Tonight’s WordCamp Vancouver has received the stamp of approval by the WordPress overlords and has been listed on WordCamp Central, the official WordCamp site.
WordPress is build on PHP and a backend MySQL database. In plain English it’s what millions of people (including Miss604.com) use as a blogging and content management system. Here’s the official description: “WordPress is a state-of-the-art publishing platform with a focus on aesthetics, web standards, and usability. WordPress is both free and priceless at the same time.” [WordPress.org]
I’ll be liveblogging everything except my own session of course, you can find the rundown of the topics and speakers here.
Note: The Network Hub is a great place for meetings and such but I’m afraid it’s way too tiny for the abundance of WordPress newbies, gurus and enthusiasts who expect to attend tonight. Make sure you show up early to grab a spot as I’m certain it will be ‘standing room only’ within a few minutes.
Update: Live blog to begin around 5:00pm PT on this post/at this URL.
Update: Rastin is doing an introduction and thanking the sponsors (big thanks to Automattic) NOTE the after Camp drinks are taking place at FLUX Bistro in Gastown (no longer Steamworks). This place is getting packed, with folks sitting on the floor in front of the presentation area it truly is like a camp fire.
Update: First up is Jeff Kee from Synchronous a company the specializes in custom WordPress theming. He’ll be covering: custom templates, custom front pages, php/html, template tags, plugins, and modifying widget.php source. What a mouthful! Glad he’s covering these things, I tinker with templates and themes on a daily basis and it’s really helpful for those who want to go beyond the standard WP themes that are available.
Jeff just made an important note: the front page of your WordPress site does not necessarily have to be your blog page. This is customizable in your Dashboard > Options >Reading. You could have a welcome screen then a page called “blog” that your posts will be published to.
He also touches on loops, custom templates and call tags. Although this may be over the heads of some of those in the room (especially if you’re just on WordPress.com) I think this is important information. Folks need to know that you can pretty much do anything in terms of customizing your WordPress site.
Plugins are great because anyone is free to create and mix with the functionalities of WordPress. You can add design elements or simply make your blogging life easier with the usage of plugins (… especially spam-blocking ones like Akismet). Jeff also mentioned the cforms plugin, which I also use, it’s really intuitive and customizable. I realize I’m saying the word “customize” a lot but it just fits.
Update: Monica Hamburg is up next and she’ll be addressing some basics of blogging: how to write those interesting posts, then how to use social media to promote them. She’s listing off various blogs that she likes as they all have personality, humour, and the authors are specialists in their fields ie. MyNameisKate.ca.
Keep in mind, the web is visual, break posts into shorter paragraphs and remember the short attention span generation. Basically, make things easy to read, truncate longer posts or have a series of posts, “check back next week for the next installment”. Tip: RSS feed or a “subscribe now” button should be clearly visible. Tip: Use categories! People can search for these elements and it’s also a good indicator of what the post would be about (not to mention the added SEO). Tip: Irresistible titles! Be specific, be engaging, grab people with your first line… which is always the title. Sample: “where are my pants?”. I can’t capture all of the hilarious examples that Monica is listing off but I’ve been giggling for the last 3 minutes.
Remember supply and demand when it comes to post content. Create a conversation, leave it open to comments, have a voice and allow others to have a voice. Example: NetChick’s ability to get dozens of comments on a blog post because she states her piece, informs, creates content etc. and then opens the floor for discussion. Also, remember to comment tactfully note: CommentLuv adds a link to the commenter’s latest post on their own site. Use Twitter, Digg, StumbleUpon etc. to promote your entries – make your posts “bookmark..able”.
Update: I’m up next folks! (Raul has some notes on my talk here)
Here are some of the plugins I mentioned in my talk:
Flickr Photo Album: As seen in my screencast – easily insert your Flickr photos (any size and with links) into your blog post.
Flickr RSS: Displays a badge of your Flickr photos on your site. You can chose to display only certain tags, most recent, and chose the number of thumbnails to display. This also works with Duane and Dale’s WPtouch plugin.
Add Quicktags: Add custom “quick tags” that will appear when you’re composing a post ie. one that will insert the div tags, line breaks, or template links back to Flickr photos. You will have to code the properties for the div tags in your CSS (regarding alignment and caption properties etc.)
Update: Okay hopefully I was somewhat informative – Duane is up next, mostly talking about his Brave New Code work and mobile blogging. If you haven’t heard about WPtouch yet, I suggest you check it out!
Update: After the quick break Kulpreet is up next talking about WordPress as a Content Management System. Custom field GUI, custom write panel, Enzyme and Get Custom and blogroll.
The custom fields option at the bottom of your post is often neglected but in the case of a plugin or mashup you can populate these fields to create grids or custom wording at the bottom of a post.
Here’s an example I can give – if you have Duane’s WordTwit app installed, look at the bottom of a published post and you’ll see: “has_been_twittered” which should equal “yes” if already published.
Kulpreet also addresses Custom Write Panels so you can select the type of post you’re writing ie. check write an event, write a review etc. and that post will be customized. Then for that post type, fields will appear that will help you fill in the information you’d like to supply for that type of post.
A plugin he also introduces is Enzyme, which allows you to include custom field posts and pages. You can take custom fields of one post and refer to them in another. So how do these custom fields appear in your post? Use another plugin called “Get Custom Fields” which you can get at Coffee2Code.
Update: When it comes to a blogroll, every entry in your blogroll contains specific information that you can pull from and call up using various customizations or plugins. Show the linked bloggers’ photos, latest posts, excerpts etc. just by using the fields available and the “get_bookmarks” string in the backend of your hosted WordPress site. I really didn’t know that you could do so much with custom fields.
Photos from the break with MostlyLisa and John Chow:
John Biehler also has photos up close-to-live on his Flickr.
Update: “Bloggers should just get over themselves,” okay kind of kidding but Bruce is now here to talk about the value of blogging – not necessarily monetary value but… first off, why do you blog? If you don’t have an audience can you really be called a writer? Bruce has views that are similar to Dave’s “F stats, make art.” He doesn’t write for stats or to please the numbers. Side note: he used to be a composition instructor at a university. Another side note: Bruce was recently converted to blogging and now admits, he’s addicted. “Writing is a skill like any other skill that you need to practice to be good at.”
Writing is a way to work with yourself and find your own thoughts and blogging is a fairly easy-to-use creative outlet. Enjoy it, just go out and write!
Update: I think Pete Quily just coined the term of the evening, “there’s a plugin for that”.
Update: Now there is an open discussion about the philosophies of blogging and commenting so just to tie that in – is anyone reading this live blog?
Update: Duane just discovered the WayBack machine, apparently his site in 2003 was duane.servebeer.com.
Update: John Chow is up next, “how many people think making money off blogging is evil?” while Bruce (the previous presenter) waves his hand in the air in jest. John started his blog in 2005 with a goal of part time blogging for full time money. He’s currently generating $30,000 a month off the blog. Yep, that’s a month. If you want to learn about making money off a blog, that’s his business. There are two elements to his blog, optimizing the ads and generating traffic, the two often work hand in hand. What about the content you ask? Well that just happens.
John now gets into Google Ads, something I still haven’t really figured out. Personally I don’t think after 1 year I’ve even reached the $100 mark. John gets $117 for every 1,000 page views. This is where he shows us Adsense Deluxe, a plugin that helps you optimize your d placements. John even brings up his copy cat’s site (JohnCow.com), which is a parody on him and he makes about $3,000/month.
WOW a great way to get people to purchase ads on your site is with the OLOPublishing plugin. It allows people to purchase an ad, upload a photo, you can approve it and bam, it’s up on your site. A key note is to monetize but do not compromise your content, you still need something read-worthy to get those visits and clicks. If you want to monetize your blog, advertising is NOT subtle – don’t tip toe through it, go all-in with ads to make money.
Update: Sorry followers, we have about 10 minutes left but my battery power is at 13% so I might drop out here. Anything missed will be filled in later and Raul will be adding his note from my session. We’re all heading to Flux on Water Street in Gastown in about 20-30 minutes so if you’re in the area stop on by.
Update: In the spirit of knowledge sharing and giving a shout out, I have uploaded one of my first screencasts about Flickr to WordPress (FTW!) to the competitive video sharing site Strutta as a Game. Head over to upload your screencast WordPress demos or tips, join the game, get votes, and um just try to beat me.