WordCamp Fraser Valley Liveblog


Wednesday, July 16th, 2008 — 6:11pm PST
Comments 29

Photo credit: Raul on Flickr

Walking in to the Cascades Casino in Langley we were turned away immediately. No to worry though, we were actually just redirected to the Coast Hotel around back. We’re sitting in a pretty majestic ballroom with a swanky setup – microphone, projectors, little bitty notepads with the hotel logo on them. Big thanks to Gary for initiating all of this.

There are all levels of bloggers here – from the netorious John Chow to those who would simply like to know how to get into blogging.

I’ll try to liveblog or at least update throughout the night – Raul is up first to tell his story about switching from Blogger to WordPress.

Raul is covering a lot of ground so hopefully he’ll be able to make his slides available (perhaps with something like Slideshare. [Editor’s note: John is uploading some photos on the fly (and blogging at sixty4media) you can view them on his Flickr]

After his slide presentation Raul has jumped into some live walk-throughs of the WordPress.com dashboard, comments interface and stats in order to introduce users to WP and to show how it compares to Blogger.

It appears that Kerry will not be joining us tonight (hope everything is okay!) so Gary will be filling in and talking about Business Blogging.

Gary says that blogging for business is crucial, “You want your customers to come back to your site everyday,” and asks around to see how many people know if their customers are visiting their website everyday. Aside from addressing why companies should have blogs he’ll also touch on internet and external blogs, “if you have an internal blog people will talk,” which is a good thing for a company.

Tips and tricks include the moderation of comments, you should always be able to control what is on your outward-facing web presence. Gary also says a big tip would be to get involved, encourage comments and have polls, which can be very valuable for a business, “you can begin to understand who your customers are.” He adds that you can ask questions in your posts to encourage comments, this engages your audience and makes your post a discussion. A big part the discussion is using tools like microblogs ie. Twitter.

During the Q and A there’s a lot of talk about comment moderation and if you leave your entire blog to moderated comments would you lose repeat traffic. Gary says there are many ways to stay on top of comment moderation (aside from checking your email every two minutes) including a plugin that will email the commenter and say something along the lines of “thanks for coming by”. There’s also the question of content – how do you find the time to write everyday? Very valid questions for business.

After a quick networking break where we got to chat with our friend Mark, Kulpreet will now be speaking about protecting your WordPress site – “Safety First!”

Being aware of security updates saves you time, money, stress, and prevents the loss of readers and content. “Every application has security concerns,” ensures Kulpreet laying out some of the “pros” and “cons” of security. Kulpreet strongly urges everyone who is currently running their own install of WordPress to upgrade to 2.6 right away. Tips: Use “WP Automatic Upgrade plugin”, “Don’t share your version” (meaning don’t say on your blog what you are running), “Remove version from meta tags”.

When it comes to the databases Kulpreet suggests that you check some of the setup settings (with regards to database naming), passwords (make sure they’re tricky and alpha-numeric), and remember to backup regularly.

“Plugin and other unprotected folders should have an index file or fix with htacess,” Kulpreet just asked how many people with websites can go to www.theirwebsite.com/wp-content/plugins and actually see the list of plugins? If you can do that with your WordPress site, that’s not good so be sure to protect those folders. If you are an admin of your site DO NOT use “admin” as your user name. If you have contact forms make sure they are secure (Cforms is our favourite as well as Kulpreet’s)

Kulpreet provides a comprehensive list of security plugins including things like Login LockDown, Akismet for spam and PhoneFactor, which provides telephone authentication when you login or post to your site (for those who are really paranoid).

[Editor’s note: John and Raul both have blog posts up about the evening as well.]

Useful links from Kulpreet include WordPress Security White Paper, “Did your WordPress site get hacked?” featuring samples of what a hacked site would look like, and SEOChat.

Okay I was up there for about 30 minutes although my presentation was only about 10 minutes long. It soon turned into general Q and A about themes, Twitter, and “what is a wiki”. If I had two good ears I would have heard crickets in the room and I’m thinking it didn’t go so well… either that or I covered absolutely everything, which I doubt.

I did mention how John made fancy drop down menus so he wrote this post on the fly.

At any rate, John Chow is now on and talking about traffic why? “To make money, to be an authority, for bragging rights.”

John’s 3 Ways to Increase Traffic are 1) Get new visitors to your blog 2) Get current visitors to come back to your blog – don’t neglect them 3) Get visitors to view more pages.

Tools that can help your traffic:
All in one SEO Pack Plugin
Google Sitemap Plugin

He now has “Evil” ways to drive traffic to your site but to keep his secrets I will not be blogging them.

Aaaaand we’re back! How to get visitors to return to your site? Get them to subscribe to your RSS. Also, encourage comments even with a plugin like Top Commentators – people like being showcased and linked to. You can also offer up more content for people by having Related Posts plugins, Random Posts and having them explore more of your site.

John’s final tip is to have a blog contest and it probably won’t cost you anything if you find a sponsor. “They help to create activity and viral buzz,” and you can throw something in there like “you can enter just by blogging about it.”

Question from the audience about feeds. “If you’re going to offer a feed, offer a full feed,” states John, “it’s a myth that people won’t come to your site if they get the full feed,” he also says he personally will not subscribe to a blog that only has partial feeds. Another tip is like Gary said before is ask a question in your post to drive people to your site to comment.

Question from the audience about translations: John says there’s the Babelfish plugin but John (Bollwitt) reminds me that Duane wrote a translation plugin as well.

As John Chow is wrapping up his Q and A I’m reflecting a bit on the night. During the networking session there was a group of about 10 familiar bloggers (out of about 80 people here). That’s just a sign of how things are moving outside the walls of downtown and our set blogger meetups. It’s really encouraging and I hope people take away a lot about blogging in general (not just WordPress).

Update: July 17th – Initially this wasn’t a mini conference about blogging 101, it was about WordPress blogging – specifically designed for users, coders, and those curious about this particular blogging platform. If you are new to blogging and want something more basic, I suggest the upcoming BarCamp we’re having in September and it won’t all be about WordPress but moreso every level of social media.

The last WordCamp I spoke at I was sitting on the floor cross-legged. I’ve seen Twitters about how my presentation was too casual but honestly, that’s just who I am. I’m not a trained speaker, I do not speak for a living. I talk about blogging, the tools I use, and I help others out with tips and tricks. Last night, the theme of the entire evening was WordPress so that’s what I talked about. I’ve never done a solo presentation for a room of 80 people with a microphone in my face. I never have a script and I always do a demo. In the world of social media you do not need to be in a suit and tie to give a talk to an audience or to know what you’re talking about and for that, I’m pretty grateful.

Current contests on Miss604.com

29 comments

  1. […] wcfv. Tags: WordCamp Fraser Valley trackback I gave my presentation at the very beginning (Rebecca is being her usual awesome self and live-blogging – she even has video of my talk!) and even though I was nervous with my first non-academic talk in […]

  2. […] topics are being presented tonight, so I will let Rebecca’s live blog speak more to what’s going on, not to mention that she is also one of the presenters tonight. […]

  3. Hi Rebecca,

    Thank you for the great summary and live blog. The tool from SEOChat is called Site Link Analyzer.

  4. Thank you for being the Media Sponsor and speaker for this event. It was nice meeting you.

  5. The plugin that emails the commenters I spoke about is here…

    http://www.justinshattuck.com/comment-relish/

  6. Ross says:

    Please feel free to moderate this comment, as it’s not entirely friendly.

    I do wish I was there, for the sole reason of refuting John Chow’s “more traffic than all of your blogs combined” comment. Don’t get me wrong, he makes way, way more money each month than I suspect I ever will. But I have more traffic than him, and his “300,000 visitors a month” comment was.. well.. a lie. http://www.johnchow.com/blog-income-report-may-2008/

    Unless of course his traffic doubled from May to June (and lets face it, it didn’t). I’ve often wondered if he was as arrogant he comes off as, and judging from your video, he certainly is.

    If this comment isn’t moderated, and I totally understand if it is, I do hope the bloggers that attended WordCamp Fraser Valley – particularly those new to blogging, don’t walk away thinking that people who make their living from blogging are all like John.

  7. […] Bollwitt aka Miss604 (and also Miss778) had her presentation next, in fact you can read her Live-Blogging too. She talked about how you could customize your WordPress blog into using customized sidebar […]

  8. Raul says:

    One of the biggest challenges when giving these kinds of presentations is to gauge the audience and perceive who is attending. We all assumed that we were speaking to an audience that had some degree of understanding and blogging and WordPress.

    In my view (and that of the majority of participants), your talk was absolutely outstanding. You did live demos of how to do things, offered tips, tricks and advice. As I tried to emphasize when I commented about your talk, you have epitomized what Web 2.0 is – A CONVERSATION.

    I don’t get it when attendees complain about “too casual of a style” when clearly, a WordCamp is supposed to be casual! The transition from a Web 1.0 style (static presentation – you listen to me talking) is no longer the norm. The relevant style of interacting with participants at unconferences or Camps is bi-directional and dynamic. Hence Web 2.0

    I think you did a great job and I dare anyone who would like to complain about the fact to go and do exactly what you did. It’s easy to criticize from the sidelines.

    Sorry for the massive comment. Congrats again on a great talk.

  9. John Chow says:

    Ross – Traffic can be measure in multiple ways. Most would think it’s visits to your blog. But how about those who don’t visit your blog and read it via RSS or email subscription? Shouldn’t that be part of the total traffic? When I do my income report, I only list the traffic that visited my blog. I do not include the RSS and Email. When taken together, they work out to 900,000 visitors per month.

  10. KimHo says:

    Hi Rebecca,

    Thanks for your presentation; it was quite informative. After thinking a little bit about your presentation, I have some questions related to style. I will appreciate if you could provide some feedback:

    1) In your opinion, what is the best order which the different plugins should appear on the sidebar(s)?
    2) When do you think it is way too much, i.e., when too many items in the sidebar is suddenly a distraction?

    Thanks!

  11. Bernie says:

    I enjoyed your presentation and although you looked a little nervous you did a great job, I don’t run a blog as such but am considering it when I can devote enough time to it, expect questions!

  12. […] can read more about WordCamp on Miss.604’s blog. She was live blogging last night. I’m sure that Raul was doing it too. […]

  13. […] speaker included Raul from Hummingbird 604, Rebecca Bollwitt from Miss604.com, Kulpreet Singh, Gary Jones from BlueFur.com and myself. The topics ranged from “Why I switch […]

  14. Ross says:

    Not to beat a horse to death, but no John, it’s not 900k. Not even close. Since you aren’t blocking Feedburner awareness, your 27k RSS subs is really 2k active subs (and I’m rounding up). http://api.feedburner.com/awareness/1.0/GetFeedData?uri=JohnChowDotCom&dates=2008-07-01,2008-07-17

    I don’t doubt your $ stats for one second – without question you really are getting rich w/ your site, and you truly are an innovator in that field. But your pageviews/visits/visitors are hugely inflated. When talking about website metrics, no one translates RSS and email subscriptions as page views or visitors. No one. Not Google Analytics, not Alexa, Quantcast, Compete – no one. They are separate statistics, always.

  15. Jon says:

    Thanks for your presentation last night, it was great to see a room in Langley filled with people all interested in using WordPress.

    Don’t be too hard on yourself, it’s not easy to get up in front of an audience and present. Your tips about changing out sidebars is something I’ll be using for my next WordPress project, and all the presenters had a lot of great takeaways.

    And let’s give our friend John a break here. Coming from traditional media, our numbers are often a collective fantasy that both broadcasters and advertisers buy into. It doesn’t mean the end result (money and brand exposure) isn’t effective for everyone involved, it’s just an attempt to put a price on what is truly unknown. The real measure is the financial success that John is enjoying, as that is the goal he has set for himself. The “more traffic than everyone combined” comment definitely got everyone’s attention in the room. To ask the showman to always be completely accurate is to deprive ourselves of a little entertainment in what were some very solid tips he shared, even if many of us wouldn’t go as far as he would.

    A very worthwhile evening all told.

  16. […] from miss604.com about creating custom sidebars and pages. She had a great point about having post titles match the […]

  17. […] speaker included Raul from Hummingbird 604, Rebecca Bollwitt from Miss604.com, Kulpreet Singh, Gary Jones from BlueFur.com and myself. The topics ranged from “Why I switch […]

  18. app says:

    @John Chow

    Would you consider traffic to someone else’s site, where they are exploiting your full content RSS feed to display your content on their site, taking credit for it, making money off it with their ads, as part of your total traffic too? These are visitors that your site will never see, and they will never know the true source of the content they are looking at.

    A full content feed is not right for every site, and mine is certainly a case where it’s not too smart. Content copying has been a big problem with one of my sites and I switched to a blog format to make it a little more difficult for content thieves to steal all my work with a single copy & paste. It used to be a one page site, and that original page is copied to a million blog posts, all over the web. Some of those blog posts receive more traffic than my site and are making much more off the ads on their page in a day than I make on mine in a month.

    DMCA takedown notices were not working out too well, as the number of new content thieves outnumbered the pages I was able to get taken down, by at least 10 to 1.

    The blog format slows them down a lot, but a full content feed would allow them to automate their theft and make it even easier than copy & paste was on the old site.

    By publishing a partial feed with enough info to allow visitors know if they want to see the important link at the end, but withholding that link from the content thieves, I make my RSS feed useful to normal people and almost useless to the thieves. They will still have to work much harder to steal my content.

  19. John Chow says:

    Ross – Like I said, traffic can be measured in a many ways. Someone gets 10,000 visitors per day but if it’s the same visitors everyday, does he have 10,000 unique per month or 300,000? The ad agency will say 300,000. Depending on what I’m trying to accomplish, I will tell people my readership can be as low as 30,000 to as high as 900,000. Sometimes, you don’t need to state the big number to get the effect. ๐Ÿ™‚

    app – I can understand where you are coming from. I don’t even keep track on the number of sites that scrape my content. I’ll be sending DMCA notice for 8 hours a day if I try to take them all down. I do have ways to reduce the damage caused by scrapers however.

  20. […] 604 talked about the Word Press camp she was a presenter at in the Fraser Valley here. (and so did John Chow […]

  21. Hi Rebecca:

    I enjoyed your talk at the Fraser Valley Wordcamp this week. I’m a new Vancouver blogger. My topics are nutritional health, fabulous food, food quotes, Vancouver flora. One of the tips I picked up from you and have already started to put into action is to create a title that explains what the post is about, so when Google picks it up, it explains more to those surfing by. I’m also going to sign up for Twitter. See you there!

    Thanks for your enthusiasm,
    Best of health, naturally,
    Nina Shoroplova

  22. […] blog. Good roster of speakers lined up, too![Edit: didn’t make it to the meeting, but Miss 604’s liveblog of the event is almost as good as being […]

  23. […] some time last night to read through Miss 604’s WordCamp Fraser Valley Liveblog to see what I’d missed. When I read Kulpreet’s question, “… how many people […]

  24. […] Rebecca Bollwitt’s blog […]

  25. […] speaker included Raul from Hummingbird 604, Rebecca Bollwitt from Miss604.com, Kulpreet Singh, Gary Jones from BlueFur.com and myself. The topics ranged from “Why I switch […]

  26. […] tips? What is WordPress? Security issues (*cough*Kulpreet*cough*)?, Using photos with WordPress? Favourite Plugins? WordPress as a CMS? Thoughts on WordPress […]

  27. […] speaker included Raul from Hummingbird 604, Rebecca Bollwitt from Miss604.com, Kulpreet Singh, Gary Jones from BlueFur.com and myself. The topics ranged from “Why I switch […]

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