Should you apply to WordCamp US?

For the next two months, the organizers of WordCamp US will be accepting speaker applications for their second annual event. Taking place December 2-4, 2016, in Philadelphia, it’s being billed as the largest WordCamp in the world (that is, until I finally get funding for WorldPress). To put it another way, it’s kind of a big deal.

Which begs the question: should you apply to speak at WordCamp US 2016? And before I tell you the answer—SPOILER ALERT IT’S YES – I mean seriously, why would I write a whole blog post just to dissuade you from applying. It’s not like you not applying would improve my chances of being accepted to speak…unless—

Where was I? Ah yes, so as I was saying, before I tell you the obvious truth that, yes, you SHOULD apply to speak at WordCamp US, let’s review some 2015 schedule stats which may inspire you to apply.

One-third of WCUS 2015 speakers were female.
Like many industries, tech is woefully non-diverse. WCUS did a good job of bridging this divide, ensuring their speaker roster was not 100% white guys. And while looking solely at gender is a far cry from true diversity of voice, it sets a bar for improvement in 2016. I hope for continued progress in speaker representation on the stage this year—maybe you can help make that happen.

Last year, 30% of talks were not straight dev talks.
While nearly 7 out of every 10 WCUS sessions were very tech-centric last year, not all were focused solely on code. Topics ranged from community-building (which can stem from ANY group effort, not just making WordPress) to writing and communication tips. Project management, marketing, and design were all featured on last year’s roster. WordPress is more than just PHP, CSS, and JavaScript. That’s just what WordPress is. But its power and impact on the world comes from the people using it. Perhaps you have a story to tell?

More than a quarter of the talks last year were from outside the web development industry.
It’s not surprising that a majority of WCUS 2015 speakers make a living from WordPress. In fact, the single largest shared employer of 2015 speakers was Automattic (25%). And while the largest amount of speakers are agency-employed (37%), many came from other industries. Web hosting and security, educators, and publishers all told their stories in Philly last year. So even if you’re not working at a “WordPress shop,” you likely have something significant to share with WCUS attendees.

BenpuuMy point is, there is no typical WordCamp talk. Some of the most popular sessions were tangentially-related to WordPress itself. Plus, over the past few years, there has been a rise of “soft skill” talks at tech conferences. Much like a good zombie movie being less about the undead horde and more about the surviving humans (struggling to) work together, the WordPress community is less about its markup and more about how to harness the tiny efforts of hundreds of people to make a positive outcome.

If you work with people, you have what it takes to create an impactful WordCamp talk. For my own part, I am submitting at least three session ideas, not one of which is about code. So to circle back, should you apply to speak at WordCamp US 2016? YES!

I hope to see you there.

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