Earlier this year there was a week where I was a bit depressed. I've helped plan or organize every single WooConf from the very first event in San Francisco back in 2014:
#WooConf – ship your idea! (@ The Village at 969 Market – @thevillage969) https://t.co/uYzL2XzTlk pic.twitter.com/wQietuZtc3
— Patrick Rauland (@BFTrick) November 3, 2014
All the way to Seattle in 2017
Every 100ms delay costs 1% of your sales. @mindsizeme #WooConf pic.twitter.com/KsdY8YOHju
— Patrick Rauland (@BFTrick) October 20, 2017
So in early 2018 when I heard that there wasn't going to be a WooConf I was really sad. After all this is something I fought for and loved.
And about a week after I realized something… it's the internet. Anyone can do anything. You don't need permissions slips & you don't need orders from on high. You just do. So I did.
I reached out to Brian Richards who runs WPSessions & WordSesh. And we were able to take what he learned from WordSesh and we created WooSesh.
Brian and I had a few meetings and on March 13th I reached out to Automattic about speaking at the event and later we'd talk about sponsoring.
Brian and I had a few goals for this project. The first is that we had to have deep learning. With hundreds of WordCamps around the world most people have access to entry level information. We wanted to focus on deep content.
That's one of the reasons we made the event two days. Day 1 focused on anyone who builds stores. And day 2 was for people who write code. If you want hard core coding tricks show up for day 2. If you want to learn how to manage & run your store show up day 1. And many people did just that.
Goal #2 was to create community. We wanted people to show up at the same time and talk about things in real time. Crowdcast was an excellent choice for software because it includes a live chat which moved so incredibly fast throughout the event!
A lot of online events promise recordings. We of course want to record everything but recordings can let people be lazy and watch on their own time which works against the goal of community.
So we compromised and we gave recordings for free to anyone who attended at least one session live. And this seemed to work great. If you're in a distant time zone you can attend one of the sessions, engage the community, and watch the rest on your own.
We planned WooSesh for over 7 months and put in hundreds of hours planning the event. And the results were phenomenal.
We wanted to get 800 registered attendees and have 400 people show up live.
Instead we had more than 2,800 people register & more than 1,400 participate live during at least one session. Nine hundred of them watched the keynote. We had more people watch the keynote than our total registration goal. That's incredible!
To get these people we went on podcasts, created short videos showing the speakers & their content, and worked with WooCommerce to write a guest blog post on their site. WooCommerce also promoted the event in their newsletters.
All of these combined, plus all of the live tweeting during the day, brought in nearly 3,000 people.
Should We Do It Again?
The short answer is hell yes.
The sponsorship model worked really well for us. After we partnered with Automattic as our single sponsor, we were able to focus entirely on the content without worrying about revenue.
Having two people work on an event like this was huge. I've worked on other projects that really stressed me out but doing this with a partner like Brain made the event run smoothly.
We were able to help at least 1,400 people and more than 900 people learned about the latest and greatest features that the WooCommerce team is building. And the people who watched can spread that message even further.
If you attended WooSesh – what did I miss? What would you like to see done next year?