Fully Experiencing WordCamp Orange County 2016

WordCamp. can be an amazing experience — spanning the emotions. It can be terrifying, overwhelming, and intimidating. It can also be full of joy, tender moments, and epiphanies.

What once was a hobby has, over the last eight months, become not only my career, but my community. And in that vein, I believe that WordCamp Orange County 2016 was a full experience for me. Of course, as is our tradition, I attended this camp with my very good friend and blogging buddy, Carol Stephen.

As she says in her recap,

“Those people you’ve seen online, those friends of friends, and the people whom you didn’t know you needed to meet? They’re all at WordCamp! And Orange County WordCamp is my absolute favorite for friendliness!”

You’ve been to WordCamp Before.

Yes. This is my fourth WordCamp at Orange County and I’ve attended two at San Diego and one in Los Angeles (by the way, LA is Sept 10-11 this year). I’ve written about WordCamp in general, done recaps on sessions, and even recounted what I learned as the social media manager for a WordCamp. In San Diego this year, I was an attendee, the social media manager, and I worked the booth with my boss Jason.

What’s different? Well, this year I knew I wanted to go, I was excited to spend time with Carol, but I was also anxious. See, my husband passed away May 31 (you can read more about it on WillardFund.org, the site my tribe setup for me).

The truth is, I wasn’t sure I was ready. I kept telling myself it would be good for me.  It was.

I laughed. I cried. It moved me.

So, here are the highlights of July 9 and 10. Two days where I fully experienced WordCamp. (And some of you are reading this and saying, “finally.” I know.)

Breakfast with Women Who WP

In order to ease some pre-camp anxiety with a few new-to-WordCamp members of our meetup, Women Who WP, we arranged to have breakfast at Panera an hour before registration. It was fun to just hangout with ten people, drink coffee, and talk about which sessions we wanted to attend.

Our meetup traditionally has a group photo so we asked a “Panera Dad” who was sitting next to us to take our photo.

You can read more about how that experience was beneficial here.

Arriving at WordCamp

This year’s theme revolved around space, so when I saw a cardboard cutout of Darth Vader, I had to take a Darth Seflie. Hilarious, if I may say so myself.

For me, it was amazing to walk down halls and see so many people I now know and love. I did add to my Guru Selfies Page, but I didn’t go crazy like in San Diego.

I took a Snap to test out the Geolocation Filter for WCOC16.

I took a Snap to test out the Geolocation Filter for WCOC16.

The highlight, however, was when I walked up to the registration table and the volunteer handed me my name badge. See, she knew me. Thanks, Tish. 😉

Oh yeah, they had a Snapchat filter, too. By the way, that was the only motivating factor I had to keep that app.

Minimalism Versus Complex Content

Design alludes me. I know when I like something, but I can never imagine it from scratch. So I appreciated Michelle Schulp’s presentation.

You can have simplicity in design without removing the complexity of your content. She said,

“Simplicity has become synonymous with having less content or less information.”

Many sites, like e-commerce sites, are not simple. They have complex functions and complex content. You want the information to be easy to notice, decipher, and act for the user. But that doesn’t mean you should strip the site of its content.

Her talk is on WordPress.tv here.

Keep Track of Your Time

Chris Ford is one of my favorite WordCamp speakers and people actually. She’s friendly but frank. Her talks always have practical application.

In this year’s talk she focused on the process for the process. I recapped it here.

Greg Taylor and the WP Heckler

Greg Taylor’s session ended up being a bit more interactive and I was very excited about the subject matter (content marketing) so I had a few remarks here and there. I may or may not be called the WP Heckler now.


  • “Everybody can be a site owner. Everyone can be a publisher.”
  • “We’re consuming content in a different way.”
  • “The three goals of content are… Community, Conversion, and Content.”
  • “Whatever you like to binge watch — that’s addictive content.”
  • “Good content connects and is delivered with some sort of velocity.”
  • “What’s the scariest button in the Dashboard? Publish.”
  • “Be prepared to fail.”
  • “A lot of people can make a website look good. Not a lot of people can make it work for the business.”
  • “It’s like tattoos — good development is not cheap.”
  • “The best part about WordPress is it gives you a platform to have a voice.”

Though his talk isn’t on WordPress.tv yet, he made a voiceover with his slides here.

Jen Miller: Use those Mobile Apps

Jen told her story about leaving her laptop behind for a trip to Europe – a scary decision – only to rely solely upon her new iPad Pro.

In order to fully run your business while overseas on on a mobile device she recommends that you test out apps, preinstall them on your mobile device, and put systems into place to keep your operation running smoothly.

Jen Miller wrote her tips and posted her slides here.

Quick Lunch and Coffee

The food truck selection was great and there were pleasant conversations had, of course. A bunch of us ladies ate together, laughed, shared Handi Wipes — both days.

Oh and we escaped for a cold coffee drink, too.

Of course, I had to get a group photo with my WordImpress guys, too. Thanks Austin for taking it. 🙂

Blogging Workshop with Scott Buscemi

Carol and I also attended the blogging workshop with Scott Buscemi. The hands-on experience was a good reminder that I shouldn’t neglect this site just because I write full time for work.

I wrote about that session in more detail here.

Remote Work with Jon Brown

Jon was recently a guest on WPblab for this exact topic, but I just had to attend. After all, I am a remote worker.


  • “WordPress powers everything in my life. It has for ten years. It started here in Orange County.”
  • You may be a remote worker by choice or your company is 100% distributed. “This is the way the world is going.”
  • “Consider your work environment and make it comfortable.”
  • A good public work environment: restaurants. Tip well, let the server know, less distractions.
  • “The best scenario for Remote Work is co-working spaces.”
  • Find people you can go to lunch with. You can be inspired, share ideas, give room for serendipity.
  • “Culture fit is HUGE” with hiring Remote Workers — especially to see how they communicate.
  • “I can’t stress enough [the importance of] meetup groups [for learning, hiring].”
  • “You have to set up processes to get face time (and not the app) with your workers.”

Dinner with Carol

Carol and I like quiet. Unfortunately, we didn’t sneak away as much as we used to. So, we decided to just have a nice quiet dinner alone. By the way, Pei Wei has killer Kung Pao Chicken, but watch for those red peppers. Whoosh!

Afterparty & Karaoke

Karaoke. It’s one of those things I’ve never done. Earlier in the day I had confessed as much to Brianna, Keri Leigh, and Jen. So as soon as I arrived at the pub, Brianna and Sé pretty much talked me into trying it. It’s funny because I do sing, but that seemed so terrifying to me. Alicia was another avid supporter. And, of course, Jen Miller wrote all about it here (with video from Yvonne).

It’s even more epic when your boss sends out a tweet like this:

Day 2: July 10, 2016

The second day of WordCamp Orange was a bit shorter and less intense. I think this is because we mainly attended the business track.

The business track especially resounded with me this year because I was studying and considering mentorship in the WordPress space. That topic along with empathy kept rising to the top.

Of course, for the business track, I primarily tweeted as WordImpress.

Here are the highlights:

Goodbye Track

I got into a great conversation about meetups and mentorship with Russell Aaron and Ben Weiser and we ended up being part of the last dozen or so to leave the venue.

Closing down the WordCamp with a conversation like that is a win in my book.

Keep Going

I think it’s easy to see now how full of an experience anyone can have at a WordCamp. I would even dare to say that the more you attend WordCamps, the more you get out of them — with friendship, community, and knowledge.

Your Turn

What’s the last WordCamp you attended? What are your tips for embracing the event? How can you optimize your time?



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