When I was trying to decide on a good topic in hopes of being selected to speak at the upcoming WordCamps in Atlanta and Miami, I considered something along the lines of the title of this post. For the sake of being too obvious, it’s evident that WordCamp conferences can be beneficial, but I want to share just how important the WordCamp San Francisco 2011 was in building WerkPress, so that it might inspire some attendees to really make WordCamp work for them in a big way, right now. Though I submitted my original topic, “A Designer’s Approach to Customizing Themes”, I still wanted to express how thankful I am both personally and professionally to WordCamp, as well as share how absolutely imperative they are for those that work with WordPress.
Attending WordCamp SF in 2011 was a bit of a happy accident. At the office we had discussed the travel expenses, possible opportunities and the connections we may potentially make— needless to say, we made the trip to San Fran for WordCamp that year.
My goal for WordCamp was to build some new WerkPress relationships and ideally, even partner up with more theme shops, including the Theme Foundry, who would connect us with an important soon-to-be client.
The client was on the hunt for an agency capable of designing and building an enterprise-level custom WordPress theme to replace the over 200 WP installs they were currently managing. They were having difficulty finding an agency that could deliver both design and development, and by chance had talked to the Theme Foundry, who recommended us. We forged a relationship with them, mostly as a resource for them in determining how to best approach their massive project. Fast-forward a few months, and we received a RFP (request for proposal) to design/develop their website. On a (huge) gamble, we flew out to meet with their web staff- and were thankfully awarded the contract. Creating a massive custom WordPress theme set us apart from other agencies who work in WordPress in a meaningful way: by effectively using WordPress to meet the needs of a major University, not just to power newspaper or sports blog. It enabled us to grow significantly that first year, by hiring additional staff, moving into a bigger office and by connecting us with more clients.
The generosity of spirit of WordCamp opened the door for a big opportunity for us, which, mixed with a little rapport-building pro-bono consulting work, resulted in a big win.