Automatticians, the people who build WordPress.com, participate in events and projects around the world every day. Periodically, they report back on the exciting things they do when not in front of a computer.
Two weeks ago, Happiness Engineers Karen Arnold, Marjorie R. Asturias, and Jamil Abreu, as well as Code Wrangler Damian Suarez, attended the sixth annual Hispanicize conference in downtown Miami, Florida. The event, which took place from March 16-20, is billed as the “largest annual event for Latino trendsetters and newsmakers in journalism, blogging, marketing, entertainment, and tech entrepreneurship,” drawing over 2,000 attendees. Marjorie shares her experience meeting and getting to know some of the most influential bloggers in the Latino community.
The statistics are hard to ignore: with an estimated number of about 53 million in the United States, according to the 2012 US Census, Hispanics represent one of the fastest growing segments of the US population. The majority (62%) speak English or are bilingual. They’re the most active users of social networking sites.
Walking the halls of the InterContinental Miami, I felt the energy driving those numbers. Sponsors eager to tap into this thriving demographic rolled out the red carpet — literally, in some cases — and splashed out on swag-filled, interactive booths. At night, attendees could take their pick: Independent film premiere? Awards ceremony featuring Miss USA? Concert featuring some of the hottest Latino musicians? Yacht party (this is Miami, after all)?
The most memorable part of the event, though, was meeting the bloggers, whose presence was the crown jewel of the conference. It seemed as if nearly all of them had WordPress sites, and they didn’t hesitate to express their love for all things WordPress! They poured into the Happiness Bar, emptied our swag tables, asked questions about everything from Akismet to Yoast, gave lots of hugs, and took lots of photos. Latinos are renowned for their close family ties, and everyone who came to our booth definitely went out of their way to welcome us as part of their blogging familia.
We hosted a full day of WordPress sessions on Tuesday — dubbed WordPress Latino Day! — where we shared tips on getting started with WordPress, popular plugins, and little-known but critical features available on WordPress.com. We also offered several other sessions on SEO, social media, and responsive design. Damian and Jamil conducted popular bilingual workshops especially for beginning bloggers.
Packing up the booth at the close of the conference on Friday evening was a melancholy affair. We’d made so many new friends and connected with an engaging and passionate community of bloggers. Sure, being in the same room with Miss USA and Don Francisco, the longtime host of the Univision powerhouse variety show Sabado Gigante, were pretty thrilling moments, but nothing beats sharing WordPress stories with fellow bloggers.
Special thanks to Kathy Cano-Murillo (of Crafty Chica fame!), PR guru Vanessa James, and Sebastian Aroca for helping to spread the word about WordPress, sharing their connections, and even getting us access to exclusive events! We hope to see more of y’all in 2016!