This past weekend, I was honored to speak at WordCamp Sacramento 2017. It was my second year being chosen as a speaker. This is one of the best run WordCamps I attend. Unlike many professional conferences with paid meeting planners and staff, WordCamps are run by volunteers. The volunteers at this camp kept everything running smoothly under the direction of Lead Organizer Jennifer Bourn.
With over 500 attendees, it’s a good-sized event to manage. To accommodate the demand for tickets, the event was previously in a smaller venue and sold out quickly, the event was held at The Sacramento Convention Center in downtown Sacramento, CA.
The camp featured two days of sessions plus a reception in the vendor area the evening after Day 1. Snacks were plentiful, and a photo booth with funny hats was available for any wanting to let their hair, or put it up under a hat.
Some WordCamps don’t have specific themes, however this one does and goes full force on embracing the theme. This year’s theme was Peace * Love * WordPress. The t-shirts, program, session banners and camp stickers fully embrace this. While many of us weren’t old enough to remember the original Summer of Love in 1967, the weekend was certainly one of WordPress Love.
The biggest challenge with WordCamps is that multiple sessions run at once so there is no way to capture everything. The good news is that much of it is captured and can be found on WordPress.tv.
Day 1 WordCamp Sacramento 2017
Chris Lema – Unfortunately, this year I missed Chris’s presentation. If you ever get a chance to hear him speak, do it. I’ll be searching WordPress.tv in the near future to catch up.
Tony Perez from Sucuri always delivers valuable security information to help keep our websites secure. He is very high energy which makes what could seem boring or ever scary a fun and entertaining experience. One of the best pieces of his presentation was an explanation of what SSL (using https not http) actually protects versus what it does not.
Leslie Staller – It was an extra delight to see my good friend Leslie Staller take the stage for the first time at a WordCamp. She delivered value bombs on optimizing your website images for SEO. Tips like remember to name your images something with a contextual name – not img0001.jpg from your phone, and shed light on the difference between resizing and optimizing.
WP-Tonic Podcast Taping – We taped an episode of the WP-Tonic Roundtable live as several of our roundtable regulars attended and spoke at the event.
Lunch = Food Truck Fun
One thing people enjoy at WordCamps is sharing lunch. Grab whatever the event has planned for food and find an old friend or a new one to eat with and share WordPress stories. At lunch time, Food Trucks lined up near a the convention center at a park. You had a selection of Asian skewers, Pizza or Gyro, or a Burger Truck. I selected the burger in a lettuce wrap since I couldn’t have the bun.
This was a fun way to have lunch, get everyone fed fairly quickly since there were multiple options, and different than the classic buffet style we see at many conferences.
Day 2 WordCamp Sacramento 2017
Day two starts late with opening remarks at 10:40 and the first session at 11:00. People are encouraged to connect before the session, grab breakfast or coffee and chat WordPress. Many of the WordCamps take this approach, and I find it is a great way to promote community connections. As an added bonus, if you stayed out late singing karaoke, it lets you sleep in a little.
Unfortunately, I missed my friend, and sometime WP-Tonic round table contributor, Mendel Kurland deliver his presentation because we spoke at the same time. He spoke in the Beginner’s Track about building community for your niche website. Building community is something he is a master at both with his private blog and as an Evangelist for GoDaddy.
Kim Shivler – I shared the business side of launching a Membership Website including Key Areas for Testing and how to use webinars, if desired during the launch. The steps I shared work for launching membership websites, online courses, complete online learning platforms, and other digital products.
Conference swag is always fun. Sponsors like Pantheon and SiteLock had t-shirts while SiteGround provided buffs instead of the socks many of us have gotten accustomed to. I have four patterns of the socks, and found out that I have all that they created. The fun with this was the buff also served as a blindfold. To get it, you had to put together a puzzle of the WordPress logo while blindfolded.
Another favorite swag item available at WordCamps are stickers. First there are the stickers specific for that camp, then there are vendor stickers. I have to give an extra thanks to Beaver Builder. My Wapuu sticker that I keep on my phone had just finally died. They had a special edition 1960’s inspired Beaver Builder sticker to replace it.
Community and Connections
Of course the most powerful aspect of any conference is building community and making connections. These are the aspects that can’t be captured watching replays. Every time I attend these events, I meet friends and make business conections that last for years. If you’re new to WordCamps, don’t be shy. It’s about the friendliest group of people you’ll ever meet, and remember everyone has ideas to share regardless of their skill level.
Now it’s time to followup with those I met and prepare for my next WordCamp, whatever that may be. I do hope I’ll return to WordCamp Sacramento next year.