10 Reasons Business Owners Belong at WordCamp

Business owners of Northwest Arkansas, are you thinking that you don’t belong at WordCamp? Are you imagining that this is a tech conference that won’t be useful for you?

Think again.

Here are 10 reasons to get your ticket for WordCamp Fayetteville 2017.

  1. You’ll be able to make an informed decision about the best content management system for your business website. We think it’s WordPress, but you may have a different impression. A day with the Wordcampers will help you decide with confidence.
  2. You’ll get some inspiration from entrepreneurs, marketers, and other businesspeople.
  3. If you have a WordPress website, you’ll get a better grasp of what it can do and how you can use it.
  4. If you want more control over your website, you’ll learn how you can have that. Just figuring out where everything is can be half the challenge.
  5. You may also learn that you don’t want more control. That’s okay, too.
  6. You can learn how to make your website more secure. You can share that information with your web team.
  7. You can learn about legal issues you may face when you use influencer marketing. You can also learn what that is.
  8. You can learn some best practices for websites in SEO, design, and content.
  9. You can learn how to track and measure your website’s success.
  10. You might want to make a blog or podcast of your own some day, outside of your business.

WordCamp is a great networking opportunity, and a fun and accepting place to learn. Join us!

A First-Time WordCamper’s Pre-conference Thoughts

The 7th annual WordCamp Fayetteville conference will take place on Saturday, July 22. This blog was previously written by someone who was planning to attend their first WordCamp. We thought the information was still great for first-timers this year so we are resharing it below.

A First-Time WordCamper’s Pre-conference Thoughts

Many WordPress designers, developers and users get together to share their knowledge and experience. I will have the opportunity to meet WordPress users and developers who, at different skill levels, are also trying to figure things out. It will be reassuring to know that I am doing certain things well while also challenging myself to learn more complex tasks.

In 2009, I started a blog using the WordPress.com platform and learned about choosing themes and how to do basic customization. I began to watch video tutorials covering WordPress topics and practiced my newly-learned skills. In 2013, I decided to learn more about self-hosting and the WordPress.org platform. Since then, I have created a few self-hosted web sites while still maintaining my original WordPress.com web site.

While viewing WordCamp TV videos, I have often wished to be a member of the audience instead of being an online viewer in my home office. Earlier this year, I looked on the WordCamp Central web site to search for a conference in my state and was pleased to discover WordCamp Fayetteville. I look forward to attending my first WordCamp in beautiful Northwest Arkansas!

Giving Back by Speaking at WordCamp Fayetteville

WordPress has asked all of us who make their livings with WordPress to give back to the community. They suggest 5% of your time — a couple of hours a week. There are plenty of ways to give back: help in the support forums at WordPress.org, organize and participate in meetups, help with WordPress sites at Give Camps…

Here’s something else you can do: present at WordCamp.

Chances are there’s something that you know but which other people don’t know. Maybe there’s a great plugin you know how to use. Or perhaps you have a special way of organizing your blogging calendar. Maybe you have a trick for integrating social media with your WordPress site that other people don’t know.

Think about sharing that knowledge with the rest of the community.

What will you get out of it?

  • You might get extra visibility, a job, a lead, or some other measurable return on your investment. We’re not here to promote our companies, but you know what they say about casting bread on the waters.
  • You’ll learn things, too. The comments and questions and discussions after your talk will almost certainly teach you something, and then there are other people’s sessions.
  • It’s fun. WordCamp is a great place to meet people and to get to know folks you’ve only talked to on Twitter.

And you’ll be doing your part to give back to WordPress, that free tool that makes you money.

Not a speaker? That’s understandable; some say that fear of public speaking is the #1 phobia in the nation. In that case, think about sponsoring, volunteering, or just helping to spread the word!

You can apply to be a speaker here.

5 Ways to Prepare for WordCamp

 

You don’t really have to prepare for WordCamp. You can just show up. Get to the Reynold’s Center on the U of A campus around 8:00 a.m. on Saturday, July 22nd. Friendly people will help you register, there’ll be coffee, and you can just prowl around and find a session that interests you. Meet new people, have fun at the parties, and get back to work refreshed on Monday.

If that’s not your style, here are some things you can do to get ready:

  1. Get business cards, stickers, or other small items with your name, logo and contact information. Put them where you’ll be able to find them quickly. When you meet people, you’ll want to be able to exchange info easily.
  2. Sharpen up your elevator pitch. There are actual elevators at the Reynold’s Center, so you’ll want to be ready when someone asks, “So, what do you do with WordPress?” Something simple like, “I build custom plugins” or “I’m converting my town’s 19th century newspapers into blog posts to create a lasting record of our history” will get the conversation off to a good start.
  3. Figure out how you’ll collect and store information. The slides from the talks will be posted, but you’ll need a way to record the things you particularly want to remember, as well as your thoughts. WordCamp can give you overwhelming amounts of information, so capturing it all for later use is a good plan. Maybe tweeting with hashtag #WCFay will be enough, or maybe you’ll be bringing your hand-tooled leather notebook and vintage fountain pen.
  4. Charge your phone, your laptop, your tablet, and anything else you’re bringing along. Bring a charger, too. With your electronic devices all ready and comfy, think about your own comfort, too. Bring a water bottle, a jacket if you tend to get cold in conference spaces, a snack if you have special needs or preferences.
  5. Get your mind ready. If you have specific questions you know you’ll want to ask, check out the speaker bios and see who might be able to answer that question. If you’re an introvert, set yourself a goal of talking to 10 new people and get psyched up to do it. Take a tour of your website and think about the skills that will take you to the next step. Knowing what you want to learn or develop can help you focus on that learning at WordCamp. Even if there are no specific sessions planned on that topic, there are bound to be people you can learn from.

An introvert’s guide to attending WordCamp

WordCamp Fayetteville is an excellent opportunity to meet new people. At the conference, everyone you will meet shares a common interest with you: WordPress. Knowing this may help you to feel less apprehensive if you tend to be introverted.

It also helps to know that the WordPress community is a friendly and welcoming group of people. Still, it can be intimidating to enter a large room full of people whom you may not know.

Here are five tips to help you feel comfortable at WordCamp: Continue reading An introvert’s guide to attending WordCamp

What are your Goals for WordCamp?

WordCamp Fayetteville’s 2015 keynote speaker, Josepha Haden Chomphosy, was given a goal by Automattic when they sent her to WordCamp Brisbane in Australia: she had to meet 30 new people. She met that goal.

You don’t have to set goals for WordCamp. You can come just for fun and look on the experience as an adventure.

But if you like to have goals, here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Meet new people. It doesn’t have to be 30 new people, but challenge yourself to make some new connections.
  • Find the right person. Looking to hire someone? Hoping to be hired? Need a strategic partner or a gym buddy? WordCamp is a great place to find the right WordPress partner.
  • Learn some new things. I (Rebecca) always write a blog post about 10 things I learned at WordCamp, so that’s a goal for me. (Click through that link for some special treats.)
  • Find the answers to some questions. Each session usually includes a Q and A portion at the end and you’ll find that the WordPress community loves to help fellow members with questions. Also, Sunday Jam Session is a great place to get questions answered, but you can get answers all along the way, too.
  • Learn what you don’t know. No matter what your background or training, there’s somebody at WordCamp who knows things you don’t know. WordCamp can start you off in a brand new direction.
  • Share your knowledge. Not only is there someone who knows something you don’t know, but there are also people who don’t know everything you know. You will have an opportunity to help someone, so be prepared to take that opportunity.
  • Get refreshed and inspired. If you sometimes get burned out with blogging or disenchanted with development, WordCamp can be your annual restart.
  • Develop a new goal for yourself or your company. It’s easy to get settled in. You can come away from WordCamp with a new personal challenge for yourself.

Do you have goals for WordCamp Fayetteville 2017?