Industry Analyst & Strategist

Making WordFest 2021

I have a big soft spot for Big Orange Heart (BOH) and their most recent event WordFest. They are volunteers in working in a complicated environment to support the complexities of mental health for remote workers. You can’t imagine the needs that have occurred over the last year. To support the BOH mission, WordFest 2021 was put on in January.

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Dan Maby, Founder of BOH, put together an immense article on the year long process that eventually became WordFest. To say this is an in-depth article would be an understatement, the magic “Estimated Reading Time” indicator puts it at 30 mins. When you have the time I really recommend reading WordFest Live 2021… Looking Back but for those who would like a quick glimpse I thought I’d summarize and comment on a few key points.

Back in 2019,”WordFest Live 2021 started as something different. Back in 2019, the Big Orange Heart team delivered #DoSummitGood. An event that brought various for-good entities together across the WordPress ecosystem. It was delivered on Giving Tuesday, an international day of giving following Black Friday/Cyber Monday, and intended to be a mechanism to fundraise for the various non-profits featured. While the event was a success in terms of the delivery, content and attendance, it failed to achieve its fundraising goal. With little more than $500 raised throughout the event.”

Wow, that’s a hugely surprisingly poor fundraise, honestly surprised by what I’ve seen happen in 2020, but that was 2019, and yet primed the pump for WordFest, “Just one month after the last BOH in-person event, we delivered our first virtual event. Taking place on our regular monthly date, and the transition was relatively easy, in part due to our experience of live-streaming sessions before the lockdown, along with the prior use of Streamyard.” That event is the #WPLDN Meetup, this is where I first met the BOH team, and experienced the professionalism and enthusiasm that has made #WPLDN one of my “go to” virtual events.

There is a ton of detail around security issues, zoom-bombing, and the eventual integration of and Jitsi. Well worth the read if you plan on running virtual events. So with the tech in place (tested and improved at every #WPLDN), the kick off began, “As a Board of Trustees, we met on September 9, 2020, and voted on the concept to change #DoSummitGood into WordFest Live 2021. The idea was to allow the event to have a hyper-focus on WordPress, over donations into the charity, as #DoSummitGood had had previously. It was to enable the content to appeal to a dedicated audience. It delivers two-fold; the audience benefits by receiving targeted content for their area of interest, and sponsors can connect with their potential client base.”

We get the details of calls for volunteers, speakers, sponsors, and opening registration. We get the ins-and-outs of speaker selection, creating 24-hours of content, and then creating the venue, “All this combined led to forty various locations for the attendee to choose from. We intended the Main Gate to be the main thoroughfare for all traffic but appreciate several attendees used, and quite rightly so, the schedule to try and get to the right place at the right time.” They will be pushing for easier UI/UX.

More details on communication channels, pre-recorded sessions, technical issues, etc, etc. After reading this I feel like I’ve just put on a virtual conference myself. This was an amazing amount of effort. Oh and there will be two a year! Can’t wait to see you at the next one.

So I am happy to announce that WordFest Live will be brought to you twice a year, with the date for WordFest Live 2021 2.0 to be announced very soon.

Dan Maby
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