WordCamp NYC 2014 at the Brooklyn Marriott was my first WordCamp experience. I have been a WordPress user for a very long time, but never had the opportunity to attend.
Prior to coming on board at Photocrati I was never working in the WordPress industry, so previous employers didn’t see the need to send me. To top that off, WordCamp NYC in the past landed on my birthday weekend. So between the two, it just never worked out.
But now that I am an employee at Photocrati I am determined to attend as many WordCamps that come my way. This plan started with WordCamp NYC 2014. I also plan on working with a friend at Webdev Studios to create a WordCamp NJ.
So today I wanted to share a bit about my first experience at WordCamp. I had no clue what to expect, aside from a day filled with everything WordPress. Typically WordCamps start with a get-together on a Friday night, a general day of presentations and beginner workshops on a Saturday and then a developer specific day on a Sunday.
I only attended the Saturday event due to other family stuff going on. Being that it’s the general day, it also made the most sense. Although I can understand a lot of the developer specific stuff in WordPress, I’m not a developer, so I figured I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the discussions.
I got to the hotel around 9:15, right when the first session I wanted to attend started. I immediately picked up my registration badge, grabbed some breakfast (coffee and mini bagel) and made my way into the room where Syed Balkhi was presenting on “Tools to Better Manage and Grow Your Blog”. WordCamp presentations are all recorded for WordPess.tv so non-attendees can experience the presentations later on. After the presentations, there is time for Q&A as well.
When Syed finished I met Chris Lema on his way out of the room, and also Syed – both of which I have interacted with on social media over the past few years. It was nice meeting both of them after all these years.
After Syed’s presentation I stayed in the room for the next one. “Follow The Yellow Brick Road: Avoiding Dangerous and Low-Quality Plugins and Themes” was presented next, and unfortunately wasn’t as good as I would have hoped.
The next session I wanted to see also happened to be in the same room, so I stayed for “Leveling Up: From Bashful Beginner to WordPress Warrior” where Beth Soderberg and Courtney O’Callaghan talked about how they were both not technical and made their own path into the WordPress industry by way of website design and creation. It’s seriously amazing how WordPress can create jobs for people.
Next up was another session in the same room. “From housewife to hero: giving back and moving up” was given by Andrea Rennick who is a Support Hero at Copyblogger. Andrea talked about her path from housewife to a full-time support person at Copyblogger – providing awesome customer service for all the Copyblogger products including their SEO software, Scribe SEO. Andrea went from being hired as a customer service person to becoming the manager of all customer service at Copyblogger.
Beth, Courtney and Andreas’s sessions also inspired me to create a presentation of my own about my road into the WordPress industry.
Lunch was ready at noon and everyone was directed in a circle around the hotel, “pick up your lunch box and make your way into the lounge.” Lunches consisted of a turkey or ham sandwich, apple, chips, pasta and various drinks. Vegan and gluten free lunches were available upon request during registration.
Of course stuff happens…
Vegans: we apologize for the inclusion of mayo and peppermint patty. We have spoken to the hotel about it.
— WordCamp NYC (@WordCampNYC) August 2, 2014
I’m sure the vegans were unhappy about this, but I’m hoping the hotel made it all better.
After lunch came one of my favorite parts of the day. Boone Gorges, Lead Developer of BuddyPress, gave the big keynote and the topic was so interesting. Boone’s topic was “Free Software, Free Labor, and the Freelancer: The Economics of Contributing” where he talked about how he includes the ability to distribute his client’s custom plugins via the WordPress directory. An example of this, is a plugin he created for CUNY. Check out Boone’s article based on the keynote.
After the keynote I sat in on Mary Beth Coudal’s session called “Blogging Basics (Dangerous Writing)” which started out making this ambivert lean more towards the extrovert side. Mary Beth had each person speak to someone near them, asking specific questions. She then had everyone stand up and introduce the person they just met. I met and introduced in the same room later in the day.
My next session was “6 Ways to Up Your Theme Game” with Tracy Levesque where she walked through some of the basic things to do with a simple theme. This was a fun one as it gave me some ideas for future Photocrati updates.
I missed the 3:30 session because I stumbled upon Carl Hancock of Rocketgenius, developers of Gravity Forms. Carl is also a hobbyist photographer (he loves his Fuji) so we chatted about photography and then baseball. Then he had to leave for a soccer game.
Near the end of my chat with Carl, Pippin Williamson finished up with something he was doing and I had a chance to meet him as well. Pippin is the developer behind many plugins, including Easy Digital Downloads (which I personally use for selling ebooks and presets) and AffiliateWP which is an amazing affiliate plugin. Pippin and I chatted about potential opportunities for the future.
Then came the last session of the day. I was debating between “Advanced Topics for WordPress Development” with Andrew Nacin and “Supporting Your Themes While Staying Sane” with Kathryn Presner. In the end I went with Kathryn’s session and learned about different ways to approach theme and plugin support.
When the sessions were finished I headed back home. But WordCamps don’t end after the last sessions. There is typically an after party following the Saturday events. For my first WordCamp I felt I was already in overload of awesomeness. So the during the ride back to New Jersey my brain was going 1,000 miles an hour.
So many ideas, so many things I learned and experienced.
Thank you to all who organized WordCamp NYC and to the WordPress community for being so amazing to begin with.
Here’s to the next WordCamp!