As I reflect on WordCamp Los Angeles, I admire the individuals in the WordPress community that came together to create an excellent conference. I was part of the organizing team, working with lead Adam Silver, Renee Johnson, Stephen Harvey, Amber Hewitt, Thomas Patrick Levy, Bridget Willard, Rachel Cherry and Roy Sivan. As we worked together we drew upon one another’s strengths to develop a team and create an event. I don’t think any of us realized how many lives would be changed. I know I didn’t consciously consider how a WordCamp weekend grows WordPress until now.
First I want to talk about Beginner Day. We had a pre-camp workshop where more than 50 new WordPress users were given a website install and taught the basics. The day started with instruction on working locally and moved on to choosing and using a theme, modifying the theme, creating a child theme, adding content to the site in blogs and pages, building a contact form and attracting an audience using social media.
It was a lot to cover in 4 hours, but the session definitely opened eyes. We didn’t turn beginning users into experts by the end, but we definitely removed the fear and encouraged exploration and confidence. Many more people can now be influenced by those who learned on Friday. The learning will multiply as each website and each person grows WordPress in their own way.
I presented on the topic, Your First Piece of Content and Beyond at Beginner Day. I shared the key to optimizing blog posts using the Yoast SEO plugin in a four part series. You can visit my content development site to see how the copy was changed from the initial 3 minute speed write to an optimized post. I also quickly explained how to set up pages from different page templates to achieve different looks for content pages, as illustrated in the about and services page. Watching people’s surprise as they witnessed the plugin’s “light” change colors was rewarding. One person remarked that it turned “on the light of understanding” for them, which I considered a big win!
That afternoon and evening I had the opportunity to spend some time with many focused leaders in the WordPress community, local and nationwide. We talked on a variety of topics. WordPress related conversation focused on recognizing and serving community needs, exploring new areas of learning and of course, Gutenberg. An open source community takes stock of each person’s concerns and comments. That, in and of itself, grows WordPress as a community. It’s amazing to witness.
Jam-packed, content driven sessions continued on Saturday and included an Advanced Development Track. Lessons were learned and friendships made. I had the opportunity to speak on Saturday afternoon on the tie-in between community and SEO. As someone who grew up in Los Angeles, it was particularly fun for me to present on the value community brings to websites. You can see my slides here and I will post the video when it becomes available.
After Party Discussion Grows WordPress at WordCamp Los Angeles
After the sessions had wrapped up, everyone headed downstairs to the courtyard, referred to by the camp as the Winner’s Circle, for socializing, networking and refreshments at the After Party. Complete with a photo booth, ambient music, sitting areas and plenty of food and drinks, it was the perfect place to converse. I found myself making new friends and connecting easily over conversation. The event contributed to a sense of growing community.
Quality speakers and large attendance continued on Sunday. You can catch a glimpse of all who spoke and some of what they said on Twitter at #WCLAX. The highlight for many was hearing Jansen Henschel teach on creating portfolio sites using WordPress. Jansen is an eleven year old who came to WordCamp Los Angeles Beginner Day four years ago, he has continued to learn and now was able to share.
I sat in on many fantastic talks, enjoyed heartfelt conversations, and came away with a deeper understanding.
The BlueHost television raffle concluded the conference with cheers. There wasn’t a feeling of competition with the contest, only happiness for the winner.
— Jen Miller (@JenBlogs4U) October 1, 2017
The message from WordCamp Los Angeles was clear.
Everything and everyone working together grows WordPress.
In the end, we’re all winners as community prevails.