Looking for a WordPress / BuddyPress Developer?
I build robust themes, plugins, and web applications.
8553474140_c50cf08708_b

Maturity of WordPress News, Podcasts, and Events

I made this comment on Twitter yesterday and my colleague Matt Medeiros wanted me to put my thoughts into a blog post. Okay, since Matt has those pictures of me and could go all “blackmail” on me, i’m going to expand a bit.

2014 was when WordPress news matured

WordPress news blogs have been around for a long time. But for a while you could group alot of sites into certain categories: passionate, but amateur (one man shops with limited time and resources), popular blogs that suddenly halted/vanished, and other sites that seemed to favor quantity over quality (example: WP Daily, which by July 2013 was closed and acquired).

But 2014 i think is when we saw a maturity in news site. If i had to limit my reasons to three:

1. WP Tavern expanded to include another author (Sarah Gooding) in September 2013. Her contributions to WP Tavern, along with Jeff’s usual devotion, helped make this site even better.
2. Post Status launched in 2013 but I think Brian Krogsgard’s site really hit it stride last year. His recent announcement of going full time with the site I think solidifies that we are leaving the “one man running a WordPress news site from his basement” feeling of prior years behind. (Heck, he just redesigned his site this week again and upgraded his domain name).
3. The Torque site has been stable in it’s high quality of posts and guest bloggers, and has proved itself in 2014 that it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

2015 will be the year WordPress podcasts mature

A prediction, yes. But one i think has a good chance of coming true. Here’s why:

1. When we think of WordPress podcasts, it’s hard to not think of the Dradcast. It wasn’t in the first few WordPress podcasts by any stretch, but the quality since it’s start has been top notch. It’s been consistently well done, but 2014 saw Torque partner with Dradcast, with WPEngine sponsoring. Not sure if this is directly related to my opinon that the show was more polished in 2014… either way, I expect Brad and Dre to be kicking butt in 2015.
2. Apply Filters started in 2013 with a few episodes but I think it in 2014 really proved that a non-interview, non-news, niche WordPress (for the most part) podcast could thrive (it instead focuses on development). I think the show really got into it’s stride by early 2014 (which makes sense – Brad and Pippin by that time got into a rhythm).
3. New podcasts already starting showing great promise. Take John Hawkins (who has been a long standing member of the WordPress community and Wordcamp organizer in Las Vegas) and his new podcast.
4. WordPress Weekly has been the most stable and regular WordPress show – hands down. I see no evidence of that slowing down in 2015 is another huge pillar to what will make 2015 mature more for WordPress podcasts.
5. If Dradcast and WordPress Weekly are legs on the WordPress podcast stool, I think Matt Medieros’s MattReport.com podcast is the third leg. It provides the entrepreneur and freelance side of WordPress which I think has been more vital in 2014 (just like business related conferences have become) to the WordPress community.
6. Sadly, some podcasts left us in 2014. But I think this is good for 2015 if nothing more than stressing that fact that making a regular podcast is HARD. Any new podcasts in 2015 would have taken this lesson to heart and be stronger for it.

If i have to sum it up, WordPress podcasts in 2014 seemed to get their act together. Some smaller ones dropped off while others grew while acquiring actual sponsorships (large and small). It’s this start in 2014 that makes me think 2015 will be the equal of a well-oiled machine for this industry.

What About WordPress Events?

This could be another blog post, but looking REALLY far ahead it’s possible that 2015 and 2016 should see another level of maturity when it comes to WordPress events. I believe 2013 and 2014 tie for years that WordCamps themselves matured from an organizational standpoint, thanks much to the WordPress Foundation. But 2014 proved WordPress events are more than WordCamps now. Alot more has appeared in this industry with the continuing of Pressnomics, Prestige Conference, LoopConf, and even smaller “mini-conferences” like WP Bootcamp. Heck, even WordSesh. 2015 will be an interesting year to watch and see what works and what exactly doesn’t. 2015 could see a trend of birth and growth for WordPress events like 2014 saw for WordPress podcasts.

Photo Credit: Flickr

Read More

Podcast on Tech Conferences

So I thinking about starting a podcast on:

  • Organizing tech conferences (large and small).
  • Interviews with current event organizers – interesting bits other organizers would benefit from.
  • Tips about speaking at events and conferences.
  • Tech conference industry coverage (trends, diversity, ticket prices, etc.).
  • What tech conferences people would recommend attending to other tech folks.
  • This would not be an exclusive WordPress / WordCamp podcast.

Why Another Podcast?

Well. Certainly this can’t be the worst subject for a podcast, unless you think Grown Ups 2 is a great movie (go ahead, click that link).

First, let me stress the LAST bullet above. This isn’t another “WordPress” podcast. Other podcasts cover these topics, so my idea isn’t unique. But I would hope WordPress and WordCamp people would get something from it and any guests.

After i moderated the WordPress Conference Round Table Discussion on WordSesh a few weeks back, I threw out the idea of perhaps continuing some of the topics I was discussing (with my great hosts Jenny Wong, Kiko Doran, and Ryan Sullivan) and the idea was warmly received.

Actually, the idea was FIRST conceived when i pitched this to Ryan Imel at WPCandy. We were actually going forward with this… but never made it far (if you know the history of WPCandy, this talking happened about a month or two before the site stopped being active).

Format

  • I don’t feel this is a podcast worthy of weekly episodes (plus I have no time for that).
  • The podcast would be monthly or would be a series of episodes (think TV seasons or series… first season would be six episodes of the course of a couple of months).
  • Guest hosts for every episode. The less I talk the better.
  • Short and straightforward: 30-40 minutes

So, here’s the question:

Would you listen? What topics would you want heard discussed?

What speakers would you like to hear (someone from your favorite conference, a favorite speaker, or maybe someone who can relate how they get the most of attending conferences)?

I’m listening.

Read More

How To Sell Yourself To The WordPress Community

Recently, I was witness to two events:

1. During WordSesh, someone was attempting to spread word about a site and themselves during the live chat. After negative reactions from the rest of the chat, it went from “spamming a chatroom” to “troll” status quickly (going as far as that person creating new accounts after being banned).

2. One morning I got a short unsolicited email from someone “introducing me” to their upcoming WordPress related service (using “wordpress” in their domain, which is a no-no although maybe they weren’t initially aware of it). Many others got the same email and soon many were discussing this on Twitter – which the user eventually attempted to respond to. Soon afterwards he/she published “an open letter”. I won’t spend further time on this example, but the tone of the “letter” fits into my thoughts of this post.

If you’ve been on the Internet long enough, neither of these incidents will surprise you.

So if you are someone who is new to the WordPress community – on the “outside” trying to reach those with your idea, service, or skills – consider the following:

Don’t spam or “cold-call”.

Be honest to yourself about what you’re doing. If reaching out in mass of people you don’t already have a connection to (via email, contact forms, tweets, DMs, etc.) isn’t what you call spamming then call it a form of “cold calling“.

And while this technique may work in other places and industries, but rarely – if ever – works for reaching those in the WordPress community.

It’s not about your idea, coding, or marketing.

As you determine how you want to present yourself (and what you have to offer) to the WordPress community, remember these 3 points:

1. Your idea alone isn’t unique. (Ask an experienced freelancer when they recalled the last time a client came to them and they thought “wow, i’ve never heard of that before and i’m sure nobody has either.”)
2. It doesn’t matter how well you think you code (either you think you code great, or you don’t think you can code yourself out of a paper bag).
3. Your marketing skills don’t matter (thinking you are the greatest or the worst marketing person).

Note i’m not saying the above will NEVER matter… we are talking about approaching others in the WordPress community.

The WordPress community isn’t an exclusive club or cult… so don’t be an outsider.

Those in the WordPress community respond best to those who understand or are trying to understand WordPress and open-source. To those who don’t want have the interest or don’t want to invest the time to understand the community and it’s values, it might seem the WordPress community is full of self-righteous stuck-up morons.

Read the reactions to my tweet above.

How do you get started? Try starting a blog, attending local WordPress meetups, and generally reaching out to meet ones in the community. Also doesn’t hurt to find a niche and be an authority in that niche.

Respect Trademarks

You will avoid having a big “bullseye” on your chest if you use “WordPress” (or any other trademarked words) in your domain name (read this). To the WordPress community this the equal of wearing shorts, black socks and sandals at a formal wedding. Granted, I think some people in the community get overly aggressive on calling this out to people who don’t know any better (that’s another post) but you should research trademarks before announcing your company or product.

Ask For Feedback

WordPress community welcomes new businesses and those to the community, especially if you have a product or service you want to sell or provide. Like in most ventures, it makes sense to ask for feedback from the community (via meetups, forums, etc.) before you announce your “next big idea”. Which leads me to…

Be humble and accept criticism

So you made a mistake in your initial approach. Maybe you DID spam or the reaction to your “message” wasn’t received well by the community (for whatever reason). That’s ok. A great thing about the WordPress community is that it forgives and doesn’t hold back in giving suggestions (which for the most most are constructive). It’s the REACTION to the feedback you get that truly establishes yourself.

Listen. Accept feedback and criticism. Resist the urge to overly defend yourself to a community you don’t understand yet.

I’ve made a ton of stupid mistakes. And i’ll make a ton more. But I try to be humble and accept the feedback of my peers and those in the community (even though it’s in my nature to NOT accept these humbly).

Sometimes it’s best to not do anything – or simply say “thank you” – instead of trying to mount a defense on Twitter or in the form of “open letters”.

In the end, even if you are right, it’s your attitude that leaves an impression on people. The currency of perception is ultimately more valuable than any code, idea, or marketing technique.

Get involved with the community

Be a part of the community you want to “profit” from. Speak or volunteer at a local meetup or WordCamp. Get involved with the WordPress project (there are a TON of ways to do so – even if you don’t know or don’t care to know any code).

You don’t have to be a core contributor to have a successful WordPress product or business. But you should have the same overall attitude – always be learning, sharing that knowledge with others in the community in an approachable and positive way.

…but don’t get involved JUST to promote yourself

I’ve seen more than a few organize and volunteer thinking that it by doing so that will “increase awareness of their product or brand”. I’ve seen people try to speak at meetups and WordCamps for the primary reason of promoting themselves and their business (in varying degrees of obviousness). It’s sad when they don’t understand WHY… it’s even sadder when they blame this on WordPress being an “exclusive club that isn’t letting me promote myself” instead of realizing what was off in their baseline thinking.

Get involved for the RIGHT reasons. Get involved because you want to give back to the community, help and educate others, and grow your skills and experience.

It takes time

Be patient.

Great posts came out this past week from successful WordPress developers about doing business in WordPress and how they interacted with the community.

Read them, but understand how none of these people and projects were overnight success stories. These talented people dedicated REAL time and effort to not only coding and marketing but also being approachable and a positive influence to the WordPress community:

https://pippinsplugins.com/2014-review/
http://mattreport.com/precursor-greatness/
http://wpninjas.com/2014-review/

What’s Your Take?

I’m open to thoughts as to how ones on the outside of the WordPress bubble perceive the WordPress community, and what lessons learned (good or bad) you may have had that can be applied here.


Update: Chris Lema published some great thoughts on tips on approaching the WordPress community (funny enough posted at almost the same time as this post) with your product or service. In the usual Lema style, he gives a great positive spin. Worthy of a read.

Read More

WordSesh (December 13th, 2014)

The 3rd WordSesh online conference was special to me because I was actually a speaker (duh!). Felt honored to be given a time slot. I selected the “conference panel” topic myself and special thanks to my panel members (all of which i contacted and coordinated within 24 hours). I believe we had a great discussion and actually wouldn’t mind spinning off some topics and themes in future podcasts and conference sessions.

Note: I was a little goofy in the beginning because I was attempting to be a Google Hangout He-Man and call on the name and the power of James Lipton. I failed, but it gets better after the first five minutes. I swear. But at least i’m in a suit (best dressed at WordSesh, btw… at least I had that going for me).

Read More

2014-12-05 14.51.52

WordCamp Orlando 2014

Had a great time at WordCamp Orlando 2014. There are other people’s reviews and recaps (WP Valet’s recap is a good example), so I won’t go into too much detail. I think the event was well done and also (as I mentioned to a few people at the event) a great sized event. 300-400 is a great range for a WordCamp – at least in Orlando. It never seemed too big, or I wasn’t missing chances to network. A great example of a well organized event. If you’ve never been, make it a point to some in 2015 (where there might be a new venue, so that would make things interesting).

I didn’t speak or officially volunteer at this WordCamp (Orlando is usually my “vacation” WordCamp, plus I had other business to deal with before and during the conference) but I enjoyed being included in many events. Organizers are really great guys (not to mention the volunteers and speakers).

Read More