This month we chat to Karolína Vyskočilová, WordCamp Prague organizer on the WordPress Prague community!
Hi Karolína, can you tell us a bit more about the Prague WordPress community?
The Czech WordPress community is pretty big. I would guess more than 1,000 people of very different backgrounds – developers, users, professionals from other fields working with WordPress on a daily basis. Most of them are enthusiasts who like the spirit of open source projects or users who benefit from the “free” product. If you want to join the community, you can do so on Facebook, Slack or on our website Náš WP.
The Prague community (people meeting at local monthly meetups) is smaller – just up to 50 participants. Mostly developers or advanced users, but we welcome anyone who feels like joining us for a beer to chat about WordPress projects, troubles, and questions. The members of this group are running the WordCamp Prague conference, so it’s an excellent opportunity to join 🙂 All events are published at Meetup.com and in our Facebook group.
What’s your background, what should our readers know about you?
I’m a freelance WordPress developer and consultant specializing in plugins and tailor-made themes with rich functionality (now discovering the endless possibilities of Gutenberg). I like to polish my clients’ ideas to perfection, showing them that a website can do more than they’ve ever imagined. I make sure that my clients can handle the administration of their new website with their eyes closed.
Besides, I have a couple of plugins in WP repository – you might have heard of WooCommerce Pay for Payment extension or ROI Hunter Easy for WooCommerce, the rest of my plugins are more or less related to the Czech WooCommerce market.
I’ve been coding for more than 15 years, but originally, I’m a linguist who just found it more convenient to code than to work at the university ?.
How long have you been using WordPress? And why did you choose WordPress?
I think it has been eight years now. My favorite thing about WP is the fact that it’s an open-source content management system that won’t force you to stay with the same programmer or company forever.
At the same time, it allows you to build incredible websites with custom graphic design, but still rather a convenient backend that’s easy to understand and your client’s employees might know it already. If you take a step further, you can connect it to other APIs and make it work seamlessly with the rest of the company ecosystem.
How did you get involved in the WordPress community?
After programming for WP for a couple of years, I realized that being freelance means that at some point, you need to connect with people – start going to conferences, meetups and so on. So that’s what I did and I was surprised at how helpful it can be to be part of something bigger, to find friends that also work as WP developers.
I’ve started to attend WP Pivo (“WP Beer”, our regular monthly meetings) and meetups regularly. I have been to WC Europe twice, which is a totally different experience from the local WordCamps. It has had a massive impact on me – skills, trends, and connections with other devs.
When one of my friends from WP Pivo – Adam Laita – asked me last year if I wanted to help them with WordCamp Prague 2019 organization, I said yes and got involved. After the WordCamp, I picked up the gauntlet and became the lead organizer for the upcoming WordCamp Prague 2020.
Last autumn, I was giving a talk at WordCamp Bratislava about Timber and Twig for WordPress development.
Today you play a key role in the WordCamp organization, tell our readers more about the biggest challenges, the innovations, and the new trends at WordCamp Prague
I am lucky because last year’s organizers were willing to help with the 2020 conference as well, so the team remained almost unchanged.
The biggest challenge was to find a bigger and better venue, which was kind of tough since we’ve grown big (around 500 – 600 attendees). But we have found it and I’m really excited about it, you should come and see for yourself ?
For you, what’s the magical recipe for a successful WordPress WordCamp or Meetup?
Get co-organizers, start early, and don’t be shy to ask for help or advice (friends and WordCamp Central is there for you). As the lead organizer, delegate as much as possible, and then some. That might save you many sleepless nights. Don’t take it too seriously – you’re not a professional organizer.
You do it for the community, and it should be fun and a great experience, not a nightmare. In Bratislava, they managed to organize a nice WordCamp 2019 within two months, with a completely new team.
Try to book the venue as soon as possible – as soon as you have it, you can proceed and announce the event officially. That opens you the door to sponsors and speakers. Our event was held in February, and we announced it just right before WC Europe so that we could talk with potential sponsors and speakers right there.
Then we opened a call for speakers & workshops and started selling tickets. Then we focused on the afterparty, swag, smaller details and, most importantly, promoting the conference.
What will be the future of the Prague WordPress community?
We’ve recently joined the official WordPress Community Events, so we hope to grow a bit bigger ? Starting in March, we plan to add one or two talks to the beginning of every meetup – we’ll see how it goes.
Last year, we managed to formally establish an association called Náš WP (“Our WP”). Its members have actually been behind WP-related community events for 8 years but their activities never had a legal background. However, this is still kind of half-secret, and more information will be revealed soon!