The second WordCamp LA was a sold out event with over 260 attendees. It was a uniquely LA-centric lineup with a food blogger, an EMMY-nominated TV & web personality and a sub-culture lifestyle brand rep amongst the speakers. The presentations were divided into two tracks: developer and beginner. Finding myself somewhere in the middle of that divide, I spent most of the day darting between both rooms!
WordCamp 2010 LA Gallery (via Flickr):
Food blogging is a burgeoning phenomenon here in LA so the inclusion of Esther Teng from estarla.com was timely. She spoke on the beginner track about her blogging process, the ins and outs of food blogging and how many food bloggers are starting to leave Blogspot for the sunnier pastures of WordPress.
Shira Lazar has become something of a video blogging celebrity. She leveraged her own blog as a portfolio and buzz-builder to land jobs with CBSNews.com and more. I wasn’t able to catch her whole presentation but when I returned at the end, people were definitely buzzing off her passion and go-getter mentality.
There weren’t any presentations specifically about monetizing a blog, but both Esther and Shira demonstrated that while their blogs are not directly monetized through advertising etc, they have leveraged them into paid freelance work and in the case of Shira, a full-blown career.
The final presentation of the day on the beginner track was from Alana Joy and she rocked the tough late timeslot with her discussion on what she is achieving as a social media consultant on behalf of the Suicide Girls brand. She recently launched the Safe For Work SuicideGirlsBlog, utilizing the WordPress platform of course, in order to generate more traffic and memberships for the main Suicide Girls site. She did of course have an unfair advantage over other speakers, backed by a site full of bad-ass, half-naked and tatted-up gals on the projection screen– not something you see at every WordCamp I’m sure! But she shared great insights into how she utilizes social media to spread the SG brand using a WordPress site as the hub. Hers was another highly buzzed-about presentation.
The developer track had several uber-techy presentations on things like building plugins, creating scalable server set-ups and the like. But there was also some really accessible information for the moderately techy. Josh Highland’s talk on optimizing the performance of WordPress had some great practical tips for speeding up your site and diagnosing problem spots.
Thom Meredith’s presentation was one of my personal highlights. You could practically hear minds blowing and jaws dropping as Thom introduced us to the plugins Magic Fields and Pods. Using his LA Times media kit site as a demo, he showed us how these tools blow the lid off what you may have previously thought possible with WordPress. They really take WP to the next level as a CMS.
A Kernel of Community in LaLa Land
My favorite thing about WordCamp is definitely the community feeling. The vibe was friendly, open and free of any of the stereotypical LA clique-yness. It’s a great place to meet people, find experts and share ideas. Overall I find it a very inspiring experience. I love that everyone you meet is using WordPress at different levels and for an extremely diverse range of purposes. It’s a testament to the versatility and accessibility of this incredible tool.
My favorite thing about WordCamp is definitely the community feeling.
WordCamp happens but once per year (or twice if you include the not-so-far away Orange County WordCamp). The SoCal WordPress Meetup group, run by the wonderful Natalie MacLees, meets monthly and provides a more regular dose of WordPress community. We gathered for a lunchtime meetup at WordCamp which provided the opportunity to meet new people and geek out about the day’s events.
All in all, WordCamp Los Angeles seemed to be a huge success and I would expect next year’s event to be even bigger. Props to Austin Passy for organizing the day, all the sponsors for their support and to all of the speakers that contributed their expertise!