Earlier this year I took on the role of Product Evangelist — WordPress for SiteLock and became an ambassador of sorts to the WordPress community. Being a product evangelist means taking on a wide scope of activities, most visibly attending and speaking at WordCamps. Prior to stepping into this role, I had attended other conferences, but mostly related specifically to the hosting and cyber security industries. Starting out with a bang, my first event was WordCamp Miami. Still acting as SiteLock’s Lead Security Analyst, I was selected by WCMIA to speak alongside our Director of Product & Technology, Binod Purushothaman, in the Developer Track. I remember the morning of the talk, preparing myself to face the ominous concept of a room full of people staring at me. Having only been exposed to more traditional industry-based conferences where talks were extremely formal and rather serious, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The talk went according to plan with the crowd being unexpectedly welcoming. I was left pleasantly surprised by the positive vibe we received from the attendees.
Talking at my first WordCamp, WCMIA
After the talk, some of the attendees found me at the SiteLock sponsor booth with follow-up questions and feedback. One of the conversations that stood out the most to me, was with Marc Gratch, a community veteran and WordPress professional. We talked for a full thirty minutes about the WordPress community, and in retrospect, I realize that Marc was the first friendly face to formally welcome me into the community. In the coming months, I came to find that what he’d told me about WordCamps was entirely true.
The talks, the sponsors, the swag, the Happiness Bar — it’s all there to benefit the attendees. Everything the organizers tireless spend their time on setting up is to further the attendees’ knowledge and push the WordPress platform further so that all of our projects may flourish.
From individual site owners to CEOs of enterprise-level companies, participants of all kinds flock to WordCamps in search of guidance or to share their knowledge. The results are lasting relationships and a vast network of skilled professionals who you can count on in your time of need.
Even if you aren’t a skilled coder contributing to the WordPress core, there’s a place for you in helping the community. From translating text to different languages to simply helping support other users on the WordPress.org forums. I found that an interest of mine ended up being contributing to the official documentation for WordPress. There’s something for everyone.
Since WCMIA, I’ve attended 11 WordCamps in 2016 and a handful of other WordPress-centric conferences like Pressnomics, WooConf and Prestige. I’ve gained invaluable relationships both personally and professionally. I’ve found myself trying to be a good ambassador by welcoming new members and telling them about how our community works and how everyone has a place, just as Marc did with me in Miami.
I’ve only just begun to pay back the WordPress project and community for all that they’ve done for me, and I’m glad to be a part of a company like SiteLock that sees the value in supporting WordPress. I hope to see you at your city’s next WordCamp. Find me, I’ll be wearing a red shirt and helping the good folks of the community Secure Their Word.