What I Learned from WordCamp Fraser Valley

Last night I attended my first ‘Camp’ event.  I was so glad that there was actually an event happening on the side of the river where I live!  It worked out perfectly for me to go right after work, as the location was just 10 minutes away from where I live.  The event has sparked a variety of thoughts bouncing through my head last night and this morning and I’d like to organize them a bit for myself, and to give others an idea of what a WordCamp is all about.

Switching to WordPress.com

The first speaker was Raul Pacheco (aka Hummingbird604) speaking on switching to WordPress.com.  Since I already blog on WordPress.com, I didn’t find the content particularly relevant to my situation.  Many of the people there were already blogging, so he was kind of preaching to the choir.  As Raul has spent a lot of time in the academic world (recently defended his Phd thesis) I found his talk very reminiscent of other academic talks that I’ve attended.  It had quite a bit of information but was still very clear to me (though, again, I’m not exactly a newb to blogging).  I’ve followed Raul on twitter for a while and been to his site before too, and he really is like a Hummingbird!  His talk had good energy and was a good talk to begin with.

Business Blogging

The second scheduled speaker actually cancelled and so Gary Jones of BlueFur threw together an impromptu presentation (literally 3 slides) on blogging in business.  As one of my purposes for attending was to see if a business blog would be an appropriate tool for the company that I work at, this talk was very relevant.  For how much prep time he had, I think he did very well and was very comfortable speaking to a large audience.  He put a few new ideas in my head that I’ll be working on implementing in my day job.  He also handled a lot of questions about his specific setup and general WordPress/blogging issues as well.

Then we had a chance for break and networking.  I talked to people, but reflecting on it, wish I would have circulated more and even introduced myself to some of the speakers.  But, it was a step in the right direction.  At the next event I attend, I think I’ll make a ‘social’ goal for myself, to meet a certain number of new people.

WordPress.org Security

After the break, Kulpreet Singh presented on Security with WordPress.org.  His presentation had a lot of useful content and I took a lot of notes.  The information was clearly presented and he also listed several security references.  This was particularly useful because I just know when I do my presentation to my boss one of his questions is going to be “but how secure is it?”  My boss is a very smart guy about computer matters (though he’s still very web 1.0) so I wanted to be able to actually explain security measures we could put in place rather than just leaving him with empty reassurances.  Kulpreet’s presentation was great for being able to do that.

Custom Themes and Sidebars with WordPress.org

Following up security issues, the next talk was given by Rebecca Bollwitt, more commonly known as Miss604.  Her topic was on custom themes and sidebars and it was a little lighter on content and it had a more conversational feel to it.  I think she was expecting more questions from the audience, though it is very difficult to know who is going to ask what.  After having mulled over the things she demonstrated, I did think up a few questions that I’d like to have asked.  But, I never seem to think of questions at the time when they are appropriate to be asked (ie. the questions started popping into my head at about 7:30 this morning).  I think the lack of questions was also possibly due to the intermediate nature of her topic.  For the real beginners it was so beyond where they were at, that they couldn’t think of questions to ask.  For the more experienced bloggers, custom themes wasn’t something that needed clarification.  The information that she gave was very clear and easy to understand.  I think diving in and learning the .php necessary to change around the theme and sidebar is going to be a lot easier than my current ‘side project’ of learning vba.

Evil Ways to Increase Traffic to Your Blog

The last speaker for the evening was John Chow giving his talk on ‘Evil Ways to Increase Traffic to your Blog.’  He talking about how to get new visitors, get return visitors, and getting visitors to click on more than just one of your pages.  (Which are basic goals of any business – new customers, return customers, customers who buy more of your stuff.)  His information was very well presented and he was clearly at ease talking in front of the audience.  Some of his methods are a little evil (but smart evil!) and he asked that we not spread around some of his ideas so I won’t say too much about the content.  I will say that he seems like a nice guy who with a lot of business savvy.

Applying it to my projects

So, at the end of it, I did get the little push that I needed to start jumping in and playing around.  It’s downloaded, but I didn’t get a chance to install or play more than that.  There’s a possibility of a Sunday morning project, but it’ll more likely be Monday before I get around to it.  Then it’ll take me some time to play around with it and formulate a proposal for applying it where I work.  Something really clicked with the idea of a business blog and I’ve been coming up with ideas for topics for an internal and an external blog.  Hopefully at least one of them manages to fly!

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2 Comments

  1. July 17, 2008 at 9:46 pm

    Hi Jennifer,

    Thanks very much for your kind words and the link back!

    I am glad you enjoyed the event!

    Please let me know if you have any ideas for WordCamps in general as I’m hoping to work with some others on a multi-session whole day or two day event somewhere in BC – maybe this time half way between Downtown Vancouver and Langley.. what would that be? Delta? or maybe Richmond.

    -k.s.

  2. Raul said,

    July 20, 2008 at 11:15 am

    Hi Jennifer,

    Thanks a lot for this 🙂 Much appreciated! All the best,
    Raul


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