Guest Essay

How I started a WordPress meetup group knowing no one in town

Behind the scenes of the new WordPress Richmond meetups.

I know this title sounds catchy. But I did start a WordPress meetup group knowing 0 people in the town. Here is what came out of it.

My prerequisites were the following:

  • I knew no one in a town
    Well, actually, that was exactly the reason for me to start it. Because of the war in Ukraine, I spent quite some time in Richmond, Virginia, at my boyfriend’s. But I didn’t know a single person there outside of his circle, and not a single WP person of course. So I thought it would be nice to meet with other WordPressers there. I checked for the local WP meetup group, and there was not one in Richmond (all WP meetups around the world are here). I thought, well, it can’t be that in this 200K+ city no one is doing WP. Perhaps, I can start one and we can get connected?
  • I never started a meetup group before
    I have been running WP Kyiv for the past 5 years, was a lead for WordCamp Kyiv in 2019, and was in the organizing team for WordCamp Europe starting from 2019, but I have never started a meetup group myself, I only joined existing ones before, and didn’t have much knowledge about how to start from scratch.
  • I didn’t have a place for a meetup
    In Kyiv I know other IT people, startup owners, coworking spaces owners, bar owners and so on and so forth. Here I knew no one like that.
  • I didn’t have anyone to speak at the meetup
    Usually, people would come to meetup to learn something, right? 🙂 To hear a talk they are interested in. As I knew no one, I didn’t have anyone to give a talk. I gave a few talks in the past myself, but I didn’t see it as an option as I am an organizer in this case, and would love someone else to speak at the event organized by me. Preferably, someone local.

So this left me with the questions — who would come, where would we hold the event, and who would speak?

Here is what I did:

  1. I started by reading Meetup Organizer Handbook. I learned a lot of things there – for me the ideas for the activities at the meetup were especially useful.
  2. Then I filled out the application to start a new official WordPress meetup group. When you start
    an official WordPress meetup group there is a page created for your group on under the main WordPress account, and all the events organized by your meetup group will appear in WordPress Dashboard for people that are in the area nearby.

    People are attending upcoming WordPress events near Richmond, Virginia and Montclair, New Jersey, as well as learning about other WordPress related news. Full Text: WordPress Events and News A V Attend an upcoming event near Richmond. Select location Strengthening WordPress SEO Wednesday, May 10, 2023 Richmond, VA, United States 1:00 GMT+2 WordCamp Montclair, NJ Saturday, Jun 24, 2023 Montclair, NJ Community Summit 2023 August 22-23, 2023 National Harbor DC WP Briefing: Episode 54: A Bill of Rights for the Open Web WP Briefing: Episode 53: A Look at WordPress 6.2 "Dolphy" WPTavern: WP Feature Notifications Project Progresses Towards MVP for Standardizing Admin Notifications WPTavern: #73 - Ryan Welcher on Using the create-block Tool to Quickly Scaffold a New Block Plugin Do The Woo Community: Do the Woo Joins WordCamp Europe 2023 as Media Partner Meetups [ | WordCamps [ | News
  3. I knew that the preference was that you start WordPress meetup in your own city, so I described the situation as is (that I am not local but was spending quite some time in the city recently), hoping I’ll be given a chance to start the meetup nevertheless.
  4. And I was! One of the WordPress Mentors got back to me soon saying that I was approved to organize a meetup in Richmond, and that I should book a call with the Mentor to get us started.
  5. In a few days, I had a video call with my Mentor — Isotta Peira, whom I had not had a chance to meet before, but who name I had known for a long time. Though there’s a lot of info available to read on, it was truly valuable for me to talk with Isotta in person, ask her questions, and get some advice from her.
  6. I added info to the meetup page, just telling my story and why I started this group.

    Sabrina is organizing a WordPress Hangout in Richmond, Virginia to meet other WordPress users and discuss WordPress topics. Full Text: WordPress Hangout in Richmond My name is Sabrina, I speed up WordPress websites. I'm from Kyiv, Ukraine. Spending a lot of time last year here, in Richmond. I don't know a single person here working with WordPress, yet. Richmond WordPress Meetup So I started this group to meet people with whom I can talk all things WordPress, in Richmond, VA ORDPRE Public group ? real life, here in Richmond. ***** (12) ? We'll meet up on Thursday, February 16 from 7:00 to 9 pm at Pizza & Beer of Richmond, 2553 W Cary St. Feel free to pop in and out without feeling obliged to be there the full time. Thursday, February 16, 2023 at 7:00 PM to Thursday, February 16, 2023 at 9:00 Looking forward to meeting people interested in WP to chat anything WP! PM EST Add to calendar P.S. In a few weeks I'm going to organize an event at the venue where we could have talks presented. If you have a topic you would like to give a talk about -- please reach o Pizza & Beer of Richmond out! 2553 W Cary St · Richmond, VA Cheers, Sabrina My Twitter Event Chat
  7. I understood that it wouldn’t be super easy to start a group without knowing anyone, but I had a plan 🙂 I scheduled the first three meetups in Hangout format — just to meet with people and get acquainted. And I hoped that maybe, after these 3 hangouts, there will be a person who would like to make a presentation at the 4th one, and there will be people willing to listen to it and we’ll have our first “real” meetup 🙂
  8. I scheduled 3 meetups in a row — so that people know that this is not a one-time thing, but a recurring event, and also can plan ahead to attend.
  9. I scheduled all 3 in the same place, for consistency.
  10. For the venue I googled a local pizza and beer place with good reviews, and went there for dinner. Both pizza and beer were great, as well as the staff. So I booked a table that could fit up to 9 people for the next Tuesday (I’m an optimist, yes). But worst-case scenario if no one came to the meetup at least I would have nice beer and pizza in a nice place again.
  11. I also reached out to WordPress DC group, which has more than 4,000 members, and the organizers were very kind to include an announcement about our newly created Richmond meetup group in their email — so now people from that group who live close to Richmond could have got to know about this as well.

What came out of it:

First Meetup — hangout:
It was me, my boyfriend, another WordPresser, Jamie, and her husband. So there are 4 people in the picture, but technically it was 1 real WordPress person who joined this meetup except for me 🙂

People sit around a table with food.
Chris, Jamie, me, Alex

Second Meetup — hangout:
It was me, Jamie, and 3 more WordPressers this time!

People sit around a table.
-> Jamie, Chris, Adam, Alex, me, Anthony

Third Meetup — hangout:
It was 4 WordPressers this time! And as we all had all gotten to know each other by that time, and discovered how different are backgrounds are, and how much we can learn from each other, we decided it would be cool if we take turns presenting from now on!

A group of people sitting at a table.
-> Alex, me, X, Chris, Anthony, Sam, Jamie

Fourth Meetup  — a “real” one, with presentation and slides!
We had this meetup scheduled at Virginia Commonwealth University — a real class, with a projector and such.

Jamie Hansen who was the very first person to join this group prepared a presentation, based on her daily work, to share things that she knows well — but for others might have been fairly new.

I came in earlier to set up my laptop as I was going to make a short intro with slides about the WordPress community and meetups.

It’s 5:45 PM — no one is there. 6 PM — and no one is there. 6:10 PM — not even Jamie.

I was a bit worried, yes. 

And then it started all of a sudden — people started to come in (turns out it was not easy to navigate in university to find the auditorium).

The room was becoming crowded, and the very last person who came in took the last free chair —  it was 16 of us!

We didn’t have a live stream, but I managed to record Jamie’s presentation so that we could share a link with the community later. I was so excited, that I forgot to take a picture of us though 🙂

The current state of this meetup group:

After that, Jamie and Sam stepped in to organize further events and are taking very good care of this meetup. At the time of writing WordPress RVA meetup group has 67 active members, and I receive emails saying a new member has joined almost every day — makes me very happy 🙂

Started on February 16, 2023, this group has already had 6 meetups and one is upcoming in 2 weeks. So ff you happen to live in Richmond — join, and if you know someone from that area — share the link with them.

Overall, I hope this post will encourage other people to start a WordPress meetup group too — whether you know other WordPressers in the town or not, whether you have a venue and a speaker to give a presentation.

And if you do — write a story about it 🙂

Author Profile Image

Sabrina is a guest contributor and WordPress performance engineer. Learn more about her at

Subscribe & Share

If you liked this article, join the conversation on Twitter and subscribe to our free weekly newsletter for more 🙂

MasterWP contains no affiliate links. We’re entirely funded by the sponsors highlighted on each article. In addition to MasterWP, we own EveryAlt, WP Wallet, Understrap and Howard Development & Consulting.

Latest Posts