WordCamp Europe 2023 Recap: Greece Lightning ⚡ WordPress Goes From Strength to Strength

What a blast 💥 is how I’d sum up the energy and camaraderie that was WordCamp Europe 2023. So many friendly faces, so many new connections, and so many parties 🥳 Here’s how WordCamp Europe in Athens, Greece, went down for Zee Hazan (Freemius Head of Video) and I.

Strap in because it’s a rollercoaster!

All Aboard the Hype Plane to WordCamp Europe, Athens, Greece

wordcamp europe 2023 vova feldman zee hazan on plane to greece
“Here we go again 🙌

The feeling of excitement never gets old, and it was with huge grins that and I boarded a plane from Israel 🔜 Greece to attend WordCamp Europe 2023. With memories of WordCamp Asia firmly in mind, we both anticipated an experience that would build on what we’d achieved in Bangkok in February.

Exactly in 30 min! Or half an hour? 🕒 😂 @WCEurope here we come 🛫 #wceu pic.twitter.com/rAhxf1tdrI

— Vova Feldman (@vovafeldman) June 7, 2023

After a short 2-hour flight, we disembarked at 2 am and made the wise decision to hail a taxi to our accommodation instead of hitting the town for drinks 😅

Landed in Athens 🇬🇷 who’s awake for some late night drinks 🍻 haha no way, we’re grabbing a taxi 🚖 and straight to 🛏 😴 🧟‍♂️ @WCEurope #WCEU #wceu2023 pic.twitter.com/hNiEfzgRpX

— Vova Feldman (@vovafeldman) June 8, 2023

Make no mistake — we were tempted to explore what Athens had to offer in terms of nightlife, but my experience of previous WordCamps is that you need to conserve your energy for the official parties during the conference. WordCamp Europe was going to be a long haul and we needed to prepare accordingly!

WordCamp Europe2023: Traveling light was the order of the day 😉

Five hours of sleep and still feeling good? The WordCamp Europe bug had definitely bit me.

Feeling energized and ready for Contributors Day, Zee and I sipped on coffee and then I coated my throat with honey-infused tea to keep my voice in good shape. If you read our WordCamp Asia recap or saw me in person at the event in Bangkok, you’d know that I completely lost my voice on the second day!

“Let’s hope this works…”

Contributor Day: A Precursor to the WordCamp Europe Madness

With room enough for 6000 people, the Megaron Athens International Conference Centre is one of the largest venues in the capital and a fitting location to house the many WordPressers who were descending upon the city of Athens and WordCamp Europe 2023.

A mega place for a mega event

Although Contributor Day is traditionally the ‘calm before the storm’, it doesn’t mean things don’t get hectic — there are still people to meet and selfies to snap!

wordcamp europe contributors day
The world of WordPress never gets old 🌐 Contributors Day @ WordCamp Europe 2023

After the famous group photo, we met with Xaver the founder of Mailster and Power Elite Author on Envato. Xaver is a long-time friend who recently (and finally!) started to sell his plugin with Freemius after witnessing firsthand the decline of sales on CodeCanyon. Zee and I had lunch with Xaver and listened to his incredible tips on how we can smoothen the migration process from Envato to Freemius. Notes taken and we are already working on it!

Then, I put on my volunteering t-shirt and headed over to the registration desk. As it turned out (well, I kinda planned it 🙈), being on registration duty was a boon for my networking plans 🤝 As I was planted at the entrance, I was able to meet and greet the influx of WordPressers who’d chosen to contribute to the project for the day.

In between the greetings and chats, Zee and I made time to get to know the media team and scout for filming locations at the venue.

“Maybe this is the one?”

After seeing the impact of our filming efforts at WordCamp Asia, we made the strategic decision to carry them over to WordCamp Europe and build on what we’d done (more on that in a bit 😉).

Once the day of hunkering down and contributing was done, Zee and I made our way to LOT51 — the venue we selected for the Freemius Makers’ Meetup — to check things out and ensure the staff and place were ready to accommodate our needs.

Luckily we did because there were some expectation misalignments. With the help of creativity from our end, and patience and flexibility from the owner, we adapted to the circumstances and hosted what I believe is the best Freemius Makers’ Meetup to date (I’ll expand on the party further down 🤠).

After finalizing the details, Zee and I dropped our bags at the Airbnb — just 3 min away — and returned to the same place to grab a pizza and discuss strategy for the next few days.

From there, I put my socializing shoes on and, together with several Elementros, we headed to the WordCamp Europe Speakers, Sponsors, and Volunteers Social Party. We wasted half an hour figuring out where the shuttle was, which we later discovered was not within walking distance from the venue like we thought. The mission ended up being a 30-minute cab drive out of Athens. It was worth it, though! The beachfront venue was awesome, the food was excellent, and the music was even better (I Shazam-ed many tracks).

The best part was that good conversation was easy to come by because the overall vibe was so enthusiastic, positive, and chilled — it’s clear that the built-up energy for WordCamp Europe was spilling over that night.

I had a great chat with Verdi Heinz, Freemius partner from Code Snippets Pro and Elementor’s Head of Developer Partnerships. We had the chance to ‘get personal’ and as a fresh dad, I got some great fatherhood tips from Verdi.

vova and verdi wordcamp europe 2023

Vova, Verdi Heinz

I also had a great conversation with Adi Spiac, CEO and co-founder of Cozmoslabs and TranslatePress, and his partner Mădălin. We’ve been in a mastermind group for over a year and the chill beach vibes provided an excellent opportunity to get to know each other on a deeper level after all this time. We got to share ideas and help one another overcome business obstacles in person.

vova madalin adi at wordcamp europe speakers sponsors volunteers social party

Mădălin Ungureanu, Vova, Adi Spiac

Overall, the WordCamp Europe Speakers, Sponsors, and Volunteers Party was an all-round brilliant start and it set the tone for the good times that were to come at WordCamp Europe 2023.

Mastering SEO on the WordPress.org Repository

Make the WordPress.org search algorithm work for you with actionable tips to rank your plugin higher.

Share with a friend

Enter your friend’s email address. We’ll only email them this book, scout’s honor.

Thank you for sharing

Awesome – a copy of ‘Mastering SEO on the WordPress.org Repository’ was just sent to . Want to help us spread the word even more? Go on, share the book with your friends and colleagues.

Thanks for subscribing!

– we just sent your copy of ‘Mastering SEO on the WordPress.org Repository’ to .

Have a typo in your email? click here to edit the email address and send again.

Book Cover

Book Cover

WordCamp Europe Day 1

Despite the good start, the morning of WordCamp Europe Day 1 was a bit shaky.

I was due to volunteer at the registration desk from 7:30 but — wouldn’t you know it — my phone decided to die during the night 🤦‍♂️ and my alarm was nowhere to be heard.

Luckily, there were more volunteers than registration laptops so I took the opportunity to grab a breakfast sandwich and fuel myself for the activities to come.

While I had to rely on ‘old school’ pen and paper for note-taking and people’s grace for snapping selfies, for me, the first day was superb. Most people arrive on the ‘official’ first day, so I got to have tons of conversations with faces both old and new.

It seemed to me that the entire hall was buzzing and that the majority of us were reveling in the energy.

WordCamp Europe, it’s so good to have you back!

20 years and still going strong 🦾

The energy of Day 1 is hard to describe, but it’s as if all of the pent-up excitement explodes in smiles, handshakes, and hugs. It’s always really special for me, and I was lucky enough to be standing at the entrance so the conversations were seemingly endless (in a good way).

A few highlights:

I finally had the chance to meet and hang with Freemius partners and Blocksy founders Andrei and Sergiu and the rest of their lovely team, which was really cool.

I had a great meeting with Maarten Belmans, who provided insightful feedback on the developer experience and how Freemius can disrupt payments for SaaS. I took plenty of notes!

Something else that comes to mind is a conversation I had with Shusei Toda. Hailing from Japan, he’s an agency owner, WordCamp organizer and contributor, who provided valuable insights about Freemius from the user/agency perspective. During our chat, he mentioned that Freemius is seen as a ‘trusted solution’ in the Japanese WordPress community because we’ve been in the market for many years and continue to grow and succeed.

This was seriously music to my ears!

Finally had a chance to meet @vovafeldman 😎
I’ve known Freemius for a while and it was great that we got chance to have a talk. He was so kind and the little interview regards the market in Japan was great. And I loved that he was taking notes on a notebook! #WCEU #WCEU2023 pic.twitter.com/t99nDDRqOF

— Shusei Toda (@shuseitoda) June 13, 2023

It was also interesting to learn how huge WordPress is in Japan. After doing some post-WordCamp research, WordPress has an 83.1% market share among CMS platforms in Japan (Source W3Techs). The conversation opened my eyes to opportunities, and I’ll be mulling over what Freemius can do translation-wise for the Japanese WordPress market.

Not to be outdone on the activity front, Zee was getting ready to help some choice WordPressers reveal their deepest business insights…

The Freemius #Fails Format

zee hazan freemius wearing a funny mask
“I’m ready for my closeup 😬

Without revealing too much, Zee interviewed several WordPress stars on the first official day of WordCamp Europe. Little did they know that our director-in-residence would try to extract some surprising revelations from them…

Your business secrets you must reveal 🧙

We ended up with 18 interviews in the can.

With two cameras set up in a dimly lit area, Zee got our guests to expand on some of their business experiences. I don’t want to spoil too much, but the interviews came out brilliantly and I can’t wait for you to see them.

In the hot seat at WordCamp Europe 2023

With the interviews done and dusted and Day 1 winding down, it was time for me to put aside the pen and paper in favor of some crisp beers and delicious pizza.

The Famous Freemius Makers’ Meetup

The Freemius Makers’ Meetup is the WordCamp highlight for me.

We took the learnings from previous events and hired an experienced events hostess to smooth the registration process. We also improved the ‘algorithm’ of how to deal with people who forgot their name badges or who were not on the list.

How much fun was last night?

A huge thank you to everyone who joined @vovafeldman and @ZeeHazan last night at our Makers’ Meetup, we are totally over the moon with the turnout!#WCEU pic.twitter.com/h98HHSbUSM

— Freemius (@freemius) June 10, 2023

The event itself was insane!

The energy was there. The food and drinks were delicious (pizza, cocktails, beers, burgers… you name it) and the weather played its part above a packed venue. Zee and his cameraman wove through the crowd, recording the clink of glasses, laughter, and genuinely good conversation. Attendance turnover was great as usual. Out of 98 RSVPs, we had 79 product makers join us (a whopping 81% attendance rate!), and it must be said that many of the attendees stayed for the duration of the evening 🍻

Because we’d planned and executed things better this time around, I was able to focus on the guests and have meaningful, in-depth conversations on a personal and professional level. I was also keenly aware of a positive buzz around Freemius, which made the night even more special for me.

Huge kudos to Vova and the entire Freemius team for that – it was, without a doubt, the best after-party I’ve ever attended at a WordCamp.

Patrick Posner
Owner of Simply Static

group pic freemius makers meetup wordcamp europe 2023

Patrick Posner, Adi Spiac, Mathias Nielsen, Vova, Mihai Iova, Mădălin Ungureanu

Check out Patrick’s WCEU recap

At the end of Day 1 of the conference, Andy and I went to the Freemius party for product company founders. This was an excellent chance to meet lots of fellow WP product founders and reconnect with people I had met at previous WordCamps. I met lots of awesome people.

Katie Keith
Co-Founder & CEO at Barn2

group pic freemius makers meetup wordcamp europe 2023

Katie Keith, Andy Keith, Vova, Zee Hazan

Check out Katie’s WCEU recap

To summarize: The event was epic and it’s safe to say that this Freemius Makers’ Meetup was the best one yet 🍻🍕 I’m also going to go out on a limb and declare that — comparatively speaking — the most drinks were consumed at this Makers’ Meetup. Here are the stats:

  • 89 beers
  • 48 cocktails
  • 31 pizza
  • 14 burgers
  • 6 chicken fingers
  • 16 soft drinks
  • 4 coffees

With fuzzy heads, full stomachs, and giddy grins, Zee and I made our way back to the accommodation to get some shut-eye in preparation for…

WordCamp Europe Day 2

After the success of the Makers’ Meetup, naturally, the second day of WordCamp Europe got off to a slower start for us 🍺😅 My sleeping in was helped by the fact that I didn’t have any volunteering responsibilities to attend to.

On the other hand, Zee — being the workhorse that he is when it comes to filming at crunch time — was up and away before me to meet with his crew and secure a location for four planned testimonial/partner profiles.

I arrived at the venue somewhere around 10 am to have follow-up meetings and to connect with those I hadn’t had a chance to yet. On Day 2, the energy is usually slower — the release of the first two days along with the evening parties leads to something of a comedown.

Even so, the momentum was good and I had many great conversations. Unfortunately, a trip to the shop revealed that my phone was still broken, so I returned to the conference for lunch and some more networking.

Grab a free copy of our

Cheat Sheet for Selling Themes and Plugins

A growth roadmap with concise, actionable tips for every milestone of WordPress product development.

Share with a friend

Enter your friend’s email address. We’ll only email them this book, scout’s honor.

Thank you for sharing

Awesome – a copy of ‘Cheat Sheet for Selling Themes and Plugins’ was just sent to . Want to help us spread the word even more? Go on, share the book with your friends and colleagues.

Thanks for subscribing!

– we just sent your copy of ‘Cheat Sheet for Selling Themes and Plugins’ to .

Have a typo in your email? click here to edit the email address and send again.

Book Cover

Book Cover

Let’s just say my hands weren’t exactly familiar with taking manual notes and it took some getting used to. Suffice it to say, the selfies still flowed thanks to other people’s willingness to post with their phones:

selfie pic wordcamp europe 2023

Vova, Parth Pandya

During lunch, I had a good chat with Kay from Automattic and his friend about the Nigerian WordPress ecosystem and hiring developers in Nigeria. Not sure if it was the tweet or some additional action, but the next day we had 16 developer applications from Nigeria in our hiring mailbox 😁

Live at #wceu2023@vovafeldmanpic.twitter.com/pvH56joUjO

— Kay 🙄🇲🇹🇬🇷 (@kingsleyinfo) June 10, 2023

Once the day was over, the two of us dined on some delicious, traditional Gyros from a local street vendor to get some sustenance for the night ahead. How delicious were they? Well, Zee typically doesn’t eat meat, but he waived that decision especially for these succulent treasures.

With stomachs satisfied and well-lined for the impending festivities, we made our way to:

The Official After-Party for WordCamp Europe 2023

The party was packed, too packed. I’m not sure if the planning fell short or if the organizers underestimated the turnout, but the venue was way too small to accommodate the numbers. So much so, that there was a major spill out of people onto the street outside the nightclub.

Inside it was even crazier — the music was super loud and people were packed in like sweaty sardines. Look, I don’t want to be overly negative here, but the music just didn’t do it for me (too mainstream) and I found it pretty hard to dance (and I’m a fan of dancing).

With ringing ears, I stepped outside to clear my mind and get some fresh air.

And that’s when I experienced the positives of the evening. Even after the craziness of the past few days, people were still excited to chat with each other — some networking, others just having normal conversations — and I had found myself deep in discussion with Freemius partners, both old and new. On Zee’s end, he had a great chat with the guys from Blocksy about what Freemius has been doing to address some of the user feedback we’ve been receiving in the last year to make the platform more friendly for everyone. You can read about the efforts here.

Amid the good times, it’s easy to forget just how taxing WordCamps can be 😅 Even though Zee and I left the party reasonably early, we were exhausted and ended up only getting three hours of shut-eye. For me, this was too intense, and for future WordCamps I’ll make sure that we either fly in the evening or spend another day recovering and taking in the sights.

All-in-all it was a good night and once 1 am rolled around, it was with tired bodies and minds that Zee and I got a cab back to our accommodation.

All Adventures Must Come to an End

My takeaway from WordCamp Europe is that the enthusiasm and excitement for WP is stronger than ever. I’m not sure if it’s because we’ve all grown as professionals or the maturation of WP has pulled us into the future (whether we like it or not), but my feeling is that the ever-present passion is now backed by a keen-eyed drive to succeed on both a community and individual level.

Personally, I was extremely happy with the buzz around Freemius. At home base, we’ve been putting in the hard work consistently. The team is always striving for the highest quality, whether it’s product development, content creation, or video output. You just have to look at our recent plugin.fm podcast launch to see the passion that goes into our projects behind the scenes.

At the risk of blowing the Freemius horn, the above sentiment was echoed by several WordPressers at the conference. It’s humbling to realize that our efforts are now manifesting as appreciation from the community in a big way. This really means the world to the Freemius team, so I’d like to say thanks to those who gave compliments and feedback for the way forward 🙏

Now that WordCamp Europe is over, it’s time to take stock, reconnect, and plan the way forward (until WordCamp US, that is 😉)

This content was originally published here.