WordPress: A Year in Review, New Project to Fill the WordCamp Void

Joe Casabona, a freelance web developer and educator, launched WordPress: A Year in Review last week. The project was born out of his passion for helping others and a longing for attending WordCamp US, which has been canceled because of the stress of the pandemic and online event fatigue. He wanted to do something to fill in the void.

His goal is to offer online content that members of the WordPress community may have missed out on in the year. The project will provide learning resources in e-book, print book, video, and audio form. The content will be free, but he is asking community members to chip in and sponsor the project, covering the hard costs of putting it together.

“After WordCamp US got canceled, I started thinking about all of the work that went into it and the amazing amount of content that now wouldn’t be created,” said Casabona of why he decided to begin this project. “I am a big WordCamper and go to between 7-10 per year depending on my schedule, so I’ve definitely missed that experience. My main hope is that this can fill in some of the missing content from those canceled WordCamps. I know there are other efforts too, like the workshops the WordPress Foundation is hosting.”

What the Project Offers

The plan for the project is to offer three types of content to the WordPress community for free:

  • An e-book that reviews how WordPress changed in 2020, including a print edition.
  • An interview series with WordCamp speakers.
  • A video tutorial series that focuses on new things added to WordPress in 2020.

Casabona plans to run between 15 and 20 interviews with people on a special series via his How I Built It podcast. Instead of a formal talk, he wants to provide interviewees an opportunity to explore their own topics. The interview application process is open to those who were scheduled to speak at the canceled WordCamp US through August 31.

“The interview series was the first aspect of this project that I thought of,” he said. “Basically, I will interview people who applied to speak at WCUS 2020 about their talks — each episode will have 3 interviewees who have the opportunity to talk for about 10 minutes each about their topic. I’ll ask them who they are, what their talk was going to be about, and highlight the main points. I’m definitely open to ideas depending on who applies and how many people apply.”

Currently, Casabona has booked only a few podcast interviews. He said he plans on reaching out to more contributors, depending on how funding goes and the finalized outline for the e-book and videos.

He got the idea for the e-book from MacStories. “Every year, Federico Viticci puts out an iOS review in conjunction with the iPhone release, exclusively for his members,” he said. “I think that’s such a great resource and feel something like it would really benefit the WordPress community. Since this is the first one I might have some backstory, but it will mainly be a practical reference for people wondering how the popular CMS changed from January to December — things they might have missed or overlooked.”

If the e-book goes well this year, he will seek to publish it in the following years. The same would hold true for the printed book, which would essentially be the same as the e-book. A print edition would be a nice keepsake for members of the WordPress community. It is something physical, a tangible item that is not made up of bytes stored on a computer, destined for an eventual digital waste bin.

Casabona plans to run 10 video tutorials. He will release one video each week, starting in mid-October, through the end of the year. At the moment, he is planning to run all of the videos himself but may reach out to others who are better-suited for particular topics.

“The video series isn’t a huge departure from the content I put on my YouTube channel right now,” he said. “I’m targeting mostly users and implementors, but there were some cool developer additions in 5.5.”

Funding and the Future

The biggest holdup for the project is funding. Casabona has a goal of $3,000 to cover the hard costs, such as transcripts, editing, and out-of-pocket expenses. Those willing to donate can give a custom amount or make a pledge for one of three tiers with each tier building upon the other:

  • Support – $5: Gets your name in the e-book, progress updates, and behind-the-scenes content.
  • Early Access – $5: Early draft of the e-book, early access to interviews and videos, and e-book of podcast transcripts.
  • IRL! – $19: A printed copy of the e-book.

“I basically wanted to give the community a chance to pledge and support the project, as well as get a print book if they want it,” said Casabona.

He is also asking for sponsors to help fund the project on top of the initial goal of $3,000, which would only cover the minimum to produce content on his own. “Sponsorship will allow me to put more of my time and resources into the project,” he said. “All of this money is going into production — the more funding I’m able to secure, the more time and resources I can put behind it. For example, this could enable me to hire contributors, editors for each medium, etc.”

While it may be a bit early, Casabona is already thinking about the future of the project and has plans if he exceeds his funding goals.

“Excess funding will allow me to find and pay more contributors and better position the project for 2021,” he said. “I’d also like to set up a fund to send someone who can’t afford it to a WordCamp…once we start having in-person events again!”

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