Meetup groups are locally-organized groups that get together for face-to-face events on a regular basis. Anything that brings together 2 or more people to share their WordPress experiences counts – there’s no minimum number of attendees or required format.
If that’s the definition of a WordPress meetup, how do you go about organising one?
Just do it
It’s easy to organise a meetup – you just do it. All you need is a venue and at least one other person who loves WordPress. The type of venue totally depends on the type of meetup you want to organise, but if you’re just getting started in your area then the best place would be a restaurant or café where you can book a table to accommodate the amount of people who will be attending. If you can organise a regular (perhaps monthly) meeting at the same venue then that would be a great starting point.
From there you need to establish the needs of your community and decide what types of meetups you’ll be putting together. There’s no limit to what you are allowed to do here – so long as it’s focussed around WordPress, you can do anything you like. Some popular formats include presentations, social gatherings, hackathons and workshops, but you are limited only by your imagination.
Joining an existing meetup group
If a meetup group already exists in your area then instead of starting a new one you should get involved with the group that already has traction. The first place to start would be to attend a few meetups and then chat to the organisers about how you can get involved in organising meetups yourself. Anyone can organise a WordPress meetup – there’s no ‘blessed’ group that has exclusive rights to it – so if you have a great idea that you think will benefit your local community then just do it.
What about WordCamps?
WordCamps are different to meetups on that they have a more structured format and focus:
WordCamps are casual, locally-organized conferences covering everything related to WordPress…WordCamps come in all different flavors, based on the local volunteer communities that produce them, but in general, WordCamps include sessions on how to use WordPress more effectively, beginning plugin and theme development, advanced techniques, security, etc.
The other big difference with WordCamps is that you need to be officially approved as a WordCamp organiser by WordCamp Central. This is a simple process and involves filling out this application form. The purpose of the application is merely to make sure that the WordPress and WordCamp brands are represented correctly as well as allowing Central to keep track of all the WordCamps going on around the world.
Once you have been approved as an organiser and your official WordCamp website has been created you can get down to the business of organising your WordCamp – the WordCamp Planning site has loads of useful information and I can highly recommend you read it all the way through before diving head first into the organisation process.
The WordCamp Foundation, being the awesomely benevolent organisation that it is, has given meetup and WordCamp organisers a host of useful resources to get things going. One of the main things that is particularly useful is that you can set up a local group on meetup.com and the Foundation will pay the fees for the group. You can sign up for that here.
For more immediate interaction with other meetup organisers, as well as the fine folks at the Foundation, you can join the #community channel on the WordPress Slack. To sign up for Slack (it’s free) you can head over here. This kind of live interaction is incredibly valuable and being a part of it will boost your confidence as an organiser as well as give you tons of ideas for what you can do with your local community.