I had a fantastic weekend attending WordCamp Raleigh, a conference for those using or working with WordPress (WP). Just in case you don't know, WP is an open source content-management system and blogging tool based on PHP and MySQL. I use it to run my website and those of my clients.
I learned a bunch of helpful things at WordCamp - plug-ins and e-commerce tools and even some of the history of WP. There were three tracks of sessions you could attend - users, power users, and developers - lots of options no matter what your level of understanding of WP is. Some folks had been using it for years (WP has been around 10 years,) but others had just started exploring it two weeks prior.
Here are three reasons to go to a WordCamp:
1) Ubiquitous use. Approximately 20% of the websites in the world are run on the WordPress system from tiny blogs to major sites like CNN. Even if you think you don't want to use the WordPress system, it's good to understand it so you can compare other systems to it. How else will you know if WordPress is right to use for your business or blog (or those of your clients)?
2) Unbelievably friendly users. Maybe it's the open source thing, but wow, I was impressed by how forthcoming and helpful WordCamp speakers and fellow attendees were. The conference organizers were on site and very nice as well. The event was organized but informal, which I liked.
3) Unbeatable value. Professional development was a stellar deal for a mere $35 conference fee, which also included lunch and a t-shirt. And I was able to sit down with and ask questions directly of core contributors to WordPress. All of my questions were answered, and during the various sessions, I was exposed to features of WordPress that I was unfamiliar with. Super helpful.
So, go check out the upcoming schedule of worldwide WordCamps and see if you can attend!