1. I just attended my first WP Seattle meetup last month and was very impressed with the organization and attendees. Turnout here seems quite high compared to what you experienced — 80 or so registrants on meetup.com, with probably 50 of those actually showing up.

    The company I work with has sponsored food and drink at two meetups so far and will be doing so again next week. Sponsorships are a great way to provide some extras for attendees while keeping registration free and giving a local biz the opportunity to say a few words.

  2. Kim

    The NEO WordPress meetup is my local meetup. There’s not much of a tech community where I live, so I have to travel to get my WordPress fix. ;)

    I hope to be able to attend more in 2012, once my life settles down a bit.

  3. Barry had mentioned the Seattle Meetup, which I am the organizer of. Although I would love to take the credit of such a robust and successful group, I just took over a couple of months ago, and was handed a great track record already : )

    The previous organizers had built a great community already and we just continue to grow. Our total membership is almost 700, but as Barry mentioned from his experience, we typically get between 80 and a 100+ signing up, but always have less who actually attend.

    I think the success of our group has been the flavor of it. We know that we will get from the very beginner to the seasoned developer showing up. So we try to choose our main presentations to appeal to all, but that can be a challenge sometimes. As a result, part of the meet up in spent in breakout groups: beginners, devsigners/advanced users, and developers. That has worked really well and each group does their own thing. And then of course we have time for networking as well.

    As far as covering costs, we are very lucky to have a venue, called TechStars which gives us the space at no cost. The space is good sized, and even with the limited amount of chairs, people are adaptable and make it work. We also provide pizza and beverages at each meet up as well through a sponsorship. As Barry said his company has done this for a couple of months and they find the value in it. When I took over, the previous organizer and I had a discussion on this. He was adamant about not charging, and I felt the same way. We felt the WordPress community is open and traditionally meet ups have been free. So we wanted to keep it this way.

    I have loved being part of the group before becoming the organizer, and love it even more. I drive 1.5 to 2 hours to get there, and since I live by the ferry on an island, I also need to stay the night in a hotel. But it’s so worth it for me. The connections and friendships I have made has been invaluable.

  4. Here in Liverpool we’ve been running a local group called SWIG for nearly a year now. Every month on the last Thursday, like yours.

    What we learned quickly was that a regular schedule and location is important. Then it’s all about promotion and making it interesting enough for all attendees. So we pitch our chat and talks at different levels and have Q&A sessions where more experienced experts can help out.

    Numbers wise we typically get 14 to 24 attendees.

    And now this month we have our first bigSWIG – http://interconnectit.com/3161/bigswig/ which is a paid for event, a little like a WordCamp in that we have speakers, but without the WordCamp overhead. We have space for 120 people (at a squeeze) but will be happy if 60 or so attend. From the sales so far I expect is to easily make this. But it’s a heck of a change from free to paid for – you have to work harder on getting the right speakers, the venue, and the facilities.

    We’ll be streaming the event life as well, so you guys on t’other side of t’Atlantic can watch for free :-)

  5. I didn’t realize you folks were so close (relatively speaking). I’m in Toledo!

  6. As the organizer for the St. Louis WP Meetup and primary organizer for WordCamp St. Louis 2011, I can tell you that starting a meetup was an absolutely awesome experience. Without it, I wouldn’t have met Chip Bennett, who is now helping out as an extremely knowledgeable support guru with UpThemes and I wouldn’t have been able to put together the very first WordCamp St. Louis without the volunteers from our Meetup group.

    I have since moved to the Dallas-Fort Worth area and passed the torch to a local marketing/design agency and they’ve been running the Meetup successfully for months now. I have even gone back and visited the group and am proud to be able to say I was a part of that group.

    I am considering starting another WordPress Meetup (even though Dallas has one of the largest Meetup groups ever assembled) for the North DFW area (Frisco, Plano, McKinney) so if anyone is local, give me a holler!

  7. Thank you for this as I am in constant thinking of setting up a WordPress meetup for our area (Abbotsford Fraser Valley, BC) and the question in the back of the mind always is: who will be attending and what to discuss.
    I was fortunate enough to attend WordCamp in San Francisco, granted this was on a much larger scale, the format of multiple speaker always appealed to me.
    I guess step one is taking the jump!

  8. This was a really helpful article. I’m a co-organizer of Oahu Online Entrepreneurs in Hawaii. While we have a broader scope towards Internet marketing, WordPress is a popular topic.

    I can totally identify with the headaches of scheduling and organizing meetups. A couple of months ago, I went through the search for a new venue. Nearly impossible to achieve that ideal convergence of central location, free parking, good Wi-Fi, available seating, and coffee.

    One problem is trying to keep a balance between pros and newbies. If there are too many pros, the newbies feel intimidated. If there are too many newbies, no one is able to learn from each other.

    It’s a labor of love for me, though. The most common compliment we get is, “It’s so great to meet other people who are doing the same thing.” Blogging, programming, etc. can be lonely professions if you’re a solo freelancer based at home. The meetup is really valuable for meeting like-minded people and feeding off the collective energy of the group.

    I’ve also picked up tons of insider tips and resources I could never have discovered on my own. I take detailed notes and write recap reports on our Meetup.com “Discussions” page, and those things can end up really long. I’m constantly blown away by how generous the members are in sharing what they know.

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