WordCamp Orange County 2015: Why Go?

WordCamp Orange County 2015: Why Go?

WordCamp Orange County 2015: Why Go?

There are so many wordcamps around the world–there are many in the United States, Europe and Asia. So why should you attend the one in Orange County (WCOC)? If you’re anywhere nearby, I highly recommend this Wordcamp. And if you’d like to read recaps from Orange County WordCamp 2013 or 2014, please do.

Everything WordPress

If you’ve been writing your own blog for awhile, or if you’re thinking about starting a blog, you can get plenty of friendly advice here. From hosting to plugins, to how to use a content calendar, you can find it here, or you can find someone to ask.

Everything WordPress

Everything WordPress

Friendly Volunteers

At WCOC, there’s a non-competitive vibe that prevails, with people willing to offer you their time and opinion on just about everything. The entire camp is run by volunteers, too, so if you’d like to give back to the community, there are many ways to do so. From helping people park to signing in the participants, there’s a job for everyone.

A Huge Bargain

At $40, WCOC is the best bargain you’ll get for any conference, hands down. That $40 includes two lunches, all the sessions, a t-shirt, mug, and tons of bling.

The Wordcamp Bandana doubles as a blanket

The Wordcamp Bandana doubles as a blanket

The Bling

Yes, we’re not supposed to be all about the bling. But WCOC has such good designers that all the stickers and t-shirts and mugs every year are fab. It’s like a branded event at a million-dollar conference.

Wordcamp Swag

Wordcamp Swag

The Sessions

This year, the sessions were the best I’ve ever heard. From Sunday’s business conference to William Bay’s session on SEO, they were each packed with so much information, that there was no way to remember it all. Luckily, there are videos and slideshares!

The Friends

Tweeting to my bestie Bridget Willard, I told her that Wordcamp is 1000 times better with friends. In classic introvert fashion, here are our shoes (above). And meeting lots of new friends (see below).

Crazy Inspiration

At every turn, WCOC is filled with inspiration. You might be in the hall waiting for the next session when you overhear someone talking about something you’ve had an issue with. Or out having fish tacos with your bestie when you realize what you have to do next on your blog. Picture below by By Mendel (@ifyouwillit).

WordCamp Inspiration

WordCamp Inspiration


Perhaps the most controversial session I attended was the one in which Jarrett Gucci outlined how to create a blogging calendar for 20 posts in 30 days. And no, it’s not like one of those feats where you work up to it and then slack off. It’s a lifestyle change. Yup.

SteveZehngut shared Shia LaBeouf’s video at the opening of the Business Workshop.

Call to Action

My call to action for you is to put Wordcamp Orange County on your calendar for next year. Just do it!

WordCamp Orange County 2014: Awesome Moments

WordCamp Orange County 2014: Awesome Moments

WordCamp Orange County 2014: Awesome Moments

Recently, I attended WordCamp Orange County 2014, not to be confused with WordCamp Orange County 2013. Here are a few of my favorite moments.

The Women

Mary Baum’s class on responsive design was Sunday’s funniest seminar. She kept us entertained while educating us on design challenges. And apparently, she loves golf!

Chris Lema

Chris Lema helped make the conference a community. He followed his own advice of being helpful. Getting the Most from Your Blog was definitely not about any get-rich quick schemes. Chris Lema set the tone for much of the conference.

Live Tweeting

You may have read my blog post about Live Tweeting at Conferences. Live tweeting is a fab way to connect with new friends. In fact, two of my besties (Bridget Willard and Peter Woolvett) were both people I met through Twitter. Some people we met couldn’t believe you could actually meet people from Twitter. Who knew? And here’s a partial hashtag report, in case you think live tweeting doesn’t make a difference in amplifying an event.

Wordcamp 2014 STATS_2 copy

Offsite Meetups

Offsite Meetups at WCOC 2014

Offsite Meetups at WCOC 2014

Another favorite moment was going to Café Vitaly with friends for extra-strong doses of coffee or the best sorbet and gelato around. Strolling on the beach, walking back from the Durty Nelly’s after party, and seeing some unusual trees (and giant cockroaches) along the way were also good ways to “play hooky.”

Jason Rosenbaum’s Business Coaching Workshop on Contracts and Proposals

Jason Rosenbaum’s talk was surprisingly useful. As a result of hearing his talk, I’ll be changing how I word some of my proposals. For instance, no more 100% guarantees—especially if clients want to “do it themselves.” Good, solid advice.

Slide Presentations and Videos at the Speed of Light

As we watched on Twitter, the presentations started to appear online. Many presenters uploaded their talks even before the weekend was over. How awesome is that?

Food Trucks

Gourmet food trucks, with items like Coconut Risotto (A Bite Truck), Mexican food, and bacon (of course!). Worth the wait. Also the gourmet mini-cupcakes, Skittles, and gluten-free brownies.

Artwork at Cafe Vitaly

Artwork at Cafe Vitaly

Style Revisions

Derived straight from the creatives at Minecraft, WordCamp’s new direction feels somewhere between Super Mario and Flappy Birds.

The style is everywhere, from the giant mugs and t-shirts to notebooks, stickers, and buttons!

Chance Meetings

Meeting people like Justin @student_otc at one of the first talks, connecting online with @DownTownRob who met me and my friends at Durty Nelly’s. Meeting attendees and speakers while waiting in line.

Generosity and Friendliness at WordCamp Orange County

Generosity and Friendliness at WordCamp Orange County

Generosity and Friendliness

Without the volunteers and sponsors, WordCamp Orange County would not have been such a success.

Finding Work/Life Balance As a Remote Worker

Jon Brown’s  course outlined ways to stay sane while working remotely. And he was even more fun when he went off-script and discussed all the tools he uses (such as electronic devices to bring while backpacking!).

Did I Leave Anything Out?

What were your favorite moments?


Live Tweeting at Conferences


Live Tweeting at Conferences

Live Tweeting at Conferences

You may have been to a conference lately and wondered about people who live tweet. This post is how to make your experience easier. With just a little bit of planning, your live tweeting can add to your conference experience. For other tips on conferences, read Entrepreneur’s The Art of Hacking a Conferences.

Why Live Tweet?

Aaron Hockley Recommends This "Friend Maker"

Aaron Hockley Recommends This “Friend Maker”

Live tweeting lets you connect to other Twitter users, and amplifies what’s happening at the conference or live event. Live tweeting lets the speakers know that you’re listening to them, since you can interact with them. Often, a conference such as WordCamp San Francisco (#WCSF) will have a live Twitter feed. The #SFGiants interact with their audience through live tweeting. You may have read my post about the San Francisco Giants and how they can improve your game.

Before the Event

  • Search for the Hashtag. If your conference has a hashtag, search for it. For instance, I’ll be attending WordCamp Orange County (#WCOC), and have been following the hashtag. You may find out about extra parties or discover more about your favorite speakers. For instance, there is a pre-event golf game for #WCOC.
  • Follow speakers whose talks you’d like to attend.
  • Follow fellow attendees.
  • Create a list in Twitter for the event. When you add someone to a list, they’re alerted on Twitter. Once people are on a list, you can more easily hear what they’re saying and cut down the noise of Twitter.
  • Create a Pinterest place board for bonus points! My pal, Bridget Willard, created this Orange County WordCamp board that’s both a place board and a group board (so I can pin to it, too!).
  • Make a list with the participants, their handles, and the hashtag on your smart phone.
  • Print a list using Post-it notes. Yep. I found it on Pinterest.

Stuff to Bring

Extra chargers, fully charged phones, an extra extension cord (aka Friend Maker), and your already-made lists.

Follow the Conference Hashtag

Follow the Conference Hashtag

During the Event

  • Use the hashtag at the end of every tweet. You could use tweetchat.com for this (adds the hashtag automagically!). People who are watching remotely use the hashtag as well as those at the conference.
  • Follow the conference hashtag (you can create a column in Tweetdeck or HootSuite to make this easier).
  • Listen for Interesting Quotes. Add value to the conversation by cherry picking the best quotes.
  • Tweet your own questions or comments.
  • Use abbreviations. Here are some common ones: OH (Overhead), h/t (hat tip), MT (modified tweet).
  • Meet New Friends. Since you’ve already been following people (and hopefully engaging with them), they will probably be more open to meeting. So don’t be shy!

Do You Enjoy Live Tweeting?

What would you add to my lists? Please leave me a comment. Thanks!

WordCamp OC 2013: 10 Awesome Things

WordCamp Orange County 2013

WordCamp Orange County 2013

This past weekend, June 1 and 2, I attended WordCamp Orange County (my first WordCamp ever!). There were many sessions, ranging from Lucy Beers’ WordPress 101 to Devin Walker’s Website Optimization for Speed. Here are a few things that I learned.

Surround Yourself with Smart People

If you’re at Wordcamp, you’re already surrounded by smart people. WordCamp felt like being back at Berkeley, where people were interrupting each other’s interruptions because everyone shared the same curiosity and joy of learning. If you’re an entrepreneur spending hours and days working alone, getting out and soaking up some new ideas and fresh ways of looking at the world can reinvigorate you.

Say Hello

When you say hello to people, they say hello back! You might laugh at the obviousness of that, but really: People are so friendly, open, and generous with their ideas. Often all you need to do is say hello.

Work on Five Blogposts at the Same Time

Who's the chick with Syed Balkhi?

Who’s the chick with Syed Balkhi?

During @syedbalkhi‘s talk on Time Management, he discussed focus and how no one can really multitask. What Syed does is start five posts at once, then if he gets a little writer’s block, he switches from one to another. Now that’s something to implement immediately. This is such an elegant and simple idea! By the way, Syed’s Beginner’s Guide to WordPress is jam-packed with ideas! As well as being technically awesome.

Have Deeper Conversations

Many times, between or after sessions is when the real learning occurs. That person you just met will give you a fabulous tip if you do a little homework (for example: read their blog before asking them a question about a particular blogpost they just wrote!). If you buy someone a drink or, better still, lunch, be prepared to hear more of the truth than you would during a session. This, paraphrased from Chris Lema.

Delegate, Delegate, Delegate!

Don’t try to do everything yourself. Hire someone to do your accounting, or the chores that you might not enjoy doing. That includes everything from designing a logo to building a website to creating content.

Learn to Say No!

Do not meet that vampire at the coffee shop! (A vampire is someone who pretends to want to hire you, but then says they’re broke, and just wants free advice.) Do not pick up the phone while you’re blogging. And learn to say no to yourself, most of all. Do not let yourself get distracted and don’t head down the rabbithole with a “great idea” and end up buying 10 new domain names which three days later you’ll regret. Not that I’ve ever done that (today). Sayed Balkhi drew laughter and a lot of head nodding when he discussed the idea of buying domain names and meeting the broke customer at the coffee shop.

Focus on Your Strengths

Me, Peter Woolvett, and Bridget Willard

Me, Peter Woolvett, and Bridget Willard

My friend Peter Woolvett of CustomerSpecs always says “mind your strengths,” and we heard it over and over at WordCamp. Don’t try to develop your weaknesses. Rather, do whatever it is that you’re good at.

Spend Time on That Great Idea

If you know something is important, spend the damn time on it. Use the time management matrix to determine whether it’s important and not urgent, and then eliminate distractions and do it.

Don’t Rely on Your Memory

How many times have you had a great idea and then promptly forgotten it? Use Evernote or a white board or a notebook, but get it down in writing!

Wake Up Early

Come on! You’re not really a night owl. Get up early when you’re your most productive and do your work. Then go out and “canoe with alligators”–Sayed’s phrase. Or whatever you like to do for fun–like meet that broke customer for lunch. Just kidding.

Be Accountable

We all perform better when we’re being watched. If you can’t afford a coach, try Timedoctor, which monitors your activities. You can’t improve if you don’t know where you’re starting from.

Your Favorite Part of WordCamp Orange County?

Maple-Bacon Donut Dispenser AKA Sidecar

Maple-Bacon Donut Dispenser AKA Sidecar

Was it the maple-bacon donuts? Learning about WordPress Mobile? The after party at Durty Nelly’s? Let me know in the comments below! Thanks!

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