WordCamp San Diego Wrap-Up – Community Rocks!


wordcamp san diego

This past weekend I had the pleasure of speaking at the first ever WordCamp in San Diego. It was an amazing experience for many reasons. I delivered a presentation entitled “Treat Your Blog Like A Business: Which Monetization Strategy Is Right For You?” (I’ll get around to posting up the slides soon….) and received some encouraging feedback on it throughout the day. Being a total intovert , any kind of public speaking is a bit nerve-wracking but I like to challenge myself. A couple of years ago I spoke at Orange County WordCamp and in comparison I felt much better prepared and more comfortable with it this time. Thanks to all that watched and spoke with me afterwards!

As I have experienced with other WordCamps, WordPress has the best community I think I’ve ever been a part of. I didn’t know anyone when I went to San Diego this weekend, but by the end of the day I had connected with several incredible people and felt right at home. This is another huge reason why WordPress is so powerful. I’m not sure that any other technologies or industries have this kind of community aspect. If you have any interest in WordPress I highly recommend attending WordCamps – you’ll meet knowledgeable and friendly people who all want to help you and spread the WordPress love! You’ll also learn tons from the talks and get an even larger picture of the scope of WordPress and the many diverse ways in which it can be used.

Here’s a few other tidbits from the day:

Matt Mullenweg
Having the co-founder of WordPress present was a huge coup for WCSD. Now I’m not one to be starstruck, so I thought “Oh that’s cool” when I heard about it, but not much more. However I was introduced to him during the day and heard him speak at the townhall session later on and was totally struck by what a sweet and genuine guy he seems to be. He has a very unassuming air about him, but he’s a real visionary. Experiencing this firsthand really made me feel even more proud to be part of the WordPress community.

WordPress For Photographers.
William Bay’s presentation was focused on WordPress for photographers. I learned that plugins aren’t always the answer to achieving cool photo galleries and other effects. William recommends finding existing JavaScript galleries and integrating them into your theme directly. An example would be the Galleria image gallery. You’d have to be comfortable with code to get something like this running, but I think many people found it reassuring to hear that it wasn’t their fault that they just hadn’t been able to find the perfect plugin for this! Definitely a common problem for these types of sites.

Sheri Bigelow discussed hidden gems of WordPress which revealed a couple of new little tricks. Did you know you can easily paginate a long blog post by inserting the <!– nextpage  –> tag into the HTML view. Really nice little trick. Also, if you change the permalink of an existing post, WordPress will automatically redirect the old one to the new one. SUPER USEFUL!

I didn’t get to watch Cody Landefeld’s presentation on “Designing Success for WordPress” but it seemed like it was well received, so check out the slides.

Matt Browne’s presentation on “Comments Are King” raised some interesting points. Your commenting system needs may change according to what stage of development your blog and audience are at. Can you dictate that the conversation happens on your blog? Or perhaps you should consider using a system that pulls in Twitter comments, such as the plugin Tweetbacks, if that’s where your audience is already talking about your blog posts. Facebook has a commenting plugin that allows people to comment on your blog if they are logged into Facebook, but the jury seems to be out on whether that encourages or deters commenting. Disqus and Intense Debate also offer plugins that provides an enhanced commenting system above and beyond the default WordPress comments functions.

There were many other presentations that I didn’t get to see, but here’s links to the slides I could round-up of some of the others:
WordPress as a CMS – Matt McInvale

Introduction to Child Themes – John Hawkins

Chris Lema – Launch Your Blog

Check out Wordcamp central to find a WordCamp near you!