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!