Yesterday I attended the Minneapolis St. Paul WordCamp 2010. A collection of people who embrace WordPress as their blog platform and/or CMS of choice came together to celebrate a fantastic open-source software package and explore its possibilities.
After a miserably cold slog through the heaviest snowflakes I’d ever experienced, and a Bruegger’s Bagel sandwich that was so bland it made the snowflakes seem tasty, I arrived at the luxurious Best Buy Headquarters. After loading up on t-shirts, stickers and even a pint glass from the nice folks at iphouse, I killed off a Saturday with seminars on everything from coding plugins and themes to custom post types and e-commerce. Lunch was catered by Buca.
At the Customizing WordPress class, Josh Byers gave the audience this geek test:
Your site living on WordPress.com is like you living in your mom’s basement. Its a great place to start out. It’s free, and lots of things are taken care of for you. But you can’t change anything, and the only traffic is housewives attending your mom’s Pampered Chef parties. If all you’re doing is blogging about yourself and writing snarky movie reviews, then wordpress.com is perfect for you. But you have no plugins, and no control over (or revenue from) the ads on your site.
If you’re serious, if you want people to take your website seriously, and you want to get more quality traffic, then you have to move out of mom’s basement. Register a domain name. Get a web host provider. Install a theme that doesn’t come pre-installed with WordPress, slap a logo on it, and you’re in a suburban house with a white picket fence. Lovely.
WordPress Themes Rock
If you want the Frank Lloyd Wright of website homes, then you have do some customization, write some code yourself or pay for a premium theme. I did all three. Vivathemes.com provided the current theme here at conradzero.com. I bought a theme with a framework I liked, and then customized it to make it my own. I won’t lie to you. It takes time and/or money to install, customize and upkeep a custom template. It’s a business expense like the sign on the front or your building that shows the world you’re not just some fanboy.
WordPress Plugins Rock
Plugins extend the functionality of the standard WordPress software. I run several plugins here at conradzero.com:
Akismet is a necessity if you enable comments. It blocks comment spam the same way that gmail blocks e-mail spam.
Themightymo.com listed several other plugins that add zing pow zam to your website. If you really want to try out some website bending plugins, try out buddypress which turns your site into a multi-user social media site, e-commerce which turns your site into a fully functional store, or RPX, which integrates Facebook, Twitter and other social media functionality to your website.
SEO = WTF
Actually that’s not entirely true. I didn’t attend any of the SEO seminars, mostly because I’ve read about, and experimented with, enough SEO that I could give a seminar on it myself. The simple truth is that content wins, and if you have quality consistent content, and links to other quality content, you already have all the SEO you’ll ever need.
WordPress Users Use Macs
Hey don’t shoot the messenger, but the number of macs at MSP WordCamp 2010 far outnumbered Dells and HPs combined.
MSP WordCamp 2010 was a mixed bag, but overall a big success for me. Some people are better coders than presenters, and some people are more interested in giving a sales pitch than a how-to seminar, but in the end I got way more than my $30 registration fee. There was even a tech booth with WordPress gurus who could help you with problems on your live website!
If you’re interested in learning more about WordPress, WordCamp is a great value. Keep an eye out for the next WordCamp, or follow WordCampMSP on Facebook.