The speakers at a WordCamp in Croatia in a good mood (Photo: Neuralab)
Besides making your talk memorable, useful and all the other tips that apply to speaking at conferences, here are a few other insights I’d suggest:
Attend a local WordCamp Meetup: Before an organizer can start a WordCamp conference, they have to show that there’s a sizeable WordPress community in their city or country by organizing smaller community meetups called WordCamp Meetups. Since WordCamps are a community project as well, the organizers, attendees as well as some of the speakers will come from the ranks of meetup members, which is why you should definitely visit one prior to attending the WordCamp. Don’t be a stranger;
Don’t expect to be paid: Understand that WordCamps, as community events, don’t cover hotel or travel costs before you submit your talk;
Help promote the event: Since WordCamps don’t have a huge (if any) marketing budget, help promote the event by sharing it through social media or on your blog, even telling people you think might be interested;
Get a feel for the community: Become a member of the local or dedicated WordPress community group, on Facebook, Meetup.com or any other platform they might use. Follow their current and browse past discussions and topics of interest in order to get a feel for what’s relevant to the local WordPress Community, which will in most cases make up most of the audience at the WordCamp;
The audience encouraging the next speaker at a Wordcamp (Photo: Neuralab)
Stay up-to-date with local WordPress community news: In the same vein, visit some international and local sources of WordPress news, such as WPtavern, in order to be up-to-date with what’s happening related to WordPress. While there might not be a local WordPress news site, more general tech blogs usually cover news related to WordCamps and WordPress. An example is my own Netokracija where we cover the regional WordPress community in our WordPress section. Just search for the “wordpress” tag on most tech blogs and I’m sure you’ll find… something;
Don’t sell at WordCamps, just meet the community: Depending on the WordCamp, you’ll probably have more luck looking for partners than for leads! Chris Lema explained: “I make partners at WordCamps. Partners I can send work to. Partners that may route folks my way”.
Looking forward to seeing you at WordCamp Zagreb. In the meantime, share your WordCamp speaking tips and suggestions in the comments!
Thanks to an invitation by the Embassy of Israel in Croatia, I’ll spend a couple of days not just attending the conference, but also meeting local entrepreneurs and startup eco-system builders.
On a Mission From The Balkan Startup Community
As editor of the largest startup and technology blog in Southeastern Europe, Netokracija, I’d love to go beyond what we all read about the Israeli startup miracle and discover the hard lessons that the Balkans can take away when building our own startup ecosystem.
For that – I need your help: Who do you think I should meet and talk to in Tel Aviv?
Sometimes you have to start at the beginning – which is why the beginner-friendly e-book “How to Start a Blog“, edited together by .Me blog editor Sanja Gardašević will help any new and up-and-coming blogger.
Filled with everything you need to know about essential blogging topics, this e-book will help you:
Optimize your blog for search engine rankings;
Deal with comments on your blog;
Choose a great domain for your blog;
Experiment with different types of content;
and much more…
According to Sanja, the e-book proves that “it really takes a village to create something beautiful”, which she has done by gathering content from the .Me blog by authors such as .Me marketing director Nataša Đukanović, blogger Danica Kombol and founder Jill Robinson.
About Comments… And Content
Sanja asked me to contribute to the chapter on blog comments, where I compared them to the dynamic duo, as I did originally at the Blogomanija conference in 2013.:
The thing is, we don’t actually want to turn away people who comment on our posts. Their feedback is valuable to us. They are the feedback we need to grow as bloggers and writers and reporters.
Content and comments are like Batmanand Robin, the dynamic duo making the blogosphere and Robin, the dynamic duo making the blogosphere
a better place. While we like to think comments are something that only emerged in the last decade, in the digital era, people have always sent their feedback to the press – it just used to be done in form of a letter or by picking up the phone. By censoring the comments we put an end to this long tradition of writer (or blogger) – reader interaction.What I tried doing is contacting the flamers in
What I tried doing is contacting the flamers in person – well, through e-mail at least. Saying, hey I read your comment, what seems to be the problem? Do you want to talk it out in person? (They never do)Instead of censoring comments,
Instead of censoring comments, lets try to influence the people who comment and create a new generation who do not hate everything on the Internet just because they can.
While most tech and digital conferences might take place in spring and fall, I’m sure that you and I both love when they are organized in the summer. A great example is Changer Festival that took place in late July in the beautiful Croatian city of Šibenik, combining street art, food, music and – most importantly to our topic – a great tech event that took place in the evening over 3 days with topics from freelancing to the future of smart cities.
The beautiful Croatian city of Šibenik (Photo: Solaris archive)
My mate Luka Sučić and I took over the moderation of 4 large panels with some of the brightest minds of the regional tech community, including companies such as electric car maker Rimac Automobili, fast growing transportation booking platform Vollo and vacation rental property manager Rentlio.
Why Summer Tech Events Are Better Than a Great Mojito
As in Changer’s case, the events can take place in an open, more relaxed setting. Taking place at Ivan Pavao II square in the very heart of Šibenik, the location was far more interesting than your average bland conference space;
Summer is the truly sunny part of the year, which is important because studies have shown that nicer weather increases our life satisfaction. More sun – happier attendees.
Another benefit of these events taking place in the summer is that attendees definitely take more time to enjoy their surrounding, including various attractions and restaurants, cafes etc.
A post shared by Ivan Brezak Brkan (@ivanbrezakbrkan) on
The time before our panel we spent prepping at Vino&ino, the best wine bar in Šibenik, owned by former creative director Vedran Gulin. Vedran got smart and after an epic digital marketing career turned to creating one of the best places to sit and relax in his hometown.
There are a number of reasons why organizers don’t like organizing conferences in the summer:
Summer as the tourist season means that coastal cities have less capacity and higher prices of accommodations, increasing expenses for both organizers and attendees. According to data provided by travel search engine Hipmunk, accommodations in the summer are 50% more expensive;
Attendees go on holiday in the summer so less of them are ready to go to a conference or professional event.
Changer’s Panels About The Digital Economy
The two talks I moderated lasted for 90 minutes each (we made it work, argh!):
Freelancing – Dalmatia style was interesting because two of my attendees gave a truly Dalmatian perspective on making it as a digital freelancer. UX designer Marina Matijača explained how she balanced working for a digital agency and freelance work, while noted designer Filip Peraić (author of the acclaimed art series James Harden Illustrated) made it clear that you should put the work that you would like to do in your portfolio. On the other hand, TopTal technical sourcer Ines Avdic explained how a platform like TopTal helped freelancers take the hassle out of finding new work.
The center of Šibenik in the evening (Photo by Iva Soldo)
Future City was a more broad panel about the true future of smart cities and how can a city like Šibenik take advantage of the 4th industrial revolution. Aco Momčilović (Rimac Automobili), Marko Jukić (Vollo), Ante Matijača (Profico) and Marko Mišulić (Rentlio) had a lot to share about how important digitalization is for cities, especially when using data to manage them better.
MOP organizer and programme director for the conference part of Changer festival, Fran Mubrin, commented:
As a moderator Ivan recognizes opportunities in every topic and uses his experience to get the most interesting information from the panelists, making the topics interesting and useful to everyone in the audience.
I’m looking to next year’s Changer festival while wondering if we could have at least part of the panels in English. Who knows, maybe some of the tourists that stopped and wondered what we were talking about were digital nomads!
For anyone following the growing European startup scene these past few years, it’s been obvious that Eastern Europe has been a special surprise when it comes to specific kinds of startups. The creators of some of the world’s most popular online games such as Nordeus and Wargaming, as well as the creator of the world’s fastest electric car – call it home – or ‘doma’!
What to expect next? – You might ask…
The panel we had at Eastern Europe’s largest startup conference, How to Web in Bucharest, does have a few answers. I had the pleasure of moderating a panel of not just startup experts, but experienced players in the regional ecosystem:
Rumen Iliev, Partner at the LaunchHub Ventures seed stage venture firm that invested over 9 million Euros in over 62 startups as part of its first fund founded in 2012;
Ondrej Bartos, Co-Founder and Partner of Credo Ventures, a VC fund specialized in Central European startups. Since 2009, he also stars in the investment TV show Den D on Czech TV;
Dan Lupu, Partner At the Earlybird Venture Capital fund that has invested in regional champions such as Socialbakers;
Lloyd Waldo, Community Manager at Prague-based Startup Yard, who has maintained and expanded their relationships with investors, mentors and partners.
Watch the video to learn what you can expect from Eastern European startups – and comment what you truly expect to see…