I’m stepping down as lead organizer for WordCamp The Netherlands. Not an easy decision, but one I had to make. For myself.
Taking care of myself
With voluntary work, and the fun that it brings, for me the danger arises to accept too many tasks and drown in too much work. I like it so much, that I tend to accept too much. Also, besides doing voluntary work for the WordPress community, paid work has to be done also.
Since April 1st, I started working for Kinsta as Marketing Manager Dutch Market. This job is giving me lots of energy, teaches me new skills, makes me get to know a lot of new people and, which should be no surprise for a new job, takes time to get into my system. I really like to keep the balance level for voluntary work and paid work, this keeps me productive on both sides, and maybe even more important, prevents me from getting too busy which may result in not getting work done, or getting stressed out to get it done.
Since this COVID-19 thing entered our world, causing lot’s of tragic things to happen worldwide, lots of WordCamps have shifted to being online events. The WCNL organizing team really wanted to do a live, in-person event, so we decided to postpone the organization [NL]. Having built a new team of organizers, with lots of energy to start, this felt bad. It was the best thing we could do however.
To give the Dutch and Belgian WordPress community a change to meetup and share knowledge we decided to organize WPNL Live! A series of short online events.
WPNL Live! – first edition
The first edition was on May 28th, and it was a success. You can watch the recorded session here. Seeing how the organization team put this together, how the event was and how happy the attendees were, gave me a very good feeling about stepping down as lead organizer. Yes, I’ve had this thought for a while now…
I’ll keep contributing to WordPress
After contributing almost 10 year to WordPress, I can say for sure, I will not stop doing that. Except when things happen that I have no power over, but let’s not go there. I will be available for mentoring our new Dutch lead organizer, other organizers, and volunteers. Teaching others the details of the WordPress Community is something I really enjoy doing. WordPress is in my system and I’m happy it’s there.
My job at Kinsta
As a Marketing Manager, I take care of many different tasks for Kinsta.
One of my responsibilities is being the main contact for WordCamp related communications between WordCamp organizers and Kinsta. Having this role might bring conflict of interest if I’m also a lead organizer. Of course I would keep both roles separated, but to prevent people from seeing a conflict here, I decided it’s best to drop the lead organizer role.
I hope it’s all clear why I took this decision. If not, please reach out to me.
WordCamp Europe 2017 has ended. The Jetpack swag bag is still lying next to me on my desk as a reminder to store it. I don’t want to. In this post I will tell you about my #WCEU experiences.
Day 1: Travel & sightseeing
After skipping WordCamp Europe 2016 in Vienna, my wife and I decided to come to Paris. We headed to Paris on Wednesday June 14th. We were going at a speed of about 300km/h somehere in the north of France in the Thalys train from Rotterdam (yes the city of WP Meetup Rotterdam) to Paris Nord, when I closed my laptop and decided getting the wifi to work was not going to happen. We got a snack and a drink and soon we arrived at Paris Nord. What we noticed at first was a lot of heavily armed police / army personnel. Which felt a bit weird and not at all comforting.
After leaving the train station, we walked to our hotel and dropped our luggage. It was time to go to the barbershop. You didn’t expect that one did ya? A few days before our journey I wanted to get a haircut, but all shops were fully booked. So, I thought, let’s go to Paris and do it here. But where do I go? I posted this tweet:
And just ten minutes later, I received an answer from Benjamin Lupu in which he said I had to go to Les Thermes de Lutèce. Well that was some very good advice. I got a great haircut and a relaxing experience. Here’s me in a cosy place, right before having lunch.
After lunch we walked to the Notre Dame, the Louvre, the Jardin des Tuileries and Place de la Concorde. Followed by the Champs Élysées, Place Charles de Gaulle and of course L’Arc de Triomphe. Yes, that was a nice long walk, and after that we took the metro to our hotel. Time to fresh up an get some dinner. We are used to have dinner around 6-7pm, now it was 9pm, and we just ordered our food. We are getting along fine with the new schedule.
This was one fine day!
Day 2: Contributor Day & Sightseeing
On Contributor Day I was welcomed on the street near the venue by Wendie Huis in ‘t Veld. You probably know her of her MC role in Track 2 – Eiffel. This was cool. Wendie is a dedicated volunteer on WordCamps (Netherlands and Europe) and it was cool to see she had joined the 2017 WCEU volunteer team. There was small queue in front of the registration desk and I was pulled out by Luca Sartoni. He said he had a crew badge for me. I was positively surprised. Let me explain this.
I joined the organizing team in august 2016 to help with the volunteer team. After 2 months, I could not allocate enough time to be a good organizer. And so I stepped down and decided I would be ‘regular’ attendee in Paris.
Getting the crew badge was a challenge since a few organizers had seen it, but no one knew where it was. I had a deja vu, being a WordCamp organizer I knew there’s always something going wrong with badges. Thanks for looking Taco and Sonja :). Having the crew badge did not give me any privileges. It’s a gentle reminder I tried to be part of this amazing event but couldn’t, because of not being able to combine volunteering/organizing and work related to my own company.
Then I joined the rest of the Contributor Day attendees and listened to the opening remarks by Rocío and all the Contributor Day teamleads. What a great introduction for this important day. I saw lots of hands in the air after the question “Who has never been to a Contributor Day before?” was asked. The more contributors are helping out, the better.
I took a spot in the polyglots room, and talked to a lot of friends. To be honest I only translated about 50 strings…Then I had the idea to go to the Community room, to have a chat with Andrea Middleton about the current status of WordCamp The Netherlands. (you might have read this). The conversation was good and constructive and resulted in some good news. We were allowed to organize a WordCamp The Netherlands again if we have three city-based WordCamps in The Netherlands. Well, consider it done! In a chat with Josepha and Taco we talked through all the details, so we could post this on our team blog.
After all these talks, lunch was needed and since it was in a handy bag so I brought it with me to the metro for an afternoon and evening of sightseeing with my wife. To be complete, we went to the Place de la Bastille, Place des Vosges, Port de l’Arsenal and had dinner in Montmartre.
Day 3: Conference day & WordPint meetup by SAVVII
After a simple but good breakfast in the hotel I took the metro (absolutely love these in Paris) to the venue. After the opening remarks, I went to the Eiffel track and listened to Alain Schlesser talking about Demystifying the WordPress Bootstrap Process. Alain managed to make a very technical subject accessible to a broad public. He talked about how WordPress loads, what API, theme and plugin parts are loaded, how the sunrise process for multisite works and how to implement your own caching logic.
The second talk I attended that day was Making Your Voice Heard: How to Win Friends and Influence Policy by Heather Burns. Heather did a very good job in telling the attendees how you can achieve certain goals. If you want something changed, find peers and go reach that goal together. Don’t sit back and send emails, make appointments with influencers / decisionmakers and make your voice heard. I want to share this quote with you:
It is time for the WordPress community to find its voice, fulfill its potential and lead the way as a force for good across the web.
Between the talks there was plenty of time to talk to friends and make new friends. The latter is very easy, we all have something in common; WordPress. Just step up to someone and start talking.
After lunch there were some very interesting Lightning Talks about Content. I missed them all because of the hallway track which I have attended during the afternoon. How do I know they were interesting? Because I watchedthemallonWordPress.tv. In the evening my wife and I had dinner in the Montmartre district and attended WordPint. A very nice event organised by Savvii.
As a follow up on the post on WPTavern, I contacted Sarah to tell her about the recent developments. Sarah indicated she wanted to do a video-interview with Andrea, Josepha, Luc and me. During the interview Matt walked in, took a peek and gave us a positive nod. You might see our reactions in the resulting video that can be seen here.
By then, it was time for the closure by Paolo and Jenny. Amazingly dedicated organizers and volunteers resulted in amazing numbers for this edition of WordCamp Europe.
After going to the hotel to get some rest and fresh up, my wife and I went to the party. Again by metro. All attendees were instructed not to have dinner before the event, since food was arranged. Well let me say it was, but it could have been done a bit more efficient. This not at all influenced the party, it was good, very good. After three days of conferencing, it’s good to see people partying and relaxing.
Being an attendee this time, I felt a bit more relaxed and ‘free’. I could attend talks, got some extra time in the morning and before the event and had no responsibilities. It felt good. But I think having been an WordCamp (Europe and The Netherlands) organizer infected me, in a positive way, with an organizer-virus. It is so rewarding to see people have fun and connect on an event that you helped co-organize. I am already looking forward to the next challenge.
My tips for you:
Add some me-time (or us-time if traveling with your partner/family) to get to know and explore the city.
Do not only communicate through apps/tools. Meet people and talk to them.
Check out the hallway track and talk to random people.
Go to social events outside of the WCEU party, you get the chance to talk to interesting people.
Give back when using Open Source Software. Contribute.
I am in a train. The Thalys from Rotterdam to Paris Gare du Nord to be precise. My wife Beatrijs is sitting next to me and is having fun watching here social media timelines. We are on our way to Paris for WordCamp Europe 2017.
This will be my third WordCamp Europe (#WCEU), and the second for Beatrijs. After co-organizing the first WCEU in Leiden in 2013, I skipped Sofia, attended Sevilla with Beatrijs, skipped Vienna in 2016, and now we’re back. On our way to Paris. The first time for me as attendee, and not as co-organizer. Let me tell you why.
I was involved In the preparations for WCEU 2017, attended a few meetings in the volunteer team but than ran into a problem of time shortage. Being a business owner I had to make decisions, and I chose for my business. f you are a business owner yourself you might find yourself in situations where you have to make decisions. Ok, that’s an understatement, owning a business means making decisions, all the time. And that’s ok. One thing I learned in the 8+ years I own my business is that making decisions is one of the most important things you need to do. Besides getting customers and sending invoices ;-). I had to make a decision between helping organize an AWESOME event, or serve those new clients who were waiting for me to agree to do business with them. I chose the latter.
It was a good decision. Although telling my fellow organizers that I had to quit was hard. The team is great, with dedicated people and I just couldn’t find the time do give 100% dedication myself.
My goals for the coming days are:
Be a tourist together with my wife
Meet new people
Catch up with friends
Learn new stuff
Talk to people about the future. Maybe I’ll tell more about that in another post.
Currently, we are waiting in Brussels Midi and people are waiting in the aisle for the doors to open. Next stop Paris. Here we come!
WordCamp Nederland 2016 has grown a whopping 68% since last years edition. How did the organizing team, lead by Marcel Bootsman, realize this?
Selling out is a sign
Being sold out for two years in a row made it clear to us. We needed, and had the possibility to grow. Because of having the same venue for the last 5 years, where further growth was not possible, we were obliged to find a new venue. One that was as central in The Netherlands as the previous one, and easily reachable by car and public transport.
In January we started to brainstorm about a new location. Having no idea of the total amount of visitors we would get, we set the bar at 400. A big change since the 250 we had in the last editions. With that new number we gathered venues on a long-list, began discussing the pro’s and cons and soon came up with a shortlist for which we got some quotes. We were surprised by the amount of money involved and discussed how we were going to get the budget approved. We had to get more sponsor income, which wasn’t going to be a problem, since sponsors would benefit from the extra amount of attendees to get more attention.
Having set a new goal for the sponsors we could book our new location, The Jaarbeurs in Utrecht, and got our budget approved by WordPress Community Support. We were excited.
Now we can really begin organizing.
Time to start designing, building the website, open up ticket sales, get sponsors and volunteers and we’d be done.
The sentence above sounds so simple, and yet every WordCamp organizer will know, organizing a WordCamp consumes a lot of time, times two. It’s all for a good cause, to strengthen and grow the WordPress community.
So, back to organizing. After publishing the call for speakers, sponsors and volunteers we were treated by surprise after surprise. Sponsors were in line and soon all the sponsor spots were sold out. After getting more requests we could not say no and got even more sponsors than expected. We got almost twice the amount of funds from sponsors than planned.
To sell more tickets, we decided do an Early Bird promotion and advertisement in a leading web magazine (yes, one made of paper) in The Netherlands. This resulted on being sold out reasonably fast, even after we increased the total amount to 440. We were even more excited now. We were sold out and had enough sponsors before we made speaker and program announcements.
Volunteers and speakers submitted their applications and we were able to plan the sessions, assign volunteer roles and finalize the program. Since we had not planned a party yet, we decided to look around Utrecht for a great place for a party. We did not find a good fit, and decided to check if our new venue could host a party. Sure they could, and it would fit within budget. But, we did not want people to leave the venue for diner, go to downtown Utrecht, and then ask them to come back for the party. This would result in a lot of attendees not coming back. So, we checked to see if we could plan a diner for all attendees. Yes, all attendees. I don’t know if this was ever done on a WordCamp, but this feels very special to do and it gives our attendees more possibilities to socialize.
It’s been almost a week since this 6th edition of WordCamp Nederland happened. We are thankful, proud and happy, mainly because we could facilitate this event and have all attendees benefit from the growth we realized. At the end it’s all about the community.
Big thanks to the organizing team
I’d like to thank Wendy, Remkus, Luc, Bas, Barry and Taco for being professional, honest and flexible. We can look back to a great event.
WordCamp Europe 2015 is over. Writing this post has been on my to do list from the moment I knew I was able to join the organizing team for 2015, so let’s get started and let me tell you more about my experiences.
After registering as a volunteer for WordCamp Europe, I received a call from Remkus yesterday. I was asked if I was interested in being the Manager for the volunteers. I feel honored to be asked for this role, but I had to consult this with my wife first.