WordPress Meetup

So I am at a WordPress meetup with a bunch of people from WordCamp Dallas that I was at earlier this month.  I honestly have no idea what exactly people do at a meetup like this, but I thought I’d come.  We started off with just chatting and Cali Lewis broadcasting live on her Qikchannel.  She went around talking to everyone and letting them all plug themselves on there.  Given that she has a pretty good audience, that was pretty cool.  I came just to see what exactly happened at one of these meetup things. I didn’t know if it was just to hang out and get to know people that have similar interests, or if there was actually going to be discussions about specific things.  I’m still new to the actual live interaction of people in the social media world so I’m just trying to get some experience.  No one that I know in real life does anything online that isn’t Facebook.  To hang out with people that are actually doing the same stuff online that I’m interested in is pretty cool. 

I started this post while still at the meetup, but quickly got too discracted with my sandwich and talking to actually finish it.  Then I went out to the Denton Jazz Festival, and am just now returning home.  The meetup was a lot of fun, though.  There were probably 25 or so people there, and the topics being discussed were of quite a variety.  A number of people did talk about WordPress, but the group of people I was sitting with covered everything from Twitter to beers.  It was interesting to meet some new people, and get to know them a bit.  There are people that I’ve been talking to on Twitter, and it was neat to meet them.  Rumor is that there is supposed to be another one of these sometime in the future, and I’ll definitely try to make it.  Thanks to William Addington for organizing it.

WordPress Migration

I finally broke down and migrated myself to WordPress before getting my design finished. I really didn’t want to move over to this until I had it all done, but I just haven’t had a chance to work on it and I really wanted to get on WordPress and off of Blogger. Not that I had anything greatly against Blogger, but I was starting to want some of the features offered with WordPress. Also, I’m going to try to go to the WordCamp meetup tomorrow, and would hate to still not be on WordPress. So for the time being, I have no plugins, no nice design, and a lot of the settings still on default. Once things settle down I’ll actually get something more to my liking up.

I’ve also got another project I want to work on that I haven’t been able to. I have the domain, and I’m getting some of the stuff I’ll need for it next week, but I still need to build out the site. I’ll post more about it when I’m farther along.

Takeaway From WordCamp Dallas Part 2

Yesterday in Part 1 of my takeaway I covered some of the cool new tools and programs that I am starting to use as a result of going.  I should probably give an honorable mention to Twitter in there too, since I did start using it just before WordCamp as a result of FriendFeed, but I’m using it a whole lot more since WC.  Today I’ll cover some of the good advice/tips that I picked up.

Some of these things I already knew, but just haven’t been following. I’m really going to try to be better about that, though. One that got brought up over and over again was maintaining a large repository of posts. Saved Drafts Always keep some posts written, or in the process of being written, so that you’ll always have material at your reading in case you don’t have time to write something else. I always tried to do this myself, but found that I could never keep more than one or maybe two posts done. The people at WC, though, had anywhere from ten to sixty posts in some stage of completion. I’ve already started to come up with some things that I can write about, and started on a couple of them. I always have a few ideas swimming in my head, but usually don’t let myself start on them unless I know that I can finish it in the same sitting. I’m changing my mentality now. Another thing that I’ve always known I should do but don’t is use more images. Most people say they try to have at least one image in every post they do. Scoble has even said that he’s much more likely to look at something just because it has a picture. I rarely use any pictures on my posts, but I think I’ll try to start doing that. It was also suggested that you make sure to keep them hosted on your server, and that you use descriptive names and appropriate alt text. For some reason, Live Writer likes to post my pictures to my Picasa online album rather than my own server. I think I’m going to try to change that, though. One thing that was suggested that I’ve never really thought about before is using the title attribute on all of your links. I also already knew, but failed to follow, this next thing which is to post consistently. It doesn’t matter if you post five times a day, or just once a week, it is important to be consistent. If you are posting every day, and then take ten days off, you’re likely to have some people get aggravated. It’s also just good practice for people to know that every morning/afternoon/Monday/weekend they can do their reading and catch your post. I’m going to start aiming for a post a day, at least M-F, and see how that goes. If I stay on the ball with it, I should be ok. It probably means staying up a bit late sometimes, or taking my laptop to the bar with me.

A lot of the things I just covered can be found on John Pozadzides’s site, One Man’s Blog, in his post 45 Ways to Power up Your Blog, which he used as his talk. His was one that I really enjoyed. I also liked Aaron Brazell‘s WordPress FAQ which covered quite a bit, and was pretty informative. Matt Mullenweg, founding developer of WordPress, was the first to speak and announced the launch of WordPress 2.6, and hinted at what’s to come from 2.6. You can watch a recording of Matt’s talking about where they’ve been, and things coming WordPress 2.6 thanks to Michelle Greer. His was the first talk, and it definitely piqued my interest in using WordPress as my platform. The other discussion I really enjoyed, though it doesn’t necessarily directly relate to me, was the panel on the business of blogging.  The panel consisted of Mark Ghosh, Liz Strauss, Aaron Brazell, and Matt Mullenweg.WordCamp Business Panel by Ronalfy The questions and answers were all really great, and John P did an awesome moderating. I probably would have enjoyed seeing it, but I missed the first session on day two which was a live recording of the WordPress Podcast with Charles Stricklin. Fortunately, though, since this is a podcast I can just download it and listen when I have a chance. There were a number of other speakers, but those were the ones I enjoyed the most.

That takes care of part two of my takeaway from WordCamp.  I had a great time, and enjoyed meeting people and learning new things.  I should also mention a thanks to Frisco, TX for letting us use the city hall there for the event.  The facilities were very nice, and I know that we all appreciated them letting us be there.  I hope to see more events like this here in the Dallas area in the future.

Takeaway From WordCamp Dallas Part 1

I was fortunate enough to get to attend WordCamp Dallas, which was a great experience. Living in the Dallas area doesn’t afford me Wordcamp Dallas 2008a lot of opportunities to go to many web related events so this was really nice. I went with zero expectations of what I would get out of it. I just wanted to meet like minded people and see what WordPress is all about since I haven’t used it before. It turned out to be a really enjoyable two days, and I’ll cover some of what I took away from it.  I originally planned to have this all as one post, but it seemed significantly longer than I normally like so I decided to split it into two parts.  This one will cover things that I’m going to start using because of WordCamp, and in my next one I’ll go over tips/advice I picked up, and which sessions I really enjoyed.

I’ve never used WordPress. When I first started my site, I did everything myself. All of the coding and whatnot I setup on my own. I even built a rudimentary comment system. To update I had a little form I made in PHP what would update my database. I was pretty proud of myself for doing everything on my own. The problem, though, is that it’s a lot of work do maintain that way. I was doing a lot of things manually, and decided that I could either invest time in writing things to automate some stuff and make scaling easier, or I could use a blogging tool. I decided that lazy was the way to go, so I set out to find a tool. The choice wasn’t really that hard, though, since Google owns Blogger, and if you know me you know that Google also owns me. I use all of their other services so I saw no reason to not also use their blogging platform. Eventually I started using Live Writer so I never even visit the Blogger page anymore. Despite my using it for about a year now, I’ve never been 100% sold on Blogger. I especially feel this way after seeing WordPress 2.5 in action. As such, I’m going to be migrating my site over the the WordPress platform. I already have it setup and am currently running it parallel to my Blogger so that I can make sure it’s all working and can just be switched over. I’m working on getting a design that I like put together before I go live with WP. I’m hoping to do that this week, but my schedule may not allow for anything to happen before this weekend. Get excited, though, because it’s coming.

WordPress wasn’t the only thing that got talked up that I’ve decided to start using. Feedburner was also touted by a few people. I visit gobs of sites that use Feedburner, but I never really bothered to set it up. After hearing the praise given to it, though, I’ve decided to give it a go. I don’t know how many people are actually subscribing to my feed as it is now, but I’m pretty sure it’s not many. It’s because I’m guessing that number is so low that I’ve not bothered using anything special. I’ll give it a try, though, and see what it’s like.

What may be the coolest thing out of WordCamp Dallas is the new stat tracking service Woopra. Woopra Logo This tool is amazing. There is a desktop client that provides real time tracking and shows live usage data. You can actually see what pages are being viewed by which visitor as they are viewing them. That’s just the whiz-bang awesomeness, it also provides a plethora of detailed stats. I’ll try to play with it some more and write up something in more detail later. Check out the coverage at GeekBrief.TV, Mashable, and TechCrunch. Everyone present at WordCamp was lucky enough to get a beta invite and I started playing with it instantly. It really is amazing. You can try for a chance to win an invite for yourself over at Culturefeast, or request one from the Woopra website.

That wraps up part one of what I got out of WordCamp.  I can’t recommend playing with Woopra enough.  It is an incredibly awesome app, you you really should check it out.  I’ll have to use Feedburner and WordPress more before I can give real thoughts on them.  From what I’ve seen, though, WordPress will be great.  I already see it as being a great tool for me, and one that should improve my blogging experience.  I’ll probably have part 2 up sometime tomorrow, so check back.

Learning Things at WordCamp Dallas

I’m at WordCamp Dallas and we’re just barely over halfway into day one and I’m already learning some stuff.  First, I’m already thinking that I like the stuff that WordPress has to offer.  I am thinking that when I get some free time (not any time soon) that I’ll migrate my site over to it.  I’m also picking up a lot of tips that I’m going to try to implement.  John P from One Mans Blog had a talk of 45 Ways to Power up Your Blog that contain a number of useful things that I want to try too.  He also had a really awesome statistics tool called Woopra that looks incredibly cool and I’m going to play with it soon.  Lots of cool stuff going on here, I’m really enjoying it.