As a business owner who makes his living, by and large, from people within the WordPress Community, it’s likely that I have a pretty good perspective on sponsoring WordCamps. As an organizer, it’s likely that I have a good perspective on dealing with the budget needed in order to put a WordCamp together, and as a frequent attendee to WordCamps, it’s likely that I have a good perspective on what it means to have WordCamps and sponsors.
I’m not saying that I know it all, and I’m certainly not saying that I’m unique, but I am saying that I might know a thing or two about it.
The Business Owner’s Perspective
The question I am probably most often asked as a regular sponsor of WordCamps throughout the U.S. by other business owners is that of my R.O.I. (Return On Investment). My biggest issue with answering this question is that it definitely falls under the “your mileage may (WILL) vary,” category of answers. And secondly, when we sponsor a WordCamp, it is never determined by measurable R.O.I. I understand that this may be counter-intuitive, and have spoken with other business owners who feel differently, but for us, we’ve found that it’s a great way to stay in touch with our customer base and keep our fingers on the pulse of what’s needed by the Community. Because so much of our business is done behind the screens of computers, we find that the face to face time with the Community helps us to establish our brand and keep it in line with the needs of those who work within WordPress. There has yet to be a single WordCamp that we sponsored where we did not feel like it was not worth the investment.
If you are a business which relies on WordPress, WordCamps are an essential part of the Community’s growth and WordCamps have been a huge part of our branding efforts (and results). So, while I could not point to a datapoint and state, “that’s our ROI for such and such a WordCamp,” I can tell you that having been a participant in WordCamps over the last three years has helped establish our brand as one that is in line with the ideals of the Community. And that’s big!
The Organizer’s Perspective
True confession here: I hate asking people for money. Absolutely hate it. It’s not that I’m not relatively decent at it so much as on my top ten list of fun things to do, it falls at about 500. But, as I mentioned earlier, part of putting one of these things together involves money. Without money, it doesn’t happen. Now, Central is always very supportive of WordCamps and they do fork over some cash. But the philosophy of a WordCamp is that it’s put together BY locals FOR locals. It’s a Community event which means that some money needs to come from the participants. Ticket sales make up part of it, but the reality is that venue, food, parties, swag, etc all cost. And while we, as organizers, don’t mind the organizing part, we all hate the money part. It’s what we all call a necessary evil. We definitely want to put on the best WordCamp ever, every single year, and despite keeping costs low, it still costs a lot.
The Attendee’s Perspective
I have to admit, one of the greatest things I see when I go to a WordCamp is one that is well attended by its sponsors. Whether they show up and hang out behind a table, come simply to speak, or only meander through the Hallway Track to get to know the Community more, I love it. When an individual or company comes to support a WordCamp, it shows me that they have a vested interest in what we’re doing. As a sponsor, I have been made to feel like a rock star, at times, because of the appreciation shown by attendees of our supporting their local WordCamp.
Lastly, I just want to say that there are ways that every company can sponsor, and most of them are pretty affordable. If you like to put swag on a table, packages start as low as $150.00 for individual Community Sponsors (and include tickets, mentions, and did I say, table space?). That’s pretty reasonable, and goes to support something great! So, if sponsoring a WordCamp trips your trigger, check out your options at a Camp near you! If you’d like to sponsor WordCamp Milwaukee, hit us up on the sponsorship page!