Last weekend I hosted a workshop for members of WordPress Orlando where we worked on websites as businesses. The event was set up like a quicker Startup Weekend, where attendees pitched ideas and voted on them to work together in groups. At the end of the day, each group shared what they worked on and what they learned during the day.
The goal was not to further the business of any one attendee, but to have everyone work together. We also sent attendees home with some cool tools, including a free year of hosting at SiteGround, to ensure that they had no excuse not to get started with their businesses.
We gave groups a mandate not to focus on writing code, but instead look for tools that could help them out. This let us focus on the idea and a minimum viable product than on perfect execution, which is all but impossible in one day. They learned how to set up membership sites, newsletters, payment gateways, or even just install WordPress. They focused on the structure of a business model and website, not on the exact layout and design.
I believe that empowerment is the key feature that WordPress offers. I’m always talking about the community and how important it is to be involved and how it helps raise everyone up, but empowerment is the reason for that community to exist. WordPress can make it easy for someone who is retired, between jobs, raising a family, going to school or already employed to start a new business or expand upon a hobby. Giving someone the option to start their own business without having to wait for approval or jump through a ton of hoops is a great way to get them involved in something fun that can produce tangible results.
I would say that the event was a success overall. We had about thirty attendees stay the full day to work, and we rarely had to step in to help. I think that’s the best sign of success for me – that we were facilitators and mentors, not walking people through every step of the way. We’ve already had requests to do the event again, and I took copious notes on how to improve for the future.
I can’t thank our awesome sponsors enough for the support that they gave us. I didn’t ask for money, I asked for tools for our attendees to take home with them, and did they provide! This is my blog, so I can put my affiliate code, but if you attended the event, you got some of these tools for free or at a heavy discount. 😀 Thanks again!
- Director of Innovation for Orlando, Matt Broffman, came by to share with attendees his path to building Bungalower, a site that exemplifies many of the lessons that we aimed to teach.
- Canvs donated space for our teams to work and eat throughout the day.
- SiteGround graciously donated free hosting to all attendees and gave us some awesome notebooks for the event
- StudioPress offered a discount on their themes, which I use for a lot of site builds.
- Easy Digital Downloads and iThemes offered a discount on their extensions to help users start an online store
- CodeGuard and MainWP gave users free tools to help manage their sites and keep them safe and up to date.