There are numerous WooCommerce meetups throughout the world, and hundreds of WordPress meetups.
Each has their own flavor. Some are focused on bloggers. Other freelancers. Or perhaps merchants. And, yes, developers. But the nugget out there for you isn’t always what you think. We tend to gravitate towards like-minded topics. Or find those that match our skill level.
The fact is, there are opportunities for learning, growth and connecting everywhere, no matter what you level you are at.
If you are a WooCommerce (or WordPress) developer and have been hesitant in either attending a meetup, co-organizing, or starting one up, you need to hear me chat with Alicia St. Rose and David Bisset.
A Chat with Alicia and David
I talk with Alicia and David about:
- What they consider to be the biggest advantage for developers to attend meetups
- How even developers can have that “ah-hah” moment at any level of meetup
- If and when some or all meetups will go back to being in-person or a hybrid
- What virtual meetups have brought to the community vs. IRL meetups
- What considerations should a developer think about before organizing their own meetup
- The value in live coding
- Where youth fits into the picture of meetups
- How they get ideas of topics for their meetups
Connect with Alicia and David at their meetups
- South Central Coast WordPress Adventure Group
- South Florida WordPress Meetup Group (Mega Meetup)
- Mega Meetup on YouTube
Bob: Hey, everyone, BobWP here in Episode 115 of Do the Woo Podcast. I'm chatting with David Bisset, who is the co-organizer of South Florida WordPress meetup group and Alicia St. Rose with South Central Coast WordPress Adventure Group. What we're talking about is the value of meetups and developers. This conversation really goes into meetups quite in depth. Both of these guests have a great track record with meetups, not only organizing your own but attending them over the years.
The conversation goes a lot of different directions, anything from where a developer finds value in a meetup by attending it or organizing it all the way down to the end of the spectrum of somebody asking about youth and meet up, inviting kids or making a little bit more inclusive to have especially teenagers who are interested in WordPress attend them. So, there's a lot between that. I'm not going to give it all away, but do listen to the conversation.
Also, I'd like to give a shout out to our pod friend, GoDaddy, and their Expand 2021 Conference. It's a free virtual event, April 27th through 28th, that brings a web designer and developer community together to share ideas and experiences, make connections and support each other. You can find it at events.godaddy.com.
Hey everyone. Look at these three smiling faces, we are live, we are ready to go.
Welcome to the WooCommerce Community Builder Event, I'm BobWP and I have two guests that are going to help me talk about developers and meetups.
This came by, because I know David, you've been in the meetup space for a long time. I think I've been doing meetups for about a decade. Alicia, I know you've been doing them and you're really active in them. It's been interesting just over the years to see how developers come to certain meetups, whether it attracts them, whether it bores them out of their mind. I think there's a lot of value. You are two perfect examples of that, because you are very active in it. Yeah, I thought what better two people to bring on than Alicia and David? So, I'm going to let you introduce yourself real quick, because there might be one or two people that wonder who you are. I'm not sure if they are. They might be more than aware of your presence-
David: For me, they're probably better off if they don't know me.
Bob: Yeah, yeah. So, in that case, we'll start with Alicia. Tell us a little about yourself.
Alicia: Oh, man. Yeah, yeah. Okay, I'll get to it, so it won't be a hard act to follow. Okay. So, I have been doing WordPress for about 12 or 13 years. I love it. I love that it has the ability for me to do whatever I want with it. Some will argue but I haven't found a limitation. I actually run a meetup in Santa Barbara called the South Central Coast WordPress Adventure Group. If you want to see people are sober when they come, please do the whole name.
So, anyway, I've been running that for about five years. I actually took over the Ventura County meetup that was about ready to die off. I happen to see the email just in time, five days before it was going to close down if no one took it over. So, I took it. I just moved it up the coast. I put in Ventura, San Francisco, and Santa Barbara. So, it was a physical meetup for a little while. Now, it's online and we'll talk more about it. I just don't want to hog the intro here. Yeah, that's me in a nutshell right now.
Bob: Cool. David, people do want to know about you. I know they do.
David: You sound like my therapist. I'm David Bisset. For the purposes of this conversation, I'll keep it focused. I've been a developer. I've been using WordPress for, I think, over 13, 14 years. I've been a developer for a very long time. Developer wise, I work primarily with Envira Gallery, which handles an image gallery plugin for WordPress. I'm one of the developers over there.
On the community side, I help run along with other co-organizers, a South Florida WordPress meetup group, which currently is now in more of a WP Mega meetup as we're doing it now. We'll probably may get into that later. I also am involved with WordCamp Miami, which up until COVID was one of the longest running consecutive WordCamps for 12 or 13 years. So, there's a community aspect of things. I'm probably involved in things that I don't remember.
Bob: Join the club on that one.
David: I have a post-it note on my monitor that says, I have three kids. Mine's a little off, but yeah.
Bob: You haven't even seen my post-it note. Too bad.
David: Thanks for having me.
Alicia: I just don't even have any.
David: Good to meet you, Alicia. I really, really, really enjoyed meeting you so far.
Bob: Alrighty. Well, so we're going to just have a conversation around this. I'm going to pull up some questions. I got some questions via my newsletter. For those out there watching this, they can pop in any questions for either Alicia or David. Going back retrospect to what I was saying, I'm going to pull up one that I think is a good one to just start off the conversation. This is really from your own experience. I'm just going to show this right here.
What do you believe is a biggest advantage? I mean, there's probably tons of advantages, but from your personal experience and probably for yourself, what has been the real advantage of attending meetups at all levels? I mean, not just going to the ones that maybe you say, "Okay, I want to learn code, and I'm into code," but that overall experience.
Alicia: Oh, my God. The advantages are massive, because one of the things with developers primarily is developing is what they like to do. They go off and do their developing. Sometimes another person who's just as good as they are, they'll deal with that. Then the client comes along and there's all kinds of stuff. Sometimes it looks like thorns in the saddle, but it's not. It's stuff that you could have known about before you ever started developing. So, when you go to these meetups and you hear all these people who are just users or not just, but users that give you the job anyway, you realize they have needs that you can provide solutions for.
In your development process, instead of actually seeing it as boring, you can think of, "Well, how does my development bring what they're doing on the ground into their website? So, they feel like it's seamless." So, that's one of the things that I feel. Also, you will be surprised how many times you are the hero for somebody who's stumbled in a WordPress, in wordpress.com, didn't know it, stuff like that. And then you have an answer. There's nothing that beats that even if you are a developer in the lofty areas, but if you see someone's genuine appreciation, gratitude, because you gave an answer, it's really worth it in my opinion.
David: Yeah, I think I had a similar thought in mind, because there's not a lot of developers I know that go to meetups to actually get a whole bunch of knowledge from the meetups, because there are a lot of developers I know, that's not how they learn necessarily, just a traditional listening to two talks type of thing, unless it's really, really technical. Most of the meetups I run, they're more of user based or marketing or anything else but very heavy developer. Developers show up because they need to see how the other world lives. A lot of them create products, create solutions. They need feedback or they need to see how users do things, because how users do things is not how developers do things.
Developers are used to certain thinking points and they've worked with the code for years. And then along comes someone who gets up in front of a meetup that says, "Well, I was using the block editor. I was using this plugin. I didn't know where to do that." And then this person's talking. Meanwhile, developers are going, "Oh, my God. It's right there. The icon is right there. Just push it, push it, push it, push it." That tells you something. That tells you well, it may be obvious to you as a developer, but it's not so obvious to other users.
I think if you can absorb that feedback and talk to people face to face or see how they're presenting their problems at the meetups, I think that's not only going to improve your aspect or worldview, but it's also going to improve whatever products that you're creating, especially if it's a plugin or theme for more than one user beyond your clientele. So, that's what initially came to mind for me.
Bob: Has that been something that both of you have almost personally experienced yourself?
Bob: Is there any moment in time that stands out to you that was... Maybe the word impactful is a little bit large. But when you were at a meetup and it was like, "Wow, I never thought that way," maybe from a user, something somebody said. I know, that's really reaching back into the caverns of the memory there, but I'm sure you both have had that experience over and over and over.
Alicia: I can't think of one offhand, but I can do a vague recollection of... Oh, I know, what is it. Common is hacking a blog. They have a website. There's so much going on. It's a custom post type or something. They've hacked to the blog in such a way that to untangle themselves out of it is pretty much a do-over. So, they've given all these weird categories and they've thrown things all over the place. I was like, "It doesn't make any sense when someone goes to the site to actually do a search or to figure out where things are." So, not knowing that you reach the level that a developer needs to come in now.
David: I'm amazed that sometimes I needed this to work. So, I managed to find these plugins. I'm like, "Where did you find these?" Alternate reality versions of some of these plugins that I'm looking at. So, I've learned about the existence of some plugins just by being at meetups. More than that, you want to accomplish this, I always figured, okay, default answer's custom post types do anything. But I mean, beyond that, it's this particular solution. As a developer, when you want to see a solution, you see code in your mind a lot of times as the coffee, but I mean you do see code a lot of times or a few lines of code in here and there.
But many users will say, "Well, I had to find this plugin to work with this plugin to work with this plugin to work with this." Again, it goes back to what users have to jump through sometimes to get things to work. Sometimes that's a wonderful, great experience for the person at the meetup. Other times, it's not. Sometimes it's a pain in the butt. These are my frustrations and then you're listening to the frustrations. I could create a plugin like that in a few hours. Of course, you're a developer. So, that really means a few days, but for your cost estimates. Yeah. So, in my mind, the people up there, they express amazing hoops that they jump through in order to do something. I mean, it's just very educational experience.
Bob: Back in the days when I was co-organizer of Seattle WordPress Meetup over here on the West Coast, I'm talking about maybe seven, eight years ago or even nine years ago, I'm going back to, remember those in-real life meetups. They weren't virtual. We're going to touch on that in a bit too. But what we did is we would have one presentation and then we'd have three breakout groups, I think, or maybe there was four. We'd have bloggers, developers, and devsigners. The designers decided they wanted to be called devsigners, because they were a mix between a developer and a designer.
David: In Seattle, you have to make everything up.
Bob: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, they had to make that up. So, I kept them happy, put them in the little corner, but it was also interesting with that format how people intermingled and they traveled from group to group. Of course, then we would have a bigger networking time where everybody just connected and the developers were able to talk to a blogger that needed to develop or could meet somebody there. Back then, it really worked and then it just simmered over time. It didn't work quite as well. I'm not sure exactly what happened there, but it was an interesting interaction, because there was something for everyone.
You couldn't always have that main presentation key point and total interest of every person there, because again, you had too many levels. But nowadays, I'm sure both of you experienced this through different meetups, whether the one you do or the ones you've attended, trying to break up a little bit more, smaller meetups to really focus on that. That's good in a lot of ways and then that also isolates us maybe in some ways. Anyway, any thoughts on all that stuff I just blabbed about?
David: Alicia looks like she's got something to say.
Alicia: I got a lot of thoughts. I got a lot of thoughts.
David: Lay it on us, sister.
Alicia: All right. So, my meetup has always been a help desk type of a meetup. Come and show me what you got. And then we'll figure it out. People would show up and they'd have some things. People would show up. There were times I sat in my car with my snacks waiting to see if someone would show up. After 15 minutes, I'm eating a bag of my chips. I went home and no one showed up. So, now, we're post-COVID or currently COVID. I've got 18 people at my meetup. They're from all over the place. They are from the Pacific Northwest. They're from the middle of the country, from the East Coast, one guy from India. There's no way I'm going back to waiting in my car to see if a couple of people in Santa Barbara are going to be at my meetup.
What is really wonderful about it is the numbers haven't gotten too big where we had to do breakout rooms. I would hesitate to do it if the numbers were under 25 or something, because you don't know what's going on over there or whatever the information they're getting is apropos. But when there's a whole group and someone mentioned something out of the left field, somebody who has not even any qualification you didn't even think has the answer. It's like magic happens almost every single time. There's someone there. It feels like Car Talk on steroids. I don't know if you know that show.
David: I haven't been in a car in a while. So, I'm not one to talk. That's pretty interesting. Tell me more about the chips. I mean, no, sorry. Sorry, it's lunchtime over here.
Now, Alicia, once things are in-person events or live again, do you think you'll be going back to that?
David: Do you think it'll be hybrid or it'll just be virtual 100%?
Alicia: So, I got plans. My usual one is virtual. I don't even have the heart to take it away from people who show up. Some of these people show up every week. From Texas, how is he going to come over? I'm thinking of adding special bonus events for locals like let's go to a cafe for two hours and we work together or let's just go for happy hour and talk about your WordPress business maybe once every two months or something like that to keep the local scene together. As far as my meetup, I think meetup.com has created a renaissance in the world. Just being there in this time that we needed them, it's amazing.
David: For me, it's hard to tell. Obviously, people will want to come back and meet in person. I'm a developer running a less developer meetup though. So, really what I want is a very heavily focused developer meetup. It probably would have to be online, because not a lot of developers in my area relatively speaking. Two, I think there's probably people in other countries that I could probably learn a lot from on a regular basis. So, I would probably keep the Mega meetup, because when COVID hit, there was a lot of people dealing with a lot of stress in their lives, including meetup organizers. So, we said, "Listen, we'll do the job for you if you want. Just invite your meetup to come to ours." That's how it started.
We have, next Thursday, a full site editor preview from one of the people at Automatic. We are expecting 100 people, but like you, it's from all over the world. We have people from India. We have people from South Africa. We have all this. For a generalized meetup like that that some people just join, I think just to hear us talk, I don't really think they participate. They just like the fact that they're not alone in at least where they are. But I think for developer more meetup, it would probably be something like that.
I definitely think hybrid stuff for WordCamps and stuff like that is probably going to have to go moving forward, because like you said, once you've seen a really well organized virtual meetup and there is that camera fatigue or Zoom fatigue. But if you want to do one or two hours a month or something small, there is a really good advantage. It sounds like Alicia, you've really picked up on that like me.
Alicia: Yeah, I don't really get Zoom fatigue as much either. To be honest, I go to six meetups a week. I've been doing that.
David: Wow. That's amazing.
Bob: It totally is.
Alicia: Yeah. There's a certain group of us, like the Evita cast. We keep swinging around. It's different meetups. You go in and meet up in some random place. I'm like, "Hey, Steve, I see you." It's another level. It's a different paradigm.
David: Well, that's good for you. That's good for you. I mean, the alternative for me is to communicate with my family. So, I'm full in on the Zoom stuff. Just the alternative is ugh. That's awesome.
Alicia: I wouldn't be on this podcast if it hadn't been for meetup. That's how I met Bob. I'm in Santa Barbara.
David: That's awesome.
Bob: I was actually going to ask about the mixed meetups, because I know that the meetups that I've done or have been involved with, everybody has been saying, "Yeah, two hours in the car getting here." I mean, everybody is gravitating... I've heard some people talk about, "Oh, well, we are going to do a hybrid," like David said. It'll be interesting to see how that plays out, because I think a lot of people struggle with doing a hybrid. And then they start thinking, "Well, does that mean I need to live feed it for other people can join in?", which adds layers to stuff to your meetup that becomes overwhelming technical wise and you probably don't even want to deal with.
I think there probably will be some that decide maybe it's just they know their population in Seattle. I honestly feel that just knowing that community, the one I did in the WooCommerce space, they would be much more comfortable online than going in person, because it was pulling teeth to get them to show up for anything. Even just the drive...
David: Not every meetup can do that, right? So, when you get to geographical stuff, part of the appeal of getting everybody in one room, I mean, there is a really good way of just things just seem to mesh together pretty well, especially with developers. Because you walk in after a tired day and you sit down. And then you start to get your mental faculties adjusted to the fact that you're in the meetup scenario. And then you walk away from the meeting as a developer refreshed and full of some ideas. Like I said, you get to absorb all the feedback from the other meetup group organizers. Sure.
Alicia: Well, I feel that you could do alternate ones or if you're doing a weekly meet up, maybe one a month could be online. The hybrid thing would not work. I just feel it wouldn't, like the sound issues. I can't even imagine that.
David: Not every meetup can have a virtual thing, because it'd be too many. I think eventually it will work itself out, where there'll probably be certain meetups that will make sense or that are popular, at least in terms of attendance enough. It'll be interesting to see how it plays out once we get into in-person events.
Bob: Somebody had asked me an interesting perspective, because they said, "If I'm a developer and I want to start a meetup..." I have a feeling they were talking about maybe a meetup that was a bit more developer centric. They were wondering if there were any specific challenges to put that meetup together versus just a more casual open meetup. Actually, that came up in another conversation with somebody else. I thought, "Well, that'd be a good one to throw out to the two of you, because even though you don't do developer centric or you do or don't do them, you may have thought about them and maybe there's a reason why you don't do them." So, I don't know if there's anything that comes to mind that you could share there.
David: Developer wise, the problem with developers is that you can do WordPress development, but that doesn't really limit down too much. Somebody could be doing Gutenberg Blocks. Somebody could be working in Reacts. Somebody could be doing just regular PHP. Somebody, it's their first time doing PHP. You call yourself a developer, but that has a lot of different definitions and a lot of different technologies. So, that's one challenge you need to overcome in terms of, "Okay, what's the scope of the developers in our area? What subjects would be interesting with these people with a wide variety of things that they're working on or things they want to learn?" That's the challenge.
First, just get everybody in a room. Hopefully, there'll be some things that they want to learn about. It's also hard to cover developer topics in two hours or less. So, you have to keep it very focused. I particularly like developer talks, where I know nothing about the subject. I wish there was a conference that would be just for a day, just these are what the kids are into these days. Here's an hour about Roblox. Here's an hour about this. Here's an hour about that.
I go, "Okay. Well, I don't know anything in depth, but I have learned a lot more about what people are talking about when I rarely go to parties." I think those are ways that you could probably improve your odds in terms of developer conferences, get everybody in a room, understand there's going to be some diversity in some backgrounds and use that to your advantage. What do you think, Alicia? What is that thing?
Alicia: Well, I just thought the skimming conference, that'd be great. You go to this conference and you just skim the topics, the skimming conference.
David: The CliffsNotes, just give me the CliffsNotes. What are the kids into these days? My daughter said something about Roblox. Is that a drug? No, no. You just sit down and tell you what it is.
Alicia: So, for me, I've been accused of bringing the geek on to the general meetup. That wasn't in my town either.
People had bailed, because it got too technical. I understand that too, because I like doing the whole range of things, telling people any email campaign and also making custom blocks. So, in my meetup, it's a help desk. Whatever you bring, you bring. If it gets too technical, I try to infer to everyone that if you're in WordPress, no matter what you're doing, you're doing a technical thing, okay? You're doing a technical thing. It's not Wix. It's not Squarespace.
And then when they hear the depth that WordPress goes, they get more impressed. I stop it before the glaze over actually happens. I try to, but I think people get more impressed when they realize how powerful WordPress is when developers start talking about these tiny little things. They're like, "What?" I think they get more confidence in it. So, anything can happen at my meetup. So, I'm always surprised. I like to get questions ahead of time, but I'm always surprised. A lot of times, it's the simplest answer. It goes down the path of some developer issue or a server issue. It always does because we're dealing with the web. We're not dealing with the blogger.
David: On some days, that's a very good thing.
Alicia: You have to understand it's technical. We're in the time and age where tech is something you need to know. Don't be afraid of it. There's no reason to be afraid of it either. Other people can help you.
David: I think Alicia, you hit on a very good point, because WordPress is technical. I think some people do some things and they may not call themselves developers, but I think you can stretch the definition and can. I think I would include more people. I think some people think that you have to code pages and pages to be a developer. I venture to think that if you can just change some CSS, that can get you on the road there, come to a developer meetup, that thing. A lot of times people underestimate themselves.
David: Especially people I find that are members of underrepresented groups, sometimes they're shy, at least in my experience with my meetups in terms of things. Just convincing them that they are accepted and you don't have to code or you don't have to write pages and pages or code or have a developer name on your business card to be a part of that. That's what WordPress and that's what makes the meetup so successful.
Some people show up to developer tracks at WordCamps and they aren't developers at all. They just want to learn enough so that they can go talk to their development teams. How do I talk to my development teams? So, yeah, whatever you can do to make people more comfortable, even if expand the definition of developer, whatever. But that's right, you hit on an excellent point that WordPress is technical. So, expand our definitions in our minds a little bit and increase inclusion.
Bob: Yeah, that's one of the things we're going to be doing here. Once every four weeks, Zach Stepek is going to have what's called Leveling Up. It's a WooCommerce coding session.
Alicia: All right.
Bob: He's got it all planned out. I hit him up because I knew he can run with this, because it's like, "Yeah, don't talk to me about this. I need somebody that knows what they're doing." He has it broken up. He's really listening to the audience, because I talked to a lot of WooCommerce developers before I started these events. That was one of the things. They said, "I would love to be able to just get in with a group of developers and have somebody showing me some stuff."
So, it's going to be a good experiment. Yes, it's only once every four weeks, so he doesn't have to think this through every week. Yeah, he has a lot planned. It's one of the pieces of this that we can see how it plays out, but he said his goal in life is to teach me code. I thought, "Geez, that's like asking yourself to grow a second head or something."
David: Mine is skydiving, but I think his is a lot more interesting.
Bob: Yeah. Oh, yeah.
Alicia: I have to say though, because I've actually dug into the WooCommerce as a developer. That is the perfect place to start, because the way WooCommerce is set up with hooks and the filters, it's painless development, because sometimes you just don't comment something. It's there, because everything's so set up well and people want to sell things. They're motivated. They're motivated to make their products look good or to have the price next to the title. I don't want it down here. We'll just do it. You go in, you hook it. Give it a different priority. Change the number and it goes up there. And then you coded, so simple. So, that's a great idea.
Bob: Yeah, it'll be interesting. We're doing it live. It's going to be live feed.
Alicia: Those are great.
Bob: Yeah, yeah, we were going to actually record and then he said, "Let's go ahead and do it live." What's fun about that is he can then bring in people if they want to come in the backstage here and he can bring somebody in and bring them up on the stage. I believe the term is backstage.
Alicia: I have to tell you how invaluable live coding is. Early in my coding adventure, I thought everyone was like Mark Zuckerberg. They're just typing that stuff out. It was done, right? So, one day, it was one of those other shopping platforms, the one that you pull your hair out, Magento. I'm sorry. It's hard.
David: Those are our sponsors, ladies and gentlemen.
Alicia: You pull your hair. So, what happened was I was watching a video with some tutorials, trying to figure something out. The fella who is doing it left the video on when the code didn't work. I was, "Are you kidding? That happens to other people?" Totally, it was so amazing.
David: Why aren't they cutting to a commercial?
Alicia: He recorded it. He left it in there. He goes, "I wonder if that would work." That happened to me. I'm like, "Oh, my God. That's so amazing. This is how it's done." I mean, it does 50% of the time or 75. But for the most part, we're all doing some code and then seeing if it works. Sometimes it doesn't work for a while. You figure it out. It was so refreshing to see that. That's why live, I think, is going to be beneficial with people. They're not going to feel like they're idiots, because their code didn't work the first time.
David: Yeah, if you show my highlight clip of things I got right in a day, it would probably be about 30 seconds. But that's relatable, right? I could never do it, because I go up there and I go, "I don't know how to turn this on." But I admire the developers who can do that. And then when they hit a problem or hit something unexpected, even if we're in a talk because you think a talk is polished, they shouldn't be having problems.
I mean, barring technical problems, but if it's code problems, they should be like, "No, this shouldn't be happening." Well, first of all, do you even code? This happens all the time, you plan it or not, but yeah, it makes people feel a lot better about themselves if they see someone that is "the professional" on stage having some issues. Hopefully, they're giving understanding to the person on stage too, because I'm sure he or she is not feeling great about it.
Bob: Yeah. After a few months, I figured we could actually have a live where Bob codes something. The world could come in and see it.
David: I am there for that.
Bob: Yeah, yeah. That's got to be the ultimate goal... I don't know what you can call it.
David: Alicia can bring the chips. I'll be there for that.
Bob: So, that might just happen, I don't know. It'll be interesting to see. I don't have any other questions myself. Few comments, Diego was agreeing in the chat quite a bit with everything everyone was saying, which is really good. He was really emphasizing that. Yeah, tell us both about your meetups you're doing yourself, just a little bit more details around that as we see if any more questions come in for people can check that out. David or Alicia?
Alicia: Mine is the South Central Coast, because the Central Coast of California goes with Santa Cruz. I was willing to drive to help someone set up their meetup, because I'm actually co-organizing mine with wordpress.org. So, anyone can actually start a meetup. They can actually schedule. I don't know if people knew that but if you have an idea. I was going to help you out. So, mine is every second and fourth Wednesday of the month. I am thinking of doing a more geekified one called the Geek Fest. That's what I was going to call it, but for more technical stuff.
Other people will come at their own risk, but we're going to really, really reserve that one for a more developer building custom. So, I guess what it is it's not necessarily a developer as opposed to making things custom because that is a part of WordPress that I feel liberates you as a creator and artist. Even if you're a developer, you create. You're actually molding something with code. When you realize how flexible and limitless WordPress is, it's shocking sometimes for some people. They just don't realize it. That's what I've got going here. I'm in Santa Barbara. It's going to stay online. There's no way that I could ever take my meetup offline. There's none.
David: What is not leaving the chair? No more cars and chips.
Alicia: I love logging in and waiting to see who's coming or seeing regulars repeat from all over the world. It's open to everyone now. I love it.
Bob: A question has come up. How do you all plan to include youth either during or post-COVID in your meetup?
Alicia: If they're old enough to figure out how to use a computer, they can come.
David: Yeah, we don't kick kids into the streets. Alicia, that's a good point. I like that. I think that's a good place to start. Well, may I comment first?
David: Okay. So, yeah, obviously, you make them feel welcome, but it's good to know when they're coming in advance maybe a little bit and let the speakers know. WordCamp Miami has been heavily involved with youth for a very long time. The thing about that is for developer meetups, that is probably when you go a little bit more basic in terms of, "Let's spend 20 minutes. We'll show you how to change this one thing in WordPress," because that's how my daughter started. She would come to the meetup. She would listen. So, the developer specific talks, she would get an understanding. She would go home and try it.
But the speakers really did know in advance that youth would be there. They formulated little homework assignments or they just made it bite sized enough that it didn't overwhelm the kids. I guess, now, my daughter is 16 or something around there. She got her first paid WordPress gig from a non-family member. I know. There's charity and then there's charity. But that's how she started. Find out what parents there are in the meetups. Have them bring their kids if the kids are interested. And then you can start to mold your schedule or agenda of the meetups, even if it's just a little bit of part of the time, maybe earlier on in the meetups usually when the children are usually more attentive. Yeah, because you can make a really big impact.
We're not all going to live forever except for again, maybe pills, but there has to be youth to take over and expand how WordPress is growing. WordPress needs the youth. It needs the next generation. I'll throw in a link. The last WordCamp US that was in-person had a really good panel with a lot of youth, all women, by the way. That demonstrated why WordPress needs the next generation. So, it's not a question of, "It'd be nice to include the youth." It's almost a necessity generally speaking globally for us to include them. It's for the lifeblood of our community.
David: End of speech. Alicia, what do you think?
Alicia: I mean, I think you've covered it all. Yeah, yeah. I feel that if a young person does come to a meetup, to seek that out and to be motivated to do that, there's a higher level of maturity too. I've gone to WordCamps where children have spoken and just incredible, better than some of the adults who were speaking that day. Yeah, I agree with everything that David said. I do.
Bob: I find that at WordCamps, it's very cross generational. Nobody really looks at others saying, "Oh, what are you doing here? Because you're too old. You're too young. You're too whatever." So, there's a lot more acceptance. I mean, everybody's on the same level. But everybody knows I don't go out past 9:00 at WordCamps. They say, "Bob's got to get back to his hotel and get in bed." Well, yeah, I do sometimes stay out later.
David: I do that too. You're right, Bob. I think one of the best things about WordCamp Miami is that as long as they didn't make a lot of noise, people were bringing 11, 12-year-old's and they were listening along with the adults. That was one of the coolest things to see. It really makes a community when you see people of different races, different backgrounds, and different ages too.
Bob: Yeah. Yup. So, that's good. One of the things I wanted to ask you and this is going back to the meetups. I know that in the WooCommerce space, they're trying to get more meetups going. It's always a challenge, because it is a responsibility. It's a lot of work. Where do both of you get your topics for your meetups? Is it community generated, what people are asking for? Do people come to you? Oh, I'd like to present.
I just thought that might help some people that are thinking about maybe starting whether it's a WordPress, WooCommerce meetup, whatever meetup, to help guide them a little bit, because maybe that's one of the things that might be holding them back is just, "Do I have enough ideas for one? Or should I be not worrying about thinking of my own ideas and seek it out within the people that I'm hoping to bring in and make it more of a community base, where that's all generated from?"
Alicia: Well, I can take this one, because I've done a topic maybe once or twice. It was when they were in person. It didn't really feel right, because it just funneled the whole evening into that topic. And then maybe people showed up and they had something else to say. So, I like the help desk. Mine's actually called The Lab. So, I ask them to ask questions ahead of time when they sign up. And then in the beginning, I take some questions and then we just try to help each other. Now, as far as getting an audience, before the quarantine or COVID, I would have said it's hard, because like I said, make sure you have a car if it's raining, you can sit outside, wait until you see everyone shows up.
David: Don't forget the chips.
Alicia: You have to be willing to have only one person show up. You know what I'm saying? I did that a lot. One time, I had a lot of people. They showed up. I had people to RSVP. No one showed up. So, what you can do now is you can attend other meetups and sell them about yours. All they have to do is while you're telling them about it, go look at it in the other browser tab or something and hit the RSVP button and they're ready to go. It's in the Google Calendar. It was so easy. That's how they're getting this exponential growth, because it's just that easy to go. And then you try it out. There's so many I tried that I like. That's why I go to so many of them.
Bob: So, over those years, David, how did you come up with ideas? I mean, did you spend a lot of time as yourself or co-organizers generating those, or it just was a mix of a whole bunch of things?
David: Surveys are usually pretty good. We usually do surveys, just to give people what their backgrounds are, what they're looking, what they would like to learn about and what they're currently doing, the projects they're currently working on. Because as much as people like to learn, they only have so much amount of time. So, they usually just give me something that pertains to what I'm doing currently. If I can get to that next point, then I'll get back to you type of a thing. And then once you start learning enough upon those surveys, you can almost anticipate. When Gutenberg was coming around the bend, how to build a simple block, even though nobody voiced any interest in it, you just take a little bit of a leap and engage the feedback of those types of topics.
I can tell you developers can get in ruts. I was in a rut for years. No, not that type of rut. Sorry. I have three kids. I was in a rut. It was when I was freelancing. I was getting good at what I was doing, but I really wasn't really advancing as a developer at all. So, I mean, there's all these subjects that I want to learn at least partially. Sometimes the only way developers learn something is just to take on a project you don't know much about and you're going to learn on the way. And then you see those people at meetups too, where it's like they're there, because of one thing you're talking about is the thing they need to finish their project. As much as I'd like to learn and work under pressure, that's not as ideal as one would think so. So, yeah. So, I would think surveys.
If you're in charge of the meetup... First of all, it helps to be co-organizer. Try to get another organizer too to help you out. So, you have a diverse mind of thinking, not just in developer background, but also, having people of diverse backgrounds helps you think or many different angles too, developer meetups included. But sometimes you're just like, "Well, this is a trend."
Bob: No, definitely. Yup, whatever that rut is.
David: I don't know.
Bob: We will. Well, we're getting close up to the hour here, but this would be good. What you said also plays into what I'm doing with more of the podcasts and these events is I'm pulling in a little bit more WordPress core people. So, I want to bring more of an alignment of WooCommerce and WordPress in the sense that WooCommerce developers really need to be more aware of all the things going on with WordPress, even though I'm sure a lot of them are, but there's a lot of stuff happening. They need to be prepared for it as builders for their product sites or whatever.
So, there's a lot of interesting stuff I have down the pipe for some of our events as far as getting that blend together and getting a little bit more perspective from WordPress core. Some of those people aren't deep into WooCommerce and see what their perspective is on WooCommerce and what they might even think WooCommerce could do to make it better.
So, some interesting stuff, but I just thought I'd throw that in as you were saying that you have to push it on them, but look at what is important to them. They may not be requesting it, but those developers, once you've given them that option, they say, "Hey, cool. This is something I need to know and something I should jump on." So, good point, sir.
Bob: Well, this has been fun. I knew it'd be fun. We will get this up and share it out and put it on the podcast and everywhere and have people play it over and over and over and over again and get every little nugget out of it.
David: Do I apologize now?
Bob: Yeah, yeah, really. Later on, when they mention you on Twitter, you can give your deepest apologies.
Yeah. Well, once again, tell them where they can find your meetup and tell them where people can find you. Why don't we start with you, Alicia?
Alicia: Okay, my meetup is the South Central Coast WordPress Adventure Group. I have the meetup every second and fourth Wednesday at 7:00 Pacific Standard Time. I would love to see anyone there. Usually, we have about 13, 15 people.
Bob: Cool. All right. David?
David: Right now, it's the WordPress Mega meetup. So, I dropped the link in the YouTube there, but also, I hand it to you. We do it every month. Anybody can come, literally anybody. Meetup organizers can take turns running the show for all we care. Just trying to provide a service, not really trying to post anything in particular. We cover numerous topics, like I said. Sometimes we have people from Automatic. Sometimes we have local people giving talks. And then we do game shows. We give away prizes. We try to have some fun with it and keep people entertained. Even if someone's there just to take their minds off of the world for two hours, we're honored to have them.
Bob: Cool. Excellent. Well, that's it. We're wrapping up. Do check out dothewoo.io/subscribe. Until next time, do the woo.
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