wordcamp chicago 2013

WordCamp Chicago 2013 Presentations and Notes

chicago fountain wordcamp 2013In June, I attended my 3rd WordCamp (and collected my 3rd WordCamp T-shirt). Aaron Holbrook, Michelle Schulp and all the other coordinators put on an excellent conference. With every WordCamp, I learn a lot about the community of designers, developers and business owners using WordPress. Outside of the presentations, the real benefit of WordCamp was making connections and learning about each person’s experiences developing, designing and deploying solutions based on the WordPress platform.

In this post, my WordCamp Chicago 2013 notes include some of the key takeaways from the sessions I attended. I also included links to all of the presentations from the Saturday and Sunday sessions.

Consulting and Project Management

Scoping Projects

  • Successful projects include a scoping phase in their methodology. If you don’t have a methodology (i.e. a repeatable process to deliver for your clients), then develop one that your team and your clients can follow.
  • Enterprise IT organization are no strangers to documentation. If you’re an WordPress development or design agency, then you should also include documentation into your process (and your overall billing)
  • Even the most basic consulting project should be formed around a statement of work (SOW). The statement of work defines the project’s scope, key requirements, assumptions and exclusions. It is a critical document for successful projects.
  • For medium to large WordPress projects, the analysis or discovery phase should be included in the project cost. Remember, you’re more than a Go-Build-It service. By following a methodology for site development, you also demonstrate value to the client. This value isn’t free so you should have a process to charge for discovery and requirements analysis.
  • For smaller project, you may not need several weeks to analyze and understand requirements. However, the SOW is still a critical document to avoid project scoping problems during the project.

Consulting Pricing and Rates

  • The pricing approach varied by consultant although many preferred a fixed price fee while others billed out on an hourly basis
  • Examine your cost model to include 50% cost, 30% overhead and 20% profit
  • Fixed price is a popular model with specific floors or levels for minimum pricing
  • Charge based on VALUE
  • As you get busier, bump up the rate and increase the rate on new clients
  • For projects under $5000, 50% down at time of signing and 50% at delivery.

WordPress Freelancing

  • Always get a deposit and use a contract
  • Participate in your community to develop a network of referrals, 1:1 connections
  • Remember to ASK for work
  • Go to your local Meetups…not necessarily WordPress Meetups
  • Freelance bid sites are a good way to build an initial portfolio of work – expect to work cheap though
  • Its ok to have a hunger rate and a busy rate
  • Niche down and serve the clients in an underserved market

WordPress Consulting Wisdom

  • What are your REAL skills? Not your I CAN skills.
  • There is no time to think about your competition
  • If you want to go far, go together
  • Make others happy to be happy
  • Show your clients a process and a methodology to solve their problems
  • Behaving like an agency will land you bigger clients
  • Anticipate what your customer’s customer expects
  • Just Do It
  • Do what works and repeat it
  • Ask for forgiveness and then ask for permission
  • Don’t say WordPress
  • Go to conferences where your customers attend
  • Define 1 customer who will be the decision maker on a project

Content Marketing and SEO

Content Development

  • Wrap your writing around your personality
  • Develop the reader avatar and relate to the user
  • Make a list of assumptions about your users
  • Quality content that your users care about is the SEO of the future

10 Effective Link Building Techniques

  1. Write Epic and Valuable Content
    Focus on building the best page on your topic on the ‘Net
    Stop blogging just to blog
    Instead focus on creating masterpiece content
    Yes – this is going to take effort
  2. Guest Post Your Heart Out
    Use keyword research to identify the competition
    Competitors are really potential partners
    Guest blog on that competitors site
    Look at Google Webmaster Tools to provide tracking for Google Authorship metrics. Effective EVEN if you don’t own that page.
  3. Create an infographic
  4. Curate a list
    Example: 25 women who rock social media
    Builds a micro community of people on that list
    Create an indepth resouce page
    Promote the list to your community
    Tell the person that they have been added to the list
  5. Host an event
    Create a Twitter hashtag and promote it
    Write a round up post of a list of other round up posts
    Remember to send thank you, share slides, curate photos, videos and thank your sponsors
  6. Hold a contest
    Create announcement posts, nomination posts, reminder posts, judge selection posts and the actual winner post
    Grow the existing fan base and generate more link value
  7. Issue a meaningful press release
    Goal is not SEO but rather to have a journalist actually write about you
    http://www.prweb.com or http://www.prnewswire.com/
  8. Interview an Expert
    Use Google Hangout to interview an expert
    Publish the video
    Write a short blog post
  9. Use stock business assets creatively
  10. Curate, Share and publish content

Link Building Rules

  • The value of link building is INVERSELY related to its scalability.
  • Links from bad sites can hurt you
  • Build links as if it won’t help your search results

WordPress Content Management Plugins

Note: I don’t advocate turning WordPress into a PM tool when tools like Trello or Asana are readily available. Add PM capability into a CMS is a nice idea but I prefer to use PM tools on platforms designed explicitly for project management.

Development Tips

  • If you want to execute another plugin’s shortcode, use the do_shortcode() or simply call that plugin’s PHP function
  • Consider using custom post types as the database record to store relevant fields instead of creating a separate table (i.e. survey application)
  • Apply the JSON format instead of PHP serialized strings
  • Build applications to focus on decision and not options
  • Don’t solve everything in your plugin

Community Development

  • Looking for Meetup locations? Ask other meetups in your area where they meet
  • Ask sponsors for food to sponsor each meetup
  • Meet at an agency location
  • Develop surveys to ensure everyone is involved
  • Listen to your members and monitor your community’s interest level
  • Consistency of a Meetup is key
  • Find speakers using Google hangouts

WordPress Resources

Presentations and Speaker Slides

Ofcourse I couldn’t attend every presentation so I scoured the web, SlideShare, SpeakerDeck, emailed and tweeted all of the presenters for a link to their presentation. You should be able to see the presentations when they are loaded up to WordPress.tv but in the interim, below are the presentations and supported slides.

(I even formatted it using TablePress.org from Tobias Bathge’s presentation)

[table id=1 ” /]

WordCamp Chicago 2013 was an excellent event and I look forward to returning next year.


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