy: So, any excess goes to support new WordCamps or under funded WordCamps or WordCamp in remote areas and stuff like that. So, thank you to our sponsors, we over raised a little bit, which is really cool, ’cause now that goes out to the general community, the global community to support other WordCamps. We’ve got WordCamps probably almost every weekend all year round somewhere in the world. We have WordCamps in India, there’s WordCamps in Europe, there’s WordCamps in South America. They’re all over the place. So, it’s not just like in American and US based thing. It’s like a global WordCamp community out there. So, it’s cool to like give back to that in some small way.
Chris Badgett: Can you talk a little bit more about your motivation for going? You mentioned you went first for like maybe it was business or networking, but you found something bigger than that.
Thomas Levy: So, if anybody was at WordCamp Los Angeles this year, I broke down and cried like a babbling idiot during closing remarks. And I probably will start to tear up a little bit right now just talking about it, but yeah, I think there’s something interesting that … so, I’ve been on the Los Angeles team, I volunteered in 2015 and then shortly after that in 2016 Adan Silver became the lead organizer. One thing about WordCamps is that they’ll only let you lead two years in a row. And then they need you to step down and as a lead organizer now, I’m like, thank god, I love it, but it’s so much work, I couldn’t … I think if that rule didn’t exist, nobody would ever take over, because one guy would get stuck with it or one girl will get stuck with it and they’d never be able to get anybody to do it. So, it’s good that it rotates, but anyway.
Thomas Levy: So, Adam took over in 2016 and he recruited me as a speaker wrangler. So, I’ve been on the organizer team now since 2016. So, 2018 will have been my third year being involved in the organization of WordCamp Los Angeles. Four years if you count my years of volunteering, but I show up for two days as a volunteer and I didn’t organize it at all. What you said, you asked about money. So, what I like to do when I’m organizing is I like to go around and talk to all the sponsors, because without the sponsors you can’t have a WordCamp. And even at other WordCamps I’ve gone to as a volunteer speaker, I like to talk to the sponsors. And I’ve gotten to know a lot of the sponsors. You see a lot of the same sponsors at WordCamps. They travel around. And big companies like GoDaddy, if anybody knows, has ever been to a WordCamp, you’ve probably spoken to [Mendal 00:13:12], who’s GoDaddy’s WordCamp … I’ll figure out what his official title is, but if you-
Chris Badgett: Evangelist.
Thomas Levy: Evangelist, I guess, but he told me that’s not his official title, I don’t remember what his official title was, he was something like … it’s very corporate sounding and I think you know that. You’ve known corporate, but you see the same sponsors all over the place. I always ask them the same question, which is like how can you tell if this is a good business decision or not. And some of the sponsorships are like three, four thousand dollars to get a table at a WordCamp, depending on your location. So, at LA, I think our highest level sponsorship was four grand and that got like a table and like a primary sponsorship. Title sponsorship or whatever. I guess not title sponsorship, but anyway, whatever.
Thomas Levy: To me I’m like, that’s a lot of money and maybe it’s more money to LifterLMS than it is to GoDaddy, but it’s still $4000. So, I always ask them, how can you track profits here, like how can you track this sponsorship at a WordCamp to increase the revenue or something like that. And every single one of them has told me resoundingly like [inaudible 00:14:17]. But every single one of them is also convinced that it’s not a bad business decision to be sponsoring WordCamps. So, I think, I kinda got involved in WordCamps. And like, that first one I just went, ’cause I was like, it couldn’t hurt to go to a WordCamp and meet potential customers. I’m not there officially as a representative of LifterLMS, ’cause we were a sponsor, but I am there, I own 50% of LifterLMS. Like I can talk about it and meet some customers and spread the word. And we’ve read experiments where we try to be pretty methodical with the money we spend here at LifterLMS I’m advertising and so on and so forth.
Thomas Levy: But I don’t think we’ve been able to really accurately track any real increase. Like even a single sale as a result of sponsoring WordCamps that we can track. I’m sure there are people. Like I know anecdotally that there’s people who have met us at WordCamps and then purchased LifterLMS. But I don’t know for sure if it was meeting us at WordCamp that being at WordCamp, did that really matter. So, I don’t know, so, I guess I got involved in it as a business decision. Like I knew that this would help my business, our business here. But in retrospect, I think I realized that, that almost doesn’t matter and there’s something greater than revenue involved in the WordCamp and the meetups and the WordPress community.
Thomas Levy: Like generally the WordPress community, all those things involved. And I don’t know, I just think there’s something really special. And so, I think … I wrote like a 10 000 word article or recap of what happened at WordCamp leading up to in and around. And I don’t know, there’s just something really cool going on there. I’ve realized that over the past three years, so, since 2015 ended, so, since that WordCamp, that was like September 2015, I think we probably started planning 2016 in December or January. So, I have been on a mere weekly call for WordCamp since early 2016, almost every week with like a two or three month break in between. So, basically for the past three years I’ve been in some way organizing WordCamp Los Angeles. On a weekly basis.
Thomas Levy: And it’s really crazy, like I just realized how much … yes work stress, sleep deprivation I got sick right before WordCamps so, if you talk to me I was trying not to shake hands because I was just coughing all over the place and I couldn’t. Like I had a head cold. And I knew that was like stress induced sleep deprived sickness. And that’s not necessarily WordCamp’s fault, that’s my fault. That’s the way I deal with things. And I allowed myself to get overwhelmed and dealt it in that way, but when it was all set and done, I was like … like there’s something really important happening here and there’s something really, really valuable to every single attendee to every sponsor. And it’s not necessarily business. So, I think what I said in that article was like I thought that what I’ve been doing is networking and building like a brand, but I realize what I’ve actually been doing is just making friendships.
Thomas Levy: That’s hard for me as an adult male. I was always like a nerd as a kid. I had like two friends in high school. Through college I had like one friend. I’ve been with my wife since I was 19 and she’s my best friend. And outside of that I don’t have … Like Chris is my friend, but he’s also my business partner. We don’t hang out on the weekends or whatever. We probably would if he lives close to me, but I don’t know. Like I’ve been making these friends at WordCamps and meetups and things like that. And they’re like tremendously important to me. And I guess I just never really realized it until I was like WordCamp is done. Like this is over for a while. So, I don’t know, yes, it’s really cool, I’m still a little bit raw about it, but just like emotionally.
Chris Badgett: What do you think makes the WordPress community in general special? Because as an example it’s open, you have all these plug ins and themes and the code is open. Anybody can build on top of it. Yeah, what makes the WordPress community special or different?
Thomas Levy: I don’t know. I mean I think there’s a general … I mean if you go and read the code of conduct for WordCamp events, which you can just Google, like “WordCamp code of conduct” it’ll come up. The whole thing is about accessibility and openness and acceptance and diversity. And I think if you boil it like right down to this is software, WordPress is software. It’s PHP and JavaScript and CSS, blah, blah, blah. But the whole thing is built with the idea of like openness. There’s a whole infrastructure built within WordPress, LifterLMS by extension to allow extendability of that software openness of that software. Linux is open source also and if anybody’s been reading or seen anything recently like the founder or I guess the core lead developer of Linux has taken a step back I’ve heard and then [inaudible 00:19:48] something. Because he has been very abrasive and not accepting. And Linux is not un-powerful. Linux hasn’t changed my life, but WordPress has.
Thomas Levy: And I’m sure there’s people who have gotten involved in the Linux community, I’m not trying to trash or anything like that. [inaudible 00:20:05] that their life’s positively impacted. But I don’t know, there’s just like a lot of I don’t know. I guess i don’t really know how to explain it, but I don’t see that happening with other software, but maybe it’s just because I’m not involved in it. So, maybe this isn’t unique to WordPress is I guess what I’m saying. Like maybe if you get really involved with any community you’ll experience these same kinds of things going on in friendships and relationships and welcoming ness. But I don’t know, I think there’s something like genuinely just humanistic about it, because at the end of the day WordPress is open. Like you can use it for free. You don’t have to pay anybody money to do so. I guess that’s not entirely true, because you need a web host. And I guess you can approach your own server yourself, but anyway, I’m getting off topic.
Chris Badgett: There’s a lot of free like or low price or accessible. I mean there’s a lot like even LifterLMS has a free plug in. It’s very valuable by itself. If you look at something like the [inaudible 00:21:09] theme, it’s very valuable by itself. WordPress, very valuable by itself, great. All kinds of plugins. I mean there’s still people building business models on top of that. There’s people that … you volunteer your time for free to organize volunteering. I’ve recently started organizing my local WordCamp in Portland Maine. So, it’s not the free price tag or the low cost price tag. I think it’s just the giving nature. It’s the verb to give that seems to be really strong in the WordPress community.
Thomas Levy: Yeah, yeah, I think you’re right. Yeah, I think you’re right, I agree. And I think it’s the kind of thing that you actually need to get involved and contribute to experience. I don’t think you’re gonna encounter that feeling unless your actively participating. ‘Cause like I said like I’ve been to tech conferences before and tech events before and when I go and I sit at the back of the room I don’t engage and really contribute. I think contributing is the key word. I don’t get much out of it. So, it’s like I guess you gotta give to receive, I don’t know. Maybe that’s just something that everybody already knows, but I’m just finding out now.
Chris Badgett: I don’t think that now. I think you’re accurate. I mean I’ve been to some other conferences and a lot of it is not … it’s about how can I get the most value out of this conference. [crosstalk 00:22:34] or get some clients or something, but WordPress events are so much more than that. I mean I remember the first time I went to a local meetup or went to an event organized around WordPress. It was just fascinating to me like how many people were there that knew each other and they did this a lot and there was all these friendships. And there was like this traveling … some people move and travel as a tribe to all these different WordCamps and conferences and it moves around. That’s pretty interesting.
Thomas Levy: Yeah, yeah, it’s cool. And I think that word contribute, I think there’s something that I’m getting really excited about, excuse me, recently is that you don’t have to be a developer. There’s so much stuff within WordPress that needs to happen that isn’t related to writing code. And I think community is a big part of that. And I think the easiest way to do it is sign up as a volunteer to work out. You just go and volunteer and maybe that means you’re just checking boxes and marking attendees as attendant. Maybe it means handing out T-shirts, but I think it’s a really, really important thing to do. And it;s such a small easy step to take. That I think like if you’re the least bit interested in contributing to WordPress, you should volunteer at WordCamp, just do it. I don’t think you’ll regret it.
Chris Badgett: That’s so much story to share and I first learned about giving back or there was a call to contribute more to the community. I’m like, well, I can’t I can not write code, I can’t do a pull request. And then I realized that, oh, education is a part of contributing. And I went back and I looked at my YouTube videos and [inaudible 00:24:25] course on how to build a site with WordPress and I calculated it out. And this was like two years ago, that I had helped over 30 000 people had like engaged with this content. And even like us at Lifter, often times we’re the first teacher or educator or expert and we’re their first introduction to WordPress. So, we’re building community in different ways like you’re saying. It’s volunteering, it’s documentation, it’s writing code, it’s helping somebody get up to speed, it’s answering a support question in a Facebook group or Slack community or on a plugin support page. There lots of ways to give.
Thomas Levy: Yeah, yeah, I agree. All this stuff is a little but top of mind, ’cause it’s like we’re doing LifterLMS contributor month right now. But yeah, I don’t spend a lot of time in the LifterLMS Facebook group, because I have my own issues with social media and temper and Chris banned me. But when I do go in there and just play a fly on the wall it’s really exciting for me to see users helping users. And I don’t know, the community that’s growing out of that is really awesome. And I’ll just say too, you’re not only helping the other user when you contribute in that way, by just answering questions and sharing your knowledge, but you’re also helping the core team, because every question you answer is one fewer question that we need to answer. And that warms my heart, so thank you.
Chris Badgett: Yeah, and that frees up resources for elsewhere, which is part of the community.
Thomas Levy: Yeah, but I mean on a macro scale, if you think about WordPress, we’ve got let’s say 50 questions a day, how many are in the WordPress forum or in the WordPress Facebook groups and stuff like that. So, it’s just massive.
Chris Badgett: Well, any final thoughts on WordCamp LAX or Los Angeles or if somebody’s thinking about going to a WordCamp or a meetup? Like what are some words you have for them?
Thomas Levy: Yeah, I think if you are thinking of going you should go.
Chris Badgett: And it’s all ages by the way. This isn’t like … and skill level.
Thomas Levy: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, [inaudible 00:26:51] just a little bit more on like this year 2018. Organizing was crazy, but I mean we have a 12 year old who’s a member of our community, his name is [Jansen 00:27:02]. We’ll get his videos uploaded to WordPress.tv in the next couple of weeks, but he’s [inaudible 00:27:08] at WordCamp Los Angeles the past two years. So, yeah, when you say all ages … I think it was in Miami this year, WordCamp Miami on the Friday before WordCamp Miami, they have like a WordPress kids day. Where I think it was like 13 and under or something like that, maybe it was 12 and under. But there is … it’s interesting, but Jansen’s the only person at a WordCamp event who I’ve ever seen give a presentation off an iPad. So, last year he showed up and we have him speaking on Sunday, thank god, ’cause he showed up on Saturday with his iPad and his mom said how is he gonna connect this, because iPad’s don’t have HDMI ports.
Thomas Levy: So, I ran to Target at 10:30 at night and found like the HDMI to lightning adapter or whatever like that. So, this could present his talk at WordCamp. And it got me thinking that there’s … I do not care what the WordPress admin panel looks like on my phone or on an iPad, that does not matter to me, but that is extraordinarily broken thinking, because this kid does not have a laptop and he doesn’t need one. And he is just destroying us. And there’s like a whole other generation that is coming up that is going to do things so much differently than we do them now. And we need to be prepared for that and open to that and it is all ages. If we want WordPress to stick around, 12, 15, 18 year olds need to be able to use it. And what tools are they using, they’re using their phones or iPads.
Thomas Levy: Maybe they don’t care about publishing websites in the same way we do, but this kid cares about publishing websites. So, it’s interesting to think about that. That’s something that I’ve been exposed to. So, anyway, we’re organizing WordCamp 2018 this year, we’re like, we need to make sure that Jansen can come to our after party. And man, you can hear some stories. I heard some guys talking, apparently WordCamp after parties had no regulations on them previously, so, they’ve instituted some regulations on how much money you’re allowed to spend on your after party. I heard some pretty wild stories about party buses and there was an ice luge at some after party in Phoenix I think. And anyway, so, I guess some pretty wild stuff has happened in the past. My experience with WordCamp after parties, it’s usually at a karaoke bar.
Thomas Levy: I’m pretty open about this, but I don’t drink at all and I don’t … I’ll go to a bar and I’ll hang out if you’re getting drunk and I’ll have a generally good time, but it’s something that doesn’t matter to me. And I would much rather go down an ice luge. But, we couldn’t do that at WordCamp Los Angeles. Nor did it occur to me that, that’s something that we could have done. But we wanted to make sure we had a completely accessible after party. And for me I’m like if the community is still open, what about members of the community who don’t care about drinking or don’t want to drink or are uncomfortable. Mainly I was thinking Jansen needs to be able to come to our after party, because I know he’s gonna wanna come, he’s gonna wanna hang out.
Thomas Levy: So, we got like a face painter to paint like [inaudible 00:30:14] on peoples face, which I felt was pretty cool, you could get like the WordPress logo or [inaudible 00:30:19] painted on your face. A lot of people chickened out and they got [inaudible 00:30:22] on their forearm instead of their face. I don’t know, you should’ve just gotten it on your face. When else are you gonna get a [inaudible 00:30:28] on your face, but it was all washable. But we had that. So, that actually ended up being really, really fun if you wanna be able to look up the WordCamp Los Angeles Instagram you’ll see I’ve got some butterfly wings and a WordCamp LAX throat tattoo, which was kind of absurd, but funny. We had a lot of fun with that. We got like some board games. We got like giant Jenga and like those kind of bar games. It was at a bar, but the bar is actually a restaurant that just happened to have a bar.
Thomas Levy: So, it was like a really cool event I thought, because you could come and you could eat, you could play Jenga, you could be stupid and get your face painted. Jansen actually didn’t get his face painted, but it wasn’t for him. I think it was actually for me. I wanted to get my face painted. But there was a bar there too, so you could keep drinking and stupid if you wanted to, but you don’t have to. So, for me that was like a really cool part of LA this year. And we’re doing some initial research as the LA team trying to make it clear that the event is all ages. So, like on registration we had like a checkbox for I’m a minor and my guardian is also coming. And we had a handful, maybe like a dozen 17 or younger people come. Couple of kids from high school were there.
Thomas Levy: And I think there’s a community out there of younger people that we could be introducing to WordPress. So, again, as I said it’s like warm and welcoming. We should be warm and welcoming to children as well. There’s different content that maybe we wanna be working on towards them, but I don’t know we didn’t have specialized tracks for children and we still had a couple of teenagers there that seemed to be having a good time. I didn’t have a chance to personally talk to many of them. So, I think that’s interesting. And you know, the other thing too, when you talk accessibility like we had a captioning service come in and do like live captioning like [inaudible 00:32:18] style on a TV. So, I think that was pretty cool. I’m not personally aware that anybody who’s [inaudible 00:32:23] or deaf in this [inaudible 00:32:26], excuse me, this Los Angeles area that attended WordCamp. I’m sure there are people in Los Angeles that are deaf.
Thomas Levy: But I think that’s another thing too. And I realize that we should have been advertising that we’re gonna have that service. I don’t know exactly what it’s like, but I would think that if I were deaf, I wouldn’t wanna go to an event that I didn’t know was explicitly going to have captioning for me or some way to include me in their presentation. So, I think that’s something that we’ll need to do a better job of advertising, ’cause that’s something that if you look in the WordPress core, there’s a whole accessibility team that works on ensuring WordPress itself is accessible regardless of whether you’re deaf, blind, whatever. And also an international relation team for localization and translation. So, the WordPress core exist in a lot of languages and I don’t know how many there is.
Thomas Levy: And I think that all comes back what we were talking about earlier with just the community, from the ground up these are things that WordPress cares about and tackles instead of ignoring and saying let somebody else take care of this or like let’s organize a team of people who care about it. So, it’s like, whatever it is you’re passionate about in WordPress, there’s a place for you. And there’s a job you can do. So, I don’t know, I don’t remember what you asked me.
Chris Badgett: That’s good, I mean that’s the power of community. That’s like a tour. It’s a multi layered thing. And if you’ve been following LifterLMS, there’s a reason we focus on social learning and community learning as an idea within the product. And if you just keep zooming out, LifterLMS the company, we’re really engaged in our communities on Facebook on Slack. If you’re listening in iTunes, please leave us a review on iTunes, that really helps community. But as we zoom out again to like a WordPress ecosystem and an entrepreneur ecosystem and all this, just it’s all about community. And LifterLMS is a company, which sponsors this podcast, LMSCast. We’ve sponsored WordCamp Los Angeles, Portland Maine, Riverside and Sacramento and I’m sure we’ll sponsor more.
Chris Badgett: And if you’re thinking about going to the WordPress event, whether that’s a private conference or a WordCamp or your local WordPress meetup, I highly recommend it, ’cause you can meet some like minded people. I remember when I first went to my very first WordPress meetup and I actually had been using WordPress for about five years and I left from behind my screen building websites for clients all by myself. I didn’t really know this community and I drove two and a half hours to Missoula Montana to a WordPress meetup in a hotel in a conference room and I was like, oh, this is pretty cool. This is more people like me that are just like scrolled away all over Montana doing something similar. I kinda found the community.
Chris Badgett: So, if you’re on the fence, just try it out. Check it out. WordPress TV is recording some of the talks there. There are some great talks you can find. There’s the big one is called WordCamp … at the United States there’s a WordCamp US that happens every year. There’s another one in Europe, but it’s a global organization, they’re all over the world. Wherever you’re listening to this, there’s probably a WordPress meetup or WordCamp near you. Thomas, thanks for coming on the show and doing a recap of WordCamp LA and talking about your journey through the WordPress community.
Thomas Levy: Yeah, yeah, definitely. Also we will be at Portland Maine, both of us maybe a little plug, but if you wanna meet us in person, and I’m sure you do, ’cause we’re very, very interesting people. And I’m not even being sarcastic there, we’re strange interesting people that you should come talk to. We’ll be at Portland Maine, which I guess is a lesser of two Portlands. Do you realize that Portland Oregon is the same weekend as you guys?
Chris Badgett: Well, this is part of the WordPress community. So, there’s a guy in the WordPress community named Bob WT, he’s also a podcast show like me. He lives in Oregon. He’s gonna be at WordCamp Portland Oregon, which is on the same day, November third, 2018 as WordCamp Portland Maine. And together Bob and I have already arranged to do a podcast with each other for [crosstalk 00:36:46] portlands. So, we can’t help, but this community [crosstalk 00:36:50] are using people about the two Portlands on the same …
Thomas Levy: Well, that’s good, that’s cool. And we’re gonna be there, we’re gonna have a booth. You could see that little rocket ship if you’re watching on YouTube. How do I get my finger to point at that? Anyway, there’s a little space helmet over there in the corner of my screen. We’re gonna bring that to our booth. That thing behind Chris, the tip of the rocket with the head hole. You could get your picture taken in our LifterLMS rocket ship. And we’re gonna be doing some prizes and just hanging out. I’m really looking forward to it. It’s a single day WordCamp right? It’s just Saturday.
Chris Badgett: Yeah.
Thomas Levy: So, come out, we’ll have some mugs and some T-shirts and some cool stickers. We created a new sticker pack. I’m just gonna hold up right here. So, if you wanna get some of these stickers, come out to the WordCamp Portland Maine, we’ll hand out some of these stickers. And I don’t know, I’m really excited. Like Chris said, we’ve sponsored a couple of WordCamps, but we’ve never had a booth before. And every time I go to a WordCamp I’m usually doing something. So, my job at this WordCamp will be able to sit behind a table and just talk to customers or users or potential users or whatever. So, I’m pretty stoked, I think it’s gonna be fun. So, come out, bring your laptop and you got LifterLMS issues, I’ll send you to the happiness park, because I don’t wanna deal with it. No, 100% kidding, if you bring your laptop, I’ll take a look at whatever you are. We’ll have a good time. So, come out.
Chris Badgett: And that’s a wrap for this episode of LMSCast. I’m you’re guide Chris Badgett. I hope you enjoyed the show. This show was brought to you by LifterLMS, the number one tool for creating, selling and protecting engaging online courses. To help you get more revenue, freedom and impact in your life, head on over to LifterLMS.com and get the best gear for your course creator journey. Let’s build the most engaging results getting courses on the internet.

Take the mess out of your head and find success on the web by getting your online course membership site project organized with this free simple worksheet

Share

Subscribe

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *