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🧠 5 Lessons Learned from Organizing a Virtual Event for 2000+ Attendees 🧠 | The Blogsmith #121

Maddy Osman
Maddy Osman
Hey Listies,
WordCamp Denver was just a few weeks ago and it was such a blast.
I wanted to share with you some of the things we did to pivot from what has been an in-person event for 8+ years, to a virtual event this year.

The Challenge: Keeping the Local Flavor Alive
Since all of the organizers are local to Colorado, we felt that it was important to preserve a sense of what it would be like to be here.
This was a large guiding force behind a lot of our decisions.
1. Diversity/Local-Focused Speaker Selection
We weighted a Colorado connection highly while prioritizing interesting, high-quality session content.
Here’s the rubric we used to help with speaker selection:
2. Offering Wellness/Feel Good Sessions
In addition to industry-specific content, many online conferences are starting to promote livestream sessions on wellness topics.
SEJ eSummit did this and I gave a talk about how to make a Chicago-style deep dish pizza:
Since I think we’re all feeling a little cooped up at home, the purpose for offering these sessions is to help attendees break out of the norm and make time for themselves.
For WordCamp Denver, we offered a yoga livestream to kick off the conference, as well as a session about how to brew the perfect cup of coffee.
During the coffee session, we partnered with Sweet Farm and invited some barnyard animals to the livestream.
It was fun to think up ways to surprise and delight our attendees while also finding ways to support local businesses.
3. Prioritizing Support for Local Businesses
We struck up a few deals with local coffee shops around Denver, Boulder, and out to Fort Collins.
Attendees could show their email ticket confirmation in exchange for a beverage of their choice. It was a hit — plus a satisfying way for us to spend our coffee budget, supporting local businesses.
I mean, can you really start a WordCamp without some caffeine? It’s important to stay energized so that you can make the most out of all the planned sessions!
Maddy Osman
Local Coloradans attending @WordCampDenver — plan tomorrow morning's coffee run, now!

We've organized a pretty sweet (FREE) offer for attendees (with another option for those tuning in from out of Colorado).

Here are all the details: #wcdenver
4. Working with a Livestream Production Company
WordCamp Central, the ruling body of global WordCamp events, covered the costs necessary to work with Blaze Streaming Media to handle the technical aspects of running a virtual conference.
And I’m so glad they did.
It was such a relief to have a team to lean on for production so that we could focus on everything else.
Blaze was a great partner for WordCamp Denver and several other WordCamp events across the US!
If you’re curious, the technical setup involved speakers, moderators, and members of Blaze’s team interacting and live streaming via Zoom with the output playing via YouTube Live and incorporating YouTube comments for chat. YouTube video, comments, and sponsor information was then embedded on track-specific pages on the event website.
Check out how that looked on the WordCamp Denver website.
5. Virtual Event Sponsors & The Swag Bag
This year, I was the Sponsor Wrangler for WordCamp Denver, which meant working closely with sponsors to create a mutually-beneficial situation.
I try to take on a different role every year because I like learning new things about event planning.
I was surprised that it really wasn’t hard to get sponsors for our virtual event. If you’re planning a virtual event and are worried about finding sponsors, I’m telling you, there’s still budget to go around if WordCamp Denver is any indication!
One of the things that attendees always love about WordCamps is all the fun swag that sponsors bring for them. We organizers also like to come up with fun swag for attendees, included with the price of a ticket.
Fulfillment would’ve been too much of a complication for our first virtual WordCamp — though we did order neck gaiters for the organizers and speakers to wear (unfortunately, they weren’t delivered on time).
So instead of trying to figure out fulfillment, I modeled a virtual swag bag concept after what I saw with WordCamp Europe’s virtual Camp. It provided protected access to sponsor Zoom rooms, information about giveaways, and tons of exclusive deals.
Check out this Twitter thread where I share how we kept sponsor Zoom rooms super busy throughout the event.
In other news…
I *officially* got married to the love of my life with a super small ceremony this past weekend that included our immediate family, wedding party, and a few local friends.
It wasn’t what we planned but we were tired of waiting to make it official. We’re pushing off the official reception until next year (at least…).
I’ll tell you all about it in the next newsletter. :)
Until then,
Maddy Osman, The Blogsmith
Photo by Cody Sowa of
Photo by Cody Sowa of
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Maddy Osman
Maddy Osman @MaddyOsman

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