I partnered a visit to my niece and her family with WordCamp in Nashville. I’ve been playing with WordPress sites since August 2011, so I figured that it was about time to take a step up to see how I could use it better. WordCamp Nashville only cost $20. Hey, that included lunch and a T-Shirt. That’s not much to lose.
After a nice spaghetti supper with niece’s family Friday night, I got up early on Saturday morning and mapped out the sessions to suit me. I picked
- the developer level “WordPress as an Application” for the 9 a.m.,
- intermediate level “Wireframes for WordPress” for the 10 a.m.,
- keynote for 11 a.m.,
- lunch at noon,
- beginner level “How to SEO the Crap Out of WordPress” for 1 p.m.,
- intermediate level “Customer Queries: How, What, When, Where & Why” at 2 p.m., and
- developer level “The Cost and Challenges of Selling a WordPress Product” at 3 p.m.
Having worked a good bit with ColdFusion web forms, I was excited about the first session. I walked in close to a half hour early. Here was a bunch of folks with their heads buried in their laptops. Nobody looked up. I was thinking to myself. Okay, now what have I gotten myself into. I was new to the group, didn’t have a tablet or laptop, and my Windows 8 phone battery was dead from chatting to friends and family almost the whole way to Nashville. I asked my well-prepared neighbor to my left, “You don’t happen to have a cell phone charger in your bag. Do you?” “Sure don’t. Sorry. That’s a pain. ” Then, he turned his attention back to his laptop. I’m thinking to myself: Please don’t let this be a “follow along with your laptop session.” Well, it wasn’t. Joel Norris mostly asked questions and talked. It was okay, but I had not used some of the tools that he was talking about. It wasn’t exactly what I had envisioned.
I was blown away by how good John Householder held my attention with his Wireframes talk. Wearing a hard hat, he set us up for wondering where he was going to take us. Building a website is like building a house. You really need a decent blueprint before you start building. Lots of good information about how you need to consider mobile users and their smaller footprint and if things will wrap as you would like. Good stuff to know. Click here to go to his Wireframes slides .
I had no idea what the keynote speaker was going to be about. Since I can’t hear thunder, I usually sit front and center. Not long before Kate O’Neill started her talk, she looked at me and quizzed, “Hair check?” I replied, “You’re good.” Now, how in the world did she know out of this full room of people that I was the one with a beauty license? :) She was a fabulous speaker. I would recommend that you hear her talk if you get a chance.
Prior to [meta]marketer, Kate’s experience included the first content management role at Netflix, leading cutting-edge online optimization work at Magazines.com, developing Toshiba America‘s first intranet, building the first departmental website at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and holding leadership positions in a variety of digital content and technology start-ups. (http://metamarketer.com/about/kate-oneill/)
Being a language major in college (I think… major in German and minor in Russian), WordCamp was a good fit for her. Also, she is now a singer/songwriter. At places other than Nashville, you can sing your song, get a round of applause, and hear “Great song!” from the audience. What’s different in Nashville? You can sing, get a round of applause, and hear “Great song! We need to write together sometime.” It is the same way in the Nashville technology world. There is great collaboration going on.
After lunch, I cut out for a bit and found Nashville’s Costco to get gas and fruit. Both are great. I was late getting back for the SEO session.
Steve Wilkison created his simple but impressive slideshow on queries using WordPress. Click here to go step through it. He certainly covered a lot of ground given about 30 min for his talk and 10-15 min for Q&A. It was well worth my time.
The last session by the Ninja Forms guy, James Laws, was direct, honest, and hilarious.
- Build something worth selling. Scratch your own itch.
- Choose what works for you: paid products, subscriptions, freemium. No right answer for everybody.
- Setting your price. Costs are recurring, so your price should be, too. Price is a terrible differentiator.
- Get your product known and used.
- Support your product without going broke. Write great documentation.
Find a mentor.
This was a real shot in the arm for me. It made me want to go create something and maybe start a WordPress User Group in Knoxville. Mark Tune suggested that I check out nashvillemeetups.com.