The idea of organizing JoomlaDay Florida started after I attended and presented at every JoomlaDay in the USA in 2015. Many of the speakers and Joomla volunteers asked if I would be interested in doing an event. I was more than skeptical about it, as our Joomla User Group in Tampa had only attracted 150 people on meetup.com and our best attendance was under 20 people.
After a few months of deliberation and research, I decided with proper planning and relatively low budget the event could happen. I based much of my decision on attending JoomlaDay Boston in March and realizing how cold the city was. Offering a weekend Joomla getaway to Florida during the winter months for our friends up north seemed like the proper plan.
Without any real sponsorship plan in place, we started seeking our sponsors for the event right after JWC15. To our amazement, we began collecting sponsors right away, and within a few short months, we met our budget. We couldn't have planned it better, after a highly successful Joomla World Conference for sponsors mixed with good profits from Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales gave us a unique edge.
Gaining speakers was another win for us. Having met speakers from the USA over the previous year made for a quick and easy roster for the event. We were honoured to have Sarah Watz (President of OSM at the time) and Robert Jacobi (Current President of OSM) join us as keynote speakers. Sarah and Robert's presence gave us instant credibility in the local Joomla community.
The real shock came from attendance. We planned that the tickets would be inexpensive and start at $15 and scale up to $30, but we had no idea how to promote it other than social networks and the usual Joomla channels. We decided to run some ad's on facebook which did not generate one ticket sale. Twitter ads worked better, but only achieved a handful of sales. The best promotion for the event was our listing on the Joomla events page and announcements/advertisements from our sponsors. To our surprise, we sold out of tickets a week before the day.
From my experience, here is a short checklist I believe it will help you organize a very successful JoomlaDay!
1. Choose a date that can showcase your city. Be aware of other events and conferences, holidays / religious times.
2. Find an inexpensive or free venue. A venue can make or break the budget. College's are a great place to start, most are free or affordable and offer everything you need for training rooms, and A/V setups.
3. Size matters. Make sure to be realistic about the attendance and don't choose a venue with too much space. Start small; there is always room to grow.
4. Keep the ticket prices low, but not free. The cost of your tickets will be one of the deciding factors for attendees, but free tickets reduce the value of the event.
5. Find sponsors you can promote. It's one thing to get sponsored, but make sure you can do your best to help their product or service. Also, create cross promotions for discount and ticket giveaways with your sponsors.
6. Keep marketing costs reasonable. The current state of social networks requires some promoted posts, but the return on investment is quite low. Use all the free resources available such as writing an article here on the Joomla Community Magazine.
7. Use an online ticket service to handle your ticketing. Many of these services can help you manage your promotions, create badges, and even scan attendees for check-in.
8. Find a local hotel for your speakers and attendees that are willing to give you a discounted group rate.
9. Create sessions for multiple skill levels. Not everyone is an expert or beginner. Carefully plan breakout sessions that offer something for everyone.
10. Have fun. JoomlaDay's should be fun and informative. Make sure to offer a social event before or after your JoomlaDay.
Our upcoming JoomlaDay Florida is March 2nd - 4th and we invite you to join us this year. Register today with coupon code: JCM and take 25% off registration! www.joomladayflorida.com