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12 Take-aways from WordCamp Orange County

wcoc logoThis past weekend I attended the fifth annual Orange County California two-day geek WordCamp. These are affordable tech-centric events  held all over the country where WordPress experts share their knowledge in 50-minute sessions (or three-hour workshops) on how to better use your WordPress website or blog (that’s the connection to my writing–I have four blogs and one website that use WordPress). I was first introduced to it when TimeThief over at One Cool Site Blogging Tips posted on a WordCamp she attended in San Francisco. It sounded over my head–I’m not into coding and PHP and CSS–but she made it sound fun, like I wished I was into programming. That made me open-minded when a girlfriend suggested we attend.

The $40 registration included all the events, lunch both days, snacks (see the pictures of the snacks below), designer coffee (or black-no-sugar like I like it), two T Shirts, a mug… Too much to list. A popular room was the Snack Spot which included everything you imagine coders and programmers and computer folk consume.  (I took notes because I have a geek character in my current WIP). Snacks were non-stop, varied, abundant, with lots of water and coffee. Few sodas or diet drinks. Interesting…

wcoc14And it was a blast. Packed with geeks who had personalities. The attendees were open, funny, engaged and engaging, buzzing with energy like overcharged power plants. Everyone was there to learn and share–in equal measure. I was one of the least experienced (for example, one of the presenters started with the ‘easy stuff’ for five minutes–half of which was over my head).

The presenters were eminently qualified. They knew their topics, fielded audience questions without a problem–and weren’t afraid to say they didn’t know but would find out, rarely ended early, never ran out of hints. One of the speakers was the guy who developed Amazon.com’s first website. That’s cred enough for me!

The most valuable thing I got, though, was the knowledge. The presenters were professional, varied in their voice and focus, approachable, on-topic, and more than half, I understood. Why not all? Back to that PHP and CSS stuff that I could learn (I know I could), but who has time?

Here are my top twelve take-aways from my two days with these folks:

  1. make your blog about helping. Always be helpful, not to make money but to spread knowledge
  2. because I’ve been blogging for five years, links in my early posts occasional die (the half-life of a link isn’t long). I stress over that, but who has time to go fix them pre-emptively? A presenter provided a great answer–refer the commenter to the date of the blog. Yeah, links have a lifespan.
  3. if you wouldn’t say it at a cocktail party, don’t say it on your blog. Meaning: blogging isn’t baring your soul, sharing your emotions. It’s grown up since those days.
  4. link back to lots of people who you’ve learned from. Be their cheerleader.
  5. build trust by providing primary sources, educated opinions. Base your posts, articles, conclusions on evidence.
  6. there are enough digital tools and hardware available that bloggers, developers, web consultants can be remote workers. You have to set up your virtual office, but it works well (see WanderingJon.com for more on that)
  7. trouble-shooting and problem solving are great teachers
  8. keep calm and Google on–letmegooglethatforyou.com. Funny. How many questions do you as a techie get that people could figure out themselves if they Googled it?
  9. don’t give your Admin credentials to anyone
  10. a 12-character password would take thousands of years to hack.
  11. lots of people used Haiku Deck and Slideshare for presentations. I didn’t see any created in PowerPoint or Slides.
  12. don’t post to FB through your blog. Do it manually so you get more traffic

More pictures? Check these out:

Anyone attended a WordCamp? What is your experience?

More on tech training:

6 Things I Wish I’d Known When I Started Blogging

How to Do Social Media Right

Writers Tip #48: Have a Web Presence


Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com and TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. In her free time, she writes technology training books for how to integrate tech in education. Currently, she’s editing a techno-thriller that should be out to publishers next summer.

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26 thoughts on “12 Take-aways from WordCamp Orange County

  1. Jacqui, I love the tips you’ve shared and that you attended. Thank you! I’d like to add my tip for number 12. I do let my blog posts go to Facebook, and then later in the day I go to Facebook and share it again. That way I increase visibility and I reach different time zones. What are your thoughts on doing it this way?

    • The experts at this meeting also said to post each article several time for exactly the reason you said–time zones. So, I like the way you’re doing it. I might try that.

  2. Great wrap up! So glad you enjoyed it. If you think attending is fun, try speaking!

    Being a coder I was a little nervous putting together a non-technical talk. Jeff and Brandon suggested talking about Work / Life Balance and Remote Work. In hindsight it made all the sense in the world. It’s easily the thing I’m most passionate about and I’m delighted so many got ideas and inspiration out of it!

    Looking around here sounds like you’d make a great speaker!

    • Jon, yours was one of my favorite talks (which I mentioned to an awful lot of people). I run a small business and want to be able to do it from wherever I am. So I try, and then figure out what doesn’t work and problem solve. You gave me great ideas. I’m going to write a post on that–with credit to you for inspiration. Keep up your great speaking!

      • I wish I had gone to your talk, Jon. Jacqui raved about it and that’s exactly what I want to do also…continue to be flexible and more mobile. I did enjoy the Beginners’ Workshop, especially since I realized I had figured out much of it myself, but after 100’s of hours of beating my head against the desk ;>}

    • They’re unique to the digital writer’s perspective, aren’t they? What surprised me about this group (close to 400) was they all talked to each other. They weren’t peering into digital screens–like kids these days. So wonderful.

  3. Your Blog, and its author are always positive and helpful, and I think that makes a difference. Time Thief is a legend in my part of the Blogosphere. I once emailed her directly ( a bit cheeky I know ) because of a technical fix, and she couldn’t have been more helpful.

  4. Thanks for summarizing all this Jacqui! Since I was there too, I know we both felt energized and a bit overwhelmed. I thought it was great, love my mugs and t-shirts, plus some of the insights into consistency, security and blogging with the purpose of solving problems were good reminders. Next year, perhaps they’ll have you speak…lol

  5. Hi Jacqui, great post! So glad to hear you had a fun time at WordCamp; and thanks so much for mentioning Haiku Deck! I’d like to personally invite you and your readers to check out our app: http://www.haikudeck.com, we’d love to hear your feedback on how we could make it better! Cheers, Lisa Ma, Haiku Deck Customer Evangelist

    • I didn’t set out to notice the presentation style, but there were so many who used your tool, I figured I’d better try it out. No one used PowerPoint or the Google Apps version. I’ll be using Haiku Deck in a webinar this summer.

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