I know right – it just doesn’t seem as big a deal when you read it.

Well, it is a big deal – its massive in fact. I live in the United Kingdom so, St Louis is just over 4,000 miles from where I live.

Its a 15 hour journey on two flights and when you add getting to the airport, going through customs and immigration – its around 19-21 depending on queues.

So, why am I going?

WordCamp for me is a place of safety, I know people, I know WordPress and I know that I along with the rest of my colleagues on Elegant Marketplace, Layoutscloud and Page Builder Cloud contribute in so many ways.

Since our launch in 2015 – Elegant Marketplace has helped over 200 vendors sell their products, given over 75,000 WordPress users an opportunity to purchase from a selection of nearly 1,000 layouts, themes and plugins – which as a community led project is fantastic.

We developed Layouts Cloud (Divi Cloud) where the membership exceeds 5,000 and now Page Builder Cloud which is growing in similar ways. I love what we do, as it encourages users to work smarter and in turn lessen the workload and increase profits – because, let’s be honest, its about putting food on the table and ensuring you can visit WordCamps 🙂

I’ll be connecting with people that I know, some I don’t and looking to form new partnerships with vendors, theme developers and solutions providers right across the WordPress ecosphere. Elegant Marketplace has become more than a Divi Marketplace and I am certain that by meeting people in real life, I can persuade them that EMP is a great alternative to the big boys.

I’ll be meeting up with Hosting providers attempting to persuade them to offer specific page builder hosting – we all know page builders use more server resources than a simple HTML or PHP site does. The hosts need to get on this as soon as possible. Some are embracing it. I am making it my mission to ensure that anyone using a page builder has a great choice across a multitude of providers of competatively priced hosting designed for people like you and me.

I’ll be talking managed services – onboarding and creating an environment where new WordPress and Page Builder users are encouraged by a welcoming community where anything WordPress is open for discussion as it is in our page builder group right now. Where experienced users get a kick out of helping inexperienced users. Where there is no such thing as a stoopid question and where the community really does stick together when things get tough – hence our ongoing sponsorship of WP&UP where anyone in the WordPress community can ask for help. We are, after all, only human.

I’ll be developing a network of users who can mentor, help and install a basic Theme or Layout for specific page builders on great hosting that won’t cost the earth. I started Site Fixer to do just this – but want to make it even more attractive to users – suggestions are welcome

I’ll also be investigating ways in which we can make sure that we are all protected from legislation that is designed to protect our customers, bad actors and community members that have forgotten what community means (yes, keyboard warriors, I am looking at you). How we can help build insurance policies designed specifically for web designers, developers, freelancers and coders – all at prices we can all afford – from a central, trusted, source.

As part of this wonderful community we owe it to each other to make sure – WE are alright. That WE can make it work and that WE are cherished and valued – if not by our clients – certainly by our community and colleagues.

If you are Divi User, I look forward to meeting up at the Divi Meetup it’s an early start so I might be a bit blurry eyed. I am also looking forward to meeting the Divi Team in person. Of course we have had lots of interaction these past 5 years or so and its about time we looked each other in the eye in the real world. Its exciting, right?

I am looking forward to meeting up with representatives from TERMAGEDDON, WP FEEDBACK, INMOTION, GODADDY, WP ENGINE, BOLDGRID, FREEMIUS, ELEMENTOR AND KINSTA – all of whom I have high levels of respect for and use their services on a daily basis.

As a UK resident I am lucky. I get to apply for an electronic visa (ESTA) and it costs under 15 bucks and is valid for two years at a time . My colleagues from around the world are not so lucky – Interviews in Embassies, nervous waiting to see if they can get a full visitors visa and the inevitable failures and disappointments.

This can affect us in different ways. As a global WordPress community we are always meeting great people online. WordCamps and Meetups allow us to meet these people in real life – I am a realist but, I would like governments across the world to acknowledge that some people need visa’s for work and to be able to contribute in the ‘real’.

I know that WordPress do their best by providing a letter request for visa’s but it would be even more helpful if the page was not a 404 right?

We can all surely do better to encourage true worldwide visitors to WordCamps around the world. So, whilst I am encouraged that I am allowed to go to such an event. I am still mindful of my colleagues across the world that simply cannot get a visa to attend the biggest event in our industry. Luckily, there is a live feed. I hope those of you that cannot make it, for whatever reason, have a great time watching and listening to all the presentations.

I am so looking forward to experiencing the hospitality of St Louis, I have heard fantastic things and I am also looking forward to meeting for the first time in person Mr and Mrs Mark Conger – These two have been fantastic WordPress community members and we get to break bread together after ‘knowing’ each other for 5 years plus. They have always supported me and I cannot wait to spend time with them – it is just so exciting!

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Andrew Palmer
Andrew is the founder of Elegant Marketplace.