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What I Learned at My First WordCamp

June 29 & 30 I attended my first ever WordCamp. If you’re not familiar with the concept, WordCamps are WordPress based conferences that happen all over the world. They include talks by many knowledgable people in the field from web security, design, hosting, community building, etc. The particular one I attended was in Jacksonville, FL.

First and foremost, I learned that WordPress is a huge supportive community of tech and creative geeks. Maybe I already knew this, but being around just WordPress enthusiasts really re-enforces it. I feel like I made some legitimate connections with some super smart, kind people, and that’s truly the main thing I wanted to get out of going.

Check out some of the cool people I met at these links:

I also learned some valuable information regarding updating and better using my WordPress site, and each course got my creative juices flowing, whether on or off topic. I have a pretty decent list of future blog posts I want to write.

So let me take you through my Saturday and Sunday, of which I largely attended the ‘user’ based topics.

Saturday, June, 29

  • 8:30 Keynote: Business, WordPress & Ethics, Christie Chirinos
  • 9:30 WordPress 101 Workshop, Sheila Oliver
  • 11:30 The Host with the Most: How to Find the Right Website Hosting Company, Ian Smith
  • 12:15 Lunch, Three Forks Catering
  • 12:30 Lightning Talks
    • Network Like you Mean It, even if you don’t, Elizabeth Pampalone
    • How to Configure Email so it Makes it to the Client, Aaron Reimann
    • What’s a Wapuu, James Tryon
  • 1:30 How I Increased my Blog Traffic by 75% in One Year Without Advertising, Alex Sanfilippo
  • 2:30 Creating Content Plans: developing and executing blog campaigns, Rob Taylor
  • 3:30 WordPress Full Time Year 2: Finding your Niche, Wesley Lewis
    • I had to cut out after this session, but there was one more block followed by popsicles, that I missed out on

Sunday, June, 30

  • 7:30 Coffee & Connections
  • 8:00 How Almost Dying Saved my Life and Made me Better at my Job, Scott Mann
  • 9:00 How an Attacker Sees your Website – A View through the Eyes of the Hacker, Steve Schwartz
  • 10:00 Color and WordPress, Young McQueen
  • 11:00 The Unpredictable Value of Community, Cate DeRosia
  • 12:00 Building and Growing an Online Community, Aisha Adams
  • 12:45 Closing Remarks & Prizes
    • I sadly didn’t win anything, but I did get plenty of cool freebies from the sponsors
  • 1:30 After Party, Wicked Barley Brewing Company

What did I learn?

WordPress

WordPress based sites are 33% of the internet!

Privacy & Security

The new GDPR EU regulations effect all of us regardless of the country we’re blogging within. If you have a wordpress.com site, add the ‘cookies’ widget. If you’re on wordpress.org, in your settings there will be a privacy tab, go there, publish the privacy page, and something that references it in your sidebar, etc.

Definitely a week point of mine, but make sure your passwords are un-hackable. Random strings of numbers and letters are best. I still haven’t figured out how best to set and remember those though. Along with that, it’s smart to get a VPN. VPNs make public networks private, concealing your information. VPNs hide your IP address, which is truly all a hacker needs to get access to all your cookies. You may think, as I have, that no one would want to hack your little site, but it’s not your little site they want. They gain access to a bunch of tiny pieces of the internet so that they are able to use that bandwidth to access larger pieces. The speaker recommended ExpressVPN.

Regularly scan for viruses on your computer. Here, the speaker recommended Comodo rather than the traditional Norton and McAfee that tend to bog down computing power.

Possibly less WordPress oriented, but I also learned that RFIDs that we all worry about with our credit cards, can also clone work badges and hotel keys, giving not so nice people access to the tech you have in your hotel or office. There are even RFIDs that can gain access from 3-6 feet away. All the more reason for RFID blocking wallets I suppose.

Settings

Have you ever gone through all your WordPress settings. I have, but it’s definitely been years since I’ve looked through them. Click into them through your sidebar and read through everything. Add a site tagline – this can effect your SEO. Make sure you have the notifications you want turned on. Check your timezone, etc. etc.

Media Files

Speaking of SEO, which we did a lot, the alt text on your media files effects it as well. Make sure you have descriptive info in the alt text box of each image you upload so Google can find and index them. This is certainly something I do not do, and I have hundreds, if not thousands of image uploads. Instead of going back and editing everything, I’ve made it a goal going forward.

Keywords, etc.

When you update a page or post with a better URL slug, keywords, or really just new wording etc. Google will eventually update the link in search results, however, if you’d like it to update on Google search more quickly, link your site to Google Webmaster. Once logged in and clicked through to Google Search Console, click URL Inspection, enter the URL you wish to re-index, then click ‘request indexing.’ This will make your link appear in search results much quicker.

The most common pages on the internet are 1800 words. Interpret that info as you wish.

It’s smart to look for holes in your niche topic and write on them. What is something people search for, but aren’t finding the answer for? Now, for finding those searches, look at the search results in your wordpress.com stats. What are people coming to your page and not finding? Check out Uber Suggest, type in your blog URL and check out the keyword list. Search these keywords on Google and scroll to the bottom of the page to see what other questions, of a similar topic, people search for. Search these keywords on Pinterest too. Use the results you find as inspiration for blog posts. Now, use Uber Suggest to pull up keyword searches for websites similar to, or in competition with yours, and learn from those results as well. Incorporate these keywords in your blog titles, content and tags where applicable.

When including links in your posts, make sure they’re relevant. Don’t overlink and keep your readers focused on the topic at hand.

Look for opportunities, within your niche, to share your opinion. Use your voice.

Oh, and fix your broken links. Google doesn’t like those. Check if you have some here.

Staying Organized

If you’re struggling keeping up with all your social media posts, look into services like Hootsuite, Tailwind, Buffer, etc. You can get free and paid plans to schedule posts far in advance. While I don’t use these currently, I’ve tried both Buffer and Hootsuite. They really do keep you organized.

Also, of course, you can schedule your blog posts on WordPress, directly through the post editor. Definitely better to do this, than to publish a bunch all at once.

Find your own WordPress Community

Scroll all the way down on your dashboard and you’ll find WordPress announcements, even upcoming WordCamps near you!

Theres a local group here that meets monthly. I’ve been hesitant to attend, but I think finding like-minded communities is so important, and WordCamp taught me just how much I still have to learn, even 7 years into the platform.

12 Responses to “What I Learned at My First WordCamp”

    • Tourmaline .

      You’re back! Everything was in spam for some reason. I’ve moved all your comments out of spam so you shouldn’t have a problem going forward. Fingers crossed.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. maelick

    “The new GDPR UK regulation”

    Are you aware GDPR is from EU?

    For passwords I warmly recommend KeypassX. Most of my accounts use strong randomly generated passwords stored in an encrypted (with a very strong randomly generated password) database. It’s also synced on Google Drive so I can access it from my phone (with KeypassDroid) and Dropbox to access it with my work computer.

    Like

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