Over the weekend, I spent a few days in Atlanta at WordCamp: a conference dedicated to all things WordPress.
WordPress is the blogging platform used here at Patrick’s Place, and I had been hoping to attend a WordCamp for a while; the only trouble was that most of them happened quite a distance away. Atlanta was driving distance, so I bought my ticket and headed there with the hope of seeing what it was all about.
The two-day conference featured four tracks: one for beginners to WordPress, one for designers who create websites for others using WordPress as the main platform, one for developers who create plugins and additional functionality that isn’t yet a part of WordPress’s basic software, and a final one for experienced users who want ways to create better content and attract more readers.
Most of the time, I stayed in the fourth track, since I’ve been using WordPress for five years or so.
The one time I strayed to the “beginner” track was for a talk by Jenny Munn on SEO. And I have to say that I learned more in that one-hour course designed for beginners than I had over the past few years as everyone tossed that dreaded SEO term around without ever really clearly defining it. I’m going to be putting some of her ideas to use and I’ll have more about that in a few weeks after I’ve had time to give them a try. (I’m hoping I’ll have a great success story to tell you about!)
I was really surprised that one of the recurring themes I heard from several of the noted speakers involved not having a plan going in. It’s the opposite of what most self-appointed blogging “experts” tell you. And it goes against common sense, too: you should have a plan going in if you’re ambitious enough to start a blog.
But their reasoning was very sound, and next week, I’ll explain why. (I have a great deal of notes to go through, and I want to make sense of them before I just dump them here; I figure you’ll get better use out of them that way.)
One of the nice things about an event like WordCamp is that you meet fellow users and you begin to make connections. I am the type of person, unfortunately, who can be in the middle of a crowded room and easily go unnoticed. It’s just the way I am. But I did talk to several people there and we started following each other on Twitter. And I did get to meet Kimanzi Constable, an author, blogger, speaker and consultant who I’ve talked to for more than a year on #Blogchat; it’s always nice to say hello in person to someone you’ve only known previously over the web.
Another really nice thing is to hear even the “basics” in a well-organized presentation. Sometimes, you find inspiration even from information you either already knew or suspected when it’s presented with the passion of someone who really enjoys what he or she does.
I’m hoping that some day, WordCamp will happen somewhere here in South Carolina. In the meantime, I’ll just have to keep tracking upcoming locations at WordCamp’s official site. Check it out, and if there’s one near you and attendance is in any way feasible, I’d strongly encourage you to give it a try. I think you’ll leave with a great deal of motivation to make your blog better than ever!
Great post and WordCamp was awesome! I can't believe I'm just now stumbling across this post, but thank you SO much for the shout out about my SEO talk. :) I'd love to hear about your success story you mentioned you might have. Keep us posted! Great blog Patrick, and I'll keep in touch. :)
@jennymunn Hi, Jenny. I've been a bit delayed in measuring numbers because I had to switch blog hosts over some downtown, so I'm going to give it another month to see how it goes.
I definitely enjoyed your talk and meeting you in person! Glad you were able to find me! :)
I like your recap of WordCamp Atlanta 2013. I included a link to it in my final recap too at www.digitalmediageek.com. It's true that Jenny Munn's presentation on SEO was astute. She definitely shared what to look for in Google Admanager which can be confusing. A bit more confusing - throwing out the blogger plan. Hm pros: you can blog more simply and concentrate on latching onto simple ideas. Cons: what no plan??
@digimediageek It's not so much about throwing out the plan, but letting yourself start without one (or at least a plan that's VERY flexible or is wide open).
Here's that post: http://www.patrickkphillips.com/2013/03/25/how-to-plan-your-blog-without-a-plan/
@patricksplace I"ll check out this post too! Very interested to learn more about the "no plan and blog about everything" idea his as my instincts (and the SEO person inside of me) are not liking this very much. :) But for people just starting out, I definitely say no plan is the way to go initially as getting going is more important than having a plan to avoid paralysis by analysis.
@digimediageek Thanks also for your mention! I'm with you on the confusion about not having a blogging plan. I guess the benefit is that someone can get up and running without overthinking, but I'm not sold on the idea either.
Patrick, so glad to meet you at WordCamp. Don't forget WordCamp Nashville on April 20 and WordCamp Birmingham in August.
@Wade Kwon Thank you so much, Wade. I am trying to strategize my calendar to see what I can do when! Hope to hear you speak again soon!