Last weekend, I was lucky enough to be able to attend WordCamp Chicago. This was my second one, and I got to wondering why I’ve loved it each time. I think it has to be not only the people who organize it, but everyone who shares their knowledge through presentations and—of course—all the attendees.
This year I was involved even more. I did an interactive talk on Saturday, and then a 4-hour newbie workshop on Sunday. As with all my workshops, I follow up with resources and links, so this time I decided to make a post of it. It’s a bit long, but even if you didn’t attend, I think you’ll find some useful stuff here.
At every WordCamp I attend, I make great new connections and love the opportunity to connect or reconnect with lots of WordPress peeps, who I keep in touch with via online through Twitter, Facebook, etc. I thought of mentioning all of them in this post, but I didn’t want to appear as if I’m dropping names. You know who you are and it was great to connect.
I did hit some good sessions and had conversations ranging from themes, to building lists, to a number of other WordPress-related topics. It was all good!
And the organizers did an awesome job this year, hats off to all involved. Of course I cannot go without saying a huge thanks to the sponsors as well. Having organized WordCamp Seattle 2012 myself, it would never happen without that support of the community.
As I mentioned, on Saturday, I did a presentation/interactive talk called “How to Build a Powerful Community Through Blog Comments.” It was a lot of fun, and filled with good questions and insights from attendees. It turned out so well that I think I will be doing a webinar on this in the near future. Here are the slides from the presentation:
Sunday was the big day for me. I was asked to help teach a 4-hour newbie workshop with Mary DuQuaine. This was the first time they had tried something like this. We packed tons of information into four hours and the results were, well, great. It was a fun group, we had some good laughs, and I hope everyone walked away with a better understanding of WordPress. Although some admitted their ears were bleeding from information overload. : )
Here’s a picture from the class that I snagged from the WordCamp Flickr page. Yes, I’m the one slaving over the computer with the bald spot showing.
If you would like to see more photos from WordCamp Chicago, check out these on Flickr. (photo credit: WordCamp Chicago)
Some WordPress resources
After every presentation, I follow up with a bunch of resources, eg. plugins, themes, etc. that I referred to in the workshop. Normally I do this only for the attendees, but this time around I’m sharing them here on my blog as well. You might just find something useful!
A partial list of useful plugins and widgets (the links below are a mix of links directly to the plugins page on WordPress.org and videos on this site where I show you how to install and use it)
Akismet – catches spam, use only if you have a blog or are using posts in any other way where you are allowing comments – small fee for biz sites
Spam Destroyer – an alternative to Akismet
Social Media Widget – easy to set up, allows you to add social icons so people can connect with you
Simple Social Icons – simpler icons that allow you to change the colors easily for branding your site
Twitter Facebook Share – a plugin that lets you to add social icons at the bottom of each post so readers can share your posts
Text Widget – a versatile plugin that lets you use plain text or html
Image Widget – an easy way to place an image and hyperlink it without having to mess with code
WP Total Cache -if your site is loading slow, try this plugin. It may not solve the problem, but it might. Very popular plugin, but I personally have had more issues with it than others.
The Event Calendar – great calendar plugin to use for a calendar of events, workshops, etc. I use it this here on this site.
(note: most links below are affiliate links)
BackupBuddy – If you have watched enough of my videos, or heard me speak, I am always saying, back up, back up, back up. BackupBuddy is an all-in-one solution for backups, restoration, and migration. Although you can use free plugins for these separate pieces, this one gives you peace of mind that everything is done in one swoop!
Gravity Forms – I have used a lot of free contact form plugins over time, and struggle with the fact they can quit working and sometimes you never know it till it’s too late. Gravity Forms is worth the money. If you depend on your forms and use them in a variety of ways, this plugin is for you. It’s flexible, easy and has a number of great features for a form management plugin.
WPTouch Pro – This is my favorite of all the mobile plugins for WordPress. It offers a great looking and customizable app that supports all the major mobile browsers. You can even add less popular browsers through the excellent WPTouch Pro documentation. There is a free version – but it’s definitely worth investing in one of the premium licenses. Watch this video for an overview.
Premise – You can quickly and easily create 6 critical landing page styles in WordPress, add visual flair with included custom graphics, and control fonts, colors, and styles without code. And it has a great membership module as well that makes it so easy to turn your site into a membership-based site.
Premium Themes (these are obviously not the only themes out there, but are the ones I have the most experience with – when I note a yearly subscription, this means a renewal each year for support and updates)
StudioPress – The Genesis theme is awesome, whether you’re a novice or a developer with advanced skills. The variety of child themes for Genesis is great. Using a child theme allows you to customize your site without touching the core theme. The choices of layouts and “Genesis” custom widgets give you great flexibility for your website or blog (one-time cost).
WooThemes – They have an outstanding selection, from simple designs to more complex, magazine-style layouts. The options you get in the backend are intuitive and easy to understand. Includes WooCommerce, an excellent theme for ecommerce (one time cost or subscription).
iThemes – A huge variety of specialized blog themes for business owners, designers and photographers. Their iBuilder theme, although still incredibly flexible, is better suited to developers who have advanced skills (yearly subscription).
Headway – A framework with unique interface, promotes itself as a theme with which you can build a completely customized site from the ground up without knowing any code. Headway is flexible which means that do-it-yourselfer’s and developers alike can learn to customize it. It has its own support forum and you can also get help from Headway Hub and Headway Video. Depending on the site you want, it can be a fairly large learning curve (yearly subscription).
Here is a complete list of all the video/tutorials I have here on my blog.
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