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New to WordCamp? Don’t be afraid – #PressPause mini podcast series – #008

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Today in number 8 of the #PressPause podcast we talk to Róbey Lawrence. He’s a WordPress freelancer in Australia and he’s got a few WordCamp goodies for you.

He’s not been attending WordCamps for all that long. His friends had been pestering him for ages to attend. In the end his friends got their way and Róbey bought his first ticket.

It became, “the most enjoyable conference that I’ve ever been to,” and opened his eyes to the possibilities of attending a WordCamp.

For the first time ever, Róbey was able to have techie conversations; he grew up in a place where his friends don’t use WordPress or even know what it is.

He was surprised by the diversity of the crowd who were attending, people from all sorts of WordPress backgrounds, plugin and theme developers and freelancers, just like him.

Although Róbey did feel a little like an imposter for a while, this did not last long. He quick realised that WordCamp is a level playing field and that people from all backgrounds mingle very freely.

He also shares a nice story about meeting one of his ‘idols’, Troy Dean. How he met him, how he turned out to be perfectly normal and how he ended up going out for a meal with him and a heap of other WordPressers after the WordCamp was over.

Remember that WordCamp is for all people. No matter what your background, no matter how much you think you know. You just need to buy a ticket and get yourself there.

We hope you enjoy the show, please do subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. We’re always looking for feedback, if you have any thoughts or comments, please do reach out.

And remember… Together we can #PressForward 

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Podcast Transcript

Nathan Wrigley: 00:10 Hi you press forward podcast listeners and welcome to date, press pause, a collaborative mini series brought to you by WP and UP and WPMU Dev. My name’s Nathan Wrigley and in each episode of this series, Micah Dailey, I interview WordCamp goers from around the world to hear the uplifting, fun or interesting stories that have stuck with them from past camps they’ve attended. It’s a show that gives you a moment to pause and remember that that’s his heart. WordPress is made up of real people. The show has two purposes, really. Number one is for you to be able to listen to WordCamp stories and enjoy them and that’s great, but there’s also a deeper purpose and that is to encourage those of you that have not had a chance to attend, to go for it, take heart from what you hear and realize that whoever you are, whatever you do, whatever your background, you’re going to fit right in, right? Let’s get on with the show. This edition of press pause is brought to you by Green Geeks. Green Geeks offers an awesome managed web hosting platform that’s built for speed, security and scalability. Whilst being environmentally friendly, enjoy a better web hosting experience for your WordPress website with Green Geeks.

Nathan Wrigley: 01:47 Okay, so now without further ado, I bring you Róbey Lawrence.

Róbey Lawrence: 02:00 So I am Róbey Lawrence. That’s Róbey like Róbey one can o be, I also respond to Róbey and I’m a I guess web consultant, obviously using WordPress and I live in Port Macquarie in Australia. So my first WordCamp was um, in about 2016 my friends had been harping on about this thing called WordCamp. My friends who I’d previously met at a meet up a few months earlier and they stood on, yeah, there’s this big WordCamp thing. It’s like a made up that 10 times as big and you’ll meet all these people and, and learn all of these things and it’s anyone can go, it’s for developers or beginners. And I’m like, yeah, okay. So it wasn’t convinced. And then I think finally I’ve got, got paid for a job or something right before the, the tickets were on sale. And so I’m like, okay, I’ll buy a ticket.

Róbey Lawrence: 02:58 And well, I might travel up there and then went up. And it was, it was probably the most enjoyable conference that I’ve ever been to, even though the, the ticket was like 50 bucks. So I was like, my expectations admittedly weren’t that high. But when I got there, it was just so many people that I would walk up to and in conversation like within five minutes it’d be like the conversation would turn to a plugin or a theme or a custom post type or something, which was really weird but really cool because you never really get to have those conversations with other people, especially when you, so I grew up in a bit of a um, non-techie town, I guess. So I never really had anyone around to have those conversations with just all self taught and watching video tutorials. So when you get to have a conversation about those nerdy things with someone, it’s kind of unique.

Nathan Wrigley: 03:57 Where I live, I don’t really know anyone who uses WordPress. I don’t get to have WordPress conversations all that much. I never get to have conversations about code plugins and themes because, well my friends just don’t get it. In fact, I’d go as far as to venture that most of them would not even know what WordPress was. If I were to ask them.

Róbey Lawrence: 04:23 Well, the next question would be like, ah, so what football team do you go for? Completely changing the topic. Yeah, they, these days you can pretty much say, do you use the internet? Oh yes. Well the WordPress is, WordPress is pretty much the internet and and speaking of plugins like you most likely we’ll meet like plugin developers. Like I, I met some people that had built a plugin that I had been using for months and months. What? Yeah, you come to these things too. This is amazing.

Nathan Wrigley: 05:00 It’s great to meet up with fellow WordPress’s, but perhaps you’re new to all of this. Perhaps you think that you’re going to go to WordCamp and feel like a square peg in a round hole. Like you don’t fit in. Like you don’t know enough. Like you’re an imposter,

Róbey Lawrence: 05:20 I might’ve had that feeling like the first half hour to hour or so. But after the first couple of sessions went in and came back out to conversation and people introducing me to other people, it was pretty clear that everyone was just there for the community cause it’s cause no one that. The other thing too is like the speakers don’t get paid. They’re going there to basically give back, which just makes it so much more genuine.

Nathan Wrigley: 05:48 One of the Nice things about WordCamp is that there’s usually a few things going on at the same time. There might be several talks happening at once, but there’s also the so called Hallway track, which is the option just to sit things out and hang out, use the time to relax, meet up with other people, do whatever you want. Rarely I wondered which part of WordCamp Róbey preferred.

Róbey Lawrence: 06:17 It probably evens out, so there’s, there’s definitely talks that, I’ve watched that at WordCamps over the years than I still remember and I go, oh that’s a really cool use case for WordPress. I’ve never thought to do that. Or this combination of plugins works really well together, or, or even if it’s just like a, someone sharing their own story of how they came from working a nine to five job and then pivoting to freelancing and then starting from the beginning and working their way out to to either running their own company or joining a big agency. There’s a really good encouraging stories to hear as well. But does the same thing between sessions is all the people you meet, the conversations you have and uh, yeah. And just like I said before, just talking nerdy to each other.

Nathan Wrigley: 07:06 Maybe you don’t really like interacting with other people all that much, especially people who you’ve never met before. But WordCamp is a unique in this regard in that all the people there have their singular purpose to be a part of WordPress and that can make breaking the ice a whole lot easier.

Róbey Lawrence: 07:29 Yeah. And I think it’s because most people feel a similar way when they go, when you walk up and start a conversation with someone, they might be just as awkward or just as nervous as you are. And that instantly just makes you feel a little more comfortable. You’ve got something to talk about.

Nathan Wrigley: 07:50 Before we started to record, Róbey told me a nice story about meeting a WordPress hero of his and I wanted you to hear that story.

Róbey Lawrence: 08:02 Yeah. So when you, when you’re freelancing you and working for yourself, you tend to spend a lot of time on the Internet, which usually leads to a lot of time on things like youtube and Facebook videos and everything and say you are idols start to shift from movie stars and TV celebrities to two people you see on the Internet all the time. And Troy Dane was one of those people who will, who seem to be happy. He had his face everywhere through his marketing material and you just launched a a course or something. So I was seeing him on the Internet a lot and then I saw on the schedule. Oh, Troy’s speaking. And so I went to the talk and found out that a couple of my friends knew who he was. And at the, at the end of the event on Sunday, it was a winding down and we’re all just standing up the back of the room.

Róbey Lawrence: 08:53 A lot of people had left by this stage. Troy said to a couple of other people, oh, who wants to go out for dinner? A couple of people that he knew that I was friends with, they said, yeah, yeah, it sounds like a good idea or go to this place just down the road and then I’ll ready you can come along as well, you and hanging around. And I said, yeah, yeah, yeah, I’ll come. That sounds good. And so we went to just a restaurant down the street, probably eight of us and Troy and his wife were there and we’re able to have some conversation and just realize how down to earth he was. Not like, uh, not up on a pedestal. Like sometimes you put movie stars and, and people you see on the Internet all the time and realized they just, they’ve got legs just like you talked about. His old band dies when he used to play in a band. And since then, I’ve just had that since changing that mentality to everyone else that they’re all just the same as you. They’re all on the same level.

Nathan Wrigley: 10:00 So there you go. WordCamps are great. You don’t need to worry about it if you’ve never been before. The people, their share the same passion that you do and those people are down to earth and approachable, all of them. You don’t have to go to all the talks and there’s plenty of time and space to do your own thing. Now you’ve just got to take the first step and buy your tickets. The press forward podcast is a production of WP and up. This mini series is a collaborative effort by WPMU Dev and WP and UP Micah Dailey and me, Nathan Wrigley produced this episode and Micah created the original score. A special thank you to Róbey for chatting with me today and thanks to you for listening and remember that together we can press forward.

Nathan Wrigley