My Wordcamp started off a little differently than most. I was accepted to speak, so I was invited to the pre-party at Four Hands Brewing Co downtown. My wife decided not to go, since she’d really have nothing in common with any of the geeks there, so I was on my own. I walked in, ordered a beer, forced myself upon 2 or 3 people, finished my beer and left. I didn’t know a single soul.
On the morning of the event, I had a battle with myself about going. I reasoned that I’d get there late – I’d had a long night, didn’t know anyone anyway, etc. I argued back and forth for a while and finally decided to just go. So I got there early, before the opening remarks, got some coffee and read over the schedule to pick out my chosen sessions. Below are the reviews of the ones I attended.
Session – Customizing Your WordPress theme with CSS
Loved it. I’m not a fan of CSS, but Michael Arestad (@michaelarestad) made it simpler. He also dropped some good tips and some tools that make editing CSS a lot easier. I had no idea I could copy/paste straight from the browser/Inspect Element area!
Session – Business Blogging Like a Rockstar
Another good one. Tom Harness (@tomharness) and Liegh Caldwell (@leighmcaldwell) switched back and forth to explain various brands and how they’re using blogging to reach more people. It would have been even better had they used local St. Louis businesses instead of national ones. They also tried to create a singalong, which may have gone over a bit better had they not been in an early morning slot. (It also caused them to run short on time). The content they covered, however, was terrific and well done.
Session – Using WordPress for Videocasting
I’ve known Chris Miller (@idonotes) for many years now, so there’s no surprise that this session was full of great tips. He always explains just what he does, how he does it, and even showed his some of his geeky electronic gadgets. I didn’t realize he’s also cover podcasting, which was a great bonus. If you’re thinking of getting into videocasting or podcasting (or both), this will be one to watch for on WordCamp.tv
Carrie Dils (@cdils) started off the keynote with this video – and used it as the premise of her keynote. It was well put together, and to the point, yet short – only about 25 minutes. I really expected a keynote to go longer, as they usually do.
She brought up some terrific points – that sharing is a great way to increase your own business’s reach and visibility – something I very truly believe. Since the room was full of introverts, she could have taken some of her extra time to show various ways a business could share – meetups, classes, volunteering, sponsoring local events, etc.
Session – WordPress SEO: Getting Back to the Basics
This one will probably cause some debate, and maybe even cause me to never speak again at a wordcamp, but oh well. Gotta keep it real.
Worst session of the day.
As an SEO, I was probably overly critical in the first place, some of the content was very blase and overly basic. Nile Flores (@blondishnet), clearly not an SEO, simply read the slides to us – something we could have done on our own (but don’t want to – that’s the whole point of going to see a speaker). She recommended writing content around keywords, and employing keyword density tricks to ‘make sure you got found.’ Ugh. She did go into social search – that was good but overall the entire thing fell flat.
This was pretty good, some of the questions were great and the answers were decent, too. There was a conversation around using a capital P in WordPress (and if you didn’t you were not a real WordPress professional). That was a bit goofy – but there were some highlights, too. James Hipkin recommended the book Book Yourself Solid, which I bought yesterday. Brian Messenlehner (@bmess) had plenty of great tips and brought a laid back yet confident vibe to the group.
Session – Optimizing Content Visibility
I thought this session would be content-specific, but it was so much more. In fact, Teresa Lane (@teresaalane) basically did the SEO session that preceeded her, but right. She went into detail about posting content, using heading tags, optimizing for Authorship, SEO best practices and more. Most all of it was refresher to me, but I’m sure this was a great and memorable session for the many business owners in attendance.
Session – Leveraging WordPress for Your eCommerce Website
By far the best session of the day, but only because I taught it (joking). I was honestly surprised that the room was full that late in the day, and the attendees had a lot of terrific questions. I definitely enjoyed speaking to them.
Overall I think the event was awesome. There were a lot of nice comments on the #wcstl hashtag as the day went on, and people seemed to be enjoying it. Lunch was great, I finally met @njenney face to face, and managed not to spill anything on myself. A good day, indeed.