In 2018, Spain was the second most active country for local WordCamps, bested only by the US. Taking into consideration the population of the two countries, Spain actually had almost twice as many events per capita last year. When SiteGround launched its Spanish operations in 2015, there were only 3 WordCamps in Spain, including WCEU, and 9 meetup groups with 10,017 members in total (according to WordCamp Central registration). Fast forward to 2018 and we count 10 local WordCamps and 52 meetup groups with 24,862 members. This is an amazing 150% increase in membership and over triple the number of events!
So what’s the story behind this incredible growth? Of course it all starts with the quality of the WordPress platform itself and the fact that its adoptions rates are globally on the rise. However, from where we stand we see three additional factors that have influenced the local Spanish growth and we are proud of SiteGround’s role in all of them. By sharing our insider’s take on this development, we hope to help other local WordPress communities accelerate their growth too.
Raising the Bar with Healthy Competition
WordCamp Cantabria 2015 was the first Spanish WordCamp SiteGround supported. We were surprised no local web hosting companies were sponsoring, since the WordPress community represents an important source of revenue in our industry and WordPress events are a key opportunity to meet its members.
We could explain this situation to a certain extent by taking a closer look at the Spanish hosting market at that time. In 2015, Spanish hosts did not seem to fully acknowledge and embrace the potential of WordPress nor its growing user base that was shaping up into a strong market niche. Not only were they somewhat detached from the community, but most of their hosting offers were generic and lacking the usual WordPress features that were already standard in markets like the US one.
Not long after we introduced our WordPress-specific hosting offer in Spain, features like auto-updates and staging became more widely offered in the Spanish hosting market as a whole. This new competition naturally pushed the hosting companies operating in Spain to raise the bar. Web hosts invested in more features and a better experience for all Spanish WordPress users.
As Fernando Puente (WordPress Consultant and SiteGround Brand Ambassador since 2017) says: “SiteGround's entry in the Spanish community had a two-fold impact. On one hand, it helped humanize the service - SiteGround brought its technical knowledge and success stories from the point of view of a specialised service provider with a close relationship to its users. And on the other hand, by receiving feedback from developers and experienced WordPress users it evolved, improved and adapted its managed hosting services portfolio, thus raising the standards and the expectations.”
WordPress was already quite popular among the Spanish users. However, when web hosts make it even easier for people to build and manage their websites using WordPress, this has an additional positive impact on the number of people using the platform and eventually becoming active community members.
Increasing Event Involvement and Sponsorship
It’s a basic principle of economics – investment boosts growth. WordCamps cost a lot to organize if you add up venue rental, catering, t-shirts, etc. If you want your event to stand out, attract meaningful speakers, and draw devoted attendees year after year, you have to invest in putting together a great conference. The bulk of event costs are covered by sponsors so more sponsors could mean better conferences for everyone.
We see the influx of new sponsors and sponsorship money over the last three years as a major factor in the growth of local WordCamps. SiteGround alone has sponsored all of the Spanish WordCamps since 2015, often being a top-level sponsor of the event. In 2018 alone, we also sponsored 123 editions of 15 meetup chapters. This makes us the largest direct sponsor of the local WordPress community since we entered the Spanish market.
But the great thing is we’re not alone! As mentioned before, at first we saw little-to-no competing sponsorship from Spanish hosting companies. Gradually, more local hosts got involved more frequently, which increased the total support from the hosting industry. For bigger, more high-profile events, there are more sponsorships not only from web hosts, but also other types of local and international businesses.
Supporting Individual Involvement
But there’s more to it than just putting money on the table. That’s not what makes a community tick. It’s fuel, but not the engine. You need the right people helping each other and working towards the common good.
The Spanish WordPress community is welcoming and supportive of each other. There are a lot of knowledgeable people who may not be active or known internationally due to language barriers, but are wholeheartedly committed to WordPress. At SiteGround, we have been lucky to work with several of these wonderful people!
One of them is José Ramón Padrón García (also known as Moncho). He serves as the Country Manager of our Spanish operations. After joining SiteGround, he dedicated a large part of his time and enthusiasm to the local WordPress community. In 2016, Moncho started the Las Palmas Meetup and in 2018 organized the first WordCamp Gran Canaria. And he keeps getting more and more involved! He is the lead of the Content Team for WC Europe Berlin in 2019. Encouraging and supporting the personal involvement of your most talented people, like Moncho, is what I consider to be among the most valuable contributions to the WordPress community any company can make.
SiteGround also supports the WordPress community work of several outstanding local WordPress experts and enthusiasts. These include our amazing Brand Ambassadors: Fernando Tellado (blogger, book author, one of the organizers of WordCamp Madrid, a man of many hats), Fernando Puente (already introduced above), and the most recent addition to our team: Mauricio Gelves (a WordPress developer with whom we just started collaborating in January 2019). Year-round, they share their valuable WordPress experience with the rest of the community to help it grow. We are proud to support their efforts and make it possible for them to travel and spend time doing this great community work.
For the past 3 years, Moncho, Fernando Tellado and Fernando Puente have been travelling throughout Spain attending many local events and also creating multiple WordPress-related webinars for the Spanish-speaking audience. They not only help more people use WordPress, but they also inspire many other community members to become more active and start local events themselves. This includes mentoring new organizers that need advice or just encouragement. The genuine WordPress enthusiasm of these individuals has been truly contagious!
Why Does This All Matter?
What we saw happening in Spain is amazing. It makes us very happy to witness how more and more people in Spain are willing and able to create beautiful sites and publish their work using one of the most democratic online platforms. It is a great example of how local companies can make a difference and speed up the local WordPress community growth. When you combine healthy business interest with genuine personal involvement and invest both in the community, you always see great results.