Guide To Starting And Maintaining A WordPress Meetup

One of my favorites things to do every month is attend my local WordPress meetup. I’ve helped put the meeting together since 2009. Usually, we’ll have 10-25 people show up depending on the weather or if the event is on a holiday. Meetups are like a smaller version of WordCamps where individuals present on specific topics each month. Now that we have a healthy nucleus of regular attendees, the meetups almost run themselves.

Using Meetup.com To Start A Meetup

A Lot Of Meetups Happening In My Area
A Lot Of Meetups Happening In My Area

I recently saw someone ask how they can start a WordPress meetup. They lived in a city with a population of 75,000 people and according to Meetup.com, a WordPress group didn’t exist in their area. Launched in 2002, Meetup.com is the most popular website for getting people with like-minded ideas together. The site has meetups for any topic under the sun.

Meetup organizers need to pay organizer dues before the meetup can be established on the site. Meetup.com has three pricing plans available and each plan allows you to run up to three separate meetups.

  • $12 a month for 6 months (a single $72 charge)
  • $15 a month for 3 months (a single $45 charge)
  • $19 per month

The WordPress foundation has a program in place that will pay membership dues so long as the group follows a few guidelines. In a nutshell:

  • WordPress meetups are for the benefit of the local community and are not to be used primarily for business purposes.
  • The WordPress and WordCamp trademarks should be respected.
  • The meetup should foster an accepting environment which is free of discrimination, incitement to violence, promotion of hate, and general jerk-like behavior.

If you’re organizing a WordPress meetup solely for the purpose of meeting potential clients, you’re missing the point of what a community organized event is.

Try Not To Start A Meetup Alone

If possible, try to find one or two other people in your local area interested in having a WordPress meetup. In 2009, I asked on Twitter  if anyone in the North East Ohio area would be interested in attending a WordPress meetup. I discovered Brian Layman who is a respected WordPress developer was just a short drive away from me as was Kim Parsell and Jeff Lee. I coordinated with them over Twitter and email to establish the core meetup group.

Once we had a small dedicated group of individuals attending the meetup, we used our collective social media presence to announce and recruit interested members to the meetup. Keep in mind Meetup.com will notify registered users in the area when a new meetup is created that matches their interests. Also consider using the WordPress.org Meetup Forum to tell others about the meetup.

Brian Layman Sharing Knowledge
Brian Layman Sharing Knowledge

I was lucky to have two to three people help me kick-start our meetup. If you can’t find attendees on Twitter or Facebook, try attending meetups in your area that are similar to WordPress. For instance, meetups on web design, content management, SEO, etc. will likely have a few WordPress people in attendance.

Finding A Venue

Finding a venue to host a meetup can be difficult. I recommend a place that has good WiFi, is somewhat quiet and set up for presentations. Co-working spaces are a great option to host a meetup since most of them contain the amenities I’ve outlined above. They have the side benefit of sometimes hosting workers that have an interest in WordPress. If you end up using a co-working space, ask around to see if anyone has an interest in WordPress. They could be your newest members to your meetup!

Immediately Establish Consistency

One of the biggest lessons learned while organizing a meetup is how important it is for the event to happen consistently at the same time. In the past, our meetup didn’t have a specific day of the month and was created when we felt like meeting up. This left people questioning whether or not there would be another meetup the following month.

Schedule The Meetup To Happen At The Same Time Every Month
Make Your Meetup Predictable

By immediately establish consistency, you’re giving attendees a chance to plan around your meetup. For example, ours is held on the fourth Thursday of every month. The only time it changes is during inclement weather or during a holiday. It’s important you communicate schedule changes as soon as possible to give attendees a chance to change their plans.

How Long Should The Meetup Be?

You don’t need to have a time limit unless the venue requires you to leave at a certain time. Our meetup is typically two hours long with the first hour dedicated to a topic. Topics are decided either from the previous meeting or from users in our meetup.com group. If you’re thinking about doing a presentation at a WordCamp, meetups are an excellent opportunity to hone your skills. Presenting in front of 15-30 people is less stressful than a room of 50-100.

WordCamps Usually Start As Meetups First

WordCamp Dayton 2014When I asked Nathan Driver how WordCamp Dayton, Ohio started, he told me it began with their local meetup. After visiting WordCamps throughout the state of Ohio, he discovered many of the attendees were from Southwest Ohio and wanted an event closer to home. He created a meetup around the Dayton area to gauge interest. “After a couple of months of debating we went for it and had our first MeetUp in October 2012″. After managing the meetup for a couple of months, Driver noticed interest grew along with memberships which is when he decided to begin the process of creating a WordCamp.

Starting A Meetup Is Not Hard But Requires Work and Dedication

Meetups require dedication and consistency to develop a community of their own. Don’t be discouraged if only three to five people show up. Use your meetup.com page as a hub and encourage attendees to leave feedback after every meeting. Make sure communication channels are open between the organizer and the attendees so everyone within the group is on the same page.

Last but not least, have fun. Meetups don’t have to be serious and in my opinion, shouldn’t be. They are informal gatherings of people from all backgrounds united by an interest in WordPress.  If you have any suggestions for new WordPress meetup organizers, please add them in the comments.

15 Comments


  1. Hah, so the moral of the story here is that there is no shortage of information on how to start a WordPress meetup :)

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    1. If there’s one topic in the community, outside code, that I think needs as much ink (so to speak) it’s this one.

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  2. I attended my first meetup on Saturday. The drive was 70 miles in one direction. One person showed a way to version development. I learned so much in that single presentation to make it worth the drive.

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  3. Great post. I’ve been active in tech meetups in Milwaukee for a few years now and I can never stop telling people about how important they can be for your career and development. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them and even if I were in a similar position I wouldn’t be as happy without being part of the local community. After a while they aren’t that hard to run, but one major tip is don’t do it alone. There will be months you have other commitments and you WILL need help.

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  4. I noticed some local WordPress meetup groups charge $2-$5 to attend. (click yes on RSVP).

    I find that wrong. These meetups should be free. Put a bucket/coffee cup for donations. Not everyone has a CC.

    Like WordCamps, the meetups could get “sponsors”. by sponsors I mean, have that bucket/coffee cup.

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    1. Not all MeetUps charge. The Ann Arbor WP MeetUp does not. That or I owe them :)

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      1. Thanks for pointing that out. Sorry that you find it objectionable that a nominal fee is collected to cover administrative costs of the event.

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      2. I’m gonna try and attend the next A2 meetup. Our Jackson meetup has been going strong for a while.

        Great post Jeff. Interesting tidbits from Nathan about Dayton. I’d love for that to occur near my community as well one day.

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  5. We have a difficult time finding a free, appropriate venue for our meetups. We’ve met in crowded, busy, loud restaurants and tried to give presentations. Asking members to fork over $2-$5 to help pay the venue for an organized, sound appropriate venue with projection equipment is not out bounds in my humble opinion. It’s not fair to expect the venue to host us for free, and it’s not fair to expect volunteer organizers to pay for it out of their own pocket. We’ve been fortunate to find free space so far, thanks to ITT Tech and the Sarasota HUB co-working space and have kept our meetings free – so far. But if we have to charge 2-5 bucks to keep it going, we will.

    Miroslav, if you were in my Sarasota, FL meetup and you contacted me about the payment situation, I’d find other ways for you to contribute as “payment”. I’d schedule you to present on a topic you knew about, or have you scouting “free” venues, or have you volunteer in other ways. :) Maybe you should reach out to the organizer?

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    1. Pam Blizzard – I know there are expenses, however cover charges do prevent people from attending. WordCamps are free, Meetups can be as well.

      I don’t know about Sarasota but in Toronto we have a public library system with 98 branches. we met in one of them.

      Don’t you have any contacts that can offer some space for free? One of my employers has an office in Miami, FL. I used the board room for some community meetings (non work community groups). Work was fine with that. However they moved locations.

      Isn’t there a web design company, WordPress related company in Sarasota that could offer their office/board room for a couple hours a month? Start meeting people.

      Also, putting a cover fee might prevent bigger donations. I am not going to pay cover charge and put down a $20. Which I have in the past.

      I have absolutely no idea about the Sarasota area but there must be a WP-friendly company, at least one, in Sarasota

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      1. If you roll under the foundation I do believe they have things in place where you can request for these fees to be paid. Of course try your best to find a sponsor or free place. We’ve often met at coworking spaces that are free and have a few businesses that offer their space. I definitely think free is the way to go. There may be some situations where a nominal fee may have to be in place, but keep trying to find a free place. Just be sure the fees go to paying the expenses and not in someone’s pocket.

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